Chemistry prof to head Structural Sciences Centre
U of S chemistry professor Dale Ward has been appointed director of the Saskatchewan Structural Sciences Centre (SSSC) for a three-year term that began Jan. 1.
Reporting to Vice-President Research Steven Franklin, Ward will oversee the work of the SSSC, located in the Thorvaldson Building. He will also promote interactions among users, and seek contracts with potential private-sector users. He succeeds professor Marek Majewski in the position.
Ward holds a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Alberta, and completed his post-doctoral work at Harvard University under the tutelage of Nobel laureate R.B. Woodward. He came to the U of S in 1985.
His own research aims to develop ways of controlling molecular chirality – that is, where structures occur in two distinct “mirror image” forms, like left and right hands. While that is one of the most difficult factors to control in chemical synthesis, it is crucial for applications from pharmaceuticals to electronics. For example, one chiral form of the drug thalidomide is a sedative, while its opposite form causes birth defects. Ward’s research group currently includes nine Canadian and international students, and has produced about 30 alumni.
The SSSC, a $11.4-million multi-disciplinary research centre was opened in 2003. It provides a broad spectrum of instrumentation and techniques for structure determination that serves academic, government and private-sector researchers. Its state-of-the-art equipment is also used in several undergraduate and graduate courses.
A growing group of more than 200 researchers from numerous disciplines use the SSSC’s unique capabilities to probe the structure of matter. Scientists use the centre’s tools to track environmental toxins, build semiconductors, create new plastics, and develop new drugs to fight cancer and heart attacks, to cite a few examples. The centre complements research tools available at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) synchrotron.