New film by Lakehead Professor

Lakehead History professor Ron Harpelle has released “Heroes: A Conversation with Albert Woodfox and Robert King," a short film about solitary confinement and other injustices.

Albert Woodfox and Robert King are the surviving members of the Angola 3 and, along with Herman Wallace, they spent a combined total of 114 years in solitary confinement for crimes they did not commit. Their real “crime” was being black in the U.S. and organizing the only prison chapter of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.

Most of their time was spent in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, which is located on a former slave plantation known as Angola. Robert King was released in 2001 after 29 years in solitary, Herman Wallace was released after 42 years on October 1, 2013 and he died of cancer three days later, and Albert Woodfox saw freedom in November 2014 after almost 44 years in a six-by-nine cell for 23 hours a day.

Since their release, both Albert Woodfox and Robert King have authored critically acclaimed autobiographies and they continue to fight for reforms in the criminal justice system. In March 2017 they were invited by researchers at Lakehead University to participate in a panel discussion on solitary confinement in Canada. The introduction is a re-edited section of “Hard Time,” a documentary about Robert King by Ron Harpelle and Kelly Saxberg.

The film will be released at

Athletics, Recreation, and Wellness departments launch Running with the Wolves

The world of recreation has definitely changed in today’s world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many gyms, programs, and services have shifted their fitness opportunities into the virtual world.

Previous programs that were popular at both the Orillia and Thunder Bay campuses, including intramurals and group fitness, are not operating in their traditional capacity. Staff in the Athletics & Recreation Departments have been working to provide new virtual programming, such as e-sports and online fitness classes.

Lakehead Orillia's Athletics & Student Wellness, Lakehead Thunder Bay’s Athletics & Recreation, and the Student Health & Wellness Health Promoter, have teamed up to provide opportunities for the Lakehead community to enhance their physical fitness and wellbeing virtually, while creating connections across our campuses and our Lakehead community.

“The idea of joining a running club can seem really intimidating but starting, or restarting, a new program can actually be easier if you join a community with the same interests. By surrounding yourself with other enthusiastic people with the same goal, you’re more likely to run long-term, instead of depending solely on your own motivation. Members can offer each other advice, share experiences and motivate one another," said Lindsey Wachter, Health and Wellness Promoter for the Student Health and Wellness Department.

With support from Thunderwolves Head Track & Field and Cross Country Coach, Kip Sigsworth, and Dr. Ben Rayfield, a Sports Chiropractor from Back to Function in Orillia, the Running the Wolves program will provide participants with an eight-week training program with a weekly newsletter, along with various tips to aid in achieving their running goals. The program will be tracked through an app that will help build a sense of community and connection while they are in the program.

The Introduction to Running club, which is intended for beginners will guide these runners to build up cardio and pace to running 5k by the end of the eight week program.

“I know from experience that running is a little intimidating. There’s a lot of aches and pains when first starting. I’m excited to be able to work with our coaching staff to provide this community and training guide to our participants, and also follow along with the program myself," said Laura Ferguson, Coordinator for Recreational Programs at Lakehead Thunder Bay.

Alternatively, for members of our Lakehead community that already engage in running at an intermediate level, the general Thunderwolves Running club provides a more advanced guide to help enhance and strengthen and bring some new tips and structure to your current running routine.

There will be leaderboards shared each week to celebrate participants' successes, and using the Strava Run Clubs, participants will be able to motivate each other and cheer each other on as they reach new milestones.

The program starts on July 5th and will run until the end of August. Participants can learn more and sign up at All staff, faculty, students, and alumni are welcome to sign up!

Questions about the Running with the Wolves program can be directed to

Sister Alice is saying goodbye to Lakehead University

After 30 years as Chaplain, Sister Alice Greer will say goodbye to Lakehead University at the end of June.

When she started at the University in June of 1990, Sister Alice decided the best way to introduce herself to faculty, staff, and students was by doing “walkabouts.”

“I had many casual conversations during my daily walkabouts. I also dropped by offices, the cafeteria, the Faculty Lounge, the library and the Agora to engage in conversations and participate in activities,” she said.

“I was fortunate that I knew a few of the university professors because I received my undergrad degree (in Psychology) at Lakehead.”    

Sister Alice also earned a Master in Education (Curriculum) from Central Michigan University and a Doctor of Education (Administration) at the University of Toronto.

She said the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed her to get “wonderfully creative” to end her Lakehead University career in a similar fashion to the way it started – with a different version of “walkabouts.”

“Telephone conversations have been one-to-one as well as some group connections, Zoom and FaceTime calls have also taken place, and a number of emails have been sent and have arrived,” she said.

“I believe it’s important to do what we can with the resources we have. In many ways, that has been my life experience – thanks to a solid teaching from my parents.”

Sister Alice remembers attending mass in the Avila Chapel on Sunday nights when she was a teenager, long before she worked at Lakehead University.

“The Sisters of St. Joseph, the religious congregation that I am now a member of, had a coffeehouse after mass – where a large group of us enjoyed staying around and chatting,” she said.

“I recall thinking that I would like to be part of all that sort of activity; little did I know at age 17 or 18 that one day I would be the Chaplain at the University and be the person who organized the mass and gatherings after mass.”  

Sister Alice said students were usually eager to find ways to help those who did not have as much as they did.

“As a result, we started a special cash collection to buy socks for the people who went for meals at St. Andrew’s Dew Drop Inn. For years, we were able to collect enough to buy 200 pairs of socks yearly.

“As well, over the years we have bought hundreds of cans of coffee for the Dew Drop Inn.”

Sister Alice also started a program called Keep a Friend Warm, inspired by a student who needed assistance.

“Years ago, on a cold and snowy winter morning, a student came to mass at Avila Chapel; he was cold because he did not have a hat or mitts,” she said.

Sister Alice sent out a notice to the university community asking for winter mitts, hats and scarves.

“The response was phenomenal,” she said. Staff, faculty, and students dropped off new along with gently used and homemade knitted items.

“These were all placed on a table in the Agora and those who needed them were welcome to take whatever they required,” Sister Alice said.

She found that it was sometimes challenging to pull resources together to help students when she first started at Lakehead University.

“Usually it was just a matter of making the right connection, timing and energy in order to overcome the challenge,” she said. “As years went by and resources developed, we met challenges with teamwork.”

Sister Alice has served the University as spiritual, personal and grief mentor, companion and guide.

Each memorial service that she organized on campus, usually at Avila Chapel, brought the University community together to remember the heart and soul of individuals who had passed away. Sister Alice also organized the annual Remembrance Day ceremonies.

“When I planned our yearly Remembrance Day service, I did so with a view to remind each of us that today’s freedoms and privileges are as a result of many courageous people, some who went before us and others who continue to serve,” she said. 

Over the past 20 years, students in Lakehead’s Faculty of Education who wished to teach in Catholic schools have attended a Pastoral Letter Program that Sister Alice developed. Students who completed the program received a pastoral letter that would become their first step in applying for employment.  

For convocation, Sister Alice wrote a different invocation for each of the 30 years of convocations that she attended, because she realized that each student and graduating class was unique.

She was also on the negotiating team when her congregation – The Sisters of St. Joseph of Sault Ste. Marie – sold Avila to the University in 1993.

The Sisters donated the Chapel and its entrance to the University. A plaque outside the front door recognizes the donation, stating the desire for the Chapel to remain as a place of worship.

“During times in our lives when things may seem unsettled, when we need a quiet spot or want to pray and be assured of peace, then Avila Chapel is such a place,” Sister Alice said.

Once she leaves Thunder Bay, Sister Alice knows she will miss seeing her colleagues and Lakehead’s students.

“I will also miss those times when I have been called to be with someone when life is close to ending or death has already occurred,” she said.

“These have been the times that I know that I am on ‘holy ground.’ I am especially grateful for the honour of being with others when they or their loved ones are at the threshold between earth and Heaven.”                                                          

She will also miss Thunder Bay, her scenic hometown. This is also where her brother and two sisters live.

“I wish to thank all those who have supported and encouraged me over the past 30 years,” she said.

“There are just too many to name. Being the Chaplain at Lakehead University has brought many blessings, without measure, into my life and I hope the same applies to those whose lives I encountered. May God’s gentle and compassionate care be a daily visitor for all. Abundant Blessings.”

In place of a farewell gathering, Sister Alice invites you to make a donation to the Dew Drop Inn.

Library launches contactless pickup

Beginning on Thursday July 2, faculty, graduate students, and law students will be able to request physical library materials through Omni for contactless pickup in both Thunder Bay and Orillia. For more information on this service, visit

Lakehead professor’s research could prevent burnout in health-care workers fighting COVID-19

June 4, 2020 – Thunder Bay, Ont.

A Lakehead University professor’s research could help prevent burnout in more than a million health-care workers around the world as they assist patients who have become ill with COVID-19.

“Workforce shortage is the number one problem in health care globally,” said Dr. Salimur Choudhury, an Assistant Professor in Computer Science at Lakehead University whose graduate student Mahzabeen Emu was recently awarded a $15,000 Mitacs research internship for the next four months.

Photo of Dr. Salimur Choudhury

Dr. Choudhury’s research with the platform proposes an automated staff scheduler in the health-care industry that ensures stress-free task delegation and smarter staff scheduling decisions in a very short time.

Mesh Scheduling Inc. is a Kingston-based Canadian corporation that is the leader of a novel category of socially intelligent staff scheduling.

By asking the right questions and extracting insights into productivity and safety patterns, Mesh AI schedules thousands of shifts in highly complex work settings in just minutes. By doing this, Mesh AI not only improves costs and access to timely health-care needs, but also eliminates errors and burnout that cost lives in both patients and health-care providers.

This Lakehead-Mesh AI collaboration will make this software possible at a scale currently not imaginable anywhere else.

Dr. Choudhury said Mesh Scheduling Inc. currently has thousands of users in Canada and the US and the company expects that number to grow to millions as they expand their reach.

He understands the challenges health-care workers are facing in part because his spouse is a frontline health-care worker.

“The shortage of health-care personnel is a prevalent problem, primarily due to the substantial workloads caused by the novel Coronavirus strain,” he said.

“Moreover, due to the overwhelming and extremely dynamic the situation in the health-care industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, staff scheduling becomes very crucial.” 

The main challenges this project aims to address are preventing burnout schedules for staff, thereby improving performance, and smart scheduling to restrict unnecessary contact among staff handling COVID-19 patients to limit virus exposure to other staff and non-infected patients.

This research project will assist Mesh Scheduling Inc. in optimizing its scheduling platform to manage the uncertainties and challenges in the health-care industry by utilizing artificial intelligence with smart human resource allocation.

“We at Mesh AI are excited to start this research collaboration with Prof. Choudhury and Mahzabeen Emu for a number of reasons,” said Dr. Shahram Yousefi, Co-founder, President, and CEO of Mesh Scheduling Inc.

“On the one hand, this will lead to a coordinated and more impactful response to the call by all levels of the Canadian government to support public health and faster economic recovery.

“On the other hand, as leader of the category, Mesh AI can tremendously benefit from the latest research work done by Dr. Choudhury and his team in recent years.

Photo of Mahzabeen Emu

“We are doubly happy to have diversified our R&D collaborations with Lakehead University (a first for us to build on) as well as working with Mahzabeen as a true star female graduate student in STEM. This is the future of Canadian health care and tech diversity intersecting.”

Dr. Andrew Dean, Lakehead’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation, said this research could not come at a better time.

“This partnership is very exciting and the research proposed is extremely important and timely,” Dr. Dean said. “Lakehead University appreciates the support from Mitacs for this collaborative project.”

“Mitacs is proud to support Lakehead University’s research advancements in partnership with MeshAI. This innovation leveraging artificial intelligence will help our valuable front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future,” said John Hepburn, CEO and Scientific Director of Mitacs.



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Media: For more information or interviews, please contact Brandon Walker, Media, Communications and Marketing Associate, at (807) 343-8177 or


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

About Mitacs

Mitacs is a not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation in Canada by solving business and not-for-profit challenges with research solutions from academic institutions. Mitacs is funded by the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, Innovation PEI, the Government of Quebec, and the Government of Saskatchewan. For Mitacs news, please visit:

Lakehead University’s statement on racism and oppression

Lakehead University stands in solidarity with members of a global movement to denounce racism in all of its forms, against Indigenous, Black, or any other racialized group. As a Canadian post-secondary institution located on the traditional lands of Indigenous peoples, and with a University community comprised of people from nations around the world, racist and colonialist attitudes are not accepted by our University community.

Lakehead University is steadfast in its commitment to the principles set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Ontario Human Rights Code — that the inherent dignity, and the equal and inalienable rights, of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.  

We have developed a comprehensive approach to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). Lakehead’s Board of Governors has enshrined the principles of EDI in its Strategic Plan (2018-2023) under the pillar of Social Responsibility. Lakehead’s Senate has also supported EDI within its Academic and Research priorities.

Through the implementation of the University’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Action Plan, Accessing Excellence Together, we are ensuring that EDI principles are incorporated into our student and employee recruitment and retention efforts, our teaching and research, and our governance systems.

We have established values so that who we are and what we do nurtures our and society’s ongoing efforts to be global citizens and communities. We are committed to ensuring that Lakehead University is a welcoming and safe place for all peoples, and that racist or oppressive expressions are not accepted here.

If you need support regarding a human rights matter, please contact Lakehead University’s Office of Human Rights and Equity.


Dr. Moira McPherson
President and Vice-Chancellor
Lakehead University


Dylan Mazur
Director, Office of Human Rights and Equity
Lakehead University



Lakehead earns bronze at CCAE Prix d’Excellence Awards

At this year’s Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education Prix d’Excellence Awards, Lakehead University took home the Bronze for Best Student/Young Alumni initiative. This year’s win marks the second alumni award in three years, and third straight year of award recognition for Lakehead.

The award this year recognized the building of the Lakehead University Student Alumni Association at Lakehead Orillia. This dedicated group of students, under the guidance and leadership of External Relations Associate Jacquie Kent, has become an integral part of the campus community; often being called upon to support and participate in University-wide events, in addition to their student outreach activities.

The CCAE included the following comments about the LUSAA selection:

The Lakehead University Student Alumni Association (LUSAA) is a student-led chapter of the Lakehead University Alumni Association, whose primary purpose is to increase awareness of the Alumni Association and engage with the current student body at Lakehead University’s Orillia Campus, setting the stage for a lifelong relationship between graduates and the University.

They accomplish this by holding several engagement activities throughout the academic year. The group is run in a board format with an executive team and directors. LUSAA (with guidance from the internal External Relations Associate) is responsible for engaging students from Lakehead Orillia, and the Lakehead-Georgian Partnership. Uniquely at Lakehead University students are recognized as alumni after five full credits, and LUSAA is responsible for providing information on what benefits they can enjoy as full alumni while both as a student and a graduate.


The Spring 2020 Journey Magazine is here!

Check out the latest issue of Lakehead’s Alumni Magazine – Journey – for great stories about our alumni, researchers, students, and campus life.

Here are some of the features in this issue:



Lakehead collects PPE for frontline health-care workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.



These wily predators deploy an ingenious hunting technique.



Sami Pritchard is a young alumna with the Canadian Federation of Students. 



Alumna Lieann Koivukoski is turning North Bay into a film metropolis.



Geography teacher Peter Cameron goes on an Alaskan expedition.



Did a Cessna plane really crash-land beside Lake Tamblyn?



Meet Courtney Holmes, the student leader transforming Lakehead Orillia.



Alumni share photos of their furry family members.



Michelle Labadie and Wilma Pidhayny have been BFFs since 1989. 

Please send your comments, suggestions, and story ideas to

Lakehead professors awarded $500,000 for important research

 May 28, 2020 – Thunder Bay, Ont.

Two Lakehead University professors have been awarded $250,000 each from the federal New Frontiers in Research Fund – Exploration to pursue important work that will benefit Canada and beyond.

Photo of Dr. Zubair Fadlullah

Dr. Zubair Fadlullah, associate professor in Computer Science and Research Chair at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute, is receiving $250,000 over two years to investigate the use of drones to address the lack of reliable internet access and health-care connectivity in rural areas in Northern Ontario.

The aim of this research is to address both the urban-rural digital and health-care gaps in an interdisciplinary manner.

“Connectivity is a key enabler for providing smart health care by monitoring and managing physical/mental health conditions and addiction trends,” Dr. Fadlullah wrote in his research proposal.

To tackle the digital divide issue, this research will use a robust communication infrastructure by leveraging Unmanned Aerial Vehicles such as drones, equipped with communication and energy harvesting modules as well as robotic arms, to form an agile network.

To address the healthcare gap in Northern Ontario, the drone-aided network, coupled with cost-effective device-to-device relays composed of smartphones, will offload the health data collected by Internet of Things and wearable devices deployed at the remote communities.

Dr. Fadlullah will carry out the research at two locations: the preliminary research investigation and experiment will occur at a Lakehead University research lab and the field experiment will be carried out at one of the Keewaytinook Okimakanak First Nations communities.

He will work with co-principal investigator Dr. Vijay Mago, an associate professor in Computer Science at Lakehead who is assisting with data analytics, and with co-applicant Keewaytinook Okimakanak eHealth Telemedicine, which will provide insight as they work toward implementing a successful solution.

Photo of Dr. Maryam Ebrahimi

Dr. Maryam Ebrahimi, assistant professor in Chemistry and Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Low-Dimensional Nanomaterials, is receiving $250,000 over two years to address the enduring mystery of life’s origin in the cosmos.

In collaboration with her co-applicants at the Technical University of Munich, Dr. Ebrahimi and her team will study the peptide bonds formation from non-amino acid reactants under ultra-high vacuum (UHV) conditions, which resembles outer space. 

“If peptide bonds are formed from a non-amino acid pathway under controlled UHV conditions, can amino acids still be assigned as the unique evolutionary path of the origin of life?” Dr. Ebrahimi wrote in her research proposal. This question frames her motivation for the project.

In her newly established Nanoscale Science Laboratory, her team will investigate the on-surface reactions of suitable reactants, identified in an interstellar medium, for the synthesis of peptide bonds.

“This project will have a critical impact on our understanding of the origin of life in extraterrestrial environments.” Dr. Ebrahimi emphasized.

“Congratulations to Drs. Ebrahimi and Fadlullah for receiving these grants and thank you to the Government of Canada for recognizing the important work of our researchers,” said Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Lakehead’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation.

New Frontiers in Research is a highly competitive tri-agency program designed to support groundbreaking interdisciplinary research.

In 2019/20, Lakehead University will receive nearly $2 million in assistance from the Research Support Fund to support the indirect costs of research, which includes costs for supporting the management of intellectual property, research and administration, ethics and regulatory compliance, research resources, and research facilities.


Title: Drone Aided Device-to-Device Networks for Communications and Health Connectivity in Remote Northern Ontario

Total amount awarded (over two years):  $250,000 


Zubair Fadlullah,
Lakehead University, Computer Science

Co-principal Investigator

Vijay Mago,  
Lakehead University


Mohamed Elmokadem,
Keewaytinook Okimakanak Tribal Council (Northern Chiefs)

Cheryl Bechard,
Keewaytinook Okimakanak



Supuneet Bismil, Department of Psychiatry, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Canada

Title: Revisiting the pathway to the origin of life - Peptide bond formation from non-amino acid reactants

Total amount awarded (over two years):  $250,000


Maryam Ebrahimi,
Lakehead University, Chemistry


Johannes Barth,
Technical University of Munich

Wilhelm Auwarter,
Technical University of Munich



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Media: For more information or interviews, please contact Brandon Walker, Media, Communications and Marketing Associate, at (807) 343-8177 or



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

Lakehead graduate managing Hamilton’s COVID-19 hotline

Photo of Michael Bush 

By Brandon Walker

Michael Bush (HBCom’08, MSMgt’09) is currently managing the Public Health COVID-19 hotline for the City of Hamilton.

Prior to COVID-19 arriving in Canada, Michael was in charge of inventory management, storage and handling practices, and data management for the City of Hamilton vaccine program.

Then COVID-19 reached Canada and his superiors asked Michael to manage the Covid19 hotline. For Michael, this change was an adjustment, but he felt prepared. His confidence came from managing the city’s vaccine program and from working as a project manager.

“For myself, the biggest challenge moving into a management role was that I’m not the type of person who walks away from things,” Michael says.

When he was promoted to vaccine program supervisor, Michael was working on several projects that he needed to leave behind.

“I had to overcome the idea of not completing those projects and being given new responsibilities overnight,” he says.

“The challenge in coming from frontline to leadership was stepping back,” he says. “In a supervisor role, not only did I have to think about my own work, but also the work of the team. Learning how to better delegate tasks became important because, when done successfully, it can encouraged and empower your team.”

When the city promoted him to vaccine program supervisor, Michael immediately began learning more about the vaccine world and his confidence grew.

“This was all new to me,” he says. “I quickly had to bring myself up to speed with the knowledge and competencies involved in being the vaccine program supervisor and being in a leadership role.”

That was October 2016. Fast forward to April 2020 when Michael was once again asked to switch gears by managing the COVID-19 hotline.

“I came in around week three or four.  I had more than 40 new teammates who I was able to orchestrate and organize in a fashion that made sense. In this management role, it has been extremely fast-paced with many challenges and issues.

“But with a lot of hard work and dedication from both myself, my colleagues and our teammates, I think we’ve been really successful in bringing forward solutions and creating a positive work environment while providing sensational service to the citizens of Hamilton.”

Hamilton’s COVID-19 hotline takes calls from citizens who have concerns about people who are not self-isolating or about non-essential businesses that are operating, and about other concerns.

Michael credits his success to his Lakehead University education.

“Lakehead prepared me to think critically, to be a problem solver and emotionally intelligent, which is a key aspect of being a leader,” he says.

“My undergrad helped instill the values of teamwork, innovation and passion, of being a high level achiever and doing that with fairness. My Master of Science degree certainly got me to the place I am today.

“I was able to hit the ground running as a confident, motivated and driven employee. Without my Master’s degree I probably wouldn’t be in the position I am now.”