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Lakehead U Researchers Receive Funding from Ontario Research Fund

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November 1, 2005

Source: Lakehead University:

Lakehead U Researchers Receive Funding from Ontario Research Fund

(Thunder Bay – November 1, 2005) Lakehead University has received $487,074 for five researcher projects from the Ontario Research Fund (ORF).

The ORF is part of the newly created Ministry of Research and Innovation. The Ministry was created to ensure that Ontario is competing and winning in the marketplace of ideas. The creation of this new ministry signals the importance the government places on strengthening Ontario as a leading, innovation-based economy and society.

Lakehead University’s funded projects are:

Dr. Matthew Boyd, Assistant Professor with the Department of Anthropology, received $73,493 for his project "Collaborative Northern Environmental and Archaeological Research Initiative."

Understanding Responses to Rapid Climate Changes
The future sustainability of our society is closely tied to knowledge of how environmental resources will be affected by rapid climate change. Although general circulation models provide important predictive scenarios, the only test for these predictive models is the actual record of past climate change and biotic responses preserved in the sedimentary record. Dr. Boyd’s project will establish two new facilities at Lakehead U (an Environmental Archaeology and Paleoecology Lab, and Micromorphology Lab), which will enable detailed understanding of earth-surface, ecological, and human responses to rapid climate changes. The data collected will be used to model the potential impacts of future global warming on ecosystems, landscapes, and traditional Aboriginal life-ways in Northern Ontario.

Dr. David Law, Assistant Professor with the Department of Biology, received $103,714 for his project "Chromatin Architecture, Epigenetic, Biochemical and Molecular Approaches for Systems Biology Based Investigation of Gene Expression During Development and Stress in Plant Cells."

Benefiting the Agriculture Industry while Creating a Environmental Benefits
This research project will increase the understanding of the regulation of gene expression during plant development and how it is impacted by development as well as exposure to stress. This funding will allow Dr. Law to look at how stress impacts plant metabolism from multiple metabolic angles by use of modern biochemistry and molecular biology equipment. Specific research projects include investigation of gene expression in the stem cells and differentiating cells of potato meristems. Potato meristem research will reveal the molecular mechanisms underlying apical bud (eye) growth and may suggest a mechanism for its control in stored tubers, which will directly benefit Ontario farmers and agricultural processors. Dr. Law will also research the improvement of the efficiency of atmospheric carbon assimilation in tree species. The use of biotechnology to produce plants expressing therapeutic proteins, improved nutraceutical profiles, and high capacities as carbon sinks have obvious societal, health, and environmental benefits.

The research conducted with this funding will have an added benefit of increased acceptance of genetically modified crops in Ontario, and will foster a greater understanding of plant metabolism so that it may benefit both the health of Ontarians and the environment of Ontario.

Dr. Wilson Wang, Assistant Professor with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, received $110,366 for his project "Laboratory for Intelligent Mechatronic Systems."

Enhancing Economic Activities and Global Competitiveness of Ontario Companies
Dr. Wang’s Laboratory for Intelligent Mechatronic Systems will be a leading-edge research lab consisting of a machinery dynamics simulator, a parallel manipulator, and some supplementary mechatronics facilities. The objective of this work is to develop new intelligent systems to avoid machinery performance degradation, malfunction and sudden failure. Three innovative research areas will be explored in this lab: diagnosis, prognosis, and fault-tolerant control. Specific research projects include proposing new signal processing techniques for the fault detection in mechanical and electromechanical systems; developing more reliable intelligent tools for real-time fault diagnosis; suggesting new machinery condition prognostic systems; and developing robust control strategies to accommodate machinery faults.

These research projects have great potential to enhance the economic activities and increase the global competitiveness of a wide array of Ontario companies by improving quality, reliability, and safety while reducing costs.

Dr. Baoqiang Liao, Assistant Professor with the Department of Chemical Engineering, received $$73,588 for his project "Laboratory for Particle Science and Technology."

On the Cutting-Edge of Micro- and Nano Technology
Dr. Liao’s funding will go towards infrastructure for the Laboratory for Particle Science and Technology. This laboratory will conduct cutting-edge research in the field of particle science and technology in the micro- and nano-scale. This laboratory is a timely response to the rapid growth of micro- and nano-particle technology, and to the urgent demands of environmental pollution control, pulp and paper processing, and mineral processing in Northwestern Ontario -- and Canada -- for innovative particle technologies. Specific emphasis of this lab will be placed on the emerging, yet poorly researched, area of micro- and nano-scale particle technology in aquatic environments.

Dr. Andrew Conly, Assistant Professor with the Geology Department, received $125,913 for his project "Infra-Red (IR) Spectroscopy and Hydrothermal Experimental Facility."

Enhancing the Sustainability of Northwestern Ontario’s Mineral Resources
Dr. Conly’s funding will go towards infrastructure for the IR Spectroscopy and Hydrothermal Experimental facility. This facility is a modern, state-of-the-art experimental and microanalytical laboratory for applied and pure research into the nature of fluid-rock reactions responsible for the formation of mineral deposits, and for the generation of contaminated mine waters. Such research will serve to enhance the sustainable development of Northwestern Ontario’s mineral resources. However, the facility will also benefit research in the general areas of chemical and material sciences.

Lakehead University is a comprehensive University located in Thunder Bay, Ontario, on the shores of Lake Superior. It has a worldwide reputation for innovative programs and research. With over 7,700 students and 1,600 faculty and staff, Lakehead University is home to the west campus of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and is developing a satellite campus in Orillia, Ontario, planned to open in September 2006. For more information on Lakehead University, visit


Media Contact: Marla Tomlinson, Office of Communications, 807-343-8177 or 807-472-9113.



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