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SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - November 20, 2008

November 20, 2008

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A look at how SFU and its people made news: Nov. 14-20, 2008              
  • In The Vancouver Sun, the biggest headline type since the election of Barack Obama, for a groundbreaking theory from SFU biologist Bernard Crespi. In Nature, a story on a key research hit by chemist Hogan Yu.
  • All over BC, big coverage of Vancouver’s civic election, featuring SFU experts Kennedy Stewart, Patrick Smith, Anthony Perl, Terri Evans and Rob Gordon. And in Maclean’s, more details of how SFU fared in themagazine’s ranking of universities.
  • But first, a tweet from SFU Public Affairs and Media Relations . . . .

SFU TWITTER

  • There are two new ways to follow news from SFU Public Affairs and Media Relations on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sfu will keep you up-to-date with SFU’s news releases and SFU News stories, while http://www.twitter.com/pamr will connect you with “Pam R.”—the eyes, ears and "voice" of the department.

BC NEWS

  • The main front-page headline in The Vancouver Sun: “SFU biologist's theory called one of greatest since Freud's”. And it was in the biggest type since the Sun reported the election of Barack Obama. The story began:
    “In what's being hailed as one of the most important contributions to psychiatry since those of Sigmund Freud, a researcher at Simon Fraser University has published a groundbreaking theory that could change the scientific thinking around mental illness.
    Bernard Crespi, an evolutionary biologist at SFU, has developed a theory—with the help of Christopher Badcock, a sociologist at the London School of Economics—that suggests a ‘genetic tug of war’ could be behind mental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.”
    Canwest News Service sent the story across the country.
    SFU also sent out a news release on the Crespi theory, which was earlier reported in the New York Times.
    Closer to home, the Early Edition show on CBC Radio in Vancouver also interviewed Crespi. And the New York Times story continued to roll around the blogosphere.
  • Biomedical physiologist Max Donelan, head of the team that invented the Bionic Energy Harvester (that “knee-brace” device that generates electricity as you walk) did a big interview on the Early Edition show on CBC Radio.
  • Marking BC’s 150th birthday, The Vancouver Sun featured the H.Y. Louie Co. Ltd., founded in 1903 by immigrant peasant Hok Yat Louie and now BC’s second-largest business after the Jimmy Pattison empire. Grandson Brandt Louie, SFU’s chancellor, is an executive power at H.Y. Louie, London Drugs, and IGA Canada.
  • Another BC150 story looked at the history of organized labour in BC. Mark Leier, director of the Centre for Labour Studies at SFU, was quoted: “It is only by organizing and fighting that we have any rights at all.”
  • Anthony Gurr, master of education student and veteran videogame developer, was on the CBC Radio show On the Coast, talking about the big multiplayer game World of Warcraft. The release of the game’s latest expansion had people lining up at midnight to get their copy.
  • Kaitlyn Boros, a student in SFU’s undergraduate semester in dialogue on health, wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun on her volunteer work in an eldercare home. She suggested volunteers be permitted to offer “a wider range of services, care that nurses are too busy for.”
  • The Vancouver Sun ran a story on the Asian Development Bank. It quoted Shaheen Nanji, SFU’s director of international development, as saying Canada could be trying harder to get more contracts with the bank. Added the Sun: “SFU, for example, snagged its first contract with the ADB in 1997 to work on an education project in Indonesia. Since then, it has received five more, each lasting between six months and several years.”
  • Burnaby Now wrote a newsfeature about the new Grand Villa casino. Among other things, it noted that for SFU math prof Luis Goddyn, “casino revenues have meant major improvements to city streets that have made conditions safer and more comfortable for cyclists.” Goddyn is chair of the Burnaby chapter of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, and commutes by bike to SFU Burnaby.

NATIONAL NEWS

  • With some big Olympic sponsors facing financial woes, the Globe and Mail wondered: “Are economic vultures beginning to hover over the 2010 Winter Olympics?” The paper quoted SFU marketing prof Lindsay Meredith: "You're damned right VANOC [the Olympic organizing committee] should be worried. If some of these sponsors are forced to drop out for financial reasons, before their funds are allocated, that's pretty serious."
  • Business prof John Peloza wrote a guest column in the Financial Post Executive section of National Post on the difficulties of measuring the success of Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. “But without a series of metrics to measure the impact  . . . managers are left with nothing more than guesswork and personal bias.”
  • The Canadian Press reported Barack Obama has been told for security reasons to give up his BlackBerry habit. The story quoted Benedikt Fischer of SFU Health Sciences and the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction: “It's a habituation thing. So you've just got to break the habit. Whereas with smoking, there's a physical dependence."
  • The Financial Post section of National Post carried a story on perks as an attraction for executive and job candidates. Among those quoted was Kirk Hill, executive director of the Career Management Centre at SFU and president-elect of the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers. He said negotiating for perks can boost your clout. "Employers perceive negotiators as having strong skill sets and see them as more confident, and those perceptions lead to faster advancement."
  • International studies prof Andre Gerolymatos was on The National on CBC-TV, in a story on BC woman Khadija Abdul Qahaar, aka Beverly Giesbrecht, who was kidnapped at gunpoint in Pakistan last week. Publisher of web magazine Jihad Unspun, she adopted the name Khadija Abdul Qahaar after converting to Islam after 9/11.
  • Canwest News Service carried a feature on “location-based services” that transform cellphones into personal tour guides. SFU Communication prof Richard Smith said use will depend on pricing. “If taking the phone out of our pocket is going to cost us $5, we're not going to do it." The Vancouver Sun carried the story, among others.
  • Assistant education prof Alyssa Wise was in a feature in University Affairs on the use of video, podcasts, etc., to deliver, or liven up, lectures.  Wise says such tools can allow students to be active participants, but they are only productive when used with a particular learning goal in mind.
  • The Globe and Mail looked at how liberal-leaning think tanks and conservation organizations are suggesting the best way to revive the economy would be for government to finance solutions to pressing environmental problems. The paper carried a note of caution from SFU energy prof Mark Jaccard: “Stimulus packages that involve public subsidies for renewable energy should be kept very modest."
  • The blogsite Outlook for Change (http://www.outlookforchange.ca/) was named a Top 50 Green Technology Blog. Outlook for Change is run by a group of scholars at SFU who are affiliated with the CMA Centre for Strategic Change and Performance Measurement in SFU Business. The editor is Tom Lawrence, Weyerhaeuser professor of change management.
  • Radio station CKNX in Wingham ON covered a speech to an Ontario farm conference by economist Nancy Olewiler, saying farmers must continue to show politicians and the public the importance of ecological goods and services.

 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • A story in Nature looked at biosensor devices that can be run on everyday DVD players rather than requiring specialized and expensive “readers”. It’s all about groundbreaking research led by SFU materials chemist Hua-Zhong (Hogan) Yu.
    The Nature story was pretty technical, but SFU made it more understandable in a news release.
  • A long string of world media picked up a story on a study of the psychological impact on Kashmiris of 20 years of violence between the Indian Army and Kashmiri militants. “A recent study  . . .  found that a third of the study participants had contemplated suicide, a sign of extreme psychological distress.” The study, published in Conflict and Health, was conducted by an international team that included Nathan Ford, PhD student in SFU Health Sciences and head of medicine for Médecins sans Frontières in South Africa.

    We saw the story run in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ghana, Nepal, Thailand, South Africa, South Korea, Guatemala and the U.S.
  • The Afghan Conflict Monitor (http://www.afghanconflictmonitor.org/) an initiative of SFU’s Human Security Report Project at the School for International Studies, reported food and fuel prices have declined slightly over the past month, which could bode well for the country's eight million chronically food-insecure people”.

EDUCATION

  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader carried a special insert this week, Focus on Education. SFU was well featured on two pages.
  • The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada told media that SFU president Michael Stevenson will be among Canadian university heads travelling to India next week to increase student exchanges and research partnerships, They’ll be at a Higher Education Summit sponsored by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • Columnist Barbara Kay, on NationalPost.com, looked at what she called “academic sclerosis” in North American universities, brought on by “viral political correctness”. Still, she wrote, there are some rare campus paradises that explore the intellectual and aesthetic heritages of Western civilization. “From west to east there’s Simon Fraser University, Vancouver Island University, Brock University and St. Thomas University—all offering undergraduate degrees for Great-Books based programs.”

POLICE BEAT

  • Media across Canada reported the BC Coroners Service brought in two forensic anthropologists from SFU to help investigate the crash of an aircraft on Thormanby Island that killed seven people. RCMP did not name the SFU experts, but we spotted Mark Skinner and one of his students in the background on GlobalTV.
    We saw the story in and on more than 80 media outlets.
  • Criminologist Brenda Morrison, co-director of SFU’s Centre for Restorative Justice, starred in a rally in Richmond to mark Bullying Awareness Week. This from the Family Channel and PREVNet, a national network of researchers, NGOs and governments committed to stop bullying.
    Earlier, Morrison was on CFAX Radio in Victoria, talking about restorative justice—and about the lecture at SFU she organized this week by Manjit and Suman Virk, parents of murdered teen Reena Virk. Reena was brutally bullied—and then was killed by a group of teens on Vancouver Island in 1997.
    Burnaby Now and the Tri-City News did advance stories on the lecture, using a news release sent out by SFU. The lecture drew a full house, and was covered by CITY-tv, CKNW, Metro, and Sing Tao.
    Morrison was also in a Tri-City News story on a conflict-resolution program at Maillard middle school: “We know that restorative practices, from other research, increase school connectedness and decrease school exclusion.”
  • Speaking of bullying: The On the Coast show on CBC Radio did a story on a public lecture Nov. 19 at SFU Surrey, on Bullying in the Classroom.
  • Vancouver Sun columnist Ian Mulgrew reported private marijuana growers in BC are clamouring to provide legal pot for medical purposes. He cited estimates in 2006 by SFU economist Stephen Easton of an underground provincial wholesale market of $2.2 billion—dwarfing any other BC agricultural product.
    Now, said Easton: “I imagine with all the market turmoil the domestic marijuana industry will pick up a bit. It's just had a 15- to 20-per-cent bump in two months."
  • The Ottawa Sun reported that two eldercare workers in Ottawa were charged with assaulting seniors. The paper quoted SFU gerontologist Charmaine Spencer, co-chair of the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse: “The needs of people providing the care and the needs of seniors receiving care have increased but the training level and support and mentoring in some facilities hasn't kept up.”
  • The Canadian Press reported on a number of muggings (and one killing) aimed at stealing teenagers’ iPods. SFU criminologist Ray Corrado was quoted: "If you have an iPod and you're walking down the street into a neighbourhood where they think they can kick punch, grab and run, they will. They know what they're doing." We saw the story in two dozen media outlets.
  • The Nanaimo Daily News did a story on the Supreme Court of Canada’s examination of laws under which provinces seize property deemed to be the proceeds of crime.  BC has seized some $5 million in cash and property, including the clubhouse of the Nanaimo Hells Angels. SFU criminologist David MacAlister said the Supreme Court would likely uphold such laws—which then would be used even more.
  • Edmonton radio station 880AM did a story on the use of cyber-technology in courtrooms. It quoted California-based jury consultant Sonia Chopra, who, it noted, interviewed jurors as part of research at SFU. “I think jurors are expecting more technology in the courtroom.”

SFU ATHLETICS

  • Dave Johnson, head coach of the Clan football team and Canada West coach of the year for 2008, is also in the running for Canadian Interuniversity 2008 Coach of the Year. He’ll know Nov. 21 if he made it in a contest with Glen Constantin of Laval, Pat Sheahan of Queen's, and Steve Sumarah of Saint Mary's.
  • As ever, SFU Athletics kept media up to speed as:
    • Laurelle Weigl’s 23 points led the #1 ranked Clan women’s basketball team to a 73-60 victory over the UFV Cascades, and a record of 6-1 on the season. The Clan men’s basketball team also beat the Cascades 90-77, to improve to 4-3. Both SFU teams now play the UBC Thunderbirds, at UBC Nov. 21 and at SFU Burnaby Nov. 22.
    • SFU’s men’s and women’s soccer teams lost decisions on penalty kicks in the 2008 NAIA Association of Independent Institutions championship in San Antonio TX.
      The women went 0-0 in their final against the Cal State San Marcos Cougars, then lost 7-6 on penalty kicks. The Clan went into the final by defeating the Lambuth University (Jackson TN) Lady Eagles 7-0, including a hat trick from Marti Dumas. Despite the loss, the women qualified for the NAIA National Championship with an at-large berth, and will host an opening-round game Nov. 22, against Rocky Mountain College of Billings MT.
      The SFU men were 0-0 against the Lambuth University Eagles in their final, then lost 6-5 on penalty kicks. The men got to the final against Lambuth by beating the Thomas University Night Hawks 4-0.
      The men’s soccer team did not earn an at-large NAIA berth. But four players were named to the all-tournament team: Todd Lucyk, Anthony DiNicolo, Colin Streckmann and Lucas Barrett.
    • Oregon State Beavers outmatched the Clan men’s wrestlers 39-3 in a tournament at Lake Stevens WA. In a later match at Forest Grove OR, four members of the Clan men’s wrestling team finished in third place. The men’s and women’s wrestling teams take part in three tournaments in Oregon this weekend.
    • Meanwhile, The Vancouver Sun selected BC’s top male and female BC athletes, to mark BC’s 150th birthday. Among those in the category of “starred in BC” (i.e., they aren’t from BC) was SFU wrestler Daniel Igali, who won 116 consecutive matches at SFU from 1997-1999, won the world title in 1999 and captured gold at the 2000 Summer Olympics.

CIVIC ELECTIONS

  • SFU’s Kennedy Stewart, political scientist and public policy prof, was prominent in media coverage of Vancouver’s civic election:
    • Among others on GlobalTV, he questioned new mayor Gregor Robertson’s unqualified promise that “We are going to end homelessness in Vancouver.” In the end, said Stewart: “It will depend on Gregor’s relationship with the province.” (Robertson later added his usual caveat “by 2015”.)
    • In a post-election story on the landslide victory for Robertson and his left-centre colleagues, Stewart told The Province newspaper: “If the left unites, they will always beat the right in this city. It happened in 2002, and it happened again tonight."
    • In The Vancouver Sun, Stewart said there seemed to be a high degree of voter dissatisfaction with the NPA-dominated council. "Almost half the city when asked said the city is in worse shape.”
    • He was in a Globe and Mail pre-election story, noting he had drafted a list of at least nine subjects for an exit poll of voters, but there might as well just be one. "Over the last week, the biggest has been the Olympic Village bailout."
    • In a later story, the Globe and Mail said: “Exit polls conducted by Simon Fraser University professor Kennedy Stewart showed that the controversy was important to 50 per cent of the people surveyed and influenced the way they voted. Of that number, 70 per cent cast a ballot for Mr. Robertson.”
    • The exit poll found 20% of voters said homelessness was their No. 1 concern, and of those 72% voted for Robertson. Said Stewart in The Vancouver Sun: “Robertson way back in June said homelessness was his No. 1 issue. They picked the right issue and they pushed it."
    • Stewart’s exit poll, incidentally, predicted the Vision Vancouver-COPE landslide as early as 3pm on voting day, five hours before the polls closed. The exit poll also looked at voters by ethnicity, age, and other factors. It’s a joint effort of SFU’s graduate public policy program, The Vancouver Sun, and the Think City Society.
    • In post-election analysis in The Vancouver Sun, Stewart said new voters helped clinch the mayor's chair for Robertson, while "the NPA voters sat on their hands a bit." The poll also saw a clear ethnic split in the electorate, with 65 per cent of Chinese voters choosing Ladner compared to just 35 per cent of white voters.
    • In the Toronto Star, Stewart said the leak of a secret document made Vancouver look unstable to the international business community.
    • Stewart was in a story in The Province on how candidates whose names top the list on the ballot tend to do better in local elections. Said Stewart: "It's a huge disadvantage to people who have last names that are not beginning with A and B."
    • And he was in another Province story, saying the at-large electoral system used by all BC municipalities works best for small communities. In Vancouver, he noted, the civic parties focus on where their voter base is located. "It's the people in those areas that actually set the entire agenda for the election, and the priorities of city council.”
    • In the same vein, he said in a Vancouver Sun advance story that the NPA could count on 40,000-50,000 votes in most elections from the southwest section of Vancouver.
  • The Canadian Press looked at the role of Robertson and Whistler mayor Ken Melamed re: the 2010 Winter Olympics. CP quoted Anthony Perl, director of SFU’s Urban Studies Program. He said the two will have “mostly a ceremonial role'', but if there are protests in the streets “at that point people expect the mayor to be involved.”
  • SFU political scientist Patrick Smith was also in The Province in a post-election story, saying the Olympic village controversy was significant, because “about half the voters made up their mind in the last week or 10 days, which meant that the salience of the Olympic Village bailout really did play on their minds.” The story also ran in the Victoria Times Colonist.
    Smith was also in The Vancouver Sun, noting how, with the exception of Vancouver and Coquitlam, most municipalities stuck with their old regimes. “It was almost like the electorate collectively said that the folks we've got, we're going to keep at the moment."  This story also ran in the Victoria Times Colonist and the Nanaimo Daily News.
    As well, Smith was also in The Vancouver Sun, saying the results suggest efforts by Vision Vancouver and the Coalition of Progressive Electors to reach out to immigrant voters this campaign were a success.
  • And Smith was in a Vancouver Sun story on how two BC Liberal cabinet ministers (Mary Polak and Rich Coleman) declared support in an ad for specific candidates for the Langley school board. Smith said it’s unusual for provincial politicians to become involved in school board elections—and not a good practice given that they already hold much sway over educational issues.
  • Political Science instructor Terri Evans told the Vancouver Courier that Robertson has more pressure on him to show results in his first term in office than previous mayors. "He's really got until 2010 to show people he's doing things."
  • A pre-election survey by The Vancouver Sun found only one in five Lower Mainland candidates supporting the idea of a regional police force. “Some experts—such as Rob Gordon, head of Simon Fraser University's school of criminology—have argued the region would be better served by a single, unified police department.”
  • And a pre-election story by CBC Radio on homelessness as an issue noted: “An estimated 2,000 people now live on Vancouver's streets, according to figures released in April by Simon Fraser University's Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction.”

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

  • The W2 Community Media Arts Centre announced more details of its planned arts and culture centre, which would complement the Woodwards redevelopment and the move to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside of SFU Contemporary Arts. Founding members include SFU’s student radio station, CJSF, and associate members include the SFU Student Society.
  • The Peace Arch News featured Jessica Bruhn, 23, starring (in girl-as-principal-boy tradition) in the Christmas pantomime, The Princess and the Pea, from the Fraser Valley Gilbert & Sullivan Society. She is studying English and publishing at SFU.
  • The Burnaby NewsLeader reported that the world champion SFU Pipe Band will be in Burnaby's annual Santa Claus parade on Nov. 22, for the first time in four years. Meanwhile, the Boundary Bulletin in Grand Forks BC reported that Andrew Smith of Calgary was awarded the title Alberta Champion of Piobaireachd and Light Music, Professional Class, at the Red Deer (AB) Highland Games. He’s a piper with the SFU Band.

SFU RELEASES

As well as releases mentioned above, SFU releases this week included ones on:

  • The Down Syndrome Research Foundation’s partnership award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. It acknowledges the DSRF for partnering with leading universities and medical institutions—“chief among them, Simon Fraser University”.
  • The launch by SFU’s University Industry Liaison Office this week of Venture Connection, a new hub to link student, faculty, staff and local entrepreneurs with experienced advisors, funding opportunities, and other business connections. Venture Connection is based at SFU Surrey.

SECOND RUN

  • ScienceNews online ran a story on the discovery by SFU biologist Stephen Takács that the western conifer seed bug locates its only food—western conifer cones—by infrared detection. He is the first scientist to discover that a plant-eating animal uses IR radiation to find its food. New York-based Natural History magazine and Atlas Geographic magazine also were working on the story, and the latter asked Takács for a photo.
    The story continued to circulate in the blogosphere, and turned up, for example, on ScienceNewsforKids.org. Other media carried the story in October, but the news also showed up this week in the Barriere (BC) Star-Journal.
  • The Surrey-North Delta Leader picked up an SFU news release of Oct. 29 that reported SFU ranked fourth among comprehensive universities and 20th – up from 21st - among Canada’s top 50 research universities. This according to Re$earch Infosource Inc.’s annual list.
  • The Calgary Herald ran a story on the university rankings issued last week by Maclean’s. SFU, of course, tied for the #1 spot among comprehensive universities with UVic. (See also Maclean’s results below.)
  • Eight small Ontario daily papers ran last week’s story from The Canadian Press on courses in blogging. It featured one from SFU Continuing Studies on blogging, podcasts and social media. It will be offered in April. Maclean’s OnCampus website picked up the story; and it ran on some blogs, too.
  • The Vancouver Sun, The Province and the Ottawa Citizen picked up from last week a Calgary Herald story on a program to help immigrants reduce their home-country accents. SFU’s Kirk Hill was quoted: “Graduates tend to enter the workplace with all of the qualifications . . . but those with strong foreign accents often hit a huge roadblock during their very first phone interview."
  • The Ottawa Citizen and the Windsor Star ran a column from The Vancouver Sun a week ago on the issues that Canada would like to be high on Barack Obama’s agenda. It quoted political scientist Alexander Moens as saying: “It will be a challenge for Canada to get on his agenda.”

MACLEAN’S RESULTS

  • Maclean’s magazine hit newsstands Nov. 14 with the details of its 2008 university rankings. SFU was in a first-place tie with University of Victoria in the overall rankings of 11 comprehensive universities. That’s up from #2 in 2007 and is our best standing in Maclean’s since the year 2000.
    (In 2006 we were #4; in 2005, #3, tied with Guelph; in 2004, #4; in 2003, #4, in 2002, #2; in 2001, #2; in 2000, #1; and in 1999, #2 tied with Waterloo.)
    As well:
  • Among the 11 comprehensives:
    • SFU placed first in faculty awards, SSHRC grants, medical/science grants (NSERC plus CIHR) and in operating budget.
    • We were second only to Waterloo in student awards.
    • And we were third in the Maclean’s reputational survey, in percentage of budget spent on student services and in library acquisitions.
  • Nationally, among 48 Canadian universities, in Maclean’s “national reputational ranking”:
    • Best overall: SFU placed 13th
    • Most innovative: SFU also placed 13th
    • Leaders of Tomorrow: SFU was 14th
    • Highest quality: SFU was 17th

ALSO in the NEWS

  • Burnaby Now reported two honours for UniverCity: a 2008 Best Practices in Affordable Housing award from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for the 60-unit Verdant residential project; and a Gold Award and third-place ranking overall in the Sustainable Projects Category at the 2008 LivCom Awards. (The LivCom Awards, presented this year in Dongguan, China, are backed by the United Nations Environment Program.)
  • Speaking of UniverCity, its former CEO and president, Michael Geller, finished 12th in the race for 10 Vancouver council seats on Nov. 15. With 44,353 votes, he was only some 1,500 off the pace.
  • The head of fundraising at Queen's University, David Mitchell, is stepping down just over a year into the job to lead the Ottawa-based Public Policy Forum. He’s a former V-P of external relations at SFU.
  • Rogers Broadcasting this week named Paul Ski as its CEO. He most recently was the President of CHUM Radio. “Paul holds an MBA from Simon Fraser University and is the current Chairman of the Radio Council of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters.”

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