New chapter for nuclear research and innovation begins at McMaster

Extensive growth for the university’s nuclear portfolio and the pending retirement of director Chris Heysel have led to the creation of a new organizational structure.

After more than six decades of excellence in nuclear operations, a new organizational structure will pave the way for an exciting new chapter of nuclear research and innovation at Canada’s nuclear university.

The new structure will allow McMaster to further capitalize on its nuclear assets and expand on the university’s research and training capacity, says Karen Mossman, McMaster’s Vice-President, Research.

“We’re excited about the future of nuclear — at McMaster, in Canada and around the world. We have so much to contribute, and we’re better positioned than ever to do that.”

The reorganization was precipitated by the extensive growth in demands and opportunities for the university’s nuclear portfolio, and by the pending retirement of Chris Heysel, whose leadership as director of McMaster’s Nuclear Operations and Facilities (NOF) for the last 20 years has been instrumental to building the university’s reputation as a nuclear leader.

McMaster is home to a suite of world-class nuclear facilities and world-leading research and education programs in nuclear science — along with cutting-edge research output in nuclear safety, medical isotopes, materials science and more.

Dave Tucker, Assistant Vice-President of Research, Nuclear will oversee the new structure. Three distinct leadership roles – each pertaining to an area of strategic focus that builds on McMaster’s strengths – have been created to advance the university’s nuclear profile and mission.

The new roles — Director of reactor operations and maintenance; Director of commercial products and services; and Director of research and education support — will be responsible for ensuring the safe and effective operations of the McMaster Nuclear Reactor, overseeing commercial operations at NOF, and supporting NOF’s research and educational user base, respectively.

“In addition to our world-class facilities, we have a world-class team at McMaster with skills to support and enable research and education in this space like no other. They have played a central role in advancing nuclear research, training and innovation on the national landscape and we’re positioning to build on that momentum,” says Tucker, noting the new positions will facilitate new opportunities for growth within McMaster’s nuclear program.

The recruitment process is underway and once a director of reactor operations and maintenance has been selected, Heysel will move into a temporary role as director, nuclear transition, to support the restructuring and lead key strategic and operational activities.

“I commend Chris for his remarkable contributions and leadership over the last two decades, and for working with us to ensure a safe, smooth and effective transition,” says Mossman, noting Heysel will be a key part of the organization until June 2024.

“New discoveries are being enabled at McMaster’s nuclear facilities — to treat cancer, power communities sustainably, support industry and train the next-generation of leaders in nuclear science. I am looking forward to welcoming and working with our new leaders in nuclear to ensure these benefits expand into the future.”