Shad Laurentian

Program Directors

Christian LaForge, OCT

Secondary Teacher

Christian’s (he/him) introduction to Shad began with the launch of the Shad2020 Online Program. Having since delivered Shad2022 last summer, he is excited and looking forward to the Shad Laurentian program in 2023.

Christian completed his undergraduate degree in psychologie (2014) at Université de Moncton, New Brunswick and his master’s degree in experimental psychology (2018) at Laurentian University, Ontario. Christian’s time in the classroom as a postsecondary instructor has confirmed his passion for teaching and has inspired him to pursue further studies in education. He completed a baccalauréat en éducation (2020) at Laurentian. Currently a high school teacher, Christian teaches mathematics and computer technology in Timmins, Ontario.

In the past, Christian has worked as a college part-time professor for Collège Boréal, university lecturer, research laboratory coordinator, liaison coordinator and as an academic advisor for Laurentian University. When Christian is not devoting his time continuously learning new and interesting things, in technology, he enjoys spending quality time with family and friends. In addition to loving breakfast foods, sushi and coffee.

Thomas Merritt, PhD

Professor in the School of Natural Sciences

Thomas (he/him) is happy to be returning to Shad at Laurentian University where he is a professor in the School of Natural Sciences.

Thomas’ research explores the connection between genetic diversity and biological complexity. Research in his group focuses on metabolism, stress, and genetic networks often using the fruit fly model system, but some projects involve microbes, vertebrates, or a variety of invertebrates and locations range as far as regional lakes to deep underground in an active nickel mine. In one project, Thomas and his students are using fruit flies, a treadmill, and the SNOLAB particle physics laboratory, located two kilometers underground, to understand deep underground physiology and stress biology.

Thomas’ contributions also extend beyond the academic setting and into the non-scientific community. As a committed science communicator and partner with Science North, Canada’s second largest science centre, Thomas has shared the importance of genetics research as a TEDx speaker, educator, and writer. For over a decade, he has curated a science art show, most recently in partnership with Science North. His pop-sci article on trapping flies – and the science of model species – has almost 550,000 hits on, an on-line academic news source.

Outside of science, Thomas is an active paddler and rower and runs a ParaSport program making these sports accessible to people with physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities. Since 2007,, the award-winning program has supported both high-performance and recreational athletes and is a central feature in accessible sport in Northern Ontario.