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April 28, 2005

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Patents sold to U.S. firm
Patents representing the work of SFU professor of engineering science Jim Cavers were recently sold to Andrew Corp., a U.S. firm that designs and manufactures wireless communications infrastructure.The patents are for new, radio amplifiers that can not only reduce the radio interference in cellular phone systems but also handle wider bandwidth signals than previously possible. “Even digital video broadcasts can now be transmitted through a single radio amplifier without creating interference,” says Cavers. Teri Lydiard of the university industry liaison office arranged for the sale of the patents.

Media relations wins gold
Simon Fraser University's media and public relations department has won a gold award in the best news release category (English) of the 2005 Prix d'Excellence competition. The Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE), a national organization fostering the advancement of Canadian post-secondary institutions coast to coast, hosts the prestigious annual competition. Carol Thorbes, an information officer with the media and public relations department since 1999, wrote and disseminated the gold award winning news release, Plant power solves crime, in January of 2004.

The news release revealed how SFU botanist Rolf Mathewes uses his knowledge of ancient plant fossils to help solve high profile murders. It generated international media coverage that highlighted SFU's plans to establish a forensic institute. Before joining SFU, Thorbes did communications work for a high-tech company. She was also an award-winning reporter at CBC radio and television.

Five women nominated for awards
They're leaders, they're inspirational and they're nominated for the 2005 Vancouver YWCA women of distinction awards. Four SFU staff and faculty members and an SFU board of governors' member are among this year's nominees: Pat Hibbitts VP-finance and administration, (the first woman in western Canada to hold this university position); Judy Oberlander, director of the award-winning city program; and Nancy McKinstry, an SFU governor and founder of the Minerva Foundation, were all nominated in the business and the professions category; Margo Moore, professor of biology, was nominated in the science, technology and the environment category; and track coach Brit Townsend was nominated in the recreation, sport and healthy living category. Winners will be announced May 19.

SFU earns four more research chairs
SFU has been awarded four more Canada Research Chairs (CRC) in the latest round of grants. Assistant professor of chemistry Byron Gates will hold a tier II Canada research chair in surface chemistry; Bozena Kaminska, professor of engineering science, will hold a tier 1 chair in wireless sensor networks; professor of mathematics Bojan Mohar will hold a tier 1 chair in graph theory; and Stephen Robinovitch, associate professor of kinesiology, will hold a tier II chair in injury prevention and mobility biomechanics.

For each tier I or senior chair, SFU receives $200,000 annually for seven years with the option to renew indefinitely. Funding for tier II chairs is $100,000 annually for a five-year term, renewable once. The money is to cover the research costs, infrastructure support, salaries and benefits of individuals named to the chairs. The CRC program aims to boost recruitment and retention of top-notch researchers in Canada.

Surrey connects to B.C. Net
SFU Surrey will soon be connected to the B.C. Net optical regional advanced network, thanks to provincial government funding. The network is a critical piece of infrastructure for research and education projects across B.C. and connects to all B.C. universities as well as other major research centres. New enhancements to the network will enable researchers to transmit massive quantities of data and interconnect scientific equipment, instruments, sensors and databases.

Alumni appeal raises $153,555
The spring 2005 alumni annual appeal calling program has set a new record, raising $153,555 from 2,900 donors for scholarships, bursaries and the library. To surpass last year's record of $150,000, 45 student callers spoke with almost 11,000 alumni -1,100 more than last year. Other record-breakers this spring included a new donor gift of $2,000 and an increase in the average gift, with alumni donating an average $52.95, up from last year's $49.95. “Raising money is only part of what we're doing,” explains Sofia Janmohamed, development officer for the annual campaign. “We're also building important relationships with our alumni.”

Fawkes wins for wireless innovation
Need the name of a good hotel in Sydney, Australia or the key to defeating the devil wizard in your favourite video game? SFU executive MBA student Geoff Fawkes' clever idea for a mobile service that uses text messaging to provide the correct answer to simple questions recently won the student prize in the 2005 WINBC wireless innovation contest's leapfrog category. The leapfrog category recognizes wireless innovations with promising potential for commercial success. Fawkes came up with the idea for www.WirelessFriend.com last year and developed it further during a new ventures course that is part of his studies at SFU. Fawkes' idea, one of three selected in the leapfrog category, was judged the best of many submitted from around North America.

Harden's comments in Science journal
As well as seeking to have their research published in prestigious journals such as Science, many scientists also welcome the opportunity to have their perspective on noteworthy research included in the journal. In its April 15 issue, Science has published SFU molecular biologist Nick Harden's perspective on two new major studies. Harden's first perspective to be published in Science, entitled Of Grainy Heads and Broken Skins, analyzes the significance of two studies looking at the evolution of how wounds heal in fruit flies and mice over time. The studies, one of mice, the other of fruit flies (Drosophila), indicate that the mechanism for turning on genes to repair the outer surface of damaged skin in both species dates back 700 million years.

Harden says the finding is significant because, “These studies are further examples that wound healing response pathways existed early in evolution and have been conserved across species over millions of years.” Given that the human, mouse and fruit fly genomes have much in common, these studies have added significance. “They provide us,” says Harden, “with a better understanding of birth defects, such as spina bifida and cleft lip/palette, caused by failure of tissues to join up, and healing of wounds.” Harden's own research focuses on studying evolved wound-healing pathways in fruit flies.

Jun named top science student
For the fifth year in a row a SFU doctoral student has been recognized as one of the top science students in the country. Suckjoon Jun, who completed his PhD in 2004 in physics is one of two runners-up for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council's doctoral prize. Two prize winners and two runners-up are named annually in each of two categories: engineering and computing sciences, and natural sciences.

Jun is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Netherlands. SFU doctoral students have been named as winners three times and runners-up twice in the last five years. “They have been drawn from the faculties of science, applied sciences, and arts and social sciences, attesting to the breadth and strength of scientific research and education at SFU,” says Jon Driver, dean of graduate studies.

$5,000 donated to Scottish project
James Rawlinson, the British Consul General in Vancouver, has donated $5,000 to the burgeoning oral history project in SFU's centre for Scottish studies (CSS). Known as Scottish Voices From the West—The Story of Scots in Modern British Columbia>, the project involves gathering, archiving and disseminating recorded interviews with Scottish immigrants and their descendents in B.C. Project coordinator Harry McGrath says the British consul provided the seed money for another archival project and is now supporting the oral history initiative. So far 35 people, many of them high profile, have delved into their Scottish ancestry on tape for CSS.

The latest was Iona Campagnolo, the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Her great grandfather Finlay Alexander Murchison emigrated from Ross-shire in Scotland to the United States in the 1850s, and from the U.S. to Galiano Island, where as a pioneer settler he helped lay out the island's first roads. A house that he built on Galiano Island's Murchison Bay still stands. To read about more Scots and their descendents in the oral history project see their website.

Student recruitment campaign a success
SFU's 2005 fall student recruitment campaign seems to be a success. In a novel move, the campaign guaranteed admission to most programs for student applicants with an 80 per cent or higher grade point average (GPA) and for applicants with a 90 per cent GPA, a $3,500 scholarship. Jeff Macnab, director of student recruitment and retention, reports a 20 per cent increase in high school applicants over this time last year and a doubling of scholarship offers, from 631 last year to 1,239 this year. “It's good news,” says Macnab, who explains that the campaign's goal was to eliminate high school students' false impression that they needed a GPA well above 80 per cent to be admitted to SFU.

Library features 18th century bonanza
Interested in 18th century English life and literature? It's now possible to read every significant English language and foreign language title printed in the United Kingdom in the 18th century thanks to the SFU Library's new digital resource, Eighteenth Century Collections Online. That's 150,000 printed works comprising more than 33 million pages. The collection also includes thousands of important works from the Americas. It features full-text search capabilities across all 33 million pages and offers important new multidisciplinary research opportunities for researchers in history and geography, the social sciences, music, art and architecture, medicine, science and technology, literature and language, law, religion and philosophy. Materials are based on the English Short Title Catalogue bibliography and are derived from large research libraries around the world.



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