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

March 10, 2022 – Thunder Bay and Orillia, Ont.

Lakehead University held its Research and Innovation Awards of Excellence reception virtually on Thursday, March 10 to celebrate the exceptional achievements of professors, partners, and students.

Lakehead named Dr. Monica Flegel, Dr. Pedram Fatehi, and Dr. Michel Bédard as the 2022 Distinguished Researchers for their work in the social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and engineering, and health sciences, respectively.

Photo of Dr. Monica Flegel

Dr. Flegel is a researcher from the Faculty of English who is active in a wide variety of fields. She has made significant contributions within three major areas – Victorian studies, child studies, and fan and media studies. She has written three academic books – two of which she is the single author, one which is joint-authored, and one which is a joint-edited collection – which represent her most significant research contributions.

The impact of Dr. Flegel’s first two single-authored monographs can be measured through their reception in published reviews. Conceptualizing Cruelty to Children in 19th Century England: Literature, Representation, published in 2009, received favourable reviews in six separate academic journals.

The Journal of British Studies described it as “a significant contribution to scholarship on the ideological work of childhood in the Victorian period.” English Studies praised Dr. Flegel’s “often energetic and accessible text” as “a valuable addition to a broad spectrum of fields, including social history, Victorian studies and childhood.” 

Her second monograph, Pets and Domesticity in Victorian Literature and Culture: Animality, Queer Relations, and the Victorian Family, published in 2015, has also received positive reviews.

Victorian Studies notes how the book “enhance[s] our understanding of pets in the Victorian era and show[s] the exciting scholarly potential of using contemporary animal-studies work to offer alternative visions of social and political practices, human-animal relationships, and history itself.”

Teresa Mangum, writing for review19, lauded the book as “an important contribution to the growing number of literary studies that triangulate narrative theory, social history, and inter-species engagements.”

According to Google Scholar, Conceptualizing Cruelty has been cited over 100 times and Pets and Domesticity has received 58 citations, which are both considered an exceptional amount of citations in Victorian studies.

Dr. Flegel has consistently published and presented her research throughout her career, as well as being actively engaged in student training: she has one of the highest number of supervisions of Master’s students in her department, due to training and guiding students in her multiple areas of research.

Dr. Fatehi is a professor, Canada Research Chair (Tier II) and Industrial Research Chair in Chemical Engineering who has published over 230 journal articles (more than 25 article publications per year). His contributions to international conferences – as an organizer, plenary speaker, invited speaker, committee member, and regular contributor – have been consistent.Photo of Dr. Pedram Fatehi

His research specialty is on the generation of advanced functional lignin- and cellulose-based nanomaterials, biorefining, and biocolloid and interface science.

Dr. Fatehi has consistently been a reviewer for several funding agencies, thesis dissertations, and journal articles worldwide. He is a distinguished professor at Qilu University of Technology, China. He is ranked among the top national and international researchers working on lignin.

Dr. Fatehi was among the top two per cent of researchers in the world on both categories of career and annual contributions determined by Stanford University in 2020 and 2021.

The outstanding quality of his research output has resulted in a substantial increase in the number of article citations annually. While several of his articles have been selected by ACS journals as featured articles, some have been among most cited/accessed. 

Dr. Fatehi has also been a committee member of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), working on the development of standard methods for analyzing lignin.

He has significantly contributed to training highly qualified personnel of undergraduate and graduate students and researchers, having worked with 70 post BSc and more than 30 BSc researchers.

Dr. Bédard is the Director of Lakehead’s Centre for Research on Safe Driving and a professor in Health Sciences. He has spent the past 20 years advancing knowledge and developing a research agenda for older drivers by creating new knowledge that other researchers could build on.

Photo of Dr. Michel Bedard

He has also informed the debate about driving evaluations and challenged some existing views. Dr. Bédard and his team have contributed to this debate by informing researchers – using conceptual articles and consensus statements – of the approaches required to identify drivers who should not drive, and guiding researchers to generate valuable knowledge to clinicians and policy-makers.

Dr. Bédard has validated the use of driving simulator technology, which has the potential to help ease demands for on-road tests. He has helped bring much-needed understanding to the impact of driving cessation and approaches to mitigate it as a developing area of research on his team.

He has helped bring understanding to the importance of the driving environment in supporting older drivers and to the impact of transitioning from driver to non-driver.

Dr. Bédard has been involved with knowledge translation and the application of knowledge, by working with the media, such as CBC News. He and his team organized five CIHR-funded Café Scientique studies and they have collaborated with the government (Transport Canada, Ministry of Transportation of Ontario), local organizations such as hospitals, and patient groups including the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada.

He has demonstrated consistency over the last 20 years by contributing to more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, over 250 presentations at scientific conferences, and giving 100 invited presentations. Dr. Bédard also provides mentorship to several junior members in his faculty.  

Dr. Andrew P. Dean said the awards ceremony is a highlight of the year for Research and Innovation and he is exceptionally proud of all Lakehead award recipients.

“Our three distinguished research award recipients have made significant contributions over a number of years at Lakehead University,” Dr. Dean said.

“Many of our awards recognize research activities that are important to our communities and work done in partnerships. Our award celebration also embraces the achievements of our next generation of researchers – our students.”

Award Recipients

Three-Minute Thesis

  • Third Place: Amin Hadizade, PhD in Biotechnology candidate (Supervisors: Dr. Leila Pakzad
  • Second Place: Magdy Alanani, PhD in Civil Engineering candidate (Supervisor: Dr. Ahmed Elshaer)
  • First Place: Nicole Lee, Master of Kinesiology candidate (Supervisor: Dr. Taryn Klarner)

Three-Minute Research Award

  • Third Place: Shakira Mohamed, PhD in Psychology candidate (Supervisors: Dr. Aislin Mushquash)
  • Second Place: Laurent Cheret, Master of Computer Science candidate (Supervisor: Dr. Thiago Oliveira)
  • First Place: George Drazenovich, PhD in Psychology candidate (Supervisor: Dr. Mirella Stroink)


Graduate Studies Research Excellence Awards

Natural Sciences and Engineering Category

  • Behrooz Afra, PhD in Biotechnology candidate (Supervisor: Dr. Ali Tarokh) 

Social Sciences and Humanities Category

  • Jillian Zitars, Masters in Clinical Psychology candidate (Supervisor: Dr. Deborah Scharf)

Canadian Institutes of Health Research Category

  • Angela MacIsaac, PhD in Clinical Psychology candidate (Supervisor: Dr. Aislin Mushquash)

Graduate Student Conference Poster Winners

  • Winner CIHR Category: Andrew Ault, Master of Economics candidate, (Supervisors: Dr. Livio Di Matteo)
  • Winner Engineering Category: Vahid Agehi Doost, PhD in Civil Engineering candidate (Supervisor: Dr. Muntasir Billah) 
  • Winner NSERC Category: Jessica Allingham, PhD in Chemistry candidate (Supervisor: Dr. Michael Campbell)
  • Winner SSHRC Category: Chelsea Noel, Master of Psychology candidate (Supervisor: Dr. Deborah Sharf)

Indigenous Partnership Research Award

Award recipients are Dr. Helle Moeller, Department of Health Sciences, and Denise Taylor, St. Joseph’s Care Group with partners Marlene Quequish, North Caribou Lake First Nation; Robert Baxter, Eabametoong First Nation; Wesley Nothing, Bearskin Lake First Nation; and Joan Rae, Sandy Lake First Nation for their research project: “Supporting Elders Living with Frailty in Remote Indigenous Communities in Northwestern Ontario: Developing and Evaluating the Role of a Community Rehabilitation Facilitator Training Program.”

Ingenuity Awards

  • Faculty award - Dr. Pedram Fatehi, Department of Chemical Engineering and Director of the Biorefining Research Institute
  • Student award - Silas Young, HBComm in Accounting from the Faculty of Business Administration

Community-Engaged Research Award

  • Dr. Lana Ray, Department of Indigenous Learning in partnership with Waasegiizhig Nanaandawe’iyewigamig Health Access Centre their project titled “Indigenous Self-Determined Research.”

Building Research Capacity Award

  • Dr. Amanda Diochon, Department of Geology and Director, Lakehead University Environmental Laboratory

Senate Research Committee Awards

Research Support Award

  • Dr. Weijue Gao, Research Associate and Lab Manager at the Green Processes Research Centre

 Research Excellence Awards

  • CIHR – Dr. Anna Kone Pefoyo, Associate Professor in the Department of Health Sciences
  • NSERC – Dr. Zubair Fadlullah, TBRHRI Research Chair/Associate Professor in Computer Science – NSERC
  • SSHRC – Dr. Olakunle Akingbola, Associate Professor in Business Administration

 Distinguished Researcher Award

  • Dr. Monica Flegel, Professor, Department of English

  • Dr. Pedram Fatehi, Professor, Chemical Engineering; Director, Biorefining Research Institute; Canada Research Chair (Tier II) and Industrial Research Chair in Chemical Engineering

  • Dr. Michel Bédard, Professor, Department of Health Sciences and Director, Centre for Research on Safe Driving


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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. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked, once again, among Canada’s Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities in Maclean’s 2021 University Rankings; as well as included in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2022 World Universities Rankings for the third consecutive year, and in the top 100 of 1,115 universities from around the world in THE's 2021 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit