Newsmakers: Best of 2011

Discovery of lethal virus in Pacific salmon
SFU researcher Rick Routledge’s discovery in 2011 of the lethal ISA virus in two wild BC salmon spawned several hundred stories in the media, with foreign coverage including media in the U.S., the UK, Norway, Turkey and Croatia. The controversial story generated media attention for months, and in mid-December a scientist at the federal Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo testified that the ISA virus, or a variant, appears to have been in BC wild salmon for at least 25 years.

Colo-rectal cancer linked to bacteria
SFU researcher Rob Holt was involved in a study in 2011 linking a specific bacterium to colon cancer that generated more than 100 stories in media including Time magazine, The Times of India, CBS News, BBC News, and U.S. News & World Report.

SFU scientist tracks Amelia Earhart DNA links
Forensic scientist Dongya Yang and student Justin Long were in the headlines for 10 days in 2011 because of their project to extract DNA from the letters of legendary aviator Amelia Earhart in the hope of finally solving the mystery of where she disappeared in 1937. The story appeared in more than 100 independently written articles around the world and on more than 900 websites.

Giant ants linked to global warming
SFU paleontologists Bruce Archibald and Rolf Mathewes generated a worldwide media hit in 2011 with a story announcing their role in the discovery of a fossilized gigantic ant that sheds light on how global-warming events affected the distribution of life some 50 million years ago. The story ran in the BBC News, the UK’s Daily Mail, the Tehran Times, the Russian newspaper Pravda and 10 other Russian media outlets, as well as,, WiredScience and many more.

Radiation from Japan reaches BC’s shores
An SFU news conference in 2011 featuring nuclear scientist Kris Starosta on radioactive fallout in BC from the Fukushima earthquake produced stories in media around the world, including the US and Germany.