High-impact clinical and sustainability research projects awarded with CFI grants

November 17, 2023 – Thunder Bay, Ont.

The Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has awarded a total of $811,056 for six research projects at Lakehead University through the John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF). The infrastructure grants will supply researchers with the equipment and space needed to advance holistic forest management, evaluate climate change, and further develop low-dose digital x-ray technology.

Dr. Nathan Basiliko, professor in the Faculty of Natural Resources Management, and co-applicants and colleagues Dr. Seung-Il Lee and Dr. Ashley Thomson, have received $174,996 to study how ecosystems in Canada’s Boreal environments are responding to interrelated stressors, including climate change and industrial forestry.

The team – Basiliko a soil scientist, Thomson a tree geneticist, Lee a forest entomologist, alongside Lakehead undergraduate and graduate students – will look at soil microbial communities, invertebrates, and tree populations to understand how they respond to climate change and other stressors such as invasive species and demand for forest products.

“The exciting part is that we’re using a transdisciplinary approach to study how different parts of forest ecosystems interact and that’s key to understanding how forests function,” explains Dr. Basiliko. “This project will expose Lakehead students to big picture, real-world contexts of forestry management and forest disturbances.”

The research will contribute to knowledge that will guide future forest management with a more holistic lens of biodiversity and help understand mechanisms behind northern ecosystem feedbacks to climate change and other contemporary environmental stressors.

Dr. Alla Reznik, professor in the Department of Physics and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Physics of Radiation Medical Imaging, has received $124,574 to support the crucial stages in scaling up of a new photoconductor material for digital X-ray imaging systems.

An evaluation of the photoconductive properties of amorphous Lead Oxide (a-PbO) – the material developed by Dr. Reznik’s group at Lakehead’s Rezniklab – as an important component of X-ray medical imaging detectors offers high-speed imaging and lowering patient exposure to radiation for a variety of diagnostic and image-guided therapeutic procedures.

Funding received through CFI JELF will enable the Rezniklab to optimize the a-PbO technology and fabricate and evaluate full-scale detector prototypes with the goal of developing detectors for fluoroscopic applications used in cardiac intervention and 3D mammography tomosynthesis.

“This is an important scientific and engineering accomplishment in the continuing development of X-ray imaging systems,” said Dr. Reznik. “It will lower the barrier towards harm-free X-ray imaging to the benefit of healthcare in Canada and worldwide.”

Dr. Adam Algar, associate professor in the Department of Biology, has received $119,591 for a five-year project that will look at how climate change and land cover change affect the ecology and evolution of species. Using amphibians, specifically gray tree frogs, Dr. Algar and his research team of graduate and undergraduate students will use lab experiments, field studies, remote-sensing and data modelling to shed light on the future of biodiversity in Canada and worldwide.

“I’m interested in what limits species distributions and ranges, how they survive in their environment, and how they respond when those environments change,” said Dr. Algar. “Northwestern Ontario is the most extreme environment where species like the gray tree frog can survive so it’s a great natural laboratory to study the limits of their physiology and their ecology and how those might evolve or how they may adjust their behaviour to cope with future changes.”

From there Algar and his research team will build data models where they can expand what’s happening now at the local level to try and predict how species will shift its range across all of North America in response to climate change or forest change.

“Lakehead researchers continue to tackle issues that impact people, our communities and the planet,” said Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Vice-President, Research and Innovation. “With support from CFI, our research teams will have access to state-of-the-art equipment that will help them facilitate high quality research. We thank CFI for their continued support.”

Canadian Foundation for Innovation, John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) Awards 2023

Total funding: $811,056

  • Dr. Adam Algar, Department of Biology, "Laboratory for Physiological Macroecology", $119,591
  • Drs. Nathan Basiliko, Seung-Il Lee and Ashley Thomson, Faculty of Natural Resources Management, "Research Infrastructure for Multitrophic Studies of Boreal Forest Landscapes", $174,996
  • Dr. Gautam Das, Department of Physics, "Microscope, and Trace Gas Analyzers (Nitrous Oxide and Ammonia) for Photonics and Bio-Photonics Research Facilities", $166,892
  • Dr. Apparao Dekka, Department of Electrical Engineering, "Design and Development of Powertrain Technologies for Heavy-duty Electric Transportation Applications", $100,017
  • Dr. Ebrahim Rezaei, Department of Chemical Engineering, "Laboratory for Climate Change Mitigation and Air Pollution Control", $124,986
  • Dr. Alla Reznik, Department of Physics and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Physics of Radiation Medical Imaging, Scientist, Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute, "Low-dose Direct Conversion Radiation Medical Imaging Detectors", $124,574 




Media: For more information or interviews, please contact Jaclyn Bucik, Media, Communications and Marketing Associate, at 705-330-4010 ext. 2014 or mediarelations@lakeheadu.ca.

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 nine faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2023 World Universities Rankings for the fourth consecutive year, and the number one university in the world with fewer than 9,000 students in THE’s 2023 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit www.lakeheadu.ca.

Nathan Basiliko Alla Reznik and Adam Algar