Lakehead University celebrated exceptional researchers at R and I Awards of Excellence

Photo of Dr. Antony Puddephatt

Dr. Antony Puddephatt

March 5, 2020 – Thunder Bay, Ont.

Lakehead University held its Research and Innovation Awards of Excellence reception on Thursday, March 5 to celebrate the exceptional achievements of professors and students.

Lakehead named Dr. Alla Reznik and Dr. Antony Puddephatt the 2020 Distinguished Researchers for their work in science and social science, respectively.

Dr. Reznik, a Physics professor and the Canada Research Chair in Physics of Radiation Medical Imaging, joined Lakehead in 2008, specializing in novel materials and technologies used for radiation medical imaging detectors.

The major focus of her work is on solid-state technology for molecular breast imaging with Positron Emission Tomography (PET). The goal is to improve resolution and sensitivity over commercially available PET imagers.

When Dr. Reznik joined Lakehead University, no one paid much attention to molecular breast imaging technology.

“At that time it was believed that the only necessary technology to fight breast cancer was conventional mammography, although it was already clear that mammography works well for only half of all women,” Dr. Reznik said.

With Dr. Reznik starting her research at that time, it gave her a chance to work on the science and develop the technology with her students.

“And these young and talented students started to ask me questions: ‘What is the point of working on health technology if the only place it is going to work is your lab?’” she said.

“These so-called troublemakers are confident in the high potential of their research and push you to deploy the results of their work in clinics.”

Dr. Reznik has received more than $11 million in research funding as a primary investigator or a co-applicant. She used her grants to establish a state-of-the-art material science lab for fabricating and testing new semiconductor materials and technologies for medical imaging devices and to supervise a large number of undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

Her crowning achievement is the development of a new Positron Emission Mammography, an advanced imaging device that can detect early breast cancer. Clinical trials are currently underway at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

Dr. Puddephatt, a Sociology professor who is the department’s chair, also started at Lakehead 12 years ago.

His research contributions are wide ranging, and his work contributes both to ongoing theoretical debates in the discipline as well as to innovative research strategies.

Most centrally, he has studied the work of George Herbert Mead, a central Sociological theorist, and has applied his pragmatist philosophy to deal with a range of problems in contemporary theory.

Such topics include the nature of knowledge, science and technology studies, language, meaning and social action, the nature of power and domination, and environmental sociology.

He has done qualitative research on topics that have ranged from the social organization of amateur chess, to open-access publishing, to the culture of higher education. He has also weighed in on disciplinary debates about the future of Sociology in Canada.

He is currently working with Dr. Chris Sanders on a SSHRC-funded project about post-diagnostic identity issues among adults with high functioning autism.

Dr. Puddephatt has generously shared his research insights and advice with junior faculty to help further their projects.

He has also been able to publish with a number of Lakehead’s graduate students in the past few years, including Lisa Alaimo, Rebecca Collins-Nelsen, Taylor Price, and Bailey Tuffin. This has given students the opportunity for professional development, while affording Dr. Puddephatt a chance to learn about new research areas and topics.

“I am really delighted and humbled to win this prestigious award,” he said.

“The faculty, staff, and students at Lakehead have provided so many great opportunities over the years to foster my research, and I couldn't have done this without them.

“Lakehead continues to be a small university that punches over its weight in terms of internationally recognized research, and I am a small part of a really great group of bright scholars here.”

The Distinguished Researcher Award is the highest honour conferred by Lakehead for research and scholarly activity. 

Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Lakehead’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation, said the University’s researchers make him proud.

“Congratulations to both of our Distinguished Researchers and to all Lakehead University researchers,” Dr. Dean said. “Whether they are students or professors, everyone in attendance should be proud of their work and this pride should fuel them to excellence and even greater achievements.” 


Award Recipients

Three-Minute Thesis

People’s Choice Award:

Michaela Bohunicky – Master of Health Sciences
Confronting Settler Colonialism in Food Systems: Exploring Food Movement Organizations in Canada and Australia
Supervisor: Dr. Charles Levkoe

Second Place:
Jade Ross – MSc Archaeological Science
Identifying Origins of Individuals Through Isotopic Analysis: Royal Naval Hospital Cemetery, Antigua
Supervisor: Dr. Tamara Varney

First Place:
Jessica Allingham – PhD Chemistry and Materials Science
Design, Synthesis and Characterization of a PET Diagnostic Agent for Neuronal Trauma
Supervisor: Dr. Michael Campbell

Graduate Studies Research Excellence Awards

Natural Sciences and Engineering Category

Chen Chen, PhD Forest Sciences, Supervisor: Dr. Han Chen, Faculty of Natural Resources Management


Graduate Student Conference Poster Winners

Winner Engineering Category:

Meljin Madvana Paul
MSc Environmental Engineering
Supervisor: Dr. Leila Pakzad

Winner NSERC/Science Category:

Amber Fredenburg

MSc Natural Resources Management

Supervisor: Dr. Don Henne

Winner SSHRC Category:

Beverly Bannon

Masters of Education

Supervisor: Dr. Paul Berger

Winner CIHR Category:

Sadman Sakib
MSc Computer Science
Supervisor: Dr. Zubair Fadlullah


Postdoctoral Fellows Poster Awards

Health Category:

Dr. Guillem Dayer
Department of Biology
Supervisor: Dr. Ingeborg Zehbe


Natural Sciences and Engineering (two winners):

Dr. Ayyoub Salaghi

Department of Chemical Engineering

Supervisor: Dr. Pedram Fatehi


Dr. Bartosz Gajderowicz

Department of Computer Science

Supervisor: Dr. Vijay Mago


Indigenous Partnership Research Award

Dr. Vicki Kristman, Department Health Sciences, and Audrey Gilbeau, Executive Director, Nokiiwin Tribal Council.  The award recognizes their numerous collaborative projects, which include key roles for Indigenous peoples, mutually beneficial outcomes for the researchers and Indigenous partners, contributing to the education of Indigenous students and unique dissemination of research results that takes into account individual/community needs.


Innovation Awards

Student Innovation Award Winner (two winners)

Niloofar Alipoormazandarani
Chemical Engineering Program

Supervisor: Dr. Pedram Fatehi

Yurii Shepelytskyi
Chemistry and Material Science Program

Supervisor: Dr. Mitchell Albert


 Faculty Innovation Award

  • Dr. Mitchell Albert and Tao Li, Chemistry Department

Community-Engaged Research Award

“The First Nations and Métis Math Voices Project.”
Faculty: Dr. Ruth Beatty, Faculty of Education, Orillia Campus
Partner: Colinda Clyne, Upper Grand District School Board


Building Research Capacity Award

  • Dr. Pauline Sameshima, Faculty of Education and Canada Research Chair in Arts Integrated Studies

Canada Research Chair (CRC) Awards

  • Dr. Alla Reznik, Canada Research Chair in Physics of Radiation Medical Imaging
  • Dr. Maryam Ebrahimi, Canada Research Chair in Low-dimensional Nanomaterials

Senate Research Committee Awards

Contributions to Research Award

  • Dr. Sandra Jeppesen, Interdisciplinary Studies, Orillia Campus
  • Dr. Thomas (Chris) Sanders, Sociology Department
  • Dr. Lori Chambers, Women’s Studies Department

  Distinguished Researcher Award

  • Dr. Alla Reznik, Physics
  • Dr. Antony Puddephatt – Sociology






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Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has 10 faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. In 2019, Maclean’s 2020 University Rankings, once again, included Lakehead University among Canada’s Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities, while Research Infosource named Lakehead 'Research University of the Year' in its category for the fifth consecutive year. Visit

 Dr. Alla Reznik