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

March 2, 2023 – Thunder Bay and Orillia, Ont.

Lakehead University held its Research and Innovation Awards of Excellence reception on Thursday, March 2 to celebrate the exceptional achievements of professors, partners, and students.

Lakehead named Dr. Vicki Kristman and Dr. Scott Hamilton as the 2023 Distinguished Researchers for their work in health sciences and social sciences and humanities.

Dr. Kristman is a professor in the Department of Health Sciences who is the Director and Senior Scientist with the Enhancing the Prevention of Injury and Disability at Work Research Institute. 

“I'd like to thank the Senate Research Committee for recognizing the quality and importance of my research in injury and disability prevention in the workplace through this award,” Dr. Kristman said. 

“I'd also like to thank all of my past professors and mentors, who honed my epidemiological and research skills.”he said her current colleagues in the Department of Health Sciences deserve special recognition for challenging her on her ideas and supporting her when she needed it. 

“I'd also like to recognize the Senate of Lakehead University for giving me the opportunity to develop and initiate the EPID@Work Research Institute. A special nod goes to all the workers, workplaces, and other community members who have participated or co-developed research projects with me.” 

Dr. Kristman thanked the funding agencies for supporting this research, including CIHR, SSHRC, Mitacs, the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba, and WorkSafeBC, among others. 

“A special thanks to the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development for supporting the EPID@Work Research Institute, but in particular the Prevention division, including Chief Prevention Officer Dr. Joel Moody, Bill Roy, and Steven Boyd, for recognizing the value that EPID@Work brings to health, safety, and injury and disability prevention in Northwestern Ontario.” 

This research would not have been possible without the team, Dr. Kristman said, including EPID’s past and present trainees, research assistants, collaborators, co-investigators, management and advisory boards, and most recently the new EPID staff. 

“Big problems take a lot of great minds to tackle and, although we've done well so far, I'm confident that we have the right people to do many more amazing things. 

“Finally, I'd like to thank my parents for instilling in me a strong work ethic and moral principles that guide my everyday actions and decisions,” she said. 

Dr. Hamilton joined Lakehead’s Department of Anthropology in 1988 with a two-pronged research program – one was conventional academic research and the other emphasized applied research that gradually shifted to community-engaged research service. 

His primary field of study is the archaeology of the Canadian northern plains and subarctic, along with fur trade archaeology and ethnohistory.  

“My academic research has involved six major SSHRC-funded projects,” he said. 

“Receiving the Distinguished Researcher Award is particularly important to me as I begin my 35th year at Lakehead University,” Dr. Hamilton said. 

Dr. Hamilton said working at Lakehead University allowed him to teach at the undergraduate and graduate level, and to do sustained regional research.

 “It allowed me to help train students who have become my professional colleagues, and to do both academic and applied research. 

“The latter is particularly important to me since it allowed development of working relationships with several northern Ontario First Nations, the freedom to explore an enormous ‘research hinterland’, and to continue to learn,” Dr. Hamilton said. 

“I thank my colleagues for the nomination and letters of support, and the Senate Research Committee for selecting me for this honor. 

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 Awards of Excellence is a special event for acknowledging the tremendous research accomplishments at Lakehead University,” Dr. Dean said. 

“Congratulations to each winner. A special recognition goes to Professors Scott Hamilton and Vicki Kristman. Receiving the Distinguished Researcher Award is a well-deserved honour.” 


Award Recipients

Three-Minute Thesis

  • Second Place: Magdy Alanani, PhD in Civil Engineering candidate (Supervisor: Dr. Ahmed Elshaer)
  • First Place: Alexis Harvey, Health Sciences MSc (Supervisor: Dr. Helle Moeller)

Three-Minute Research Award

  • First Place: Gavin Shields, Education MEd (Supervisor: Dr. David Greenwood)

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

  • Tiffany Leung, PhD Clinical Psychology (Supervisor: Dr. Christopher Mushquash)

Graduate Student Conference Poster Winners

Winner Engineering Category

  • Christopher Silver, MSc Software Engineering (Supervisor: Dr. Thangarajah Akilan) 

Winners NSERC Category

  • Hrishikesh Vachhani, MSc Computer Science
  • Nisharaff Shaik, MSc Computer Science
  • Yash Devmurari, MSc Computer Science
  • Dhruvisha Patel, MSc Computer Science

(All were supervised by Dr. Thangarajah Akilan)

Winner SSHRC Category

  • Chelsea Noel, MA Clinical Psychology (Supervisor: Dr. Deborah Scharf)

Innovation Award

  • Daniel Vasiliu, Technologist in Electrical Engineering

Post-Doctoral Fellow Excellence Award – this year there is a tie

  • Dr. Elaine Toombs, Dept. of Psychology, (Supervisor: Dr. Chris Mushquash)
  • Dr. Matthew Brzozowski, Dept. of Geology, (Supervisor: Dr. Peter Hollings)

Building Research Capacity Award

  • Building the EPID@Work Research Instituteled by Dr. Vicki Kristman

Senate Research Committee Awards

Research Support Award

  • Dr. Alexandria (Lexi) Haslehurst

 Research Excellence Awards

  • Dr. Osama (Sam) Salem, NSERC
  • Dr. Sandra Jeppesen, SSHRC

 Distinguished Researcher Award

  • Dr. Vicki Kristman, Professor, Department of Health Sciences, EPID@Work Director and Senior Scientist
  • Dr. Scott Hamilton, Professor, Anthropology





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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 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 10,000 students in THE’s 2022 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit