Outstanding alumni honoured

January 13, 2005, vol. 32, no. 1
By Diane Luckow



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Steven Jones
Leora Kuttner
Bruce Robertson
Shauna Sylvester
Jan Verspoor

Each year, SFU searches for outstanding alumni - people who exemplify the tradition of achievement at SFU. Their passion, commitment, perseverance, strength, creativity, and intelligence are inspirational.


The 2004 outstanding award winners will be honoured on Feb. 16 at the Four Seasons hotel during the outstanding alumni awards dinner. The mistress of ceremonies will be SFU alumna and Vancouver Sun journalist Daphne Bramham, who earned a master of arts in liberal studies from SFU in 1999, and was recipient of the 2003 outstanding alumni award for professional achievement.


This event is open to the public. Tickets are $85 per person or $625 per table of eight before the early bird deadline of Jan. 14. After Jan. 14 tickets are $100 per person or $750 per table of eight. To reserve your ticket or a table contact cheung@sfu.ca or 604-268-6828. Below are the 2004 outstanding alumni.

Steven Jones, Outstanding alumni award for academic achievement Steven Jones
Outstanding alumni award for academic achievement

Steven Jones, who earned an SFU master of science degree in 1994, figures large on the Canadian scientific scene. As head of bioinformatics at the Genome Sciences Centre (GSC), which is a part of the B.C. Cancer Research Centre, he leads the largest bioinformatics group in Canada and one of the largest in the world.

The GSC is Canada's largest DNA sequencing and DNA mapping facility, and has attracted more than $105 million in research grants and contracts.

Jones has contributed to this success, helping to initiate a culture of achievement and leading seminal research and training initiatives. He also played a central role in the sequencing for the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus genome in 2003. Jones is currently an assistant professor of medical genetics at UBC and an adjunct professor of molecular biology and biochemistry at SFU. In July 2002 he founded the CIHR/Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Bioinformatics training program, which mentors 14 graduate students. Jones is also the recipient of a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research scholar award. In addition, Jones has served on the SFU Alumni association board of directors for two consecutive terms ending in 2004.

Leora Kuttner, Outstanding alumni award for professional achievement Leora Kuttner
Outstanding alumni award for professional achievement

Leora Kuttner is internationally renowned for her work in pediatric pain management, and is currently a clinical psychologist and clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia.

She received her PhD in clinical psychology from SFU in 1984 with a ground-breaking dissertation on the treatment of psychological distress and fear in young children with cancer, an area traditionally unrecognized and poorly managed. In her work, Kuttner has established a bridge between professionals, parents and children for acknowledging and effectively responding to the reality of pain and suffering associated with pediatric illness.

She drew on her early training in documentary film making to produce outstanding productions that have changed the face of practice in managing children's pain. Her documentaries No Fears, No Tears: Children with Cancer Coping with Pain and No Fears, No Tears: 13 Years Later, received awards from the Association for the Care of Children's Health, the Health Sciences Communications Association, and the National Council on Family Relations. Kuttner's work also appears in scientific and professional publications. Despite her professional stature and heavy workload, Kuttner maintains her clinical practice in Vancouver and also continues to teach, offering medical practitioners a unique opportunity to learn innovative techniques for pediatric pain management.

Bruce Robertson, Outstanding alumni award for athletic achievement Bruce Robertson
Outstanding alumni award for athletic achievement

Olympian Bruce Robertson, who earned a SFU bachelor of general studies in 1977, won 16 medals for Canada in international competition as a member of Canada's national swim team between 1972 and 1976. At the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, Robertson brought home two of the five medals Canada won - gold in the 100-metre butterfly and a bronze in the 4x100 metre medley relay. At the World Aquatic championships in Belgrade in 1973, he won the gold medal in the 100m butterfly and a relay bronze medal. At the 1974 Commonwealth Games, he won a record-breaking six medals. In recognition of his athletic accomplishments, Robertson received the Order of Canada and was Canada's Male Athlete of the Year in 1973. In 1977, he was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Canadian Aquatic Hall of Fame, the British Columbia Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame. After retiring from swimming, Robertson qualified as a chartered accountant and is now an independent consultant providing strategic advice to public and private sector organizations.

An active volunteer in the Commonwealth Games Federation, Robertson shares his expertise in marketing, branding, business strategy, technology, financial management, and games organization and management. He has served in a number of executive capacities since 1990 and is currently vice-president of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Shauna Sylvester, Outstanding alumni award for service to the community Shauna Sylvester
Outstanding alumni award for service to the community

Shauna Sylvester, who earned a bachelor of arts in 1990, is founder and executive director of the Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society (IMPACS). A charitable organization, IMPACS strives to build strong communities by providing Canadian non-profit organizations with communications training and education and by supporting free, open and accountable media internationally.

As executive director, Shauna is responsible for delivering international media and peace-building programs, which include projects in Cambodia, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Middle East and Guyana. She is also responsible for two other IMPACS programs: the Communications Centre, Canada's first non-profit public relations and training centre, and the Civil Society project, a national policy project aimed at changing the law governing charities in Canada. Sylvester, who has worked for charities since she was 17, founded IMPACS in 1997 and has since expanded it into an international operation with an annual budget of $4 million.

Shauna has also volunteered on dozens of boards and committees at the local, national and international level. In 2001, Shauna co-chaired the Civicus World Assembly in Vancouver, a quadrennial meeting of more than 1,500 foundations and non-profit organizations from around the globe. Currently she represents B.C. on the Voluntary Sector Forum. In 2003, Shauna was recognized as one of Canada's Top 40 Under 40 in the Globe and Mail and received a similar award in 2000 from Business in Vancouver magazine.

Jan Verspoor, Alumni Association Outstanding Student Leadership AwardJan Verspoor
Alumni Association Outstanding Student Leadership Award

Biology undergraduate Jan Verspoor is a gifted scholar who maintains an impressive grade point average while donating his time to a variety of volunteer activities.

Recruiting outstanding high school students into the faculty of science and acting as a community adviser for students living in residence are just a few of the ways in which he contributes to the SFU community.

An avid sportsman, Verspoor plays with the SFU squash club and also enjoys soccer and roller hockey.

During the fall 2004 semester he combined his love of sports and his interest in helping people by volunteering to lead international sports camps for underprivileged children in war-torn countries such as Bosnia, Romania, Croatia and Iran.

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