July 8, 2004

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Roth earns gold medal
SFU history instructor Nadine Roth, who has been working on her PhD thesis for the past three years, recently completed it and won the Governor General's gold medal for best graduate student at the University of Toronto. Her dissertation, The Architecture of Identity: Re-imagining Berlin as Imperial Capital and Modern Metropolis, 1890-1936, also earned her the Canadian Historical Association's 2004 John Bullen prize for best history dissertation in Canada. Roth is now an assistant history professor at SFU.

Sitter awarded statistics prize
“I could prove God statistically.” So said George Gallup, creator of the famous Gallup Poll. The SFU department of statistics and actuarial science might not aspire to such a feat but its prize-winning faculty would be up to the challenge.For the second consecutive year, a SFU statistics and actuarial professor has won the Statistical Society of Canada's prize in statistics. Randy Sitter won the 2004 prize for his outstanding contributions to the statistical sciences within 15 years of earning his doctorate. Sitter has made research contributions in the analysis of complex survey data with some emphasis in resampling methods and the design and analysis of experiments with applications to industry. Last year, statistics and actuarial science professor Charmaine Dean, who is also the associate director of the Institute for Health Research and Education, won the award.

Bargaining continues with two groups
Negotiations between the university and the administrative and professional staff association (APSA) have been extended. Talks are progressing with a view to reaching an agreement as soon as possible. The current agreement on salary and benefits ended on June 30. Bargaining has also recently begun between the university and the teaching support staff union (TSSU).

Opinions sought on learning centre
Should there be a student learning centre at SFU? The university's student learning services task force is requesting written comments and suggestions about whether to establish a student learning centre aimed at enhancing student academic support. The task force intends to address such issues as services, infrastructure to house and equip the services, and practices that will create opportunities for students to develop knowledge and skills. The deadline for submissions is July 12 at 4 p.m. Send electronic submissions to or address paper submissions to Phil Winne at the faculty of education.

Williams receives special grant
Simon Fraser University physiological ecologist Tony Williams and 13 researchers at other Canadian universities have secured one of the first special research opportunities grants to be awarded by a national granting agency. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) created the awards program in 2003 to support activities that lay the groundwork for major primary research. Williams, the Canadian coordinator of a national network is researching the link between avian reproduction and environmental change. He has been awarded $117,100 over three years.

Williams and his collaborators will use the funding to stage a conference at SFU in 2006. The event will bring together international experts in ecology, endocrinology, the study of hormones, and physiology to assess the extent to which bird populations are changing in response to climate change. The NSERC funding will also finance the participation of Canadian researchers in a broader international network with workshops, technical meetings and lab exchanges staged by European and American collaborators engaged in the same area of study.

Stevenson named to advisory council
President Michael Stevenson has been named to a new advisory council to the minister of Advanced Education. The council will provide input and perspectives on a variety of issues related to post-secondary education. The 18-member council includes students, institutional and aboriginal representatives, faculty and industry members and others involved in post-secondary education. They serve on a voluntary basis and are appointed for one year. The council will meet twice a year and will hold its first meeting in the fall. Also named to the council is Bob Brown, co-chair of the B.C. Council on Admissions and Transfers. Brown was a long-time member of the SFU community and served in a number of senior positions including dean of interdisciplinary studies and dean of arts.

Ward was former VP
The unexpected death of Roger Ward shocked members of the university community late last month. Ward served the university for 28 years prior to his early retirement in 2001, and is survived by his wife and two daughters. Ward arrived at the university in 1973 as a postdoctoral student in physics later earning an MBA from SFU. He joined financial services in 1978 as a financial analyst and went on to a long career at SFU including 11 years as VP-finance and administration. During his tenure, the university went through a period of remarkable growth and change. In retirement, Ward continued his connection with the university, serving on the board of the SFU Community Trust. In an announcement to the university President Michael Stevenson said, “Roger will be sorely missed by his many friends and colleagues in the SFU community, as well as in the community at large.” The family has asked that those wishing to remember Roger make a donation to the Roger Ward and Avora Hamilton endowment fund at SFU.

Dutton named to Royal Society
History and humanities professor Paul Dutton has been named a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of the Sciences and Humanities. Fellowship in the society is one of the most prestigious academic accolades to which scholars and scientists aspire. New fellows will be inducted to the society in a ceremony in the fall.

de Castell honoured for research
SFU education professor Suzanne de Castell is the recipient of a Woman of Distinction award announced June 10. She receives the award in the category of Learning for Life. The award recognizes de Castell's commitment to education research, including such projects as Einstein's Sisters, which studied gender equity and technology. De Castell, whose academic contributions are widely respected, also developed Computers for Lunch, an online technology skills program aimed at providing free, easily accessible and relevant technology skills for novice users, teachers, parents and students as well as professional development and job training programs.

Two other SFU faculty were also nominated in the category, including English professor Carole Gerson, who in 2002 launched an online database to support research on early Canadian women writers, and associate business professor Blaize Horner Reich, who spearheaded the development of a masters of technology MBA, including a biotechnology specialization. In the category of young trail builders, three SFU students were also nominated, including Tracy Chandler, who helped launch a volunteer health care program in Malaysia, Iranian student Nicki Kahnamoui, and track star Carlene Van Tongeren.

Gill named VP-university relations
Warren Gill, a long-serving and valued member of SFU's senior administrative team, has been named VP-university relations, effective Sept. 1. Gill, a geographer, was instrumental in the development and expansion of the Harbour Centre campus and the successful renovation and operation of the Morris Wosk centre for dialogue. He also played an active and important role in the negotiations for the building for the Segal graduate school of business and for the SFU Surrey space at Central City.

In addition, he assured SFU's participation in the Great Northern Way campus development. He is well-known in the community-at-large through his long association with continuing studies and other outreach programs, and through his extensive civic engagement.

Learning showcase seeks volunteers
The SFU learning and instructional development centre (LIDC) is looking for faculty, staff, instructors and others willing to share their new learning technologies, multimedia projects or other innovative strategies for teaching at the first annual teaching, learning and research showcase on Sept. 22. The purpose of the showcase is to enhance teaching, learning and research through informal demonstrations of innovations such as interactive learning websites, games, simulations and interactive learning objects. To participate, send a proposal to or by fax to 604-291-4900. For further information, contact Andrea Joseph at 604-268-6570.

Li's biochip draws industry interest
Paul Li's tiny lab-on-a-biochip is attracting a lot of attention from researchers and media in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. A biochip is a collection of miniaturized test sites arranged on a solid substrate that permits many tests to be performed at the same time. The SFU assistant professor of chemistry uses his invention to study the medicinal properties of compounds he has extracted from herbs. Li designed and fabricated the biochip lab to make single cell analysis a reality. The lab is only half the size of a credit card, yet has channels for separation and analysis of individual bioactive herbal ingredients and a chamber to test the effect of individual ingredients on a human or animal cancer cell.

Li's invention will be significant to the pharmaceutical industry and complementary medicine, which faces rigorous drug testing to comply with government regulation. In the March 25, 2004 web issue of Lab on a Chip, a chemical journal, expert reviewers identified a story about Li's microfluidic chip as a hot article.

See: cover of the June issue of Lab on a Chip also featured an image of Li's invention: the single-cell fluorescence utility chip. Another journal, Chemical Sciences, highlighted Li's invention in its May 2004 issue. See:

Saskatchewan honours Richards
Associate professor of business administration John Richards has been honoured with the Saskatchewan distinguished service award. The award recognizes non-residents of the province who have made outstanding contributions to Saskatchewan and the development of its economy and society. Richards was a Saskatchewan MLA from 1971 to 1975. His analysis and advice made an important contribution to the development of programs that support employment for low-income families in the province.

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