Lakehead University’s two new Canada Research Chairs receive CFI grants

June 29, 2017 – Thunder Bay, ON

Lakehead University has two new Canada Research Chairs and they are each receiving a grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Dr. Aicheng Chen is the new Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Materials and Environmental Chemistry and he is a Professor in Chemistry at Lakehead University.

Dr. Chen became a Tier 2 CRC in 2006.

Photo of Dr. Aicheng Chen

Tier 1 chairs are outstanding researchers acknowledged by their peers as world leaders in their field, while Tier 2 chairs are acknowledged as having the potential to lead in their field.

As part of his appointment as a Tier 1 CRC, he is also receiving $230,000 from CFI for purchasing research equipment that will be used to develop improved water treatment technology, a need which has become increasingly urgent due to global population growth.

Electrochemical technologies are extensively used when producing metal in the mining industry, for pulp bleaching, energy conversion and storage, water purification, and environmental analysis. 

Dr. Chen is a pioneer in conceptualizing and designing functional nanomaterials (materials containing particles with very small dimensions) used to create green technologies that allow for sustainable energy conversion and storage, wastewater remediation, and water purification.

Hydrogen is considered a clean and renewable alternative to conventional fossil fuels. However, hydrogen storage is a challenge. Dr.Chen is focused on developing catalysts for hydrogen production, as well as designing functional nanomaterials for hydrogen purification and storage.
Dr.Chen is exploring a new strategy for water treatment that involves electrochemical and photoelectrochemical oxidation. Industries such as pulp and paper and mining require improved wastewater technologies in order to address increasingly strict environmental regulations. This new strategy will assist with that.

The nanomaterials also allow Dr. Chen to develop high performance electrochemical sensors and biosensors for environmental monitoring and medical diagnostics.

“My research will likely lead to the implementation of electrochemical technologies in several environmentally friendly applications – from water purification to renewable energy,” Dr. Chen said.

Dr. Max Haiven is the new Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice and an Assistant Professor in English at Lakehead University.

Photo of Dr. Max Haiven

Dr. Haiven also received $42,705 in research infrastructure funding from CFI to research the power of the imagination in two key areas. First, he is interested in how economic phenomena – especially the world of high finance – is driven by cultural ideas, norms and creativity. For example, how do billions of dollars appear and disappear on the stock market in the blink of an eye?

The second area focuses on the radical imagination, especially expressed by movements for social justice in Canada and around the world. Dr. Haiven and his collaborators are interested in how a wide variety of activists are responding to today’s financial and economic pressures of globalization, austerity and free-market policies.

At Lakehead, Dr. Haiven is bringing these interests together as Director of the ReImagining Value Action Lab (RiVAL), which he described as an “experimental think-tank for the radical imagination in an age of social media.”

“I plan to work with colleagues and students to discover how important research on these themes can be broadcasted using emerging communications technologies, like social media, online audio and video, teleconferencing and on-demand and hybrid publishing,” Dr. Haiven said.

Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Lakehead’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation, said getting two new Canada Research Chairs means a lot to the University.

“Thank you to the CFI and CRC for recognizing the important research happening at Lakehead,” Dr. Dean said. “Congratulations and thank you to these researchers and to everyone performing research at Lakehead. Your passion and dedication is appreciated.”



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Lakehead University has about 9,700 full-time equivalent students and 2,000 faculty and staff in 10 faculties at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead 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. In 2016, for the second consecutive year, Re$earch Infosource ranked Lakehead first among Canada’s undergraduate universities. Visit