Ontario invests in innovative research and capacity-building projects at Lakehead

March 21, 2024 – Thunder Bay, Ont.

Lakehead University researchers have received over $2.1 million from the Government of Ontario to advance innovative research inPeter Hollings mining and mental health.

Dr. Peter Hollings and Dr. Noah Phillips from the Department of Geology are receiving $2 million from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities Ontario Research Fund – Research Excellence program to develop new models that will enrich mineral exploration in Northern Ontario.

Dr. Hollings is the NOHFC Industrial Research Chair in Mineral Exploration and Director of Lakehead’s Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining and Exploration. Dr. Phillips is an Assistant Professor in Geology.

“Noah and I are really excited to be starting this project,” Dr. Hollings said. “The funding will allow us to continue to develop mineral deposit research at Lakehead University, which in turn will establish us as an essential partner in the search for Ontario’s critical minerals and the training of the next generation of geoscientists.”

This research will study the geological processes leading to the formation of valuable mineral deposits in Northern Ontario. It will develop novel models for industry partners to seek new deposits that will be developed into mines.

With this project the researchers are focusing on two themes – one is nickel-copper-platinum and the other is gold.

The team will work on a range of sites where the researchers will develop models that can be applied to create more efficient exploration in Canada.

Noah Phillips

“We will develop an innovative research hub at Lakehead University that will train a diverse group of highly qualified people in a wide range of traditional and state of the art techniques,” Dr. Hollings said.

This group of highly qualified people will include approximately 30 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

Collaborators include Dr. Mike Hamilton, University of Toronto; Dr. Wouter Bleeker and Dr. Jennifer Smith, both from the Geological Survey of Canada; and Dr. Andreas Kronenberg from Texas A&M University. Kaitlin Richard from Science North is the youth outreach collaborator.

Industrial collaborators include Goldshore Resources Inc., Wesdome Gold Mines Ltd., Romios Gold Resources Inc., Impala Canada Ltd., Generation Mining, Clean Air Metals Inc., and Enersoft Inc.

“Combined with undergraduate research projects, this will help reverse the current trend of declining numbers of graduate students working on mineral deposit studies in Canada,” Dr. Hollings said.

Dr. Aislin Mushquash, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, is receiving an Early Researcher Award (ERA). This $140,000 grant, supplemented by an additional $50,000 from the University, will support research aimed at supporting youth mental health.

“While we can’t rid life of stress or stressful situations, we can enhance individuals’ abilities to cope with the stressors they face in order to have a positive impact on their wellbeing and health,” she explains.

The five-year ERA, designed to bolster research capacity among emerging scholars, will help Dr. Mushquash build a team of graduate and undergraduate student researchers to examine youth and emerging adult stressors, coping mechanisms and outcomes and evaluate innovative interventions to support coping.

"This award not only supports our research endeavors but also provides crucial support for students," adds Dr. Mushquash. "It allows us to provide some funding to students to offset the costs they incur during their education and gives access to exciting training opportunities that may not have otherwise existed.”

Aislin Mushquash is pictured with her research groupDr. Mushquash emphasizes the importance of involving student researchers in the research process. "The earlier we can get students involved, the more passionate they'll become about the research process," she says. "By engaging student researchers in developing research objectives, data collection and analysis, and knowledge translation activities, we are not only building their skills but also ensuring the sustainability of future projects and the field of mental health research."

Mushquash would also like to explore a multidisciplinary team approach that will facilitate collaboration across faculties, creating opportunities for innovative solutions to mental health challenges.

“My hope is to build health-related research capacity in Northwestern Ontario, producing future generations of researchers and clinician-researchers that will carry on this important work.”

“The real-world impact of the research being conducted at Lakehead University is only strengthened by these awards, and speaks to our commitment to research and innovation,” stated Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Vice-President, Research and Innovation. “Thank you to the Government of Ontario for recognizing the exceptional work that is being undertaken at Lakehead.”