SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - December 18, 2009

December 18, 2009

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: Dec. 11-18, 2009

There was quick pickup by media this week on a story about SFU student Matias Marquez, who co-designed a website that enables you to give the gift of a meal at a local restaurant.
Another student in the news: Caroline Lee, present (and to this point disappointed in Canada) at the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change. Resource economist Mark Jaccard was also in the media as the conference began.
In more institutional news, SFU kicked off a $10-million expansion of SFU’s Surrey campus; and got $765,000 for a literacy project aimed at inner-city adults in Vancouver.


  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader covered at length the groundbreaking ceremony for the $10-million expansion of SFU’s Surrey campus.
    “The increased space at the university is expected to strengthen its collaboration with the Fraser Health Authority, resulting in enhanced research capacity in health promotion and prevention of chronic diseases. The space will include classrooms and teaching labs in biology, chemistry and health sciences.
    “Once completed, the new facilities will provide SFU researchers in high-tech areas such as visual analytics, mechatronics and cybercrime with state-of-the-art labs to help accelerate leading-edge research. Student entrepreneurs at SFU will also benefit from the expansion of the Venture Connection program that assists students with the development of spin-off companies to market the products and services they create.”
    SFU President Michael Stevenson was quoted: “Simon Fraser University is very grateful for this far-sighted investment by the federal and provincial governments.  . . . This funding will enable a very significant expansion of our infrastructure for the development of knowledge and innovation in British Columbia's most dynamic new urban centre."
    Surrey Now carried a short item, too. And the provincial government issued its own news release.
  • Public policy prof Jon Kesselman wrote a guest column for The Vancouver Sun, questioning a federal bill that would facilitate large-scale developments on First Nations reserve lands. “Only with significant amendments can Bill C-63 achieve its objective of improving reserve development values while protecting the broader community.”
  • CBC Radio interviewed at length Charmaine Spencer, adjunct prof in SFU Gerontology, on the BC Ombudsperson’s call for BC to set out the rights of seniors living in residential facilities. Spencer said the current Bill of Rights for seniors is “quite narrow. . .  There are only four broad categories spelled out.” She added: “There isn’t a mechanism to enforce those rights . . . and you have no right to sue or seek compensation.”
  • Metro’s Vancouver edition wrote about a Coquitlam mother of three text-happy teenagers who is challenging (costly) alterations to her cellphone contract by Rogers Wireless.  “Edward Bukszar, a Simon Fraser University business professor, said the move is legal but risky for Rogers. ‘You always risk alienating customers when you change things like this regardless of the strategy they put behind it,’ Bukszar said. ‘Customers feel distanced from a company they’re expected to be loyal to.’”
  • The Nanaimo Daily News did a food-bank story that mentioned “Some institutions, such as Simon Fraser University . . . now have food banks on campus. SFU saw use of its food bank double over the past year.” The Nanaimo Harbour City Star picked up the story.


  • National Post looked at the gentrification of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. One of the improvements, thanks to the Woodward’s redevelopment:  “The largest tenant, Simon Fraser University's School for the Contemporary Arts, begins a staged move into its new facilities next month. Next fall, some 800 fine arts students will start attending classes inside the complex. It's expected that they will be shopping, dining, even living there as well.”
    A Canwest feature on networking to develop business contacts quoted SFU Business student Milun Tesovic, founder of the music-lyrics service,, and 2009 Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year:
    “I find the best networking is utilizing the friends I've made through connections and then I find I'm always one network connection away from anybody I want to meet through my network list. To service those networks, it's been all about going to a lot of conferences and putting an effort into talking to individuals who you think you need to know."
    The story ran in the Financial Post section of National Post, then in The Vancouver Sun.
    The Montreal Gazette and Saskatoon StarPhoenix featured ways in which baby boomers can care for their health and extend their lives. Among those quoted was SFU gerontologist Andrew Wister. The Canwest News Service story said: “‘It's all a matter of clustering healthy lifestyles,’ the author of the 2005 book Baby Boomer Health Dynamics said from his office at Simon Fraser University in B.C. . . . ‘You don't want to eat well but smoke, or exercise a lot but eat fast food.’”
  • The Toronto Star looked at Greece's “worst economic crisis in decades” and its costly and “bloated” public sector.  André Gerolymatos, chair of SFU Hellenic Studies, said of Prime Minister George Papandreou: “He has two choices. He can take drastic measures—which he won't. Or take moderate measures to slowly scale down the civil service."
    The Chicago Family Examiner and other websites ran a story on a release from the U.S. Breast Cancer Fund, which said it's time for the U.S. to ban Bisphenol A (BPA) in hard plastic food containers and require labeling of all food packaging containing BPA.
    “Researchers at the University of North Carolina and Simon Fraser University in British Columbia announced that daughters of women exposed to BPA while they were pregnant are more likely as two-year-olds to show aggressive and hyperactive behaviors.”
    (That study was issued in early October. It involved SFU Health Sciences prof Bruce Lanphear, and was the first to examine the link between prenatal exposure to BPA and behavioral problems in children.)
  • The Sault Star in Sault Ste. Marie ON spoke with a leading local pharmacist about changes to Ontario regulations covering doctors’ prescriptions of opioid painkillers. The Star also spoke with Benedikt Fischer of SFU Health Sciences, interim director of the SFU Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addictions, who said: “We dish these drugs out like there's no tomorrow here in this country."
  • Coquitlam Now told readers that Anmore Mayor Hal Weinberg will step down Dec. 31 after serving the area for nearly three decades. “Weinberg said he does not plan to stay involved in village politics after he resigns at the end of the month. He does, however, plan to continue working as a professor emeritus at SFU. ‘I'll be spending more time up there,’ Weinberg said. ‘I'll devote most of my energy to Simon Fraser University.’”
    The Globe and Mail looked at the Museum of Rights that is to open in Winnipeg in 2012. “Its mission is to deal with some of the most controversial abuses and injustices in Canadian and world history. But which abuses—and injustice according to whom?”
    Victoria Dickenson, the museum’s Chief Knowledge Officer, suggested it might host "kitchen tables" where thinkers could hash out conflicts face to face. “The model comes from the Philosopher's Café at Simon Fraser University, which philanthropist Yosef Wosk founded to discuss ‘burning issues of the day’ in a comfortable, informal setting.”


  • National Post quoted Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, on the seemingly light penalties levied against RCMP officers by internal disciplinary “adjudication boards”.
    The Post reported: “Whether it is abandoning a post, being caught masturbating in a police vehicle while on surveillance duty, fabricating notes from a crime scene, or drunk driving, any number of infractions by RCMP officers result in no more than being docked a few days pay.”
    Said Gordon: “The (RCMP) brass always tell me they don't want these guys in their midst, but they don't seem to act upon their sentiments. Is it because of the RCMP Act, or something else?"
  • Statistics Canada reports on policing had Gordon in some other newspapers:
    • The Canadian Press noted StatsCan showed the Moncton RCMP have the highest adjusted crime clearance rates of major police forces in Canada, while five forces in BC came in at the bottom of the list. “Robert Gordon, director of the school of criminology at Simon Fraser University, called the study's methodology ‘ingenious.’ However, he noted the study doesn't note precisely which crimes are cleared.”
      The story ran in the Globe and Mail, Brampton (ON) Guardian and the Mississauga News.)
    • The Calgary Herald jeered: “Edmonton cops crack fewer cases than Calgary counterparts”.  The Herald quoted Gordon: “This is really about how police resources are deployed. If you are spending a lot of money on policing, but you're still getting high levels of serious crime and a low clearance rate, that would suggest the police aren't as effective as they could be. However, he urged caution in comparing Edmonton's clearance rate with that of other cities, because numerous factors can undermine police efforts to solve cases.”
    • That said, the Edmonton Journal headlined its story: “Our cops crack fewer cases.” It quoted Gordon: "They may have been caught with their pants down ... but so long as they are beavering away trying to figure out why they have this situation and talking to the public about it, there's not much more they can do. If they're deep in denial, they deserve whatever criticism comes their way."
  • In a Province story on other police statistics, criminologist Paul Brantingham was asked if more police = less crime. “In general, if you let your police-to-population ratio drift too low, crime begins to go out of control. One of the reasons crime is going down is we've got more police doing a more sophisticated job."
    (The story also noted: “According to Brantingham's SFU criminology colleague Neil Boyd, 70 per cent of all crime, anywhere in the world, is committed by young men aged 15 to 29.)
  • The Canadian Press carried a national newsfeature on the tarnished image of the RCMP. Among those quoted was criminologist David MacAlister:
    “People are wondering whether or not the methods that are in place for investigating and holding the police to account are adequate.  . . . People are probably starting to wonder why do we have the RCMP? They're not accountable locally, so why would we bother keeping them?”
  • Another national newsfeature from The Canadian Press reported: “The final weeks of Paul Kennedy's term as the chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP have been marked by a public squabble with RCMP Commissioner William Elliott. “ And CP again quoted MacAlister:
    “When you piece together those various reports Kennedy has put out over the last little while, you get a sense that he's really pushing for change. Kennedy's really letting people know that there are problems within this organization and that it's not responding. He probably realizes he's got very little time to get his message out there, to ensure that his reports are released and get an appropriate airing before he hands the reins over to somebody who isn't going to be as aggressive in the inquiries into RCMP conduct.”
  • Gordon was also in a Vancouver Sun story about the secret taping (by staff at the Surrey pretrial centre) of conversations between remand-prisoner Jamie Bacon and his lawyer. “It's essentially electronic eavesdropping that's exceeded an acceptable line,” said Gordon. "Every time they cross the line they stand in danger of losing valuable evidence because the courts will simply rule that evidence out—it can't be used."
    But, the Sun continued: “While some form of censure or discipline is possible, Gordon doubted the disclosure would torpedo the trials of Bacon or other alleged gangsters now before the courts.”
  • National Post reported the seizure in Vancouver of Ecstasy pills stamped with the Olympic rings. "’These industries are very flexible and they often produce for specific markets,’ said Benedikt Fischer, professor of health sciences and criminology at Simon Fraser University. ‘They seemed to be under the impression that this would be a good selling feature.’" Canwest News Service moved the story to clients across Canada.
  • Prof emeritus Gary Mauser had a letter to the editor in National Post, saying in part:The long-gun registry should be discontinued because it has too many errors and omissions to be trusted by police and it has failed to improve public safety. No lives have been saved. The long-gun registry wastes tens of millions of dollars each year that could be better spent on helping victims of violence or jailing violent offenders.”


  • Resource economist Mark Jaccard wrote a guest article in The Vancouver Sun. “Canada desperately needs an economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions cap with tradable permits issued by government.” And, he continued:
    “The policy can be designed so that there is no transfer of wealth from fossil fuel rich regions to other parts of the country, thereby avoiding another federal-provincial crisis. The policy I am describing is identical to the one suggested earlier this year in the report, Achieving 2050, by Canada's National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, an advisory body whose members were appointed by the Harper government.
    “Getting this policy in place is a thousand times more important than setting unattainable targets for 2020.”
    The Edmonton Journal ran the column as well.
  • The New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal quoted SFU student Caroline Lee, a Fredericton native in Copenhagen for the UN conference on climate change, as saying she finds herself having to apologize for Canada's inaction.
    "From my personal perspective, and the youth perspective, Canada is seen as a real laggard. We've always said we want to follow what the United States does but now even the United States is pulling ahead."
    Later in the week, The Province talked to Lee, who said: "We all feel a sense of shame here when people hear you're Canadian. . .  Canada has spoken very little in the negotiations and their position on reducing emission reduction targets are quite a bit less ambitious than what science tells us we need."
  • Jeffery Young, aquatic biologist with the David Suzuki Foundation, had a letter to the editor in the Globe and Mail that said in part: “The Simon Fraser University think tank on Fraser sockeye did a good job of highlighting how serious our salmon crisis is. Their call for action now, rather than waiting more than a year for results from the federal salmon inquiry, is appropriate. The actions they recommend, such as experimentally removing salmon farms and easing back on fisheries, should be undertaken immediately.”
    (He was referring to a report last week from scientists, including SFU researchers, on this year’s disastrous sockeye returns. John Reynolds, SFU’s Tom Buell chair in salmon conservation, had been quoted in the Globe and Mail and other media last week.)


  • The Vancouver Sun wrote aboutstudent Matias Marquez and his work on, a new online service that enables you to "pick up the tab" for friends, family and/or colleagues at local restaurants.
    Under the makes dining out as easy as pie”, the Sun wrote: “Simon Fraser University student Matias Marquez and Ross St. George, a student at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, hope that Buyatab will one day do for restaurants what Ticketmaster does for concerts and Travelocity for air bookings.”
    City-TV and CBC Radio in Victoria also chased the story. The website of did a story from an SFU news release.
  • Communication prof Richard Smith was on GlobalTV, in a story about the new wireless provider coming to Canada (Globalive Communication Corp, using the brand WIND Mobile.) Said Smith: “They are a complete unknown and they could offer a way of doing business that could really shake things up.”
    In a later story in The Vancouver Sun, Smith said Canadian consumers may not see a significant drop in price—but are likely to get more bang for their buck, with “more features included in bundles, and better service.”
  • The Georgia Straight featured SFU Education prof Suzanne de Castell, and her role in a major research project. “De Castell is part of an international team of researchers looking into the relationships between people’s activities in virtual worlds and the real world. . . . ‘It’s really looking at the intersection of real people, virtual people, real actions, and virtual actions.’”
  • The Georgia Straight explored whether the iPhone and its trendy applications is more or less useful than the BlackBerry and its more limited business apps. “According to Sarah Koivumaki, a criminology student at Simon Fraser University, iPhone apps are sexier and more fun, but BlackBerry apps will be more useful when she graduates.”


  • The federal government announced at a news conference that SFU will get $765,452 over two years for its “Literacy Lives” project, aimed at inner-city adults in Vancouver who are facing multiple barriers to employment. Judy Smith, director of SFU’s Community Education program through SFU Continuing Studies, said: "These skills will provide individuals with valuable tools that will assist them in succeeding in the workforce, pursuing an education and contributing to their community."
  • CFAX Radio in Victoria and CBC Radio in Prince Rupert pursued SFU Education prof Mark Fettes for stories on the LUCID (Learning for Understanding through Culturally Inclusive Imaginative Development) teaching program in Prince Rupert. He says it will significantly help increase the aboriginal high school graduation rate there. “Teachers using the LUCID approach in Grades 4 to 7 saw a 10- to 33-per-cent improvement in students’ attendance, and improved academic performance.”
  • The Burnaby NewsLeader picked up an SFU news release on how Thelma Finlayson, 95-year-old retired biology professor, will receive SFU’s Chancellor's Distinguished Service award in March.  “The award recognizes individuals who have made a distinguished contribution to the province in areas in which SFU has a major interest or direct association. Finlayson is a renowned entomologist and founder of SFU's pest management program. Since retiring in 1979, she has been counselling students at SFU.”
  • The Ottawa Citizen reported that the University of Ottawa is planning to make its researchers' results available free online. The story cited other open-access plans, among them the partnership of SFU, UBC, Stanford and Arizona State to create the Open Journal Systems publication platform.


  • SFU Athletics, told media how SFU had taken the lead in the NAIA’s Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup Standings to date. Final standings come out Dec. 23.
    Burnaby Now ran a hefty feature on Clan soccer star Colin Streckmann: “SFU career ends on personal high.” That was his selection as the small college soccer player of the year. "‘I thought it was a joke, for sure,’ said the fourth-year kinesiology student. ‘There are so many better players in the league. I didn't think in a million years they'd give it to me. It's kind of embarrassing.’"
  • The Richmond Review and Richmond News featured Richmond’s Parker Sahota, a top junior lacrosse player.
    The Review told readers: “Most recently he played on the Canadian national field lacrosse team which was fourth in the 2009 finals, Sahota also plays on the Simon Fraser University/Burnaby Mountain Selects junior touring team. . . . The program was developed by Brent Hoskins, head coach of the SFU lacrosse program and is designed to draw together the best players from B.C. and to take them to scouting tournaments in the U.S.”
    The Review also noted: “The Simon Fraser University/Burnaby Mountain Selects lacrosse program has had 45 per cent of its 39 graduating players go on to play lacrosse at the college level.”
In addition to news releases mentioned above:
  • Urs Ribary, SFU’s B.C. Leadership Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience in Early Childhood Health and Development, told media about a new SFU-based institute to advance brain-imaging research on an international scale. It’s one of several SFU research projects that received funding this week from Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).
  • Another SFU release told media about research by doctoral student Milena Droumeva of SFU Education, on how sound affects learning experiences. “We spend more and more time in artificial soundscapes, comprised of many sounds that are often, individually, intentionally designed to alert us, give us information, set mood, etc.,” says Droumeva. “Yet there is little research and analysis of them and no one has really looked at their combined effect on human attention, learning and well-being.”
    SFU’s YouTube channel has a video from Droumeva, an interactive puzzle game involving sound.
  • Andrew Mack, director of the SFU-based Human Security Report Project, let media know how researchers from Canada, the UK and Sweden have slammed the influential British Medical Journal for publishing an error-filled study on global war deaths, refusing a rebuttal article and having a flawed peer-review process. “This is not some trivial academic disagreement,” said Mack. “Accurate statistics on the health impacts of war are critically important not just for researchers but also for humanitarian organizations whose assistance programs save millions of lives around the world.”
ALSO in the NEWS
  • A feature on “staycations” in The Vancouver Sun offered tips that included: “Visit a part of the city you've never been to before-or even one you never thought of going to. For example, the formerly moribund Downtown Eastside is starting to hum with activity as residents move into the redeveloped Woodward's, and London Drugs and Nester's open. And just wait until the SFU art students arrive.”
  • “The Snowmageddon That Never Came” had the road to the Burnaby campus constantly mentioned by radio, TV and other media during the week. TransLink, for example, handed reporters this message: “SFU has called out its road-clearing crews, and Coast Mountain Bus Co. is changing out the 60' articulated buses (to the Burnaby campus) and using the 40' buses instead. The axle configuration on a 40-footer makes it more reliable in snow and slippery conditions, and they also don't jack-knife.”
  • The Victoria Times Colonist interviewed Allan Seckel, the new deputy minister to premier Gordon Campbell and head of the 30,000-member BC public service. The paper noted: “Sundays he coaches Grade 5 girls' basketball in Vancouver, where he lives with his wife and three children. He's coached all his kids' teams, putting to use skills on the hardwood that landed him an athletic scholarship at Simon Fraser University in his youth.”
  • The Geek Speak column in the Georgia Straight featured Nadia Nascimento, a senior strategist at Invoke Media, the developer of (among other things) HootSuite, a Web-based Twitter client. “Born in North Vancouver, Nascimento is a former elementary-school teacher and actor who studied communication at Simon Fraser University.”
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