UBC Reports | Vol. 55 | No. 8 | Aug. 6, 2009
Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in July 2009
Compiled by Sean Sullivan
Prof. Karl Aquino’s study on customer surveys earned international interest – photo by Eugene Lin
Atleo elected chief
Shawn Atleo, longtime friend of the Faculty of Education and a graduate of the UBC Adult Learning and Global Change program, has been elected Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief.
The 42-year-old businessman was picked as chief after a marathon election that saw eight rounds of voting over 23 hours.
Atleo’s connection to UBC was mentioned in media reports by The Canadian Press, Global and Mail and Canwest News Service.
Education was an important plank of his leadership platform. Atleo’s father, E. Richard Atleo, was the first aboriginal to graduate from UBC with a PhD.
Canada’s moon rock
UBC Prof. Jaymie Matthews was thrust into the limelight last month as NASA celebrated the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11’s lunar landing.
Matthews, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics, was the youth ambassador who received Canada’s moon rock – worth upwards of $5 million – in 1972.
As a 13-year-old, Matthews won an essay contest on the subject of “The Importance of Space Flight to Mankind,” which netted him a trip to Washington. There he met President Richard Nixon and roomed next to Neil Armstrong, later watching the Apollo 17 moon landing from NASA’s Mission Control Center.
In interviews with the Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Province and Vancouver Sun, Matthews said he’s glad to know the sliver of rock is soon to be on display in Ottawa. “For people to see a moon rock, a piece of another world, it’s the gateway for them to learn more about our solar system,” he said.
Court rejects ski jump bid
The Globe and Mail and NPR turned to UBC Law Prof. Margot Young for expert analysis after a B.C. Supreme Court judge dismissed a high-profile bid by women ski jumpers to compete at next year’s Winter Olympics.
Madam Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon ruled that the women ski jumpers were discriminated against by the International Olympic Committee’s decision to keep them off the 2010 Olympic calendar, but said that the Switzerland-based IOC was beyond the reach of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
UBC law professor Margot Young said the implication of the judge’s decision is worrisome.
“If these were black Canadians and Jewish Canadians being excluded from the event, it would be intolerable,” said Young. “We should raise questions about what is going on at the Olympics.”
Customer surveys show race bias
A UBC study that examines customer attitudes shows white male employees are more likely to receive higher customer satisfaction scores than women or people of colour.
Karl Aquino, a professor at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, found that customers anonymously reported lower satisfaction with service from women and minority employees performing at the same level and offering the same service as white male employees.
“What’s unsettling about our study is that when women and minorities perform better, they actually get lower performance ratings and are perceived more negatively. And we don’t yet really know why,” he said.
The Canadian Press, Canwest News Service, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun and the Boston Globe were among the news organizations that reported on the study.
A boost for stroke victims
Wired reports that a “brain-tingling technique” pioneered by UBC physical therapist Lara Boyd might eventually help stroke victims recover their coordination.
In an experiment published last month in BMC Neuroscience, Boyd put 30 people into a machine that sent electromagnetic waves into their premotor cortexes, a brain region associated with learning motor skills.
Boyd says the stimulation may help neurons in the premotor cortex form connections, allowing motor memories to form rapidly.
The Telegraph, Popular Science and The Statesman also reported on the experiment.