Top 12 SFU News stories of 2015

December 21, 2015

By Ian Bryce

2015 was a momentous year for Simon Fraser University—we celebrated our 50th Anniversary, made groundbreaking research discoveries, launched a new innovation and entrepreneurship strategy and hosted internationally renowned researchers and artists. Below are the top 12 SFU News stories of 2015.

1. SFU again tops Maclean’s rankings during 50th Anniversary year

Maclean’s Magazine rated SFU the top comprehensive university in Canada. SFU is no stranger to being at the top of the podium—the university placed first in the annual national rankings 12 times over the past 25 years, including seven of the last eight years.


2. SFU scientists help put bedbugs to bed forever

Nighty-night! Bedbugs aren’t going to bite thanks to SFU biologists Gerhard and Regine Gries and chemist Robert Britton. Regine Gries ‘donated’ her blood for five years—enduring 180,000 bites—while the team researched pheromones to lure the insects.


3. SFU’s new innovation strategy and facility to advance technology entrepreneurism

SFU Innovates—a new brand and strategy to support innovation and entrepreneurship—launched on Oct. 1. As part of the launch, SFU opened a new 24,000-square-foot facility in Harbour Centre Tower that expands the capacity of VentureLabs® to make it B.C.’s largest business accelerator.


4. Bill Nye receives honorary degree from SFU

Chants of “Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill!” echoed loudly throughout the Burnaby campus convocation mall on October 8 as students and graduates congratulated Bill Nye (the Science Guy) for receiving a doctorate of science. SFU News chatted with Nye shortly after he delivered a memorable convocation speech.


5. Lower back pain may have ties to our last common ancestor, chimpanzees

Homo sapiens overarching evolution may have developed a crick. SFU post-doctoral fellow Kimberly Plomp finds evidence of a relationship between walking upright and spinal health.


6. Thank you for making Sept. 9 a day to remember

What a day it was! Celebrations across three campuses, unveiling a new legacy anthem, a giant birthday card, fireworks and 3D light projections, and, of course, cake. SFU President Andrew Petter said it best, “SFU is young enough to still party yet old enough to know how.”


7. SFU Public Square Community Summit starts by exploring the importance of universities, housing and culture in city building

SFU Public Square explored pressing issues on city building in their fourth annual community summit We The City. Researchers, artists, students and community groups came to Vancouver from across Canada to discuss challenges and opportunities faced by cities today.


8. Engineering science students unveil screenless computer

Developing technology of the future, SFU Engineering science students designed a computer that projects a user interface onto any surface. Inspired by science fiction, the device runs on Windows and uses a touch interface—just like an iPad.


9. Observatory gets a starring role on campus

Students all across Canada have a front row seat to seeing stars, planets and more thanks to the opening of SFU’s Trottier Observatory this spring. The observatory has a digital feed and remote access available to community groups and schools from coast to coast. Find out how you can take a look with telescope’s Starry Nights @ SFU program.


10. Captain Trevor Greene partners with SFU to walk again

After suffering a debilitating brain injury while on duty in Afghanistan, former Canadian soldier Trevor Greene was told he would likely never walk again. Yet, with the help of SFU neuroscientist Ryan D’Arcy, Greene started his recovery and took his inspiring first steps in September with the aid of a customized exoskeleton.


11. SFU Convocation June 2015

Recent SFU graduates include several remarkable and inspiring stories such as Metro Vancouver’s youngest mayor, a septuagenarian, and brothers who finished their degree in Mechatronic Systems Engineering at the same time.


12. Circa 1948: a 3D story-world like no other

Vancouver’s past came back to life with Circa 1948 at SFU Woodward’s. Developed by the National Film Board’s digital group, Circa 1948 rendered two historic locations—the Hotel Vancouver and Hogan’s Alley—in an immersive 3D story-world for visitors to explore at their leisure.