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30 Years Later: a journey of discovery with Dr. Peter Kaiser


As part of Laurentian University’s Last Lecture Series, Dr. Peter Kaiser will present “30 Years Later, a Journey of Discovery” on September 29th.

Dr. Kaiser joined Laurentian in 1987 as Professor in Mining Engineering and Chair of Rock Mechanics and Ground Control.  During his illustrious career, he went on to successfully lead research centres within and outside the confines of the University.   He served as President and CEO of MIRARCO Mining Innovation; Founding Director, President and CEO of the Centre for Excellence and Mining Innovation (CEMI); and Director of the Rio Tinto Centre for Underground Mine Construction. 

Dr. Kaiser has contributed significantly to the field of rock mechanics.  Throughout his successful and long-lasting career, he was successful in attracting more than $30M in federal and provincial funding for his research at Laurentian, in addition to the millions more in cash and in-kind contributions from collaborators in both the private and academic sectors.  Most importantly is the knowledge he has contributed to mining engineering with 108 journal publications, 11 books or special publications, 235 refereed conference papers and some 20 keynote lectures. 


In anticipation of the “Last Lecture”, Dr. Kaiser answered the following questions:

How are you feeling about this final lecture?

It is not the final lecture! Not by far. The idea of the “last lecture" is “what would you say if it was you last lecture?” This is therefore a great opportunity to reflect on "what made you tick” and “what worked over the years"; to reflect on what others might be interested to learn from a grey-haired individual. After all - that is what lectures are about - learning!

What are you hoping to accomplish in the lecture? What messages, lessons are you hoping to impart?

Well, I’m not going to give away the message and punch line but the theme "30 years later" will be visited three times with some stories along the "journey of discovery". As an engineer, I will present the outline of the talk in the form of an equation - only one equation and hopefully one that will be of interest to the wider community, inside and outside Laurentian University.

What is (are) the highlight(s) of your research career?

There are too many to list but in a nutshell - the high point of research is when our research results have impact, impact on a young person’s careers, on the way we look at issues, or when the path forward is actually altered. For this reason, the highlights in my career were and still are related to applied research projects where the interaction between academia, society or industry makes a difference. The impact on mine safety will be one of the advances that I will highlight during my lecture.

What do you hope will be the legacy of your research at LU? In your discipline?

In 2013, the Engineering Institute of Canada awarded me the Julian C. Smith Medal for "Achievements in the Development of Canada”. For an immigrant to Canada in 1974, being recognized for having contributed to the development of your new home country is a great honour and I would therefore hope that this will become the legacy.

What are your plans after retirement?

This lecture will be, for my spouse and I, the inauguration speech for the third phase in life - the next journey of discovery. The equation outlining my talk will still be valid and applied, only the actors and priorities will change.

How do you plan to stay engaged with the research community?

When you retire, it is time to pass the baton. After a transition period where I will help a few students to finish their research and see a few projects to completion, it is time to get out of the way and let others with new ideas and more energy find their path.

What will you miss most about research and teaching?

Most definitely the interaction with young, dynamic, eager people that are at the beginning of their own path of discovery.

Watch the lecture as it was live streamed here!