People of SFU

Meet SFU’s top newsmakers of 2020

March 02, 2021

Five SFU faculty and staff members are being recognized with 2020 SFU Newsmaker Awards. These annual awards recognize the commitment of SFU faculty and staff to sharing their expertise with the larger community through the media and social media, as well as leveraging strategic communications to benefit our community.  

The 2020 SFU Newsmaker Award recipients are:

  • Caroline Colijn – Media Newsmaker of the Year
  • Kelley Lee – Media Newsmaker of the Year (shared award)
  • Laya Behbahani – Social Media Newsmaker of the Year
  • Julia Smith – Emerging Thought Leader (ETL) Newsmaker of the Year
  • Katrina Trinidad – Strategic Communicator of the Year

Caroline Colijn, professor, Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Evolution, Infection and Public Health, Faculty of Science – 2020 SFU Media Newsmaker 

Caroline Colijn’s research in mathematical epidemiology and evolutionary biology has been central to the public health response to COVID-19 in Canada and internationally. 

Colijn has been quoted, interviewed and mentioned more than 1,600 times internationally, nationally and across B.C. including 9News Australia, CBC, the Globe and Mail and many others. Colijn’s contributions include sharing and disseminating her impactful research related to COVID-19 modelling, helping to raising public awareness through her media interviews while informing the ongoing and necessary work to address the pandemic.

Colijn has also been recently recognized as Radio-Canada Scientist of the Year Prize and with the 2021 Faculty of Science Excellence in Science Public Engagement and Outreach Award.

Kelley Lee, professor, Canada Research Chair Tier I, Faculty of Health Sciences – 2020 SFU Media Newsmaker 

With close to 600 mentions, including quotes and interviews in The New York TimesThe Washington PostCNN, and even Rolling Stone Magazine, Lee is no stranger to media in Canada and across the globe. Her comments on topics related to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) response to COVID-19 received international coverage in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China. 

Lee’s expertise on global infectious disease governance and the cross-border pandemic response has contributed to increasing awareness and public debate online and in the news.

Laya Behbahani, lecturer, Labour Studies – 2020 SFU Social Media Newsmaker 

Through online participation and social media engagement, Laya Behbahani has helped to raise awareness of issues related to human rights, including advocating for migrant workers and against human trafficking. She told SFU News earlier this year that her own memory of migrant abuse fuels her lifelong support for human rights.

With more than 10, 000 followers on Twitter, she tweets about the struggles of minorities, human right issues and the importance of working with marginalized communities. Behbahani's social media presence encourages others to learn as well as to take action. 

Julia Smith, research associate, Faculty of Health Sciences – 2020 Emerging Thought Leader (ETL) Newsmaker 

Since attending SFU’s ETL program in 2018, Smith’s health research has been mentioned nationally in The National PostHuffington Post and Global News, and in international media including the New York TimesThe GuardianCNNThe Atlantic, and numerous others media outlets.

Most notably, she has been interviewed on the phenomenon of “she-cession,” the term to describe women impacted by economic instability and the complex issues surrounding gender gaps, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on women.  

Katrina (Kat) Trinidad, director, Student Communications – 2020 SFU Strategic Communicator 

By implementing practical and strategic approaches, Trinidad’s passion for student success and bringing student stories to life has advanced the ways the university communicates and engages with students online. Her partnership with SFU’s Communications and Marketing department has led to streamlining of content for undergraduate and graduate students to ensure critical institutional messaging is received by students, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trinidad played a central role in leading the team that delivered SFU’s first virtual convocation. In June 2020, she brought Student Services together with Ceremonies and Events, Communications and Marketing and Advancement to host this hugely successful celebration.