School’s research showcase makes return

Thunder Bay, Ont. — Innovation Week is back, live and in-person at Lakehead University after a hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s theme focuses on improving lives through research and will feature presentations and keynote speakers.

Andrew Dean, the university’s vice-president of research and innovation, says the week showcases the school’s research experts while raising public awareness about the research to facilitate collaborations.

“It gives a little highlight to the public on what’s going on with research and innovation and recognizes some of the great things that have happened during that year,” he said.

Kicking the week off was a panel discussion with researchers Kathy Sanderson, Deborah Scharf, and Vicki Kristman of Enhancing the Prevention of Injury and Disability at Work research centre.

“This discussion really aimed at empowering employers and employees on how to reduce and understand different disabilities at work,” Dean said. “Whether it’s insomnia or whether they are mental health disabilities, the work that’s going on in the research centre is directly providing knowledge translation to employers, and this research is happening through the university.”

Dean said that the researchers are doing a large cohort study and are tracking workers in all different areas over the next 10 years. This information will help them achieve an understanding of the different challenges for disabilities and mental health existing in Northwestern Ontario and how to understand the baselines and interventions.

On Feb. 28, Nathan Basiliko, from the faculty of natural resources management; Maxwell Robinson, an Ingenuity Ascend graduate; and Dr. Anna Koné from health sciences was to host their interactive Ignite – Trivia Edition showcasing their research and innovation.

“I think it will be quite fun,” Dean said. “Based upon what they spoke about, (people) can compete as groups in a trivia competition, and there will be winners, of course. It’s kind of a way of making sure that people are paying attention but also speaking up on certain nuances and certain things that were highlighted in the research talk.”

During the week, Prof. Vijay Mago will discuss large language models and the changing landscape of natural language with a demonstration of the applications of natural language processing-based solutions.

English Prof. Monica Flegel will host a discussion on how the internet changed fandom and how fandom changed politics. The discussion will follow the history of media fandom and its transformation over time, with a focus on how the mainstreaming of fandom has influenced current political discourse in the U.S. and Canada.

Looking ahead, Dean pointed out that there is a tremendous amount more community-based research to be done in understanding different issues with health research, especially as it relates to Northwestern Ontario.

“I think we’re going to see a lot more research that is very much related to climate change and environmental stewardship,” he said. “I think that’s the area that we’re seeing more and more research happening.”

Innovation Week continues until March 2 at Lakehead University.

Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal