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New executive director for the Fedoruk Centre

SASKATOON – Following an extensive national search, John Root has been appointed executive director of the Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation (Fedoruk Centre).

“John Root, who served as the Fedoruk Centre’s founding director and is director of the Canadian Neutron Beam Centre, is the right choice to lead the centre as Saskatchewan takes its place among global leaders in nuclear research, development and training through investment in partnerships with academia and industry,” said Engin Özberk, recently elected chair of the Fedoruk Centre’s board of directors.

Currently the director of the National Research Council’s Canadian Neutron Beam Centre at Chalk River, Ont., Root served as the Fedoruk Centre’s founding director from 2011 to 2014. He then chaired the centre’s board of directors until 2016.

Located on the U of S campus, the Fedoruk Centre is a not-for-profit corporation that is wholly owned by the university and funded by the Saskatchewan government through Innovation Saskatchewan.

While the Fedoruk Centre does not itself perform in-house research, it funds nuclear research and training projects in Saskatchewan and operates the university’s cyclotron-based facility that produces isotopes and radiopharmaceuticals for use in clinical diagnostics and human, animal, and plant research.

To date, the centre has contributed more than $4 million to 28 research projects and invested $8.3 million in building academic research programs in nuclear imaging for life sciences, policy development and decision-making for nuclear science and technology generally.

Since 2016, the Fedoruk Centre has led the production of medical isotopes for the province. Proposals for Fedoruk Centre funding are invited from Saskatchewan institutions and are evaluated by subject-matter experts from outside the province to inform decisions on ranking and approval.

Root succeeds Neil Alexander, executive director from 2014 until last fall. Kevin Schneider, associate vice-president research, has since served as interim executive director. 

With a PhD in physics from University of Guelph, Root has co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed articles. His work has been cited more than 1,700 times, and he was elected as a Fellow of the Neutron Scattering Society of America last year for his leadership in the Canadian neutron scattering community.

“Under John’s highly regarded leadership, the Fedoruk Centre will continue advancing the province’s legacy of world-class nuclear-related research that dates back to the cobalt-60 cancer therapy work of U of S researchers Harold Johns and Sylvia Fedoruk,” said U of S Vice-President Research Karen Chad, who is vice-chair of the Fedoruk Centre board.  

“He will do this by building partnerships for a network of facilities and expertise that will advance Saskatchewan’s capability for creating social and economic benefits in areas such as nuclear medicine, and materials research with nuclear methods, as well as better understanding the public policy, environmental and social aspects of nuclear technologies.”  

As part of efforts to enhance Fedoruk Centre governance, two new members have been appointed in the past year to the centre’s board: Melissa Denecke, scientific director at the Dalton Nuclear Institute at the University of Manchester, U.K., and Paul Schaffer, lead investigator of a national medical isotope consortium at the TRIUMF national nuclear lab.