March 4, 2011
By Mark Ferguson
By Kris Foster
With the announcement of $30 million in support over the next seven years from the Government of Saskatchewan, the U of S will move ahead with establishing a nuclear research centre.
Building on a history of nuclear research at the U of S—a history that includes pioneering the use of Cobalt 60 in cancer treatment in the early 1950s—establishing a centre for nuclear research is the next step in becoming an international leader in this field.
“It is a great day in the province of Saskatchewan,” said Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall at the announcement in the Physics Building. “It is a great day here on campus at the university. Not because of anything that the government did, has done or is about to do, but because of the critical mass that already exists on this campus and because of the storied history that allows us to build on many, many tomorrows.
“When it comes to nuclear medicine, this is a very special place,” continued Wall. “The purpose of what we are about to announce today is that the University of Saskatchewan and the Province of Saskatchewan would recapture the leadership that was given us all those years ago, six decades ago.”
Coming on the heels of January’s announcement of federal and provincial funding to support building a linear accelerator to research medical isotope production, this funding will also complement the existing cluster of facilities across campus.
“The research that we undertake in the key areas of nuclear medicine, nuclear science and engineering and new materials research will complement the research that is already underway at the Canadian Light Source synchrotron, at the Saskatchewan Research Council’s SLOWPOKE research reactor and at our unique-in-Canada tokamak fusion reactor which is housed, by the way, in the lower level of this Physics Building,” said U of S President Peter MacKinnon.
Using these existing strengths, the centre will cover a broad range of fields of study including environmental remediation, public policy and northern development. It will, however, focus on three main areas of research: nuclear medicine; nuclear science and engineering; and materials science.
“It’s absolutely key from the university’s perspective, this new centre will help us attract top faculty and students to the U of S and create new opportunities in Canada’s growing nuclear industry for our very well-trained graduates,” said MacKinnon.
The centre’s activities will start this year with a small staff co-ordinating research programs across campus and with partner organizations. It is expected that by 2016, the centre will create 12 new faculty and six new staff positions while also supporting 30 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.“We will be the first university in Canada to lead a strategic and interdisciplinary focus on nuclear studies, embracing both the latest science across the entire nuclear fuel cycle and the full environmental and social context of nuclear development,” said MacKinnon.