Lakehead students Brooke Marion (left) and Kayla Snyder spent the summer working with Lakehead’s Dr. Chris Murray on a research project to develop a new environmentally friendly permeable pavement. The students’ work was recently accepted for publication in an international scientific journal.
August 14, 2014 – Orillia, ON
Typical undergraduate students can only dream about getting one-on-one experience with a research expert in their field. For two Lakehead University students, this dream became a reality – as they not only got to work with an expert – but became published experts themselves.
Through the Summer Research Program offered at Lakehead Orillia, current students Kayla Snyder (MSc) (HBASc/BEd ’13) of Everett, and Brooke Marion (HBASc/BEd) of North Bay, were given the chance to work with Dr. Chris Murray, assistant professor of Sustainability Sciences, on one of his ideas that was 15 years in the making. The recent collaboration with the two Lakehead students would end in the trio being chosen to have their research findings published in an upcoming issue of Construction and Building Materials. The international journal is dedicated to the investigation and innovative use of materials in construction and repair.
“Both Kayla and Brooke have worked with me as research assistants for several years. They’ve spent more time in the lab than even the average graduate student. This type of undergraduate experience is a pretty rare opportunity we are able to provide at Lakehead Orillia,” said Dr. Murray.
Their research project involves the use of crumb rubber and Chitosan, or in layman’s terms, crushed-up used tires and crab and shrimp shells. These two materials are combined to develop permeable pavement, which acts as a water filtration device, relieving strain on stormwater systems and preventing erosion and pollution. The project is about combating pollution in two ways: reusing old tires that cannot be recycled and filtering increasingly polluted runoff before it enters our water system.
It took over a year for Snyder and Marion to perform all the necessary experiments. Once the work was finished, the two students, alongside Dr. Murray, presented their findings to the Canadian Association of Physicists last year. At the same time they submitted their research to the journal and received a positive response very quickly.
Though the research is still only preliminary, it has the potential to benefit not only Simcoe County, but all of Canada and beyond. More importantly, it is capable of providing solutions to real problems, like the long-term sustainability of our clean water supply.
“Water may seem as though it is an infinite resource, but assuming this is one of the biggest mistakes people can make,” warned Marion.
Having the chance to participate in the Summer Research Program has benefited Snyder and Marion immensely.
“The Summer Research projects are great for allowing you to develop skills that you might not get in the classroom. It is a lot more challenging, but also more rewarding,” said Snyder of her opportunity.
An important part of doing summer research is having a great mentor and they found that in Dr. Murray. Both say that his passion and encouragement have been substantial in their development as researchers. Dr. Murray has even higher praise for his two research partners.
“I’ve been really lucky to find students like Kayla and Brooke. I like to think that I have helped them along the way, but the success of this project was more due to their enthusiasm, attention to detail, and work ethic, rather than the ideas I started with.”
So what’s next for these two young innovators? Snyder will continue a Master of Science in Chemistry degree at Lakehead in the fall as she works at completing her thesis. Marion will also be continuing at Lakehead in September, entering her professional year in the Bachelor of Education program. She hopes to teach elementary school students just how much fun science can be.
- 30 -