Sep 18, 2003

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Brinkman wins innovator award
SFU assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry Fiona Brinkman is the recipient of the Science Council of B.C.'s 2003 young innovator award. It honours a person under the age of 40 who has had a significant impact on B.C. science and technology either in a business, academic or collaborative environment. The recipient has to have been the key developer of a new innovation or research breakthrough. Brinkman has proven herself to be a leader in bioinformatics research, a field that uses computers to study the genomes of infectious disease-causing agents. Brinkman's work has led to a new understanding of a drug resistant bacterium that can be fatal to cystic fibrosis patients and those with compromised immune systems. She is also the inventor of a novel web-based tool that visually displays a simplified view of multi-gigabyte datasets of genomic sequencing and highlights information relevant to infectious diseases. Brinkman's tool guides researchers to where they should look for potentially lethal pathogens in this vast amount of data. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology previously named Brinkman one of the world's top 100 young innovators.

Chiu thesis recognized
Grace Chiu, who recently completed her doctoral studies at SFU, has won the Statistical Society of Canada's Pierre Robillard award for the best doctoral thesis in statistics defended at a Canadian university in 2002. Chiu's paper put forth a method of analyzing statistical data that makes it easier for researchers to assess the abruptness of changes in trend. Chiu is currently doing a post-doctoral research program through the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences (PIMS) at the University of Washington.

Ethics board revises guidelines
SFU's research ethics board (REB) has further refined its guidelines on what constitutes research that can be excluded from the REB's ethics review process. The recently revised policy states that research falling within the public domain (based on interviews or materials collected from agencies/officials who inform the public) does not have to undergo ethics review. The previous policy was more restrictive in that it interpreted public domain as information accessible through freedom of information legislation.

Among other types of research that can be excluded from REB reviews, is research on ancient unidentifiable human remains. Political sensitivities underlying archaeological research that may be subject to native land claims and involving native burial sites have raised questions about the exclusion of ancient human remains from ethical reviews. SFU's REB policy stipulates that if ancient human remains are found to be truly unidentifiable (i.e., not connected to a living or deceased individuals or to groups) then the research is not subject to a REB review. Last year the REB reviewed about half a dozen research proposals involving native artifacts and ancient human remains.

Mondor aims for Olympics
Summer was anything but lazy for SFU biology major Emilie Mondor. The track star, a former Clan team member who now runs for Adidas, finished 12th at the world championships in Paris at the end of August and now has a shot at competing in the 2004 Olympics. Earlier this summer she beat her personal best in the women's 5,000 metres at the Canada Dry 2003 Canadian senior track and field championships in Victoria in July. Mondor beat her personal best time by four seconds, also surpassing the previous championship record. In early August she bettered that with a new personal best time at the British Grand Prix in London, finishing seventh and qualifying for the world championships. Mondor is currently taking a break at home in Macouche, Quebec.

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