SFU Convocation June 2016

June 06, 2016

First Master's in Big Data cohort graduates

  • Big data degree reaps big rewards

    Ask Shruthi Narayan how she feels about graduating from SFU’s new master’s in big data program, and you will get a simple but poignant answer: “It’s like a dream.”

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  • PhD grad chews on global food issues

    In Stockholm, Sweden, SFU PhD graduate Brent Loken is settling into his new job as science liaison officer for EAT, an Oslo-based consortium striving to transform the global food system to sustainably feed more than nine billion people by 2050.

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  • Disability no deterrent to completing degree

    You can’t miss her bright red wheelchair, but the first thing you’d notice about Amelia Cooper is her smile. The SFU graduand will be wearing it prominently on June 7 when she celebrates the completion of her bachelor of arts degree.

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  • PhD research startles world scientists

    Shenwei Huang, who came to SFU from Shanghai, China in 2011 to study for a PhD in algorithmic graph theory—a branch of theoretical computing science and mathematics—has startled scientists with his research findings.

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Honorary Degree Recipients

More than 5,000 students are eligible to convocate during SFU’s convocation ceremonies June 7-10. They join more than 137,000 alumni who have graduated since SFU opened its doors 50 years ago. As SFU concludes its 50th Anniversary celebrations, the University is proud to recognize the outstanding achievements of eight exceptional individuals who will receive honorary degrees during the June convocation ceremonies.

David Gillespie, Doctor of Science, honoris causa

Tuesday, June 7, 9:45 a.m.

SFU alumnus David Gillespie’s groundbreaking scientific achievements in the field of entomology have revolutionized greenhouse agriculture around the world, significantly reducing the need for pesticides. An SFU adjunct professor and a scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, he was first to discover predatory insects and mites that are natural enemies of pests—leading to the new field of biological pest control. He has received many awards and honours for his contributions to pest management, biocontrol and agriculture, including the Entomological Society of Canada’s Gold Medal in 2014. He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2015 for his contributions to reducing pesticides in agriculture. He continues to work in research and development, seeking new microbial agents to biologically control pests, and new biological control agents for managing aphids on greenhouse vegetable crops.

Keith Beedie, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa

Tuesday, June 7, 2:30 p.m.

Keith Beedie is a visionary business leader and philanthropist. He is the founder and chairman of Beedie Development Group, one of Canada’s premier real estate development companies.  For the past six decades, he has been a true innovator in the real estate industry—and his contributions to the industry have helped shape the way we work and live in Metro Vancouver and beyond. Well known for his philanthropy, he has donated more than $30 million to various charities, health centres and institutions around Metro Vancouver. In 2011, the Beedie family gave a record donation of $22 million to SFU to establish the Beedie School of Business. Keith Beedie is more than just a namesake: his business integrity, innovation and commitment to give back to his community make him a role model for SFU’s emerging leaders and entrepreneurs.

Nigel Lockyer, Doctor of Science, honoris causa

Wednesday, June 8, 9:45 a.m.

Experimental particle physicist Nigel Lockyer is internationally recognized as a transformative leader for contributions to research, innovation and community service. As director of TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for nuclear and particle physics, Lockyer expanded TRIUMF’s operations while also establishing national and international partnerships and collaborations. Prior to that he co-led the Collider Detector Facility experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, which discovered the top quark, the heaviest of six elementary particles. He is now director of Fermilab, where he is leading the LBNF/DUNE effort to host the first international science mega-project on U.S. soil. He holds a PhD in physics from Ohio State University, is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and received the Society’s 2006 Panofsky Prize for work on the bottom quark.

Evaleen Jaager Roy, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa

Wednesday, June 8, 2:30 p.m.

An advisor to top CEOs and organizations, Evaleen Jaager Roy is a business and community leader whose work has created a lasting legacy. An early builder of the interactive entertainment sector in B.C., she is an Outstanding SFU Alumna award-winner and first alumna to chair SFU’s board of governors (1999-2002), overseeing the University’s expansion to downtown Vancouver and laying the plans for future development at the Burnaby campus. More recently she chaired the board at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. She is currently a board member at Curatio, named one of Canada’s hottest tech startups, and also sits on the boards of the Banff Centre and the Asia Pacific Foundation. Named a Vancouver Influential Business Woman, she holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BBA (Hons) from SFU.

Robert Bringhurst, Doctor of Letters, honoris causa

Thursday, June 9, 9:45 a.m.

Robert Bringhurst is a celebrated author and poet who has written more than 40 books of prose and poetry. A recognized linguist, typographer, editor and designer, he is renowned for translating and interpreting Native American oral literature, and sharing it with the world.  Among his many accolades is the Edward Sapir Prize, awarded by the Society for Linguistic Anthropology in 2004, for A Story as Sharp as a Knife, his monumental study of Haida oral literature. It is accompanied by two volumes of translation devoted to the work of the Haida poets Skaay and Ghandl. In 2005 Bringhurst received the B.C. Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence and in 2013 was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada for his outstanding achievement in the arts.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Doctors of Laws, honoris causa

Thursday, June 9, 2:30 p.m.

The Hon. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, is a lawyer, scholar, humanitarian and strong advocate for Aboriginal people, children and youth. A judge on leave from the Saskatchewan Provincial Court, she is currently in her second five-year term as B.C.’s first representative for children and youth. Throughout her career she has championed the voice and rights of children and youth, particularly as a former elected president of the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates. In 1994 she was named to TIME magazine’s list of 100 Global Leaders of Tomorrow, and in 1999 was named one of the Top Canadian Leaders for the 21st century. She holds a PhD from Harvard Law School and an MA in international law from Cambridge University.

Geoffrey Massey, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa

Friday, June 10, 9:45 a.m.

Architect Geoffrey Massey, who with his business partner Arthur Erickson won the design competition to build SFU, helped create and realize SFU’s distinctive, innovative architecture. With an M. Arch. from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Massey coupled his design knowledge with his business sense to bring SFU to fruition on time, and on budget. The duo went on to win several architectural awards and honours. In the mid-70s, Massey turned his attention to politics, serving as a Vancouver alderman for two years. He also sat on the board of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, and served as a trustee for the Granville Island Trust. He then returned to private practice and while he has now retired, he continues to design projects for family and friends. He is a fellow of both the Royal

Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish, Doctor of Science, honoris causa

Friday, June 10, 2:30 p.m.

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish is a Palestinian physician and human rights and peace activist. Born and raised in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Abuelaish overcame adversity to become the first Palestinian physician appointed to an Israeli hospital. In 2010 his critically acclaimed autobiography, I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey, became an international bestseller. The story, inspired by the tragic loss of his three daughters and a niece during the 2009 Gaza War, has become a symbol of the inhumanity of the Middle Eastern conflict. Dr Abuelaish established the Daughters For Life Foundation, a Canadian charity providing education to young women from the Middle East. A three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee characterized as the “Martin Luther King of the Middle East,” he is currently a professor at the University of Toronto. He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2013.

Student convocation speakers 

Each of the eight convocation ceremonies, June 7-10, will feature a student speaker who will represent their peers and reflect on their SFU education.

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  • Degree opens doors to world travel

    Medical imaging technologist Laura Shandley loves to travel. That’s why she pursued a BA in health sciences with a focus on global health. She figured combining the degree with her technical expertise would lead to jobs that would pay her to travel.

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  • Grad faces tough choice: Olympics vs medical school

    Cameron Proceviat is conovocating this month with a B.Sc. in molecular biology and biochemistry (MBB). He never imagined his SFU experience would lead to a crossroads requiring him to decide between applying to medical school or taking a run at representing Canada in the 2020 Olympic games.

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Canada's First B.Env. Graduate


  • Mid-career move pays off

    Celebrity spotting is all in a day’s work for engineering science graduand Terry Hannon, now a computer systems analyst at NBC Universal in Los Angeles.

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