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SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - December 19, 2008

December 19, 2008

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A look at how SFU and its people made news: Dec. 13-19, 2008              

SFU student Evan Miller scored a big media hit, with his videogame (Hunted Forever) being picked as No. 8 in Time magazine's Top 10 releases of 2008.
Forensic botanist Rolf Mathewes scored a big audience, appearing on CNN in a hugely popular crime segment and on CNN Headline News.
And the New York Times featured that electricity-generating “knee-brace” gadget from SFU’s Max Donelan in the Times’ big Year in Ideas feature.

BIG GAME

  • SFU student Evan Miller, who created an on-the-cheap video game on his home PC, hit the big time in the gaming world—the No. 8 spot on Time magazine's list of the Top 10 releases of 2008.
    Miller is a fourth-year student in the School of Interactive arts and Technology at the Surrey campus.
    Wrote Time: “The future is a terrible place, but at least it's pretty stylin' — it looks like an animated title sequence from a 1960s movie, all angular graphics and silhouettes and primary colors. You're a tiny running man sprinting, jumping and sliding through a post-apocalyptic landscape, relentlessly pursued by an enormous hovering robot. This is a free Flash game, and it's on this list both for its own merits and as a representative of all the beautiful, quirky Flash games that came out this year. Flash developers don't have $20-million budgets on the line when they make a game, which means they can take risks and try anything. The result is weird, innovative games like this one.”
    Miller said in a Canwest News Service feature: "With this game I get to stand side by side with the big names I've always looked up to, and that's really crazy."
    Miller (who has his own company, Pixelante Studios) also made it into a feature on WebProNews.com. “It’s very overwhelming and extremely exciting. It was very unexpected.”
    Miller's game, Hunted Forever, can be played free at the King.com gamesite. The game has had more than 2 million plays and is getting 15,000-20,000 thousand hits a day across over 1,000 sites.
    As well as in media above, we saw the story in The Province, The Vancouver Sun, the Victoria Times Colonist, Calgary Herald, Ottawa Citizen, and the Montreal Gazette.

NATIONAL and INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Forensic botanist Rolf Mathewes was on the well watched Nancy Grace crime show on CNN (and on CNN Headline News.)  The subject: the discovery of a child's skull, wrapped in duct tape, in the search for a missing three-year-old Florida girl, Caylee Anthony.  Discussing forensic techniques in general, Mathewes said:
    "One of the first things  . . . would be to look for something that was foreign to the scene, like plant material that was not native to the area where a body had been recovered, for example. . . . That’s often included to make a link or a connection to another person, another site or something."
  • The New York Times featured the Biomechanical Energy Harvester, that electricity-generating “knee-brace” gadget designed by Max Donelan and his kinesiology crew.
    Wrote the Times in its big Year in Ideas feature: “You never know what’s going to knock out the power grid, leaving you juiceless and vulnerable. The solution: become your own electrical plant. A knee-brace-like gadget developed by a Canadian scientist harnesses the power of the human gait, generating enough wattage from your daily walking to power a cellphone or two-way radio and then some.”
    In November, Time magazine selected the device as one of the best 50 inventions of 2008.
  • Economist David Andolfatto was on CTV saying the kinds of “economic stimuli” that politicians are arguing about are not the way to go in the next budget. "These things are not stimulative. They actually impose huge burdens on the economy that are paid for over generations."
  • On the other hand, Anthony Perl, director of SFU Urban Studies, was arguing for Barack Obama’s stimulus program to invest in mass transit systems.
    “In Europe, you can go from the north of Sweden to the tip of Italy all on electric trains. Instead of just giving people checks to go shopping again, lets get these projects accelerated.” Perl was quoted in the Medill Reports news service run by graduate journalism students at Northwestern University.
  • The Toronto Star quoted two SFU profs in a story on the release on parole of David Radler, who was jailed in the same case as media mogul Conrad Black.
    Ethics prof Mark Wexler and Robert Adamson, executive director of SFU’s CIBC Centre for Corporate Governance and Risk Management, said Radler's release underlines the differences between Canada and the U.S. in the way white-collar crime is handled. “It's a more complicated process in Canada than it should be," said Adamson. Noted Wexler: “The first thing Conrad Black and David Radler did after getting sentenced was ask to come back to Canada."  (Radler began his sentence in a Pennsylvania prison and was transferred to a Canadian federal facility in September. Black is in a Florida prison.)
    The SFU Business Blog ran the Star story. (http://business.sfu.ca/blog/?p=342)
  • The Canadian Press reported a group of Vancouver prostitutes has moved a step closer towards opening a brothel so sex workers can get off the violent streets. Among those quoted was SFU criminologist Tamara O'Doherty:
    "(Violence) just doesn't happen at the same rate in the off-street community. That says to me that there are ways people can work in the sex industry safely.''
    We saw the story in and on more than 30 media outlets.
  • The Canadian Press also looked at the potential impact of the week's gondola mishap at Whistler on Whistler's image and the 2010 Winter Olympics. Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith saw no image problem.  He said the fact that Whistler-Blackcomb quickly spoke to the media and took steps to check out safety issues shows the resort is well equipped to handle crises.
    Meredith also did interviews with CFUN Radio and BCBusiness magazine.
  • The Globe and Mail carried a story on a report from the BC Coroners service saying the number of deaths of the homeless are under-reported. The Globe quoted Michelle Patterson, an adjunct professor at SFU’s Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction, as saying the average life expectancy of a homeless person is 20 years shorter than that of a person with a home.
  • Spain's El Pais news outlet interviewed Andrew Sixsmith, director of SFU's Gerontology Research Centre. This on "active aging" in which technology allows the elderly to improve their quality of life and prolong their independence. Sixsmith, in Spain for the AbleTech'08 conference, said the elderly are increasingly using the Internet and social media and online games. "But . . . companies need to think more often about the elderly: Mobile screens and buttons are too small for some."
  • The Toronto Sun reported assorted mechanical woes are plaguing Canada's Cormorant search-and-rescue helicopters. "Corrosion in the gas tanks is another well-known problem, even if it's not surprising for an aircraft that flies in salty air," said Stephen Priestley, a researcher from the SFU-based Canadian American Strategic Review. Ontario papers in Belleville, North Bay and Kirkland Lake picked up the story.
  • The Trenton (NJ) Times and NJ.com looked at efforts to tackle lead pollution and poisoning in New Jersey. “Since 1991, the federal standard has been 10 micrograms per deciliter, but lead expert Dr. Bruce Lanphear of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia is among those who contend the level should be lowered to 5 micrograms per deciliter.”
  • The Human Security Report Project at the School for International Studies got still more coverage and citations, including ones in the Athens (GA) Banner-Herald and in an online feature at Columbia University.

BC NEWS

  • The Vancouver Sun quoted Rob Gordon, director of criminology, in a story on the how the Crown decided not to lay criminal charges against four RCMP officers who Tasered Robert Dziekanski five times before he died last year at Vancouver International Airport.
    Gordon said he could understand that, because there was no evidence they intended to kill Dziekanski. But, the former police officer added: “Sometimes you have to act quickly because the threat is severe, but this is not one of those situations. Those guys at the airport . . . would have benefited from stepping back for a moment.''
    Canwest News Service then sent the story across the country. We saw it in the Edmonton Journal, among others.
  • Forensic psychologist Stephen Hart was on GlobalTV news three nights in a row re: the shooting at a Christmas party of the head of a Vancouver health-foods company, who had sacked the shooter the day before.
  • Business prof Peter Tingling added to a run of recent media interviews with another on the Early Edition show on CBC Radio. The subject: corporate layoffs. His advice to companies in tight times included: Think, plan, and be compassionate. "Be tough on the problem, not on the people."
  • Surrey Now ran the annual Santa list of top techtoys compiled by computing scientist Toby Donaldson of the Surrey campus.
  • The Tri-City News featuredgraduate student Lily Ou and her work with Hogan Yu and Yunchao Li on turning the CD/DVD player of an ordinary computer into a home-based medical diagnostic device.
  • Political scientist Marjorie Griffin Cohen co-authored a guest column in Coquitlam Now saying: “The B.C. government should adopt a poverty reduction plan that includes concrete and legislated targets and timelines to dramatically reduce and ultimately eliminate poverty.”
    The column cited last week’s report saying an economic downturn is the perfect time to tackle poverty. Griffin Cohen was one of the report’s seven co-authors; doctoral candidate Trish Garner of SFU Women’s Studies was another. The report was published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and came from the Economic Security Project, an SFU/CCPA partnership.
    The Kelowna Capital News and the Keremeos Review carried stories on the report.
  • Burnaby Now featured history student Daina Zvidra, finally able (after two years) to spend Christmas in London, England, with her family. Living in residence at SFU at Christmas has been “the hardest time of year for me."
  • Last Friday’s snowfall, and the postponement of exams on the Burnaby campus, was well covered by media. Such stations as CKWX, CKNW, CBC, CTV and AM730 rapidly picked up our news release and helped spread the word to students, faculty and staff.

EDUCATION

  • The Vancouver Sun reported that some in the BC Teachers Federation were calling for a boycott of standardized Foundations Skills Assessment (FSA) tests in schools. The Sun’s education blog later reported there would not be a boycott, but an increased PR campaign aimed at parents and the public.
    Wrote the Sun: “Irene Lanzinger, president of the B.C. Teachers' Federation . . .  said her members are encouraged by prominent voices supporting their position—such as  . . . Paul Shaker, education dean at Simon Fraser University. ‘There's a pretty good feeling about the extent to which we are seeing allies speak up on this.’”
  • But public policy prof John Richards is no ally. He co-authored a guest column in The Vancouver Sun saying: “To abandon the universal FSA would be a huge step backwards for students, parents and educators alike. . . . B.C.'s FSA data are among the best educational research data in Canada.”
  • Meanwhile, the Victoria Times Colonist carried an editorial saying: “The union representing B.C. teachers is simply wrong.” The paper cited the critical role that BC’s Foundation Skills Assessment tests played in C. D. Howe Institute research by Richards, leading to “an important report on improving the success of aboriginal students.”
  • The Windsor Star and Regina Leader-Post picked up last week’s editorials from the Calgary Herald and the Ottawa Citizen, citing research by Richards on the gap in education levels between aboriginals and non-aboriginals.

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

  • The Province featured the opening last week of the movie The Day The Earth Stood Still. And it noted that sets include the Burnaby campus of SFU, “dressed up as a military installation.” The story also ran in the Financial Post pages of National Post.

 

ATHLETICS

  • Lacrosse for Christmas in Costa Rica? Sure, thanks to physician Don Hedges, president of the Coquitlam Adanacs lacrosse club—and teacher of Kinesiology 241 at SFU. The New Westminster Record and Coquitlam Now featured his support of a Costa Rican effort to start up a national field lacrosse team. He plans to take seven lacrosse players there Dec. 20-Jan. 5, including SFU’s Curtis Manning, a fourth-year kinesiology student and former New Westminster junior A captain.
  • Coquitlam Now and the Tri-City News featured Port Moody's Marni McMillan, who has signed up with the Clan women's soccer program for 2009. “The Heritage Woods senior will be following in family footsteps, as mother Taimi was a Clan swim team member from 1981-83, where she earned NAIA All-American status.”
  • CBC.ca featured Hockey Night in Punjabi (every Saturday on cable from Rogers, Bell and Shaw, and streamed on CBCSports.ca). Kanwal Singh Neel of SFU Education said English and Punjabi share some words: “An example in hockey would be the word ‘goal’."

COMING UP

  • Blusson Hall and other SFU spots will be featured on the Living Vancouver show on CBC-TV Jan. 7-8. Host Jaeny Baik toured the Burnaby campus. For the Jan. 7 show Baik interviewed Corinne Chang, a mature student in the Integrated Studies Program at the Vancouver campus, and for the Jan. 8 program Brian Corrie, technical director of SFU’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in the Mathematical and Computational Sciences (IRMACS). Living Vancouver airs at 3 p.m. those dates.

ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Prince George Citizen looked at the potential impact of switching to a municipal police force instead of continuing to use the RCMP.  Among those quoted was RCMP assistant commissioner Peter German, who, the Citizen noted, did his graduate thesis at SFU on the topic of RCMP contracts with municipalities.
  • The Vancouver Sun reported 400,000 British Columbians suffer from hearing loss, but many don’t use or can’t afford hearing aids. Among those quoted was Inna Fadyeyeva of   hearing-aid company Beltone. She wrote her MBA thesis at SFU on BC's hearing-care policy.

FOOTNOTE

  • The next edition of SFU People in the News will be issued Wednesday Dec. 24.  Then the report will take a vacation break, and will return on Thursday Jan. 22.  Happy holidays to all!

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