SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - June 19, 2009

June 19, 2009

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: June 12-19, 2009

A June 14 memorial at the Burnaby campus for famed architect Arthur Erickson drew national media attention—as well as 800 visitors.
There was advance coverage in The Vancouver Sun, Burnaby Now and other media. And the event itself drew reporters and/or camera staff from the Globe and Mail, CBC-TV, Radio Canada, Fairchild-TV and The Province.
More on this below. And you can catch some of the flavour at


  • The Metro chain of newspapers picked up within minutes a news release from SFU criminologist John Lowman on a survey showing downtown Vancouver residents favour legalized prostitution.
    Christine Louie, an honors criminology student, found 75% of residents and 67% of business owners favour the decriminalization of adult prostitution in Canada. (She also found 77% of residents support brothels in non-residential areas; 76% say the sale of sex should be legal and 72% say buying sex from an adult should be legal.)
  • The Canadian Press distributed a national story on the federal government’s proposed crackdown on house arrest and conditional sentences for "serious property and violent crime.'' The story quoted SFU criminologist Elizabeth Elliott, a specialist in conditional sentencing and restorative justice.
    She said BC jails are already overcrowded, with BC taxpayers footing the bill while Ottawa essentially downloads the cost to provinces. “It allows the reigning federal government to sort of enjoy . . . being tough, and actually not have to pick up the cost for it. It's frustrating to sit on the sidelines and wonder where the research is that drives these new policy initiatives, because I don't see it."
    We saw the story in and on 22 media outlets across Canada.
  • Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, was quoted in the Globe and MaiI, in a story about an Ontario woman accused of keeping the decomposing remains of her infant children in a storage box. “Mothers are not always solely experiencing psychiatric conditions postpartum, and sometimes they will dispose of their infants because of a variety of social pressures, poverty . . . sheer despair."
  • The Fraser Institute told media about a new report showing that “an enormous decline in support for U.S.-Canada cooperation” occurred in Parliament in 2006—particularly among Liberal MPs. Co-author Alex Moens of SFU Political Science, said it would seem the Liberals support close cooperation with the U.S. while they are in government—but are critical of overall U.S.-Canada cooperation when in opposition.
  • The Calgary-based Daily Oil Bulletin reported on a major seismic survey for oil and gas exploration in the Nechako region, west of Quesnel. “The work was conducted by CGGVeritas of Calgary under the direction of Andrew Calvert, professor of geophysics at Simon Fraser University.”


  • A CBC News story on the BC NDP easing its stand on BC’s carbon tax included a report from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) that the carbon tax is gaining support within the province and across Canada. PICS is a venture of SFU, UBC, UVic and UNBC.
    "There are fears Canada may be competitively disadvantaged in the face of fast-developing climate change initiatives in the U.S.," SFU prof Nancy Olewiler said in a PICS news release. "We simply cannot sit back and wait for the U.S. to develop its policy without having our own concerted federal action on climate change.”
    The PICS report was issued at a PICS forum in Vancouver, co-chaired by Olewiler and held at SFU’s Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue.
  • Neil Boyd was in the Richmond Review, in a story about a threatened kidnapping of a child from a Richmond elementary school. Boyd said he’d never heard of a precedent for the public warning issued to parents by RCMP but, given the prevalence of kidnappings in other jurisdictions, it shouldn't be considered odd or unusual.
  • Rosalie Tung, international business prof, wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun: “By virtue of its geographic location and high concentration of immigrants from Asia, B.C. is well-positioned to take the lead in showing Canada that fostering a more diversified trading base is the way to sustained growth.” The article was a summary of a paper she presented at this week's B.C. Business Council Summit in Vancouver.
  • The Afternoon Edition show on CFAX Radio in Victoria interviewed Benedikt Fischer of SFU Health Sciences about the recent heroin study he co-authored with criminologist Neil Boyd. The two are among four researchers who found that heroin prescription trials in Vancouver and Montreal did not attract crime or disorder to their surrounding communities. The website also did a story.
  • Student Janie Dubman weighed in with her latest report in The Vancouver Sun on her summer at the orangutan care centre in Borneo: “We are sitting in the jungle when Britney Spears' unfortunate Hit Me Baby One More Time drowns out the cicadas.  . . . What is SHE doing here, in my darling tropical forest, with my darling orangutans?  . . . It's one of the (male) caretaker's ringtones. Every Indonesian I've met has a cellphone and puts it to ample use, texting, calling and speakerphoning music constantly. Even while driving mopeds. Even while tracking orangutans.”
    We saw the story in six other Canwest newspapers.
  • The Chilliwack Times reported a study by SFU and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control will try to determine how seniors feel the heat—and how they feel this might be affecting their health. Kate Bassil, assistant prof in SFU Health Sciences, said: “It's a study about risk perception, about hot weather as a health hazard. We're looking at populations over the age of 65."
  • Vancouver Sun columnist Peter McKnight looked at the issue of judges' instructions to juries—a regular foundation for appeals in criminal cases. “ . . . social psychologists have suggested various innovations that might improve juror comprehension. In a review of the literature, Simon Fraser University psychologists James Ogloff and Bernard Rose note that no proposed innovations seem to make a dramatic difference—at least independently—but some are promising. In particular, it appears that jurors might gain a better grasp of the law, and how it applies to the facts of a case, if they are instructed repeatedly throughout the trial, rather than merely at the end.”
    The Victoria Times Colonist picked up the column.
  • Burnaby Now reported on the discovery of juvenile salmon with mysteriously damaged egg yolks in Stoney Creek on Burnaby Mountain. The Stoney Creek Environment Committee noted high salt content in one of Stoney Creek's tributaries—“high enough to prompt SFU to say it will move its open shed housing a pile of salt used to clear winter roads.” Lee Gavel, SFU's chief facilities officer, said: “It's pretty obvious to all that there is a problem. We accept the responsibility to do something about it."


Media coverage of the June 14 memorial for famed architect Arthur Erickson began with Malcolm Parry’s column in The Vancouver Sun: “Arthur Erickson's memorial service and reception Sunday should pack the Convocation Mall of Simon Fraser University, which he designed.”  Meanwhile, Burnaby Now and other media did advance stories from a news release from SFU.
The Globe and Mail then sent a reporter and photographer to the memorial. “Under a postcard-perfect sky, sheltered by a glass and concrete canopy of his own creation, hundreds of mourners gathered at Simon Fraser University to honour architect Arthur Erickson.”
CBC-TV and Radio Canada had cameras there. Fairchild-TV also had a camera. The Province sent a reporter, whose story was also used by the Victoria Times Colonist.
The Canadian Press distributed a national story using the SFU release. The Vancouver Sun didn’t attend, but wrote a story based in part on the SFU news release. So did CTV News, which also asked for (and used on its website) a photo of the event from SFU.


  • There were more headlines this week for a story on research involving SFU scientists Lorenzo Alvarez-Filip, Nick Dulvy and Isabelle Côté that showed climate change has helped collapse Caribbean coral reefs—threatening fish stocks and more.
    We saw the story in and on the Panama Star, the Daily Times in Pakistan, the Global Times in China, India’s, Britain’s, and on the Marxist website
    Closer to home, Burnaby Now did its own story: “We were shocked at the scale of the results," said Dulvy. “But we were also shocked that it had gone unnoticed by scientists for a decade or so."
    Meanwhile, the On the Coast show on CBC Radio interviewed Côté, one of two SFU scientists honoured this week by the Zoological Society of London for their commitments to conservation research. She and Dulvy received awards that recognize “unsung heroes who aim to improve the world we live in.” PAMR had sent out a news release.
  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith spoke to the Agence France Presse news agency about the 2010 Winter Olympics, and the risks of the games trying to sign on new sponsors in “interesting economic times”. What happens if a sponsor promises cash, goods and services—but creditors demand they get the money instead?
  • BBC-TV continued its series The Incredible Human Journey, with Episode 5, The Americas, featuring SFU forensic botanist Rolf Mathewes. It looked at his research on the glacial and environmental history of the west coast, and its implications for the “peopling of the Americas". The show included credit for SFU, and Mathewes himself heard from viewers in London and Scotland.


  • The Peace Arch News reported: “Simon Fraser University undergrads are reaping choice awards at home and abroad. Last month, Surrey's Tim Coleman was among three students to take top spot in the L'Oreal E-strat on-line business competition. Coleman, with Helen Lu and Jessica Wang, beat out 40,000 students competing in teams from universities worldwide. They had to prove their merit at managing a virtual portfolio of cosmetic brands. The trio beat both the North American and Australian teams to take the regional prize: an all-expenses-paid trip to Paris, France to compete in the international finals. Top marks there scored them a trip to the destination of their choice, a prize valued at $16,600.”
  • The Vancouver Sun gave a plug to SFU’s summer publishing workshops. “This year's Symposium on the Book—Saturday, July 18—will be about memoirs . . .  To register for this and the 44 other Simon Fraser University summer publishing workshops, visit:”
  • Omni-TV carried a story in Mandarin and Cantonese on Mark Chua, software developer and first graduate of the dual-degree program in computing science offered by SFU and Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. Omni also interviewed Vivian Chu, SFU-ZU dual degree program coordinator in SFU Computing Science.
  •, a news-and-issues website, featured Shauna Sylvester, fellow at SFU’s Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue and the director of Canada’s World, a national citizens’ dialogue on Canadian international policy. And it carried an article she wrote:
    “I was surprised during our Canada’s World dialogue tour this year to learn that the federal government is rather irrelevant to most Canadians we consulted.  . . . Perhaps it’s time to reverse the flow of traffic into Ottawa and take the government officials, MPs and Senators on a cross-Canada trek.”
  • Erika Wah, co-op education coordinator in SFU Communication, slipped a message about co-op onto the well-read blogsite at  “Without trying to sound like an ad, here at Simon Fraser University in Canada, Co-op Education (semester-long paid work experience, with learning objectives, supervision and training) is the way for motivated Communication students to get hands-on experience, build up their networks and graduate with a year or more of industry experience.”
  • UVic’s student newspaper, The Martlet, caught up to SFU’s introduction of the FD grade for cheats. “Simon Fraser University led the charge against entitled students by introducing the possibility of getting a grade worse than F on your transcript. Cheat off someone now and you’re gonna get smacked by an FD: failed for academic dishonesty.”


  • Clan athlete Ruky Abdulai leaped a meet-record 6.60 metres to win the Harry Jerome International Track Classic long jump at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby.
    “I'm on the right track," Abdulai told sports reporters. And The Vancouver Sun reported: “Abdulai, who became a Canadian citizen after moving here from Ghana in 2004, was so happy with her win she grabbed a microphone and sang O Canada to officially open the 26th annual Classic.” She told The Province: “Canada is my country and I love to be a Canadian. I'm really happy to sing the anthem."
    Canwest News Service sent the Sun story to clients across Canada, and we saw it as far away as the Windsor Star.
  • The Vancouver Sun picked up a news release from SFU Athletics on the recruitment by the Clan men's basketball team of Chas Kok, a transfer from Skagit Valley Community College. He averaged 12 points a game last season for the Mount Vernon-based team. Said coach Scott Clark: "He's a guy who can play positions one through four on the floor. He will add a lot of versatility to our lineup."
  • Burnaby Now reported the SFU men's hockey team (which competes in the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League) has hired Garett MacDonald as an assistant coach. In 1992 the Philadelphia Flyers selected him in the first round of the NHL supplemental draft. He went on to play in the minor leagues and then coached college hockey in the U.S.


  • The Fraser River Journey, a documentary film produced by the Media Design group in SFU’s Learning & Instructional Development Centre, will make its television debut on CBC-TV at 5 p.m. Sunday (June 21). It will be part of the network’s National Aboriginal Day programming. The film follows a group of 12 aboriginal youths from all over BC on a raft trip down the Fraser River.
  • SFU Vancouver let media know about an exhibition by one of India’s first photojournalists, the late Kulwant Roy. History in the Making, from Roy’s archives, will be at SFU Vancouver June 21-25, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
  • CNN sent a crew to the Burnaby campus this week to film Max Donelan and his team’s invention of that knee-brace device that generates electricity as you walk. It’s expected to be a 90-second spot in July. Last week, CityTV and 24Hours took a look at inventions—from walking robots to robotic limbs—demonstrated at a conference hosted by Donelan at SFU Burnaby.

ALSO in the NEWS

  • Burnaby Now reported the world champion SFU Pipe Band is joining forces with the New Westminster Police Pipe Band for a concert June 25. It’s to raise money to help both bands compete in this year’s world championships in Glasgow. (7:30 p.m., Massey Theatre, New Westminster. Tickets via or 604-521-5050.)
  •  The Vancouver Sun’s homes section reported: “Polygon says buyers of its last 10 Altaire residences in SFU's UniverCity community will get a discount if associated with Simon Fraser University, student or alumni, faculty or staff. Savings range from $50,000 to $70,000, with an 877-square-foot two-bedroom dropping to $339,900 from $389,900 and a 1,043-square-foot two-bedroom dropping to $469,900 from $539,900.” Burnaby Now and the Burnaby NewsLeader also did stories.
  • The Vancouver Sun reported Vancouver council would consider allowing secondary suites and laneway houses as small as 19 square metres (about 200 square feet). The Sun noted UniverCity built 25 units five years ago with secondary suites of about 250 square feet . “It was the first of its kind in Canada," said Gordon Harris, president of SFU Community Trust. The Vancouver Courier also did a story citing the UniverCity example.
  • The Langley Advance reported the appointment of Andrea Soberg as dean of business at Trinity Western University. The newspaper noted her credentials include a B.A. from SFU.
  • The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times reported that SFU student Elizabeth Morrow of Pitt Meadows received a gold Duke of Edinburgh award for youth initiatives. Morrow is majoring in English and plans to become a high-school English teacher.
  • A Les Leyne column in the Times Colonist, featuring BC’s new health minister, SFU alumnus Kevin Falcon, noted: “The NDP intelligence file on Falcon also produced this gem: He was a ‘right-wing student radical’ at Simon Fraser University in the 1980s. Imagine that! A right-winger at SFU!”
  • National media reported the death this week of filmmaker Allan King, in Toronto, at 79. His cutting-edge films included A Married Couple (1969) and Dying at Grace (2003). In the fall of 2006, he received an honorary degree of fine arts from SFU, and was recently the subject of a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
  • The Globe and Mail featured Peyman Vahabzadeh, a refugee from Iran, SFU grad, and assistant professor of sociology at UVic. “Along the way, he lost a younger brother, hanged by a murderous regime (in Iran).” The story used an SFU News photo of him at SFU, where he won a dean’s graduate convocation medal in 2001.
  • Canadian Business carried a feature on Kevin Page, Canada’s first Parliamentary Budget Officer. “He bounced between science, criminology, math and economics at Simon Fraser and Lakehead universities, and later earned a master’s degree in economics from Queen’s in 1982.”


  • This weekly report now takes a summer break, and will be back on July 3.


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