Lakehead announces four new Canada Research Chairs

April 13, 2015 – Thunder Bay, ON

Lakehead University is receiving $2 million to support four new Canada Research Chairs whose important research and work includes the fields of green chemicals, Indigenous mental health, fisheries, and human diversity.

Lakehead’s new CRCs are all Tier 2 researchers:

  • Dr. Pedram Fatehi – Chair in Green Chemicals and Processes
  • Dr. Christopher Mushquash – Chair in Indigenous Mental Health and Addiction
  • Dr. Michael Rennie – Chair in Freshwater Ecology and Fisheries
  • Dr. Matthew Tocheri – Chair in Human Origins

“We are excited to announce Lakehead’s new CRCs because of their outstanding research and the important role they play in the Lakehead community,” said Dr. Andrew Dean, Lakehead’s Vice-President, Research, Economic Development and Innovation.

“Our CRCs are the stars of the research world. They help develop the research and innovation that is making our future brighter, and for that we are very thankful,” Dr. Dean said.

Lakehead President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Brian Stevenson thanked the federal government for investing in this important research. “I am constantly impressed by the exceptional research being done by our University’s researchers. Their work is made even more promising with the support of our funding partners,” Dr. Stevenson said. 

Lakehead’s nine Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) aim to achieve research excellence in engineering and the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities, and social sciences. They improve our depth of knowledge and quality of life, strengthen Canada's international competitiveness, and help train the next generation of highly skilled people through student supervision, teaching, and the coordination of other researchers' work.

“Our government is proud to invest in research and innovation,” said the Honourable Greg Rickford, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario.  “As the Member of Parliament for the Kenora riding, I am personally pleased to see Lakehead University grow as a result of this funding.”

Last week the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) announced 150 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs at 36 postsecondary institutions across the country, including Lakehead’s four new CRCS.

 “Through our government’s updated science, technology and innovation strategy, we are making the record investments necessary to push the boundaries of knowledge, create jobs and opportunities, and improve the quality of life of Canadians,” Minister Holder said.

“Our government’s Canada Research Chairs Program develops, attracts and retains top talent researchers in Canada whose research, in turn, creates long-term social and economic benefits while training the next generation of students and researchers in Canada,” Minister Holder added.

This $139 million investment, with an additional $7.6 million in infrastructure support provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, will help promote and support research and development. Lakehead University is receiving $2 million to assist the following top-tier researchers in their work.



Dr. Pedram Fatehi – Chair in Green Chemicals and Processes

Dr. Pedram Fatehi wants to determine how Canada’s pulping industry can be more competitive and how the mining and oil industries can be more environmentally friendly while remaining cost effective.

Dr. Fatehi is an internationally recognized researcher with an outstanding track-record in fundamental and applied research in chemical and environmental engineering, biorefining, and material, colloid and pulp and paper science.

He and his team are collaborating with researchers in various universities and industries to develop processes for producing green chemicals so that pulping, mining and oil processes can become more cost effective and environmentally friendly.

Dr. Fatehi’s research will lead to the production of green chemicals to substitute oil-based chemicals used in mining and oil industries as well as waste water treatment systems and tailings ponds.

Dr. Fatehi is an associate professor in Chemical Engineering at Lakehead University.


Dr. Christopher Mushquash – Chair in Indigenous Mental Health and Addiction

Through his research, Dr. Christopher Mushquash, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Mental Health and Addiction, is identifying culturally and contextually appropriate targets of intervention by examining culture-based and Western approaches for addressing mental health difficulties and addiction among Indigenous peoples, and then developing evaluation methods.

This approach to research and intervention involves collaborative partnerships. His work is grounded in community and the idea that Indigenous understandings of wellness and methods of healing are holistic.

Dr. Mushquash disseminates knowledge broadly in Indigenous communities and in scientific and health care communities, as well as with policy and decision-makers. He also works to increase capacity in Indigenous health research through training and mentorship. 

Building upon the knowledge that exists within Indigenous traditions, languages, histories, and methods of healing, this work will support community-based priorities and efforts at improving the health of Indigenous peoples while reducing disparities in mental health and addiction. Dr. Mushquash is an associate professor in Psychology at Lakehead University and in the Division of Human Sciences at NOSM. In addition to his academic appointments, Dr. Mushquash is a clinical psychologist at Dilico Anishinabek Family Care.


Dr. Michael Rennie – Chair in Freshwater Ecology and Fisheries

Some scientists use test tubes to conduct their experiments. Dr. Michael Rennie uses lakes.

With national and international partners, Dr. Rennie’s research at the International Institute for Sustainable Development-Experimental Lakes Area provides scientific evidence that informs environmental policies around the world.

Using a whole-ecosystem approach to study the effects of pollution, climate change and invasive species, Dr. Rennie and his collaborators can clearly show how lakes and their fisheries respond to stress, using extensive long-term data sets from pristine lakes to help interpret their findings. 

Dr. Rennie’s specific interest lies in how fish species respond to environmental stress, and how those responses can ultimately affect population dynamics and ecosystems.

By better understanding how fish respond to ecosystem stress, Dr. Rennie’s research will provide important information to fisheries managers, and will contribute to whole-ecosystem approaches to support economically and ecologically sustainable fisheries.

Dr. Rennie is an assistant professor of Biology at Lakehead University.


Dr. Matthew Tocheri – Chair in Human Origins

As Canada Research Chair in Human Origins, Dr. Matt Tocheri works to reveal important clues about the relationships of extinct species of humans (called hominins).

His analysis of wrist bones from the controversial hominin species, Homo floresienis—the so-called 'hobbits' of human evolution—is widely considered one of the strongest pieces of evidence that these fossil bones represent human origins distinct from our own.

Tocheri co-directs continuing excavations on the Indonesian island of Flores where Homo floresiensis was discovered. His work is investigating the timing and nature of the extinction of Homo floresiensis, the first arrival of modern humans on Flores, and their subsequent transition from a hunting-gathering lifestyle to a farming lifestyle.

Understanding human diversity in the past, both biologically and culturally, is key to helping make informed decisions about our species' future and the world we inhabit.

Dr. Tocheri is an assistant professor of Anthropology at Lakehead University.



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In 2015, Lakehead University will celebrate 50 years of exceptional education. Guided by its Strategic Plan (2013-2018), Lakehead is known for providing an education focused on independent thinking, unconventional scholarship, and a close sense of community. About 9,700 full-time equivalent students and 2,000 faculty and staff learn and work in ten faculties at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university: home to Ontario’s newest Faculty of Law in 44 years, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and faculties of Engineering, Business Administration, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences & Humanities, Science & Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Education, and Graduate Studies.


Maclean’s 2015 University Rankings places Lakehead University 2nd in Ontario and among Canada’s Top 10 undergraduate universities, and 1st among Ontario’s undergraduate universities for Total Research Dollars, Social Sciences & Humanities Grants, and Library Expenses. In 2014, Re$earch Infosource ranked Lakehead 2nd in Ontario and 3rd among Canada’s undergraduate universities.