University of Calgary

December 2008

U of C experts available for holiday stories

All I want for Christmas is homemade cookies
Cynthia Mannion, an assistant professor at the U of C’s Faculty of Nursing, says that relying on pre-made treats from large chain grocery stores for your Christmas parties may seem like a simple alternative to home baking, but can be very unhealthy. Also, when we do home-cooking for holiday buffets, Mannion cautions we need to be aware of food safety issues when transporting meals to another location.
Contact: Cynthia Mannion— Assistant Professor, Faculty of Nursing, 403-210-3848 (work) or

Mommy my racecar is emitting greenhouse gases
Sales of electronics go through the roof during the holidays. But did you know these gadgets are significant contributors to greenhouse gases? That’s because many electronics involve the transfer of data through the transmission and reception of radio signals, a process that requires considerable amounts of energy.
Researchers at the Schulich School of Engineering are rethinking the design of electronics and trying to make them more power-efficient. Their work could lead to breakthroughs such as mobile phones with batteries that last for weeks or months without being charged. Find out how the electronics you give as gifts are evolving from a technical standpoint. Fadhel Ghannouchi, Canada Research Chair in intelligent RF radio technology, is available for interviews until December 23.
Contact: Jennifer Sowa—Media Relations Officer, Schulich School of Engineering, 403-220-3724 or

The engineering of toys
Have you ever thought about the engineering that goes into the best-selling toys of the holiday season? Remote-controlled cars and helicopters have become very complex, thanks to modern electronics and sensors. Video games are also very elaborate from an engineering standpoint. They require complex algorithms to create various environments and artificial intelligence for characters in games. Find out how popular toys have advanced over the years and what to expect in the future. Alex Ramirez-Serrano, director of the manufacturing engineering program and an expert in robotics and automation, is available for interviews until December 23.
Contact: Jennifer Sowa—Media Relations Officer, Schulich School of Engineering, 403-220-3724 or

Think before you buy this Christmas
Should you buy your kids everything on their wish list? Or instead give that money in their names to a charitable donation? Should you invest only in fair trade gifts? Or instead buy locally produced items?
The Faculty of Education’s Kaela Jubas says that looking for simple answers to these questions is impossible.
Contact: Kerry McArthur, Director of Communications, Faculty of Education, 403-220- 2619 (work) or

Don’t get rid of Christmas
Irving Hexham, a professor of religious studies in the Faculty of Humanities, says there’s a ‘real campaign’ to get rid of Christmas led by what he calls ‘Scrooge pluralism.’ Hexham argues that real religious pluralism means we should honour the holidays of all big religions in our society. Once Christmas is ignored, other celebrations like Ramadan and Diwali are also in danger. Hexham says the real multiculturalism within our society is the unrecognized one between different Christian groups like the Ango-Saxon churches and other traditions such as the Copts, Eastern Orthodox and various African and Asian churches. As a result our society is multi-cultural but not really multi-religious.
Contact: Irving Hexham, Religious Studies Professor, Faculty of Humanities, 403-241-1059 or

Don’t worry; Santa has been informed kids live on campus
For two years now students living on U of C campus with children can make appointments for Santa to visit. The parents give their children’s gifts to Santa in advance and even tells Santa if their children have recently been bad or good. Some families make an event out of it and invite friends or relatives around the time when they know Santa will be dropping by.
Contact: Sean Ryan, Residence Life Coordinator, Student Family Housing, 403-220-5749 or

Gift Ideas
The U of C Outdoor Centre can provide some very cool gift ideas this year, from a potentially life-saving avalanche safety course to guided back-country ski packages that would also make for a great travel feature. Afraid your kids will turn into Christmas sloths? The Outdoor Centre offers many courses that teach kids and adults winter skills like cross country skiing, snow showing and ice climbing.
Contact: Albi Sole—Program Coordinator for Leadership, Avalanche and Ski Touring programs, 403-220-8638 or

I’ve got my eyes on you Santa
What would it take to track a moving object like Santa’s sleigh all the way around the world? You’d need a GPS receiver and a communication system to relay Santa’s position to a central location. But coverage over the oceans, Polar Regions, the Australian outback and much of Africa would be problematic, requiring technology such as a satellite phone. Find out more from the experts in the U of C’s Positioning, Location and Navigation Group. These researchers use world-class laboratories and equipment to develop and improve wireless positioning and navigation technologies such as GPS. The Schulich School of Engineering has the largest geomatics engineering department in the country and the only one in western Canada.
Mark Petovello and Kyle O’Keefe are available for interviews until December 19.
Contact: Jennifer Sowa—Media Relations Officer, Schulich School of Engineering, 403-220-3724 or

Don’t be quarantined this Christmas
Dr. Jim Dickinson, is a family doctor in the Faculty of Medicine and can discuss the flu. One of his current projects includes running the Influenza surveillance program in Alberta.
Contact: Marta Cyperling—Media Relations Coordinator, Faculty of Medicine, 403-210-3835

Tis the season to dread
Annette Lane with the Faculty of Nursing says Christmas is a great time to get together with family, but what if being with your family is something you dread? Sometimes the thought of cocooning with family members for an extended period of time brings up unresolved issues. Lane has some strategies to help you cope through the holidays with any and all difficult relatives.
Contact: Annette Lane—403-210-3843 (work) or—up to December 23

No greed this Christmas
Wondering just how to manage your children’s expectations during the holidays? How about some advice from U of C alumna Judy Arnall, BA’88, who’s the author of Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery. Arnall also instructs the parent effectiveness training course offered through Continuing Education next February.
Contact: Judy Arnall—403-714-6766 (work) or

Don’t even think about experimenting with that new stuffing recipe
What are you serving for Christmas dinner? Dawn Johnston, instructor of communication studies and food culture expert, says most people rarely deviate from established family traditions when it comes to what is on the menu for their Christmas feast. Christmas is intimately connected to food and Johnston says Christmas dinner is such an important cultural tradition that the food itself is almost sacred.
Contact: Dawn Johnston—403-220-3199 (work), 403-803-4042 (cell) or

Continuing Education has a whole variety of courses to interest just about everyone. Digital Photography—Fast Class is one of several photography courses that would make an ideal gift for any adult getting a new camera. Avid gardeners will enjoy Growing your Own Food Garden, which starts in January, or Growing Orchids, one of several short gardening courses offered this spring. Have a music lover on your list? Consider Opera Appreciation: What’s On in Calgary, or Evenings with the Calgary Philharmonic. Both courses are offered in the daytime, specifically for people over 50. To learn more about these and other courses that make great gifts—such as courses in art, interior design, and personal interest and wellness—go to or pick up the Winter Program Guide.
Contact: Jon Malinowski—Continuing Education Program Director, 403-220-4718 or Lorna Prediger—Continuing Education Marketing and Communications Manager, 403-220-5987