SFU People in the News

June 14, 2012

Media Matters, a report on Simon Fraser University in the news, is compiled and distributed by SFU Public Affairs & Media Relations (PAMR).

This edition is a daily roundup that lists the main items of known media coverage from 8:30 a.m. Wednesday June 13, to 8:30 a.m. today, Thursday June 14.

Snakehead fish | Business | Public health | Gay activism


  • Last week, the snakehead fish seen in Burnaby’s Central Park lagoon was caught, euthanized, and brought to SFU for further study. Biology graduate students Corey Phillis and Michael Beakes—the duo tasked with examining the fish—appeared in a number of stories about the studies they are performing on the fish.
    They say they will need a few more weeks to determine the age and sex of the predatory fish, and how long it has been living in the lagoon.
    Beakes and Phillis say the fish, at 70 cm and 3.4 kg, was close to its maximum size.
    "They're a real threat," Phillis says of the invasive snakehead. "It's probably not established in B.C. but we should remain diligent because it could cause large ecological damage."
    Snakeheads are native to fresh water in Russia and China and have few predators when fully grown. They could pose a severe risk to B.C.'s wild salmon stocks if they reached the nearby Fraser River.
    The researchers plan to dissect the fish, which the Vancouver Sun describes as a “thick-bodied giant slug with a flat head”, to determine its stomach contents and take tissue samples from its liver, muscle and fin to figure out its appetite, age, and sex.
    They will also pull the ear bones—which have rings similar to those found on trees—out of its head, to determine what it was eating as a young fish compared to when it was captured.
    Phillis says snakeheads, which have rows of tiny, sharp teeth on the top and bottom of their mouths as well as randomly distributed large teeth on the roof of the mouth, will eat anything "they can get their mouths around."
    However, Beakes says this would likely only involve fish and would be "surprised if I found a baby duck in its stomach."
    The researchers also say that despite reports that snakeheads are capable of breathing oxygen and moving short distances over land, only juvenile snakeheads are capable.
    The fish will be sent to the Royal British Columba Museum after the investigation is complete.
    Vancouver Sun:
    24 Hours Vancouver:
    The Province:
    The story also appeared on CTV News and Global TV’s 12 o’clock news.
    Burnaby Now also ran a story on the studies to be done to the fish.
  • Biology professor Jonathan Moore, who leads the lab Beakes and Phillis work in, says his team is doing all it can to reveal all the fish’s secrets.
    "We're trying to learn more about the fish, whether it reproduced naturally and when it was dumped," Moore says.
    Fish have ear bones that grow similarly to rings on a tree, he adds. By chemically analyzing the rings, Moore says researchers can learn more about when the fish was dumped in the pond—or if it was dumped there at all.
    "There's a tiny possibility it reproduced naturally, but we're trying to rule out that," he says. "Then we can learn more about why it might have gotten dumped in there. Had it been there for a day, and now it was spotted? Or had it been there for years? And if it's been there for a while what it might be eating."
    Moore also says that afterwards, the snakehead would be going to the Royal British Columbia Museum.
    "My understanding is it's a very important specimen as a new sighting of a species in British Columbia," he says. "It's definitely an important issue and highlights the way there are some impacts from invasive species we can take action against."
    Full story:


  • Business professor Peter Tingling was quoted in a Globe and Mail article about the effect that the struggling economy has on job hiring.
    Tingling says, “There are a lot of employees who may not like their current employer but they’re thinking, ‘Better the devil you know at the moment,’” he says. “When the economy gets better, then they will leave. So those employees are hard to displace if you go and try to recruit one of those.”
    He says employers and employees both can ill-afford to make the wrong move in this economy.
    “When times are tough, mistakes are a lot more costly,” he says. “To a certain degree, the rate of success is a function of the number of tries. You can improve it, but you’re still going to make mistakes. Everybody does. What managers have to do is correct the mistakes faster.”
    He says the vast majority of human resources interviews are like “first dates,” with banal questions that don’t improve the likelihood of hiring the right candidate.
    “Invariably, we hire for the wrong reasons because we ask the wrong questions,” he says. “Typically we ask a very superficial question, such as, ‘On a level of one to 10, what’s your level of initiative?’ But we don’t ask, ‘What are the last four things you did that demonstrated initiative?’ We need to ask questions that are actually tied to the performances and behaviours we’re looking for.”
    Full story:


  • Health sciences professor Bruce Lanphear was in a Huffington Post article about a large shipment children's shoes contaminated with three-times the legal limit for lead that landed at a Seattle port on Wednesday.
    "This doesn't surprise me one bit," says Lanphear. He points out that any single seized shipment may reflect the existence of even more dangerous products that could be slipping across the border. He says that the average person is probably unaware of the range of possibly lead-tainted products on store shelves and in homes—and are unaware of the risks.
    "We don't think much of it," Lanphear says. "But just by putting shoes on and off, lead can get on a kid's hands, and they might put their hands in their mouth."
    Full story:


  • Surrey Now ran a version of an SFU news release about SFU co-hosting a lecture by pioneering gay activists.
    The two activists, ted northe (who spells his name with lower case letters) and Paul Therien, will deliver the first joint public lecture to be hosted by the Surrey Pride Society and SFU’s Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies.
    The event is to be held today, Thursday June 14, at SFU Surrey campus room 3310 at 7 p.m.
    SFU news release:
  • northe also appeared on CBC’s The Early Edition to discuss the lecture with host Rick Cluff.
    “The only way we can help some of these young people going through school and being bullied and going through all the different pitfalls is to let them know that there are resources that will help you,” he says. “You don’t have to be all by yourself. I think that’s what makes this lecture so important; that we let these young people know they do have someone here to help.”
    Early Edition website (today’s edition should be up by tomorrow morning):



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