Combatting Global Warming

Plant molecular biologist Dua’a Riyal (above) is in a race against the harmful effects of global warming. Her goal is to be part of the first laboratory in the world to successfully use TILLING (targeting induced local lesions in genomes) technology to breed a forest tree. Her work combines horticultural methods and genomic technologies including DNA trait selection. If successful it will help replenish the world’s rapidly depleting forests and restore balance to delicate ecosystems.

Another Honour for Blaser

English professor emeritus Robin Blaser wins the Griffin Prize for Canadian poetry. This follows on the heels of a lifetime achievement award three years ago. Blaser is the author of The Holy Forest: Collected Poems of Robin Blaser and is mentor to a generation of English students.


That’s how many SFU degrees are out there. The official 100,000th grad is Krista Gerlich- Fitzgerald (BA’08), a criminology grad now at law school at England’s Manchester University.

Punk Junk

Special collections in the library is home to the first institutional archive of punk material in Canada. Encompassing everything from scrap paper lists to gig posters to backstage passes to handwritten lyric sheets, the collection brings back Vancouver’s exhilarating late 1970s punk scene. Remember D.O.A., the Dishrags, the Subhumans, the K-tels, the Pointed Sticks, and of course, Buck Cherry and Mary Jo Kopechne of the Modernettes?

Art Works

The Constellation of Frogs getting the finishing touches from carver Jim Hart.

Haida carver Jim Hart works on his Constellation of Frogs. The piece has been installed in the atrium near the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at SFU Burnaby. Hart, one of the northwest coast’s most accomplished artists, began carving seriously in 1979 and worked for Bill Reid from 1980 to 1984. He also worked with Robert Davidson. His name as Haida hereditary chief is 7idansuu (pronounced “ee-dan-soo”), a name once held by his ancestor, master carver Charles Edenshaw (ca. 1839 — 1924).

Design Excellence

Raven Design Consultants and Omicron AECS win the Interior Designers Institute of British Columbia Award of Excellence for their work on the interior of the Surrey campus.

Max Ley relaxes before his big debut at the Fringe Festival.


First-year contemporary arts student Max Ley’s play Untitled is the first all-teen play to run as part of the Vancouver International Fringe Festival this year. Ley wrote, directed, and acted in the one-act play while still in high school in Deep Cove.

Library Luminaries

It’s a hat trick as three SFU librarians receive prestigious awards. Gwen Bird is honoured for her outstanding contribution as a representative on the Canadian Research Knowledge Network resource team and Elaine Fairey for her leadership on the SFU Student Learning Commons. Donald Taylor receives the Robert H. Blackburn Distinguished Paper Award.

Hold the Salt...

Cutting back our sodium intake could result in 17,000 fewer strokes, heart attacks, or cases of heart failure annually. A study by health sciences professor Michel Joffres and University of Calgary researcher Norm Campbell, published in the June issue of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, finds we consume way more salt than we need, partly because of sodium added during processing by the food industry.

Sunshine Coast Site

Archaeologist Dana Lepofsky stands deep in the coastal rain forest. Discoveries here show the rich history of the Tla’Amin First Nation.

SFU archaeologists and members of the Tla’Amin First Nation collaborate in exploring sites in Scuttle Bay and Grace Harbour near Powell River to uncover details about the region’s rich archaeological history. The Tla’Amin have traditionally lived in an area stretching more than 6,000 square kilometres from the northern Sunshine Coast to Texada, Denman, and Hornby islands.


SFU biologist Inigo Novales Flamarique is the 2008–09 Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Neurosciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara. As visiting chair he will teach, collaborate, and conduct research.
Engineer-turned-journalist Rhiannon Coppin receives a $15,000 Fulbright Award to complete her master’s degree in journalism at Columbia University in New York. Coppin’s initial interest was biomedical engineering, but she was drawn to journalism during her undergraduate semester in dialogue. Alumnus Joel Zylberberg was earlier named a recipient of the international Fulbright Science and Technology Award.

Fishing near Moricetown on the Bulkley River which flows into the Skeena River.

Saving Skeena Salmon

Randal Peterman and John Reynolds, research chairs in fisheries science, contribute to a high-profile report that recommends sweeping changes in salmon monitoring and management in the Skeena River watershed.<

Remembering a Real Professional

Dennis Roberts, SFU’s first information officer, has died. His superb media relations skills and wry humour were admired by students, faculty, staff, and journalists during the university’s turbulent early times.

Sam Dahabieh, SFU facilities director, stands in front of recycling material.

We're so green

SFU is North America’s first post-secondary institution to receive Go Green certification from the International Building and Owner Managers Association (BOMA). The Burnaby campus meets all BOMA’s criteria for energy and water use, construction waste and recycling, hazardous materials, indoor air quality, and a sustainability/communications program.

Mountain Risk

Fast-growing Pemberton faces the likelihood of a massive landslide says John Clague, chairman of SFU’s Centre for Natural Hazard Research. It could come next week or in 1,500 years, and Clague is advising the regional district to set up an early warning system. <>

Attracting a Leader

Nigerian-born Kayode Fatoba starts a soccer program for at-risk youth in Toronto’s rough Jane-Finch neighbourhood. As a result he wins a $60,000 TD Canada Trust Community Leadership Scholarship and comes to SFU to study health sciences with the aim of becoming a doctor.

Prize for Green Research

Grad student Nic Rivers (right) wins $150,000 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Award. Rivers, who co-authored Hot Air: Meeting Canada’s Challenge on Climate Change with Mark Jaccard and the Globe and Mail’s Jeffrey Simpson, is one of 15 scholars across the country to win the award.


German political science scholar Hans- Dieter Klingemann will spend the next year at SFU, courtesy of a John G. Diefenbaker Award presented by the Canada Council for the Arts. Klingemann will study political representation and political identity and carry out research on left-right orientation and political representation in contemporary democracy.

Fatal Communication Error

Henry VIII’s favourite warship, the Mary Rose, likely sank because the crew were Spanish and couldn’t understand the orders given in English to close the lower gun ports. SFU criminologist Lynne Bell reaches this conclusion after examining teeth and bones found when the wreck was raised in 1982. Her findings appear in a TV documentary and in the August edition of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Brain Breakthrough

Neuroscientists John McDonald (Canada Research Chair in cognitive neuroscience) and Jessica Green (PhD student) use electroencephalography (EEG) to pinpoint, in space and time, the neural activities involved in paying attention. The research, summarized in the April issue of Public Library of Science Biology, offers a promising new way to investigate brain disorders. <>

Fish Files

A controversial study by SFU fish population analyst Rick Routledge and two other scientists say sea lice infestations from fish farms have spread to juvenile pink, chum, and sockeye salmon near Campbell River. The study appears in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management. The Campbell River area accounts for a significant portion of B.C.’s $223-million annual tourism income from sports fishing. Bottom-dwelling or “demersal” fish are swimming deeper to find colder water, says a study led by SFU biologist Nick Dulvy. Previous research had suggested fish were swimming northward as a result of the global warming that has raised ocean temperatures over the last 25 years. The study appears in the June 28 issue of Journal of Applied Ecology.

SFU Advances Environment

A planned new faculty of environment will bring together the department of geography, school of resource and environmental management, the Centre for Sustainable Community Development, the environmental science program, and the graduate certificate program in developmental studies. The environment is a high priority for the university with 23 departments offering at least one course, more than 70 faculty members with identifiable environmental interests, and 11 centres or institutes dedicated to an area of the environment.

Library Loads Up

Eric Swanick, special collections librarian (and aq contributor), scores a record-breaking $1.2 million in gifts-in-kind in 2007/08. Treasures include a 1901 Carrier hymn book, the papers of 2008 Griffin Prize — winner Robin Blaser, a book containing an original Chagall lithograph, the papers of Haisla author Eden Robinson, and more than 2,000 panels by acclaimed editorial cartoonists Graham Harrop, John Larter, Bob Krieger, and Robert Bierman.

Arctic's Future in Flux

Global warming is causing the Mackenzie River Delta to have water-level increases three times greater than expected, say SFU geographer Lance Lesack and Environment Canada’s Philip Marsh. The receding sea ice will have a huge effect on the entire circumpolar region and may lead to coastal flooding and the drying up of interior lakes.

Reaching Out to the World

Ann Paxton (right) has the world in her hands. As one of the first five graduates of SFU’s new master’s program in global health, Paxton will work with some of the world’s most vulnerable people. She did her practicum in the AIDS-ravaged village of Zithulele in South Africa’s Eastern Cape region and hopes to return there to “give back to the country that gave me so much growing up.”

Back on Top

The acclaimed SFU pipe band wins its fifth world championship in Scotland. They beat out the Field Marshal Montgomery band from Northern Ireland, first-place winners for the last two years. SFU was most recently first in 2001.

Column Art by Greg Ehlers/LIDC - Dua Riyal, Stuart Colcleugh/PAMR - Sam Dahabieh, Poster: courtesy The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry, Don Maclachlan/PAMR - Krista Gerlich-Fitzgerald, SFU News - Nic Rivers, Steve Ray/PAMR - Jim Hart, Carol Thorbes/PAMR - John McDonald, Greg Ehlers/LIDC - Surrey Campus, Diane Luckow/PAMR - Max Ley, SFU Special Collections - Illustration, Erik Tofsrud - Loons, SFU News/PAMR - Dana Lepofsky, Dale Northey/LIDC - Ann Paxton, Dale Northy/LIDC - SFU Pipe Band, Erik Tofsrud - Fishing