Research and Innovation Week 2011

Annual event showcases university’s research initiatives

Erin Collins
News Editor

Lakehead hosts Research and Innovation Week each year to celebrate research initiatives within the university community. The event, now in its sixth year, saw Lakehead students and staff, various organizations and corporations, and even members of the general public enjoying the jam-packed week of events.

The launch took place February 12th at Intercity Mall, where passersby could pay $50 for Ancestry DNA Testing and get a chance to score a free t-shirt. Recent innovations were highlighted, with particular emphasis on two new companies.

The first, the aptly-named 2254829 Ontario Inc., was involved in the recent development of SAI, the Strength Assessment Inventory. A cooperative innovation of Dr. Ed Rawana from Lakehead’s Department of Psychology and Dr. Keith Brownlee, from the Department of Social Work, the online inventory is able to determine the strengths of children in Canada. This innovation is unique in that it doesn’t focus on a child’s weaknesses or what the child is lacking, but rather the strengths within the child.

The second company, Bitcold Technology Inc., is a collaboration between Lakehead’s Software Engineering Department, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, and the Lakehead School of Medicine. Their recent innovation provides an easier way for hospital workers to share patient documents. Their tool works with the EMR system in the hospital to expand its limits, which can cause inefficient document sharing. This wonderful invention will allow hospital workers to spend more time with the patients and less on the paperwork.

After the launch on Saturday, each day of the week had presentations and events related to a certain theme. Monday was “Health Research Day,” beginning with research displays by health-related faculty in the Agora. At the same time, Dr. Alain Beaudet, CIHR President, provided opening ceremonies prior to the Emerging Role of Health Research in Northern Ontario Symposium.

An intriguing presentation by Dr. Philip Fralick followed in the afternoon. Dr. Fralick, Lakehead University Research Chair on Martian Astrobiology, delivered a lecture titled ‘Martian Blueberries: How Did They Form?’ A Martian blueberry is a sphere of hematite, which appears blue in false color imagery. Several Martial blueberries were found back in 2004 when the Opportunity rover landed on Mars. Dr. Fralick discussed these findings in depth.

Tuesday, Natural Resources and Engineering Research Day, began with a presentation by Hugh Merz, HPTC Consultant, on “Supercomputing with SHARCNET – Opportunities for Computational Research”. SHARCNET, which stands from Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computing Network, provides a variety of high performance computer systems on a private network. It is utilized by many post-secondary and research institutions throughout Ontario.

Following this was a panel discussion titled, “Are Industries from Mars and Researchers from Venus?” which addressed challenges in industry-academic collaborations. As well, Lori Chambers, 2009 SSHRC Distinguished Researcher, delivered a presentation on “Newborn Adoption and the History of Parental Rights.”

On Wednesday, the social sciences were given their time to shine. The morning began with a small concert by the Lakehead University Vocal Ensemble in the Agora. Later on,Dr. Deli Li, from the Department of Mathematical Sciences, delivered a presentation titled, “Limit Theorems and the Laws of Large Numbers: The True Essence of Probability.”

A film premiere followed in the afternoon. Titled “Northern Grown: How is Thunder Bay Feeding Itself?”, the film is an initiative by the Food Security Research Network to discover how local farmers are faring in the rugged Northwest (see page __ for full review). Around the same time, Dr. Ravi Menon from the University of Western Ontario delivered “I Can Read Your Mind,” a lecture on functional MRI studies at ultra high magnetic fields.

Thursday featured an array of graduate and postdoctoral presentations. Posters by numerous students were on display in the Agora throughout the day and oral presentations took place in the faculty lounge.

In the afternoon, a presentation on “Local Lore and Lake Superior: Reflections from Rossport” was delivered by Dr. Raynald Lemelin and Dr. Rhonda Koster from the Outdoor Recreation & Parks Tourism Program and Kristine Baccar from Lake Helen Reserve. Later in the evening, Dr. Gilles Brassard from the Universite de Montreal dazzled everyone with “Quantum Magic,” exploring teleportation and other mysteries of quantum physics.

The last day of the week was Aboriginal Initiatives Day, which kicked off with a joint presentation by Dr. Mary Lou Kelley from the School of Social Work and Holly Prince and Thomas Grinnell from the Centre for Education and Research on Aging and Health. Their presentation, “Improving End-of-Life Care in First Nations Communities,” addressed the perspectives and experiences of First Nations communities in Northwestern Ontario.

Later on, Dr. Peggy Smith from the Faculty of Natural Resources Management and Carol Audet from the Office of the Grand Chief, Nishnawbe Aski Nation, delivered a presentation on “Bridging the Aboriginal Community/Researcher Divide: Forging a Mutually Beneficial Relationship.” An art exhibition finished up the afternoon with Elizbeth Buset’s “Icons of Everyday Life.” Sponsored by the Advanced Institute for Globalization & Culture (aig+c), the “seven works” featured a collection of contemporary art by a graduate of Lakehead’s Fine Art Program.

If you missed this one, don’t fret. There’s always next year.