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Additional Funding to Support Lake Simcoe Clean-Up

(April 13, 2010 – Orillia, ON) Lakehead University – Orillia has received a second research grant for $78,000 from Environment Canada’s Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund (LSCUF) to evaluate a new and innovative method of measuring phosphorus levels in Lake Simcoe.

Dr. Sreekumari Kurissery, a professor and researcher at the Orillia campus, leads the one-year project. Kurissery is also involved as co-investigator with the University’s first research project funded by the LSCUF, which studies the role of local wetlands as a nutrient buffer. The project team for the new research also includes Lakehead researcher Dr. Nandakumar Kanavillil, along with faculty from the University of Victoria.

The project is based on Kurissery’s proposal, “Human mediated phosphorus input into Lake Simcoe: An evaluation using caffeine as an anthropogenic marker.” Kurissery explains: “We know that the contributors to increased levels of phosphorus in the lake are human waste, animal waste, and agricultural practices, but in order to help prevent this pollution effectively, we need to more accurately identify the source.”

Why caffeine? Previous studies have shown that there is a correlation between levels of caffeine and phosphorus. This study will evaluate how well the measurement of caffeine levels can help determine the source of phosphorous in the water.

“This is the first time this type of research has been conducted in Lake Simcoe,” says Kurissery, and if our findings are conclusive, it will represent a significant scientific advancement.”

In addition to providing benefits to the scientific community, the Lakehead project will greatly enhance the community’s collective efforts to keep Lake Simcoe clean.  A number of local organizations, including the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, Kids for Turtles Environmental Education and the North Mara Beach Residents Association, are project partners. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment is also a partner. The project will employ two university students during the summer and one or two part-time students during the school year.

“Lakehead University – Orillia, with its academic research capabilities, is ideally located in the Lake Simcoe watershed, so we feel it is our responsibility to help prevent pollution and keep the lake clean,” says Kurissery.

In addition to her ongoing research and teaching, Kurissery will be taking on a new role at the University this fall – that of academic coordinator for Canada’s first interdisciplinary Honours Bachelor of Arts and Science degree with a major in Environmental Sustainability. The program will be offered at the new Orillia campus, which itself will become a hallmark of environmental sustainability, as Canada’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Platinum university campus.


Contact: Project Information
Dr. Sreekumari Kurissery
705-330-4008 ext. 2629

Contact: Media
Kathy Hunt
Communications Officer
Lakehead University – Orillia
705-330-4008 ext. 2014

About Lakehead

Lakehead is a comprehensive university with a reputation for innovative programs and cutting-edge research. With a main campus located in Thunder Bay, Ontario and a campus in Orillia, Ontario, Lakehead has over 7,700 students and 2,250 faculty and staff, and is home to the west campus of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. In 2006, Research Infosource Inc. named Lakehead University Canada's Research University of the Year in the undergraduate category. For more information on Lakehead University, visit

Last updated April 13, 2010

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