The People of xMR Labs

Dr. Blaine Chronik - Professor

Professor Chronik came to Western from Stanford University where he did Post Doctoral research on Magnetic Resonance Imaging. He holds a Canada Research Chair for medical physics at Western and leads an active research program on Magnetic Resonance Imaging hardware and interactions of MR systems with devices and people.

Dr. William Bradfield Handler - Research Scientist

My research experience spans 25 years in the fields of nuclear physics, particle physics, neutrino physics and most importantly, medical physics. The work I currently do involves design and modelling of all aspects of MRI systems used to image the human body and aid in the diagnosis and treatment of illness.

In particular, we are world leaders in the design and manufacture of gradient and shim systems for MR scanners, an endeavor in which we couple the creation of strong swiftly changing magnetic fields with cutting edge manufacturing methods to make MR systems able to produce exquisite images.

The most rewarding aspects of research are the ever-expanding horizon of your knowledge and skills. Always seeking to learn helps me mentor graduate students and staff members who I work with on a host of exciting topics. Hopefully I instill in them the same love for research that I have held for my adult life.

Jack Hendriks - Technical Specialist

Jack Hendriks is a technical support staff member of the Chronik xMR lab with 26 years experience.

Jack develops custom Labview based data acquisition system, from the design and selection of the hardware to writing the Labview code. An example is the robotic field mapping system. He also designs constructs and troubleshoots vacuum systems and repairs laboratory equipment.

Krzysztof Wawrzyn, MSc - Research Associate

Krzysztof Wawrzyn received his B.Sc. degree in medical physics from Ryerson University, Toronto ON, in 2012. From 2012 to 2014, he joined Robarts Research Institute, London ON, to work on MRI pulse sequence development for lung imaging using hyperpolarized gas MRI. In 2014, he received his M.Sc. degree in medical biophysics from Western University, London ON. He is currently a Research Associate in The xMR Labs at Western University, London ON, where his primary research involves MRI-related RF-induced safety testing of medical devices.

Chris Brown, MSc - Research Assistant

Chris is a research assistant in the xMR group. He has recently completed MSc in Physics with the group, and had previously completed a BSc at Western with a double major in physics and computer science. His research involves electromagnetic computer simulations, most recently including investigations of the interactions of medical devices in the MR environment to assess the safety of medical implants.

Colin McCurdy, MSc. - Research Associate

Colin McCurdy is a research associate that specializes in software development and MRI operation with a background in quantitative image analysis. He obtained his MSc at Western University developing automated segmentation algorithms for quantification of abdominal fat in rodent models.

His role includes programming novel algorithms to support MRI hardware development, performing PNS evaluation on lab-built gradients and running experiments on MRI equipment both within the lab and within a clinical environment.

When he’s not in the lab he’s busy being a father to his girl Hailey.

Ryan Chaddock - Technical Specialist

Ryan’s primary function within the xMR group is as gradient coil technician. He brings with him 15 years of hands on experience from the manufacturing industry sector. He has worked collaboratively on several gradient builds for a 0.5T MRI, a gradient for a 9.4T MRI and two dB/dt exposure systems used primarily for device testing within the xMR labs. His contributions to these gradients included design changes and improvements that has increased future build efficiencies.

Christine Wawrzyn - Research Associate

Christine Wawrzyn is a Research Associate with 8+ years in biomedical research. Her background spans various medical physics fields including ultrasound imaging and therapy, nanoparticle development, thermal therapy, and MRI device safety. She Is primarily responsible for verifying dB/dt exposure systems and performing device safety tests both in MR scanners and with benchtop exposure systems.

Amgad Louka - PhD Candidate, Medical Biophysics

Amgad Louka is an MSc. candidate (Medical Biophysics) working on improved testing of implanted medical device safety. He previously graduated with a BMSc. (Hons. Interdisciplinary Medical Science) from Western University.

His project revolves around understanding how exposure to the MRI environment affects implanted medical devices within the human body. The aim is to develop a spectrum of phantoms/environments for lab testing these interactions.

Eric Lessard, MSc - PhD Candidate, Medical Biophysics

Eric Lessard is a PhD student working on the design and fabrication of gradient coils for improved head and neck imaging. With a previous MSc specializing in hyperpolarized noble-gas MRI of obstructive lung disease he understands the challenges facing clinical implementation and translation.

Employing the boundary element method to derive wire patterns over complex geometries he is currently working towards designing a gradient coil with shoulder cut-outs.

When he’s not in the lab you can find him DM’ing for his local DND group or trying to catch up on some sleep.

Kieffer Davieau, MSc - PhD Candidate, Medical Biophysics

Kieffer Davieau has an MSc in physics from the University of Western Ontario that specialized in the fabrication of plasmonic metamaterials. He is currently doing his PhD in Medical Biophysics with the xMR group. His project consists of simulating the interaction between RF fields and implanted medical devices in Sim4Life, EMPro, and CST. The coils designed in these simulations are used in the development of RF head coils for the purpose of device testing.

Kieffer’s most recent project consists of developing a 64 MHz high-pass RF birdcage head coil that will be used for device testing. This process involves using software such as SolidWorks, EMPro, ADS, and BirdcageBuilder to design and simulate the RF head coil prior to fabrication. Fabrication consists of soldering, measuring the S-parameters for tuning and matching the circuit, and measuring the E/H-fields using probes developed in this lab.

Outside of the lab he enjoys riding motorcycles, travelling, and modding/developing popular videogames.

Dereck Gignac - Technical Specialist

Dereck Gignac has been building and maintaining fused filament 3D printers for over 4 years and uses his materials knowledge to provide our researchers with customized equipment to improve the efficiency and precision of their work.

With his many years of experience in a variety of CAD software Dereck designs and fabricates specialized instruments to aid in gradient coil research and the medical device testing that we perform.

Arjama Halder, MSc - PhD Candidate, Medical Biophysics

Arjama Halder is currently working on her master’s project in Physics here at Western University. She works on modelling electric fields near human models/devices inside gradient coils.

The main goal of her project is to map out the electric field that causes peripheral nerve stimulation and to quantify the effects of gradient induced electric fields on active implanted devices. Her recent project consists of validating and testing a Finite Difference simulation tool developed in MATLAB to model the electric fields. She is currently testing out this simulation tool with simple geometries (half cylinder shown in Figure 1) and working on measuring this electric field within a gradient dB/dT exposure system.

Saghar Batebi - Research Assistant

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the xMRI lab, at Western Ontario University. I received my PhD in high energy particle physics from Isfahan University of Technology in Iran.

My research focuses on the simulation of the interaction between radiofrequency (RF) field and implanted medical devices within the human body. In the presence of medical implants in MRI systems, deposited radio frequency energy generated by the RF coil might be concentrated and cause locally RF-induced heating and tissue damage which depends on RF coil frequency, the anatomy of the human body, the patient's position in the birdcage, the location and design of the implant, etc.

Diego Martinez - PhD Candidate, Medical Biophysics

Diego Martinez a 1st year MSc Physics candidate in the xMR group. He completed his BSc in Honours Physics at McMaster University with an undergraduate thesis project in approximation methods for Quantum Mechanics. Within the group, his research involves quantifying behaviours of superconducting systems. As well, he has an interest in developing MR methods for both human imaging and material analysis.

When he’s not in the lab, he enjoys watching basketball, golfing, and playing cards.

John Adams, MSc - PhD Candidate, Physics

John is a PhD candidate working with the Chronik lab to develop and implement novel MR imaging techniques for low field clinical systems. His current work is focused on developing and optimizing a spin-lock imaging for evaluating cartilage degeneration in arthritic patients.

Prior to joining the Chronik lab, John worked with the research group at the UNB MRI Research Centre, using NMR techniques to study the physical properties of porous media, and at Robarts Research Institute, where he made use of MRS techniques to study biochemical changes within the brains of epileptic patients.

Kavuttan Saseendran - Technical Specialist

Kavuttan is currently working as a gradient coil technician for xMR group. He holds a undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering and has done his post graduate studies at Fanshawe College. He has worked for 2 years as a CNC operator in manufacturing industries where he was responsible to run various CNC machines. He is now contributing in the fabrication of gradient coils for a 0.5T MRI and a gradient for 9.4T MRI where his duties extends to building, testing, inspecting, and assembling the gradients.


Xiao Fan Ding, MSc - Medical Biophysics

Xiao Fan Ding has a B.Sc. in Biology from Ryerson University in Toronto where he majored in Biophysics. At the University of Western Ontario, he is currently in the middle of his M.Sc. in Medical Biophysics. Under the supervision of Dr. Blaine Chronik, Xiao is a member of the xMR Labs located in the Physics and Astronomy Building.

His M.Sc. project involves simulating torque induced on medical implants due to interactions with the ambient field of the main MR magnet. Some of software that he uses include COMSOL Multiphysics and MATLAB. Experimental verification of the simulations is performed in accordance with ASTM F2213-17.

The aim of his project is to design of a simulation pipeline that can asses whole families of medical implants. This is to aid in determining whether medical implants can be considered MR safe for patients in the future.

Dr. Ali Attaran - Research Scientist

Dr. Ali Attaran is an electrical engineer with 10+ years experience in research, design, technical analysis and development including system architecture, prototype design, product design, system/component integration, reliability analysis and development.

Ali conducts research on the development of RF electromagnetic and extremely low frequency (ELF) hardware for MR-conditional medical device testing. he has designed, fabricated and tested the following devices: antenna and coil design, tuning and matching circuit, detuning, balun, HPF, LPF, coupler, power splitter, isolator/attenuator, phase shifter, birdcage, low noise preamplifier, RFIC&PCB E/H-field probes.

Ali has since left the xMR Group and now works at Ford Motor Company in Michigan.

Dr. John Drozd - xMR Research Alumnus

As a past research associate at xMR, I thoroughly enjoyed performing computer simulations of the impacts that MR scanners have on medical implants. It was great exposure to medical physics working with a very knowledgable supervisor and team. I had the pleasure of mentoring students during my time at xMR. Now I am continuing this effort tutoring and teaching mathematics to students at all levels. I wish the best for the xMR team!

Justin Peterson - xMR Research Alumnus

During my time at xMR, I was involved all aspects of gradient coils including EM design, Solidworks design, material purchasing, component manufacturing, coil assembly, potting, temperature and field testing, and final installation. Some of the projects I was involved in were a 9.4T and numerous 0.5T gradient coils, a device testing dB/dt system, and a gradient cooling test device.

While at xMR I had the freedom to both master Solidworks and explore IT infrastructure for the entire lab. xMR gave me the freedom to explore what interested me and as a result, I was able to implement more efficient systems and processes within the lab.

I used what I learned at xMR and currently work as a regulator in the Digital Health Division of the Medical Devices Bureau at Health Canada.

Daniel Martire - xMR Research Alumnus

Daniel Martire graduated from Western University with an M.Sc. in physics in 2018. In the xMR lab, his research focused on optimizing the design of field-cycling magnets. He also developed models of and experimental procedures for gradient-induced device vibration. His technical expertise includes signal processing, mathematical modeling, and numerical analysis.

Currently, Daniel is a Research Analyst at Sick Kids Hospital focusing on neural oscillations research studied using fMRI, MEG, and intracranial EEG. He is responsible for the processing and analysis of medical imaging data in order to understand functional connectivity in individuals with epilepsy, discover biomarkers for resective surgery outcome, as well as develop medical devices for neuromodulation therapy.