Exceptional researchers celebrated at annual research and innovation gala

The Senate Research Committee research awards

Pictured from left are Dr. Jian Deng, Dr. Pauline Sameshima, Dr. Florin Pendea, Dr. Andrew J. Dean, Dr. Charles Levkoe, and Mannila Sandhu. Dr. Deng and Dr. Levkoe received this year's Research Excellence Award, and Sandhu was the recipient of the Research Support Award.

February 29, 2024 – Thunder Bay and Orillia, Ont.

Lakehead University recognized exceptional students, faculty researchers, and partners during the annual Research and Innovation Awards of Excellence on Thursday, Feb. 29 in Thunder Bay.

The event, hosted by Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Vice-President of Research and Innovation, celebrated Lakehead’s significant contributions to research excellence, entrepreneurship, innovation, and community impact.

“Each year we recognize the tremendous accomplishments of our student and faculty researchers,” he stated. “The impact of the work they do on- and off-campus can be felt locally and internationally and helps shape the reputation of Lakehead University as an institution dedicated to research excellence."

“Congratulations to all the winners on this well-deserved honour,” he added.

Two distinguished Lakehead professors were among this year’s honorees: Dr. Pauline Sameshima and Dr. Andrew J. Dean were recognized with the 2024 Distinguished Researcher Award.

Dr. Sameshima, an editor, curator, curriculum theorist, artist, and professor in the Faculty of Education, was recognized for her commitment to mobilizing learning across diverse audiences and fostering innovative university-community learning collaborations. Her contributions in the field have garnered previous recognition, including the 2022 Ontario Art Education Association's Post-Secondary Teacher of the Year Award, a 2022 Lakehead Teaching Innovation Award, and Lakehead's 2020 Building Research Capacity Award. She is also a member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada.

“I’m humbled by this honour,” said Dr. Sameshima. “I see the award as a big happy high five – a thank you cheer that is a two-way celebration. I think about telling my parents about the award. Whenever anyone thanked my dad, who passed away a year ago, he always said, “My pleasure!” To this award, I say “My pleasure!” because working at Lakehead is a pleasure.”

“I don’t think about changing societies but, because of technology, we affect more than we know,” she said. “The dedicated love we put into our work, whether it’s research for a scientific cure or a poem, goes through to the end product and is gifted to the receiver in a new form, like medicine or learning or emotion. In that way, research or anything we do affects the other.”

For Sameshima, this recognition is a tribute to the collaborative efforts of family, mentors, colleagues, her research teams, graduate students, and university staff.

“It is through research that better futures can be imagined. As we think, imagine, make, and share, we construct the society we hope for.” 

Dr. Dean joined Lakehead University in 1999 after earning his PhD in mathematics following his undergraduate education at Lakehead University. He is currently a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences.

His primary field of study is closely related to the Elliott program for the classification of amenable C*-algebras. C*-algebras are mathematical objects that combine elements of algebra and analysis and are used in the study of operator theory, functional analysis, and quantum mechanics.

He has published numerous papers on this subject, and has supervised many students and post-docs, some of whom are now in academia.

“I want my students to develop skills that will allow them to thrive in whatever field they choose to work in, whether it is academic research or something else altogether,” he said, describing what he hopes to impart on students and society through teaching and research.

“Receiving the Distinguished Researcher Award is an honour,” Dr. Dean said. “I would like to thank my students, colleagues and coauthors, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) for many years of support.”

A full list of the awards and recipients follows:

Distinguished Researcher Award
Dr. Andrew J. Dean, Department of Mathematics
Dr. Pauline Sameshima, Faculty of Education


Research Excellence Awards

NSERC Category
Dr. Jian Deng, Department of Civil Engineering

SSHRC Category
Dr. Charles Levkoe, Department of Health Sciences

Research Support Award
Mannila Sandhu, Quantitative Research Assistant, EPID @Work Institute

Building Research Capacity Award
Dr. Pedram Fatehi, Department of Chemical Engineering, and Dr. Stephen Kinrade, Department of Chemistry, for their project, “NMR for advanced research.”

Indigenous Partnership Research Award
Dr. Jian Deng, Department of Civil Engineering, and Marcus Hardy, Chief of Red Rock Indian Band, for their project, “Nipigon River landslides: monitoring, mechanisms, and mitigation.”

Community Engaged Research Award
Dr. Sonia Mastrangelo, Faculty of Education, Dr. Gerardo Reyes, departments of Sustainability Sciences and Biology, and Katherine Killam from Camphill Communities Ontario

Innovation Award
Dr. Deborah Scharf and Dr. Amanda Maranzan from the Department of Psychology

Three-Minute Thesis
First Place: Madeline Fabiano, MSc Kinesiology (Supervisor: E. Pearson)
Second Place: KarLee Lefebvre, MSc Kinesiology (Supervisor: N. Ravanelli)

GRADflix Award
Tristen Brown, PhD Civil Engineering (Supervisor: A. Elshaer)

Graduate Studies Research Excellence Awards

Natural Sciences and Engineering Category
Sana Sharif, PhD Electrical and Computer Engineering (Supervisor: W. Ejaz)

Social Sciences and Humanities Category
Casey Oliver, PhD Clinical Psychology (Supervisor: D. Mazmanian)

Graduate Student Conference Poster Winners

Winner Engineering Category
Eduardo Reis, PhD Software Engineering (Supervisor: T. Akilan)

Winner NSERC Category
Nicholas Bel, PhD Biotechnology (Supervisor: N. Khaper)

Winner SSHRC Category
Crystal Hardy, PhD Health Sciences (Supervisor: R. Schiff and C. Mushquash)

Winner CIHR Category
Chiao-En Joanne Kao, PhD Clinical Psychology (Supervisor: D. Scharf)

Post-Doctoral Fellow Excellence Award
Dr. Yurii Shepelytskyi (Supervisor: M. Albert)

- 30 –

Media: 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.