issues and experts

SFU experts on the holiday season and New Year

December 11, 2019

CONTACT: Marianne Meadahl, University Communications and Marketing, 778.782.9017;

With the holiday season upon us and a new year approaching, SFU experts are available to comment on a variety of related topics.

Family members across time zones connected by FamilyStories

Can’t make it to see your family this holiday? Researchers at SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) have developed FamilyStories, an asynchronous audio storytelling device that helps bridge the distance. The technology puts an emphasis on shared context and activities. For example, if the sender is going for a walk while recording a story, the recipient must also be walking when listening.

Carman Neustaedter, director and professor, Interactive Arts and Technology, 604.754.1191, (available until December 22)

Yasamin Heshmat, PhD candidate, Interactive Arts and Technology, 250.893.2773, (unavailable on December 17-25)

The science of gift giving

SFU professor Lara Aknin’s research focuses on the outcomes of gift giving, including a research published earlier this year in the United Nations’ World Happiness Report that shows generous spending leads to increased happiness and increased well-being.

Lara Aknin, Psychology, 778.782.9563, (unavailable on December 10-11 and limited availability after the 18th; best way to reach is via email)

Christmas gifting from the closet: thoughtful or thoughtless?

SFU business professor Judy Zaichkowsky studies consumer behavior and her research also explores gifting, including an earlier study on those who attest to having gift closets. She can talk about the pros and cons of gifting from the closet.

Judy Zaichkowsky, Beedie School of Business, 778.782.8591, (unavailable on December 19-25, best way to reach is via email)

The modern meaning of Christmas

Student Valerie Malla’s Dialogue event at the New Westminster Library on December 21 will ask a philosophical question:  how has the meaning of Christmas changed in the modern day? “Perhaps the true meaning of Christmas will shine brighter if we acknowledge our solidarity, rather than seeing that Christmas is strictly a Christian tradition,” says Malla.  “In other words, the true meaning behind Christmas may be honored and celebrated by nearly all cultures and religions.”

Valerie Malla, student, Psychology & Philosophy, 778.318.1894; (available through the New Year, best way to reach is via phone)

Tackling food security in the new year

With a recent report indicating that food prices are going up in 2020, food-systems planning is more important than ever. Tammara Soma’s research plays a key role in solving food waste, food accessibility, and ecosystem preservation.

Tammara Soma, assistant professor, Resource and Environmental Management, 604.655.5434, (best way to reach is via phone, generally available this holiday)

Making the most of New Year’s resolutions

Many of us make  New Year’s resolutions hoping to live a more balanced life, but how do we actually follow through with these changes? SFU expert Neha Shivhare can share mindfulness techniques and stress-reducing tips on how to improve mental health, while Tony Leyland can help in choosing the right exercise program and how to set successful fitness goals in 2020.

Neha Shivhare, professor, Education, 778.798.9202,  

Tony Leyland, senior lecturer, Biomedical Physiology/Kinesiology, 604.725.1413,

An empowered mindset for the New Year

SFU student Rochelle Prasad is the co-founder of Camp We Empower, a non-profit organization that empowers young leaders to improve the world. Prasad hopes to spread her passion of working towards her brighter future through her novella, Because We Can. Prasad is available to talk about youth empowerment and renewing a strong mindset for the New Year.

Rochelle Prasad, student, Political Science,