Lakehead University professor receiving research grant to restore the ecology of the Great Lakes

Photo of Dr. Rennie at ELA.Photo by Dr. Kerri Finlay, University of Regina.

Dr. Michael Rennie demonstrated the proper use of a Van Dorn bottle, which collects water samples at known depths. Students were participating in the 2015 Experimental Limnology and Aquatic Ecology course that Dr. Rennie teaches at ELA, from Lakehead University and other Ontario institutions through the Ontario University Field Program in Biology.

June 12, 2018 – Thunder Bay, ON

Lakehead University’s Dr. Michael Rennie recently received an Early Researcher Award of $100,000 through the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation, and Science.

With an additional $50,000 from Lakehead University, the five-year grant supports Dr. Rennie’s research to restore the ecology of lakes negatively impacted by industry.

“This award gives our research group a lot of exciting opportunities for student-led investigations into ecosystem restoration projects both at the IISD-Experimental Lakes Area and on Lake Superior,” said Dr. Rennie, an assistant professor in Biology and Canada Research Chair in Freshwater Ecology and Fisheries. “It’s such an honour to receive the award and we’re very excited about the science it will generate.”

Thousands of Ontario lakes and many more around the world have been negatively impacted by industry. The restoration of lakes impacted by the release of nutrients and mining/smelting activities has been happening for decades, but biological recovery in many of these ecosystems has been slow and difficult to gauge due to a lack of pre-impact information, Dr. Rennie said.

At the IISD-Experimental Lakes Area, Dr. Rennie and his team of two PhD students, two Masters of Science students and three undergraduate summer students will develop methods to determine the presence of keystone species in ecosystems with help from Lakehead’s Paleo-DNA lab. They will use that information to develop methods for enhancing lake ecosystem recovery through an experimental reintroduction of native biological species.

Insights gained from studying fish behaviour on the Great Lakes will help improve the restoration of over-fished populations.

“Congratulations to Dr. Rennie and his team for receiving this provincial grant,” said Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Lakehead’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation. “I look forward to seeing the results of this important research, which will provide excellent hands-on experience for Lakehead students.”


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Lakehead University has approximately 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. Maclean’s 2018 University Rankings place Lakehead University among Canada's Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities, as well as first in Total Research Dollars, second for Citations, and third for Scholarships and Bursaries. In 2017, Research Infosource named Lakehead Research University of the Year in its category for the third consecutive year. Visit