Clark and Bettencourt named Orillia Thunderwolves 2019-2020 athletes of the year

A men's soccer player kicks the ball during a game


Chris Bettencourt member of the varsity men's indoor soccer team.

March 27, 2020 – Orillia, Ont.

The Lakehead Orillia Thunderwolves didn’t let the cancellation of the annual Athletic Awards Banquet stop them from celebrating a successful 2019-2020 athletics season. On Friday, March 27, the Thunderwolves handed out awards to student athletes during a virtual banquet.

“This isn’t the way that we wanted the season to end, but it was important for us to celebrate the accomplishments of our athletes with their teammates and peers,” explained Sarah Batley, Student Athletics and Wellness Coordinator. “Thank you for the incredible spirit and passion you have shown, this year, for your sport. And a special thanks to our graduating athletes. Congratulations to everyone, in particular our award winners.”

Hannah Clark (women’s basketball) and Chris Bettencourt (varsity men’s indoor soccer) were named 2019-2020 Athletes of the Year.

A female basketball player dribbles a basketball down the court

Hannah Clark of the women's basketball team.

Clark, a Master of Education student, helped lead the women’s basketball team to three championships. This year, she stepped up to mentor and welcome new players into the Thunderwolves family, and committed to making the new on-court partnership with the Georgian Grizzlies a success.

Bettencourt, a fourth-year Business Administration student, will leave the program on solid footing. For four years, Bettencourt led the varsity men’s indoor soccer team with dedication, charisma and hard work. As team captain, he took an active role in supporting the first-year players and ensuring that they adapted to the program and the collegiate level of play.

Gia Spiropoulos player-coach

Gia Spiropoulos, player-coach for the women's basketball team.

The new Principal’s Award for Leadership in Athletics and Recreation was presented to Gia Spiropoulos (women’s basketball) and Peter Scholtes (men’s basketball). Both Spiropoulos and Scholtes stepped up to take on player-coach roles for their respective teams in their first year with the Thunderwolves. Neither of these student-athletes needed to take on the role of coach, adding to their already demanding academic programs, but they both did so in order to allow their teammates to continue playing.

Peter Scholtes player-coach

Peter Scholtes, player-coach for the men's basketball team. 

Another major award winner was varsity golfer Lucas Chiarot who received the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) All-Academic Award. The OCAA All-Academic Award is presented to full-time student athletes who also meet honours academic standards at Lakehead University.

A young man watches his golf ball after a chip shot

Lucas Chiarot, member of the varsity men's golf team and recipient of the OCAA All-Academic Award.

Awards were also presented to top student athletes in each of the University’s sports teams: varsity golf, equestrian, men’s and women’s hockey, dance, men’s and women’s varsity indoor soccer, and men’s and women’s basketball. Most valuable player and rookie of the year were announced and presented by the team coaches, who were also recognized and thanked by the University.

A complete list of award winners from the evening can be found below as well as on our website

Athletes of the Year

Hannah Clark – Women’s Basketball
Chris Bettencourt – Varsity Men’s Indoor Soccer

Principal’s Award for Athletics in Leadership and Recreation

Gia Spiropoulos – Women’s Basketball
Peter Scholtes – Men’s Basketball

Team Awards

Men’s Basketball
MVP: Kurtis Page
Leadership Award: Brett Tomlinson

Women’s Basketball
MVP: Breanna Shaw
Rookie of the Year: Avery Williams

MVP: Lauren Oke
Most Dedicated: Elizabeth Reynolds

MVP: Jill Widdifield
Rookie of the Year: Meaghan Welch

Varsity Golf
MVP: Josh Brown
Rookie of the Year: Alex Castanheiro

Men’s Hockey
MVP: Santino Tonigussi
Rookie of the Year: Kyle Kopko

Women’s Hockey
MVP: Jordan Bolzon
Rookie of the Year: Fairyn Bannerman

Men’s Varsity Indoor Soccer
MVP: Chris Bettencourt
Rookie of the Year: Connor Chowen

Women’s Varsity Indoor Soccer
MVP: Ally Morris
Rookie of the Year: Grace Heywood

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Media contact: Jaclyn Bucik, Media, Communications & Marketing Associate at

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

Students win big at Annual Juried Exhibition

Artwork created by Lakehead University visual arts students displayed in the Thunder Bay Art Gallery

The Department of Visual Arts is happy to announce the winners of the annual student Juried Exhibition held at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery! These are the winners of awards sponsored by individuals at Lakehead University:

Lakehead University Alumni Association Award
Winner: Hanyu Zhang, Be Water My Friend 

Lakehead University Student Union Award
Winner: Hanna Marion, Dependent and Greedy

Lakehead University Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities Award

  • Painting: Gary Ho, I Won’t Suicide, Call My Parents
  • Drawing: Bethany Potter, Poppy’s Trap
  • Ceramics: Julia Mills, Deflated 
  • Print: Hanna Marion, Sauna Bucket
  • Sculpture: Nathan Cross, Does It Matter 

President of Lakehead University Award
Winner: Katie Untinen, Fort McMurray May 3rd 2016

Visual Arts Network Award

  • Kevin Niemi, Bundled
  • Bethany Potter, Poppy’s Trap
  • Yue Xin, Ryder’s House 
  • Faith Cordeiro, Time Flies 

Department of Visual Arts Award
(for Promising First Year Student)
Winner: Kevin Niemi, Bundled 

As the gallery had to close to the public a virtual tour of the exhibition can be accessed on the Thunder Bay Art Gallery website beginning on Thursday, March 26.

Thank you to our Lakehead University donors for your support!

Lakehead professor hosting free webinar series: Surviving and Thriving at Home with Your Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dr. David Tranter, Associate Professor with the School of Social Work, will be offering free live and on-demand webinars for parents and caregivers. The series entitled, Surviving and Thriving at Home with Your Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic, provides expert advice in the areas of parenting, learning at home, and managing anxiety. Dr. Tranter is providing three webinars:

Session One: The March Break is Over, Now What?
Wednesday, March 25, 1 PM
This first session of the series covers the top ten ways you and your children can successfully settle in to staying at home. Topics will include: establishing realistic expectations, creating a daily routine, and dealing with stress and worry

Session Two: Learning at Home is Not like Learning at School
Wednesday, April 1, 1 PM
This session will examine how you can support your child’s learning and development without turning your dining room into a classroom. Topics will include: what matters most when it comes to learning, capitalizing on curiosity, and dealing with opposition without detention or suspension

Session Three: Are We Having Fun Yet? Saying Positive Over the Long Haul
Wednesday, April 8, 1 PM
This session will focus on maintaining your own well-being so you can support the well-being of your children. Topics will include: staying motivated and positive, managing boredom and anxiety, and supporting your own well-being

For more information, or to register, go to

Research in Action: Uncovering the importance of human capital

Before he became a university professor and author, Dr. Kunle Akingbola had a successful career as a Human Resources (HR) professional. He was the HR manager for the Canadian Red Cross in Toronto while working on the second of his three Master’s degrees. As he grappled with choosing a thesis topic, his research advisor made a suggestion that would change the course of Akingbola’s work and his life.

At the time, the Red Cross had just taken over managing a homeless shelter over the winter for the City of Toronto, which was downsizing services to the non-profit sector. On top of their regular programs, Red Cross employees had to create and staff a completely new program that they would give up in six months time, only to bring back another six months after that.

Akingbola took his advisor’s advice and used the Red Cross case study as the basis for his Master’s thesis on non-profit HR management. That line of study eventually led to his Ph.D. dissertation, which examined the entire strategy of non-profit organizations across Canada and the impact of government funding and the environment.

Akingbola’s growing expertise led to part-time university teaching. He eventually left his HR career to become a full-time professor. Today he is Associate Professor of Human Resource Management and Organizational Behaviour in the Faculty of Business Administration at Lakehead University’s Orillia campus.

With numerous publications including books, chapters in edited books, and articles in leading journals, research continues to be a large part of Akingbola’s work, which looks at ways to optimize the effectiveness of non-profit organizations while increasing employee satisfaction and improving outcomes for the communities they serve. He encourages his students to get research experience by helping him do surveys and data sorting.

“Prior to my study, no one had ever looked at HR management in non-profit organizations, says Akingbola. “There had been research on volunteers, but not employees of non-profit organizations that make up a major part of the Canadian social sector and account for about nine per cent of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”

His vast personal experience in HR in non-profit and healthcare sectors combined with his extensive ground-breaking research give Akingbola rare insight and expertise into social purpose enterprises. He understands the fine line organizations are forced to walk to secure the funding that is essential to support their services. It’s especially frustrating in the face of what Akingbola calls “mission drift.”

“How do you manage people who joined your organization because they believe in your mission, but now you have to go in a different direction because that’s where the funding is dictating you go?” says Akingbola.

One thing he is certain of is the importance of the human component in non-profit activities.

“The nature of service is emotional and it is human based,” says Akingbola. “You can install an ATM on Jarvis Street in Toronto that gives out blankets and coffee to the homeless on a cold winter’s night. But it can’t dispense compassion. In that regard you can’t replace human capital.”

Dr. Kunle Akingbola is the lead author of the book "Change Management in Nonprofit Organizations: Theory and Practice" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019) and the author of "Managing Human Resources for Nonprofits" (Routledge, 2015).

Campus Rec Goes Virtual


Campus Rec is going virtual with their programs to help stay engaged with the campus community.

Starting Monday, April 6, Campus Rec Group Fitness classes are going virtual through Instagram Live. Tune in each weekday for 30 minute classes, all designed to be done in your own home with no equipment. All members of the Lakehead Community, including students, faculty, and staff, are invited to join us at no cost.

Gillian Whybourne, a personal trainer and group fitness instructor with Campus Rec, will be conducting each of these classes.

She says, "Times are uncertain right now, but one thing is certain - it’s important we stay healthy during these times. For a lot of us, our entire schedule has shifted. We can’t go to the gym, play team sports or go to our favourite yoga class. It’s important we be gentle with ourselves during this time. Maybe some of us don’t feel as inspired to move, maybe our living situation isn’t ideal and that’s okay! It’s important you listen to yourself and your body. These classes will be great for everyone - you can tune in and out at any time. There is no equipment needed. The only thing you need is a small cleared space about the length of a yoga mat, comfy clothes and a glass of water."

You can see an image of the full schedule below, or visit @lakeheadcampusrec on Instagram to see a copy of the schedule as well. A new schedule will be uploaded at the end of each week for the following Monday to Friday.

If group fitness isn't your thing, there are some other opportunities to stay active and engaged. You can check out the Thunderwolves Activity Challenge at, which is a great way to get moving and compete against your fellow Lakehead community for some prizes!

Are you more of a sport fan? Coming soon to our instagram will be video challenges, including basketball trick shots, TP touch challenges, and more! Stay tuned and get your skills sharpened.

If you have any suggestions on virtual programs you'd like to see, feel free to email, or message any of the Campus Rec social media platforms.

Caring Cards for Seniors in our Community


Over the next few weeks, we are asking our Lakehead community to help us make cards for residents of long term care facilities in our city. They can be handmade and scanned to us or made online using a free poster making software.

You don't have to be the best artist or spend hours on it — it will only take a few minutes of your day. You can take part in this project from the comfort of your home, whether you are still in Thunder Bay or have already gone home.

*FACULTY/STAFF: This is a great project to have your kids be involved in while they are home.

Cards can include nice greetings and wishes to our seniors, as well as a description about the maker of the card. Some examples of cards can be found below.

Completed cards can be emailed to with CARING CARDS as the subject. They will then be printed and delivered to long term care homes in the city.

We can't wait to see all the wonderful cards you make for our community members!




COVID-19 updates

For COVID-19 updates, resources and more information, visit
Updates will be sent to your Lakehead University email address through the Communications Bulletin.

COVID-19 updates

For COVID-19 updates, resources and more information, visit
Updates will be sent to your Lakehead University email address through the Communications Bulletin.

Research in Action: Making mathematics more meaningful through culturally responsive education

Women smiling wearing pink frame glasses and a blue flowered shirtMath is not a four-letter word. But to those with rampant math phobia, it certainly feels like it. Dr. Ruth Beatty, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Lakehead University’s Orillia campus often sees students who actively dislike or even fear math. To her the problem isn’t with math itself, it’s with how the subject traditionally has been taught.

She started her research career looking at how children understand math and how educators can best teach the subject. She found that by looking beyond numbers and symbols and by taking a more holistic approach to what it means to think “mathematically” teachers could make math more accessible and fun.

Nine years ago, while teaching in the Master's program at Lakehead’s Thunder Bay campus, Beatty made a fascinating connection that has guided her work since then.

“Some of my students were First Nations educators or had been teaching in First Nation schools and we were talking about the disconnect between Indigenous culture and mathematics education in Ontario curriculum,” said Beatty. “I started visiting communities to learn more.”

While working with the Elders she realized that math is naturally embedded in Indigenous cultural practices like beadwork or birch-bark basket-, snowshoe- and moccasin-making.

“Take a beaded bracelet, for example,” says Beatty. “There's so much math in it. There is patterning and algebraic reasoning, there’s geometric transformations, proportional and spatial reasoning. There's number sense and numeration.”

With that cultural connection in mind, Beatty began a study in 2012 with the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation and teachers from the Renfrew County District School Board at a school with 20 per cent Indigenous students and 80 per cent non-Indigenous students. The project partnered community members, artists, Elders, and Knowledge Keepers with Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators to co-plan math instruction for Grade 3 and 6 students based on Algonquin loom beading. Cultural and language teachings were also integrated into the math unit.

The results were overwhelmingly positive. Indigenous students got to share their heritage and gain a sense of pride in their own knowledge systems that were valued on the same level as Western curriculum. Non-Indigenous students gained an appreciation of Indigenous culture. Most importantly, both groups learned exciting new math skills in a fun and engaging environment.

Perhaps the best endorsement of the math classes came from the students themselves. At the end of a session, with students working in their designs, making calculations to determine how many beads they would need, the teacher told them to wrap it up, math class was over. They looked up in surprise. Wait? What? Math? They had spent three hours absorbed in their learning with no idea they were, in fact, doing math.

Beatty and her team have collaborated with nine more communities around the province including The Chippewas of Rama First Nation and Simcoe County District School Board. Her work shows that math doesn’t belong to Eurocentric culture or scholars. Math is all around us and if taught in inventive, positive, and culturally responsive ways, no one needs to be afraid of it.

Faculty of Education professor Dr. Ruth Beatty and her school board partners received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, CanCode, and the Council of Ontario Directors of Education to carry out this important research.

Research in Action: Research helping to improve the efficiency of motors

As the negative climate effects of fossil fuel-based energy sources become more apparent, governments, scientists and industries around the globe are putting more resources into developing sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives.

Locally, Dr. Mohammad Nasir Uddin is contributing to the effort with his research, funded through Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grants, on optimizing the efficiency of wind energy and electric motor drives.

A professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Lakehead University, Uddin and his graduate students are working on wind energy conversion systems to achieve maximum power extraction from the wind and maximum output from wind generators. They do this by creating intelligent algorithms that mimic the human brain by telling the system what to do in any given circumstance.

To illustrate what an algorithm is, Uddin gives the example of a commuter on the way to work in Toronto. “As she heads down the highway, her brain has planned out the shortest and fastest route. That’s an algorithm. Then she hears on the radio that there is an accident up ahead. Her brain takes that new information and creates an alternate route. That’s another algorithm.”

Uddin’s team has also developed control algorithms that improve the power quality and dynamic performance of wind generators by responding appropriately and quickly to unpredictable abnormal variations of wind speeds or power system fault conditions. Thanks to this kind of research the creation of a cost effective and sustainable wind energy system can be achieved.

Another area of Uddin’s research involves loss minimization in electric motors. “Fifty-five per cent of the total electric energy produced in the world is consumed by electric motors,” says Uddin. “If we use the algorithms to force the motor to follow certain conditions so that voltage and current give the minimum loss, then we can improve the overall efficiency of the system and achieve the best motor performance.”

Uddin has shared his findings in 228 papers that have published or accepted in refereed journals and conferences including 53 papers in IEEE Transactions which is considered the top ranking journal in his area of research. In 2010 he won the Lakehead University’s Distinguished Researcher Award.

Uddin’s impact in the field of Electrical Engineering goes beyond his own research. After more than 25 years of teaching and research experience at various universities in Canada, the United States, Bangladesh, Japan and Malaysia he has mentored and inspired many students. They include 50 highly qualified engineers (nine Ph.D., 24 Master’s, 14 Research Associates and three Postdoctoral fellows) and 82 undergraduate students. Most have gone on to work for companies like General Motors, Mercedes Benz, Rockwell Automation, AMEC, Caterpillar and Schneider Electric where they continue to develop optimization algorithms that improve efficiencies in motor drives used in transportation, robotics, automotive and oil industries.

Dr. Mohammed Nasir Uddin is a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Lakehead University; Coordinator of the Electrical Engineering program under the Lakehead-Georgian Partnership; and the Director of the Renewable Energy, Power Systems and Drive Research Lab located in Barrie.