The University of Saskatchewan's Saskatchewan Structural Sciences Centre (SSSC) is located in the Thorvaldson Building in the centre of the U of S Campus. The SSSC is an integrated multidisciplinary analytical facility that provides training to undergraduate and graduate students and provides them with access to more than twenty major state of the art instruments. The Centre serves University, public sector and private industry researchers in basic sciences and engineering as well as fostering multidisciplinary collaborations in diverse fields, ranging from agriculture, to health sciences and engineering. The vision of a university centre to support the core departments while being equally accessible to all other departments was enabled by the SSSC staff and has impact across campus.

Visionary Leaders
Dr. Ron Steer
Scientific Leader for the first and fourth CFI grant for the SSSC

Dr. M. Soledade C. Pedras
Scientific Leader for the second and third CFI grant for the SSSC

Dr. Ron Sutherland
Administrative Leader
First CFI grant for the SSSC

Dr. Ron Verrall
Administrative Leader
Second CFI grant for the SSSC

Enablers
Ken Thoms
Instrument Technician

Mr. Thoms is a technician in the Chemistry Department with technical responsibilities primarily in the area of mass spectrometry. Mr. Thoms manages the SSSC mass spectrometry facility, assists with other instruments when needed and plays a significant role in instrument fabrication. Mr. Thoms is also the primary vacuum technologist in the SSSC. Mr. Thoms is responsible for data acquisition and experiment development for most experiments. Researchers trained to use the mass spectrometer work under the guidance of Mr. Thoms.

Dr. Sophie Brunet
Former Research Officer

Former research officer in optical spectroscopy.

Jason Maley
Research Officer

Mr. Maley’s has responsibility for the Biophysical instruments (CD, DLS, SPR, ITC, Perfusion Chromatography) and the Materials instruments (AFM and Raman). Mr. Maley maintains all instruments under his primary responsibility and partakes in new developments. He keeps up with new developments around the instruments and offers users the complete package from operational instruction to data analysis for individual researchers and groups.

Dr. Keith Brown
Research Officer

Keith Brown is an NMR spectroscopist and has both teaching and technical responsibilities in the Chemistry Department and in the SSSC shares responsibilities to: maintain the operation of the four NMR spectrometers; instruct researchers on operation of NMR spectrometers; offer theory workshops on NMR spectroscopy; maintain NMR software including implementation of new pulse sequences; function as the general Linux IT consultant.

Dr. Gabriele Schatte
Former Research Officer

Former research officer in NMR spectroscopy and x-ray crystallography.

Dr. Wilson Quail
Professor Emeritus

Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chemistry, is an honorary member of the SSSC. Professor Quail is responsible for small molecule x-ray crystallography.

Dr. Ramaswami Sammynaiken
Manager of the SSSC

Dr. Sammynaiken was instrumental in setting up and establishing the SSSC as a multidisciplinary research centre. He is the principal contact for the SSSC. He has responsibility for running the centre and the laboratory as well as support research enhancement and in acquisition of new instrumentation. His research interests are in the defect induced charge redistribution and functionality of materials.

Impacts
Dr. Jerzy Szpunar
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Canada Research Chair (Tier I) of Advanced Materials for Clean Energy

SSSC facilities has helped in realization of my research projects by providing access to Raman spectroscopy and AFM. Several of my students were trained by SSSC research personnel. I was always impressed by depth of understanding of characterization techniques and advice that staff offerred to my students.

Dr. Stephen Foley
Associate Professor, Chemistry

The SSSC played a critical role for me in establishing, continuing (and re-establishing) my research funding. The SSSC staff are knowledgeable and always helpful with suggesting alternative techniques to solve scientific problems. If the SSSC isn't the best damn characterization facility in the entire province, I will eat my socks!

Dr. Qiaoqin Yang
Professor, Mechanical Engineering

My research focuses on the synthesis, characterization, and application of carbon based nanostructures and their nanostructured thin films/coatings. The Raman spectroscope and AFM are the most appropriate tools to characterize carbon based nanostructures and thus essential and critical to my research. Without the access of those state of art facilities in SSSC, my research would be significantly delayed.

Dr. Ildiko Badea
Associate Professor, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition

The SSSC was invaluable for my research program. I relied significantly on traditional analytical strategies used for drug discovery, such as atomic force microscopy, NMR and mass spectrometry. In addition, we developed non-conventional techniques such as Raman spectromicroscopy for determining the cellular localization of nanodiamond drug carriers and circular dichroism spectroscopy to evaluate the interaction between drug molecules and their delivery systems. Our findings were published in high-impact journals such as the International Journal of Nanomedicine, Nanomedicine, European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics and Journal of Nanobiotechnology. These findings were instrumental in obtaining extramural funding for my research.

Dr. Matthew Paige
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry

The SSSC has provided access to world-class research equipment, which has enabled high-impact research in optical spectroscopy and materials science. The infrastructure has had a major impact on my ability to successfully compete in these important research disciplines.

Dr. Safa Kasap
Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering
CRC Tier I in Electronic and Optoelectronic Materials and Devices

My current work involves two major areas: (a) rare-earth doped glasses and glass ceramics for microbeam radiation therapy. (b) amorphous and nanocrystalline semiconductors for x-ray detector applications. For both projects we extensively used SSSC facilities and have greatly benefited from having this service and expertise. For example, we used the ESR equipment at the SSSC to study the x-ray induced defects in our Sm-doped glasses and identified how Sm3+ ions are converted to Sm2+ ions upon the irradiation of the samples. In the case of a-Se alloys, we examined whether x-ray irradiation leads to dangling bond type defects generated in a-Se; and found that, surprisingly, this was not the case. All defects were spin inactive. Overall, SSSc played a key role in the progress of our research, which lead to a number of important papers.

Dr. Oleg Dmitriev
Professor, Department of Biochemistry

I came to the University of Saskatchewan in 2005. Protein NMR is the main technique in most of my research projects, and during my first visit here I was very impressed that SSSC had a 600 MHz spectrometer with a Cryoprobe. This is an excellent instrument for research on structure and dynamics of proteins in solution, and it was a major factor in my decision to accept a faculty position at the University of Saskatchewan. Since then, my group has been extensively using the 600 MHz spectrometer to study structure and dynamics of the various domains of human copper transporter ATP7B, investigate processing of platinum-based anticancer drugs in the cell, and to develop methods for NMR of membrane proteins. We greatly appreciate the constant efforts of the SSSC staff to maintain the spectrometer in perfect working order, as well as ample time available to us on this instrument and the convenience of having it on campus, just a few minutes walk from the lab. Eleven publications in the international journals, including PNAS, JBC, and Biochemical Journal and three new protein structures deposited at the Protein Databank resulted from our work done at the SSSC.

Dr. Venkatesh Meda
Associate Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering

The analytical tools; Raman spectroscopy, ESR, and other effective titration techniques in addition to professional consulting by staff helped me to characterize a couple industrially relevant oilseed fractions for potential applications. The results and interpretation assistance yielded in top quality publications.

Dr. Darrell Mousseau
Professor, Pschiatry
SSHR Research Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Aspects of my research have benefitted greatly from my interactions the staff of the SSSC. Access to Raman (spectroscopy), AFM, FT-IR (via the CLS) and, more recently, SPR, has helped me to develop models to define molecular events critical to my understanding of what transpires during earlier stages of Alzheimer disease progression. These interactions with the SSSC are made that much easier by the fact staff will take the time to explore the relevant literature and, thus, are able to complement the technical support with relevant scientific insight.

Dr. John Tse
Professor, Physics and Engineering Physics
Canada Research Chair (Tier I) in Materials Science

SSSC is a critical component of my research at the University. Apart from the access to well-maintained modern equipment, I benefit mostly from the expertise and collaboration from the staff. Without their experience and willingness to collaborate, many of the experiments would not materialize.

Dr. W.J. (Chris) Zhang
Professor, Mechanical Engineering

My research is related to the development of bio-sensor and protein-based drugs. The research thus involves materials design and characterization. I have got benefits from the SSSC not only in the use of instruments such as Raman spectroscopy but also the expert advice on the work in itself.

Dr. Lee Wilson
Associate Professor, Chemistry

The SSSC has provided state-of-the-art spectroscopic equipment to solve complex structural problems related to the formation of complexes between macromolecular hosts with small ligands that are relevant to important problems in environmental science and chemical separations.

Dr. Ajay K. Dalai
Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering
Canada Research Chair (Tier I) in Bio-energy and Environmentally Friendly Chemical Processing

The SSSC has impacted my research a lot due to access of the state of the art equipment and first class assistance of personnel there with spectroscopy. This has made my research more successful with high impact and high quality student training.

Dr. Akira Hirose
Professor, Physics and Engineering Physics
Canada Research Chair (Tier I) in Plasma Science

The facility accumulated by SSSC are impressive collection of cutting edge diagnostic instruments. The service provided by SSSC is indispensable for material characterization. The Centre Is well managed and is aggressively trying to improve further.

Dr. Martin Reaney
Research Chair and Professor Plant Sciences

The U of S SSSC is the "high tide" that raises the quality of research across the University of Saskatchewan. As a new researcher, it was possible to complete world class research before my first equipment grant arrived. Now as a well established faculty member the SSSC allows our group to collect data in ways not possible otherwise. Impact factor, collaboration and research quality have all been lifted.

Dr. M. Jim Hendry
Professor, Geological Sciences and Cameo Research Chair

My research team uses the facilities at the Saskatchewan Structural Science Centre (SSSC) on a routine basis. The use of the SSSC facilities has improved our ability to identify and characterize minerals (high-resolution microscopic and spectroscopic studies) of importance in environmental geochemistry.

Dr. Karen Machin
Associate Professor, Veterinary Biomedical Sciences

My research focuses primarily on using metabolomics (600 MHz NMR at the SSSC) to characterise the molecular responses of birds and aquatic animals to environmental stressors including disease, pollution and climate change. As a newcomer to NMR spectroscopy, easy access to NMR spectrometers in the SSSC allowed us to use NMR spectroscopy for identifying and quantifying the metabolite profiles of tissues and biofluids.

Dr. Li Chen
Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

The laser facility and staff at SSSC have enabled my research to develop. I started to use lasers in the SSSC to generate single event effects in integrated circuits (ICs) back to 2010. This has attracted interests and support from industry. In 2013, I was awarded CFI grants to establish a custom-designed two-photon-absorption system, which is dedicated for studying single event effects in ICs. It is the only such facility in Canada, and a world-class facility located in the SSSC. We are attracting a number of research collaborations and users from industry.

Dr. Michael Kelly
Associate Professor, Department of Surgery
Neurosurgeon, Saskatoon Health Region,
SHRF/Heart and Stroke Foundation Research Chair

My research collaboration with the SSSC has led to dramatically improved research productivity and output. The centre's facilities, and especially staff, have allowed for better imaging of our stroke models that has furthered my research.

Dr. Ravindra Chibbar
Professor and Canada Research Chair in Molecular Biology for Crop Quality, Department of Plant Sciences

Access to the instruments and staff in the SSSC has advanced my research program. SSSC staff developed analytical for me using laboratory techniques and synchrotron techniques. The results have put my program further ahead.

Dr. Barbara Cade-Menum
Researcher, Agriculture Canada, Adjunct Professor Plant Sciences.

Understanding phosphorus cycling in agriculture is key to maximizing plant growth while minimizing nutrient loss from fields to water. 31P-NMR spectroscopy is an essential tool for understanding P cycling in soil, water and other environmental samples, and the SSSC has provided instrument time and technical expertise to allow me to conduct innovative research in this field.

Dr. Adelaine Leung
Assistant Professor, Veterinary Biomedical Sciences

As a new assistant professor, the facilities available at the SSSC allowed me to conduct experiments in a timely manner. Most importantly, the superb technical support provided by staff has ensured that my experiments were conducted and results were analyzed appropriately. The data I have and will be generated in the facilities will be used for publications in support of my future grant applications.

Jane Danoczi
Pr.Sci.Nat, B.Sc. (Physics & Applied Mathematics), M.Sc. (Metallurgy)

Diamond Characterisation is incredible important when establishing the economic value of a diamond deposit, both new and operational, and important for designing a processing plant; what technologies to use, what set points to use for mass balancing etc.
As an industrial scientist, I required specialized tests to characterize diamond parcels from various kimberlite facies, The SSSC was able and willing to assist. Equipment was built to provide luminescence information on diamonds and dense media separation (DMS) concentrate. The equipment was set up to record diamond luminescence rise and decay times, so documenting the diamond's fast and slow optical centres.
The SSSC facilitated: laser Raman measurements for evaluating the use of single particle sorters, Infrared measurements for diamond Typing, magnetic susceptibility measurements for magnetic sorting, water surface tension measurements on process water for grease recovery... The range of test-work was vast and unavailable elsewhere in Canada or North America.
Thank-you SSSC for your facilitating such vital information.

The SSSC is a multiuser, multidisciplinary centre at the University of Saskatchewan. It is unusual and impressive in the breadth and scope of both the facilities it provides and the clientele that it serves. The Committee found that it has succeeded both in helping individual researchers with specific instrumental needs as well as with engaging non-traditional users in developing expertise on a variety of instruments and thereby greatly increasing productivity and innovation on campus and with nearby industry.

External Reviewers of the SSSC
  • T. Ellis, Science Director, CLS
  • J. Zwanziger, Professor of Chemistry, Dalhousie University
  • M. Freund, Professor of Chemistry, University of Manitoba