Faculty experts popular with media

April 05, 2006, volume 35, no. 7
By Marianne Meadahl

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An hour after receiving a 4:10 a.m. call from CBC Radio's Early Edition about the sinking of a B.C. ferry, SFU geographer Warren Gill was in the studio, helping the program's host Rick Cluff guide waking listeners through the story's developments.
Gill's well-known expertise in transportation issues and his particular focus on the shipping industry made him the obvious choice of media looking for expert commentary on the story. Calls from television and print journalists soon followed. They know Gill, like other SFU faculty experts, will make the time to be available - in this case, even before the day begins.

“Events were unfolding quickly, and everyone was looking for answers,” says Gill, whose three-hour on-air stint at CBC included providing commentary about B.C.'s ferry fleet, the history of shipping on the inside passage and the regional impact of the disaster.

SFU faculty experts are frequently called on to provide expertise on issues of the day. “This is one of our roles,” says Gill, who is also SFU's VP-university relations. “When something extraordinary happens we serve our community as a resource, however we are needed.”

Whether commenting on a federal election, a war in Iraq or a tsunami, SFU faculty members have a well-established reputation for providing valuable and timely information and reaction when the media call.
Many also make themselves available for the media and public relations department's weekly media tips sheets, which link SFU faculty experts with issues of the day.

The department has now produced a new online directory of experts, www.sfu.ca/experts/.

The directory is a valuable resource for journalists looking for experts to comment on a wide range of issues as they pursue their stories, from business ethics to obesity.

The new directory allows faculty members to add themselves or make changes.
Max Donelan, an assistant professor in kinesiology who came to SFU a year ago, is among the directory's new additions.

“As a researcher, I think it's important to be able to help the general public become better informed about issues or complex ideas in ways they can understand,” says Donelan, who studies locomotion physiology - the biomechanics of walking and gait.

The directory contains nearly 300 faculty members. New as well as existing faculty are encouraged to check out the site and add their expertise.

Media and public relations staff also provide media training workshops every semester.

For more information on the directory or workshops contact Marianne Meadahl or Julie Ovenell-Carter at mediaext@sfu.ca.

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