THUNDER BAY- Lakehead University in Thunder Bay is becoming increasingly known for its researchers. Lakehead University’s 7th Annual Research & Innovation Week runs until February 16. Some of this year’s events include interactive displays at Intercity Shopping Centre, lectures, a Graduate Student Conference (posters and oral presentations), an Aboriginal Research Day and a celebration of Lakehead University’s Distinguished Researcher.
Research excellence is at the forefront, as part of the 7th Annual Research & Innovation Week at Lakehead University. “Our researchers are leading the way in so many areas,” says President Brian Stevenson, citing examples such as the sustainable development of natural resources in the boreal forest, cutting-edge DNA research, and enhanced palliative care support for people at the end of their lives.
One of Lakehead’s very own, Dr. Ellie Prepas, was honoured when it was announced that she is the recipient of a prestigious grant of nearly $1.4 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). André Isabelle, NSERC’s Director of Energy, Environment and Resources Research Partnerships, was on hand to present the Collaborative Research and Development Grant for the FORWARD III project.
Dr. Prepas is a Lakehead University Natural Resources Management professor and a Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Water Management and the Boreal Forest. Her work focuses on the development of best practices for the forestry and resource industries to ensure intensive resource extraction activities do not negatively impact the environment.
“My work has already yielded critical insights into the effects of natural (fire) and industrial (forest harvesting) disturbance on watersheds in the Boreal Plain (Alberta) and Boreal Shield (northwestern Ontario). FORWARD III research will apply and build on this knowledge by taking a critical look at oil sands reclaimed sites and the impacts of landscape-scale disturbances and recovery trajectories through reclamation of soils, vegetation, streams, and bioindicators. This research provides a unique opportunity to transfer the knowledge gained through research to communities and decision makers in all sectors of natural resource extraction to enable them to make informed landscape management decisions,” commented Dr. Ellie Prepas.
President Stevenson congratulated Dr. Prepas for helping Lakehead University advance its ambitious research goals. “With innovative projects like Dr. Prepas’s FORWARD research, Lakehead is accelerating its drive to become one of Canada’s top 25 research-intensive universities,” he says. “We are aggressively challenging the ivory tower model of universities by fostering economic development, encouraging technology transfer and promoting community engagement.”
“Suncor Energy is a strong supporter of the research proposed by Dr. Prepas and her colleagues. As the first company in the oil sands industry to have successfully reclaimed a tailings pond to a solid surface, we believe FORWARD III will provide an essential contribution to support further reclamation work on this pond and others. Our involvement in this proposed research supports our commitment to continuous environmental improvements in the way we develop our great Canadian oil sands resource,” stated Dr. Xiaoying Fan, Biologist, Water Resources Group, Suncor Energy Inc.
For Dr. Rui Wang, Lakehead’s Vice-President Research, Economic Development & Innovation, this grant demonstrates the importance of building partnerships. “Dr. Prepas’s emphasis on environmental sustainability and her collaboration with industry partners sets the standard for responsible forest management and resource extraction practices and illustrates Lakehead’s strategic and collaborative approach to issues that matter to both the University and our community,” Dr. Wang says.
The 7th Annual Research & Innovation Week runs until February 16. Some of this year’s events include interactive displays at Intercity Shopping Centre, lectures, a Graduate Student Conference (posters and oral presentations), an Aboriginal Research Day and a celebration of Lakehead University’s Distinguished Researcher. All Research & Innovation Week events are free.
For a detailed schedule of events on both campuses, please visit www.lakeheadu.ca.