Our Team

SSW is home to many experts in the field of materials and surface analysis

SSW’s team consists of nationally and internationally renowned scientists from a variety of disciplines, backgrounds and qualifications. Our scientists are experts in the field of surface analysis and materials characterization, which is shown through our impressive track record of over 500 publications and eight patents. With over 250 people-years of experience, SSW’s team will expertly help you solve your scientific questions.

SSW’s team includes:

Adjunct Research Professor, Dept. of Chemistry

Dr. Mark C. Biesinger is the director of Surface Science Western (Western University), Canada’s leading surface analysis and materials characterization facility. Mark is an internationally recognized expert in X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). He has several seminal and highly-cited publications in the field which focus on improvements in both sample analysis and data interpretation techniques, particularly in the analysis of transition metals. Mark also authors and maintains the X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) Reference Pages, a repository of techniques, tips and reference materials designed to help XPS users worldwide. He is author or co-author of over 80 peer-reviewed publications and has issued over 3000 proprietary technical reports to industry.

Mark joined Surface Science Western in 1992, first as a Chemistry graduate student examining the reactions of toxic gases on military grade charcoal filters, and then, in 1995, as a full-time Research Scientist. He has extensive experience with SSW’s wide range of surface analysis and materials characterization techniques including 25+ years of experience operating and maintaining various XPS, SEM/EDX, optical microscopes, and static and ToF-SIMS instruments.

In 2020, Mark was awarded Fellow of the International Association of Advanced Materials, in 2021, the Vebleo Scientist Award, and in 2022, the American Vacuum Society – Applied Surface Science Division Peter M.A. Sherwood Mid-Career Professional Award.  Mark is also listed on Stanford’s World’s Top 2% Scientists List (2018-2023). He serves as Secretary-Treasurer for the Division of Surface Science of the Chemical Institute of Canada.

Please see Dr. Biesinger’s research page for more information.

Senior Research Scientist

Brad is the Manager overseeing the academic and commercial operations of the laboratory. Since joining SSW in 1999 as a full-time Research Scientist, Brad has helped companies from the automotive, aerospace and medical sectors to effectively solve manufacturing issues. He has a background in materials engineering and expertise in scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Raman spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction (XRD). For the past eight years, Brad has also been the Project Manager for two large multidisciplinary Ontario Research Fund (ORF) projects: (1) elastomeric coatings and (2) long term nuclear storage. Brad is also active in the academic community and has 20 publications mainly focused on corrosion related issue and is a co-inventor on one patent.

Financial Officer

Cathy is Surface Science Western’s Financial Officer responsible for ensuring effective and efficient financial administration, as well as providing human resources and budgetary support. Prior to joining SSW in March 2023, Cathy worked as a Financial Assistant in the departments of Chemistry and the Dean’s office of Science.  In her roles, Cathy facilitated the administration of research accounts, daily financial transactions, and assisted with developing annual budgets.

Administrative Assistant

Vesna joined Surface Science Western April of 2022.  Prior to joining SSW Vesna worked as an administrative assistant in the departments of Earth Sciences and Student Awards at Western and at Honeywell in London and Christie Brown & Co./Nabisco in Toronto.  In her various roles, she has worked with industry personal, corporate managers, faculty members and students. Vesna is responsible for providing support to SSW for a range of administrative tasks which support the smooth and effective operations of the unit.

Research Scientist

Baian joined Surface Science Western in 2022 with an MSc. Degree in physical/analytical chemistry from Western University. Baian brings a strong background in chemistry, electrochemistry, and surface science to our mineralogy team. Baian is experienced in a variety of surface analytical techniques including dynamic secondary ion mass spectrometry (D-SIMS), time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS), scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX), and Raman spectroscopy. She is currently developing her expertise in X-ray micro-computed tomography (micro-CT).

Baian’s technical proficiency and hands-on experience in these cutting-edge techniques have made her an invaluable asset in the field of mineralogy. Baian has worked with clients to continuously advance the fields of mining and mineral processing, by characterizing ore deposits, optimizing metallurgical operations, and enhancing the recovery of precious and critical metals.

Baian is actively involved in numerous collaborative research projects with various government, academic, and industrial organizations.

Research Scientist

Ivan joined Surface Science Western in 2018 as part of a large Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) grant. He is a specialist in scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and related elemental x-ray techniques such as energy dispersive x-ray spectrometry (EDX) and wavelength dispersive x-ray spectrometry (WDX). Ivan brings to SSW a strong background in electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) microstructural analysis as well. To compliment this, he is currently developing proficiency with other imaging techniques, such as confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and X-ray micro computed tomography (MicroCT).

Prior to joining SSW, Ivan played a key role in the establishment of Western University’s Zircon and Accessory Phase Laboratory (ZAPLab) in the Department of Earth Sciences, where he worked as a Research Technician for over eight years. Ivan has a background in geology, meteoritics and isotope geochemistry, and he has many peer-reviewed co-authored publications on the subjects. While in the ZAPLab, Ivan gained a wide breadth of knowledge from many different disciplines, including chemistry, engineering, and biology. Through this experience in the ZAPLab and at SSW, Ivan has worked with a range of people from both academic and industrial streams, and has found himself excelling at mentoring and working along-side students and researchers of all disciplines.

Senior Research Scientist

Heather joined Surface Science Western in 2001, as a full-time Research Scientist with a graduate degree in Chemistry, specializing in the corrosion of metals. Heather is a specialist in both scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis. She has a particular focus on the analysis of paint and coating issues within the automotive sector. One particular area she has developed over the past decade has been the use of time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) to analyse paint craters. With the expertise that she has developed and her thorough grasp of the many coating systems used in the automotive industry, Heather’s skills allow her to quickly assess the problems of her clients and assist them in reaching a satisfactory resolution. Heather also assists in maintaining our ISO 17025:2017 Quality System.

Senior Research Scientist
Adjunct Research Professor, Dept. of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Vahid is a materials engineer with special expertise in metallurgy, microstructural characterization, failure analysis, protective coatings, lightweight metals and alloys (aluminum, magnesium, and titanium), and corrosion. Vahid has developed expertise in X-ray diffraction (XRD), namely grazing incidence X-ray diffraction (GIXRD) for coatings and films, scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX), metallography and, more recently, X-ray microtomography. He is familiar with many materials processing techniques and can use his expertise to help various clients from the automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing sectors.

Vahid joined Surface Science Western in 2019, bringing with him over sixteen years of academic and industrial research experience. He has been involved in several industry-sponsored and applied research projects including: 1) the corrosion behaviour of copper-coated nuclear waste containers, 2) investigating the microstructure and corrosion properties of magnesium alloys for the automotive industry, 3) plasma electrolytic oxidation (PEO) protective coatings on lightweight metals, 4) investigating the microstructure and corrosion behaviour of additively manufactured (3D printing) titanium alloys, 5) improving the mechanical properties of automotive parts manufactured by powder metallurgy for the automotive industry, and 6) crevice corrosion of Ni-Cr-Mo alloys.

Additionally, Vahid has been involved in a number of multidisciplinary research projects with research teams from various organizations and has experience managing projects as well as supervising and mentoring students and postdoctoral fellows. He has several peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations and is serving as a volunteer technical reviewer for the journal Surface Coatings & Technology.

Research Scientist

Jonas joined SSW in 2020 with a background in surface and corrosion analysis and extensive experience in vibrational spectroscopy. He has worked on nanomaterials, investigating surface and colloidal properties and their transformations of relevance for both environmental dispersion and toxicology. This work has been done with both academia and industry.

Currently he is using Raman spectroscopy and Dynamic SIMS on a wide range of topics such as mineralogy, corrosion and coatings.

He has co-authored more than 50 peer-reviewed publications and supervised undergraduate and graduate students.

Research Scientist

Jeff joined Surface Science Western in 2021 after completing his Ph.D. degree (Chemistry), where he studied the corrosion behaviour of Ni-based superalloys in industrially relevant environments. Jeff has experience in X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX), time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS), Auger electron spectroscopy (AES), and various electrochemical techniques. Jeff also has experience in coupling electrochemical techniques with inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES), referred to as atomic emission spectroelectrochemistry (AESEC).

During his graduate studies, Jeff published several peer-reviewed research articles covering a variety of topics. He has also presented his work at various regional, national, and international conferences. His work has been recognized by many prestigious awards, including the Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship (2017-2020), the H.H. Uhlig Summer Fellowship (2018), and the Electrochemical Society Canada Section Student Award (2019). Jeff is currently developing his expertise in XPS and ToF-SIMS, focusing primarily on the analysis of paint and coatings.

Research Scientist

Carolyn joined Surface Science Western in 2019 after completing her PhD in Geology at Western University, specializing in Precambrian sedimentology of the Huronian Supergroup, Canada. She is a member of SSW’s mineralogy team and has experience in scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX), Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS), Raman spectroscopy and their applications to the mining an mineral processing industries, including assessing factors affecting value-added mineral recovery. Carolyn is currently developing proficiency in Dynamic SIMS.

Carolyn has been involved in a variety of collaborative, multidisciplinary research projects with both academic and industrial partners, which have led to several peer-reviewed publications, conference presentations, and technical reports. She is also passionate about science education and outreach and actively volunteers in these fields.

Senior Research Scientist
Adjunct Research Professor, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy

Heng-Yong is an expert in atomic force microscopy (AFM), surface profilometry, and ToF-SIMS analysis. Heng-Yong’s main focus is on research projects involving developing scanning probe techniques and their application to soft matter, including polymers, biological tissues and surfactants. Heng-Yong has many publications and has secured numerous research projects in this field.

Heng-Yong joined Surface Science Western in 1997, with previous experience in electronic materials and solid-state devices. Heng-Yong also carries out research on the surface chemistry of materials and their modification with surfactants, including the dispersion of inorganic particles in polymer matrices. His research also includes the application of ToF-SIMS in his investigations of the bonding strength of surfactants self-assembled on oxides. Heng-Yong has used this technique with great success in the imaging of complex biological tissues.

Please see Heng-Yong Nie’s web page for more information.

Senior Research Scientist
Adjunct Research Professor, Dept. of Mech. and Mat. Eng.

Sridhar Ramamurthy is a Senior Research Scientist at Surface Science Western (SSW) and has over 35 years of experience in the application of surface analytical techniques to corrosion and electrochemical research. Currently he is involved in several industry-sponsored research projects, such as the corrosion behaviour of copper-coated steel for long-term used fuel storage (NWMO), improving corrosion resistance of weathering steels (MTO), assessing corrosion behaviour of typical engineering materials in solutions containing dilute fluoride ions (Imperial Oil), and the oxidation behaviour of steam generator tubing. Past research includes stress corrosion cracking of high strength low alloy steels and stainless steels, development of a salt spray test for coated aluminium body panel (SAE/Ford/GM/Chrysler), electrochemical behaviour of coated steel body panel (Ford), and corrosion behaviour of tinplated steel (AISI), assessing accumulated fatigue damage in pressure boundary materials (Kinectrics), and evaluation of corrosion inhibitors (Imperial Oil).

In addition, Sridhar is also a specialist in scanning Auger microprobe/Auger electron spectroscopy (AES) technique and is one of the prime Auger resources in Canada. Moreover, he also pioneered the use of X-ray tomography technique for the evaluation of copper coatings and other materials. Because of his expertise in the application of surface analytical techniques to resolve industrial corrosion problems, he has been invited to participate in major failure analysis investigations, such as the failure analysis of ASTM A490 bolts from the Nipigon Bridge in Ontario and the collapse of the Port Bruce Bridge.

He has been recently appointed as an Adjunct Research Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Western. In this capacity, he hopes to develop research projects and other collaborations with the academics from this department and other departments in the Engineering Faculty.

Moreover, he has been involved in the supervision of graduate and undergraduate research students and has mentored them on the evaluation and interpretation of analytical data. To-date, he has co-authored more than 75 peer-reviewed publications and 65 conference posters/presentations, has written 30 major research reports, and has made more than 90 oral presentations. He has also been invited to make presentations and chair sessions at technical conferences in corrosion, materials, and coating areas.

Finally, he manages the quality assurance aspects of four research projects sponsored by NWMO and manages the project budget and keeps track of progress for some of these projects. In this capacity, he works with Professors Noël and Shoesmith and their research groups daily and is responsible for meeting the project quality assurance requirements. In addition, he has established a strong working collaboration with other Canadian universities which has resulted in several joint peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations. The steam/H2 reactor developed as part of this collaboration has been commercialized, with industry clients, such as Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), conducting their experiments at SSW.

Research Scientist and Quality Manager

Becky joined Surface Science Western in 2004 with a background in analytical chemistry and specializes in Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray (SEM/EDX), Raman spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC).

Becky has developed an expertise in the study of polymers, organic films, and coatings. In the past, she has also been involved in numerous electrochemical and corrosion studies of coatings and specialized measurements for nuclear applications and has co-authored many publications in this area. More recently, Becky has also been involved in the characterization of microplastics in the environment.

Becky also manages our ISO 17025:2017 registered quality system.

Research Scientist

Thalia joined Surface Science Western in 2019 with a PhD in Chemistry from Western University. She has experience analyzing materials and corrosion damage using Raman spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX), X-ray micro-computed tomography (micro-CT), and electrochemical techniques. Thalia is currently developing expertise in Raman spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and thermal analysis techniques, focusing on polymeric materials in particular.

During her PhD studies, Thalia published several peer-reviewed research articles and presented her research on numerous occasions, in various formats, to audiences ranging from the general public to experts in her subject area. Her outstanding research ability, academic excellence, and exceptional communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills have been acknowledged via numerous scholarships and awards.

Affiliate SSW Members:

Samantha Gateman

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Chemistry
NWMO Chair in Radiation Induced Chemistry
liate Member of SSW

Dr. Gateman is an early career researcher and holds the current chair position in Radiation Induced Chemistry, funded by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). She is the recipient of many awards, including the D. W. Ambridge Prize for best thesis in science and engineering at McGill University, the Graduate Student Excellence Award from the NACE Foundation of Canada, and a Globalink Research Award from Mitacs to support a research abroad at University College London.

Her primary research interest is to understand and minimize localized degradation through corrosion inhibition strategies using macro and micro electrochemical methods. Her NSERC CSD-D funded PhD research focused on using multi scale electrochemical methods to understand corrosion behaviors and mechanisms of ferrous materials proposed to improve the corrosion issues faces in hydraulic turbine systems. After graduating from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, Dr. Gateman moved to Paris, France to begin her postdoctoral research funded by an NSERC PDF award. There, she worked in collaboration with the chemical company, Merck, on investigating the local aging fluctuations of ionic exchange materials for MilliQ water purification systems using multiscale electrochemical impedance spectroscopy.

Her research program focuses on advancing scanning electrochemical probe methods (SEPM) for elucidating corrosion mechanisms of both metal coatings and polymer-coated metals for the protection of industrial infrastructure and biomedical devices. Dr. Gateman’s research highlights the importance of bridging the gap between analytical chemists, corrosion scientists, and industry through tailoring quantitative and spatially resolved electrochemical methods to investigate corrosion initiation mechanisms on the micro/nano scale under simulated in-service environments.

Yolanda Hedberg

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Chemistry
Associate Scientist, Lawson Health Research Institute
Affiliate Member of SSW

Yolanda holds a Master of Science (engineering) in materials science from Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen, Germany, and a Ph.D. in corrosion science from KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. Her postdoctoral research at KTH and the medical university Karolinska Institute, Sweden, focused on metal allergies and health aspects of different materials, including metal nanoparticles, metallic implant materials, and metals and alloys to be classified into different risk groups for legislative purposes.

She is a Canada Research Chair Tier 2 in corrosion science since 2020. Yolanda holds multiple awards; the Electrochemical Society Morris Cohen award for the best Ph.D. thesis in corrosion science (2014), the AkzoNobel Nordic research prize in surface and colloid chemistry for the best postdoctoral research in Scandinavia (2014), several Publons peer-review awards (2016-2017), the Future Research Leader award of the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (2020), and the Wolfe-Western fellowship for outstanding newly recruited faculty (2020).

She is an expert in corrosion testing in protein-rich environments, in metal release, chemical speciation, and bioelution testing of various materials for medical and legislative purposes, corrosion testing of metal nanoparticles, and corrosion processes resulting in adverse health effects. Her research includes materials such as metals, alloys, welding fume, nanoparticles, pigments, and leather. She is also interested in sensitizers, especially metal allergens.

Jamie Noel

Associate Professor, Dept. of Chemistry
Affiliate Member of SSW

Jamie is an electrochemist and corrosion scientist, with special expertise in in situ neutron reflectometry, crevice corrosion, and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. His research interests include corrosion of candidate materials for use in nuclear waste repositories and other nuclear systems, passivity of metals, the role of hydrogen in corrosion processes, corrosion under deposits (e.g., clay) and technique development, including electroanalytical sensors and neutron scattering for applications in corrosion science.

Jamie became an Affiliate Member of Surface Science Western in 2016, but has been collaborating with SSW staff since 1998, when he joined the Department of Chemistry as Research Scientist. His 27 years as a research scientist, mainly solving corrosion problems for the nuclear industry, also include 2 years with the Systems Chemistry and Reactor Decontamination Project Group at Ontario Hydro and 7 years with the Fuel Waste Technology Branch at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. At Western University he was Senior Research Scientist serving the 6 Industrial Research Chair terms of Professors D.W. Shoesmith and J.C. Wren.

Jamie is a recipient of the Lash Miller Award of the Canadian Section of the Electrochemical Society and currently serves the Electrochemical Society as Chair of the Education Committee, Secretary-Treasurer of the Corrosion Division, and instructor of a short course on the Fundamentals of Electrochemistry. He is Associate Editor of CORROSION Journal and a member of the Campbell Award Selection Committee for the National Association of Corrosion Engineers.

Professor, Dept. of Chemistry
Associate Dean of Science (Research)
Affiliate Member of SSW

Work in the Ragogna Group is centred on the chemistry of the main group, p-block elements and usually feature the element phosphorus (P).  We aim to discover unusual structure and bonding in small molecule architectures that then extend to unprecedented reactivity.  Members of the group have a particular focus on P-H bond addition chemistry to element-element multiple bonds (e.g. C=C; C=N) and leverage these reactions to prepare novel linear and crosslinked macromolecular materials with properties to address real world problems. We translate our results to the modification of surfaces to impose them with anti-ice, antimicrobial, superhydrophobic or oxygen scavenging properties. After we develop solution phase, bulk scale syntheses for our functional materials we then endeavour to establish gas phase process so that the same materials can be deposited as thin films, 10-100 nm in thickness.

Paul is the recipient of numerous awards including the John Charles Polanyi Prize (2005), University Faculty Scholar (2012), Strem Award for Pure/Applied Inorganic Chemistry (2014), Faculty of Science Distinguished Professor (2017) and the Florence Bucke Award (2018).

Dave Shoesmith

Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Chemistry
Previous SSW Director

David Shoesmith was educated at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom, where he received his Ph.D. in Electrochemistry in 1970. From 1970 to 1973 he was a post doctoral fellow at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, before joining Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL). He worked at AECL’s Whiteshell Laboratories (Pinawa, Manitoba for 25 years achieving the rank of Principal Research Officer in 1991. He moved to the University of Western Ontario in 1998 and was appointed the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)/Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) Industrial Research Chair in nuclear waste disposal chemistry in 2000.

His research interests are in the area of localized corrosion (especially crevice corrosion), the development of techniques to analyze corroding surfaces, and development of deterministic and probabilistic models to describe and predict corrosion performance. He has published over 210 journal articles and refereed conference proceedings and 27 book chapters and review articles, and over 120 commercial and company reports. He has given approximately 50 invited lectures at national and international conferences. He has graduated over 20 graduate students many of whom have won awards (30 since 2001) at national and international meetings.

He has received a number of national and international awards from the Electrochemical Society (Lash Miller Award, Canadian Electrochemistry Award), the Canadian Metallurgical Society (Cohen Award), and NACE International (Whitney Award). In 2010, he was recognized for excellence in graduate student mentoring by the University of Western Ontario. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Society for Chemistry, the Electrochemical Society and NACE International.

His research covers a number of diverse areas with a primary emphasis on corrosion issues (containers, wasteforms) related to the storage and disposal of high level nuclear waste. In this area his research is primarily funded by the Canadian NWMO (who sponsor his university research chair), the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB, Stockholm) and the USA Department of Energy. He also acts as a consultant to Nagra (Switzerland) and serves on a review board for the French disposal program. Outside the area of nuclear waste disposal, he has funded research programs in the areas of gas transmission pipelines, the automotive industry and an NSERC discovery grant to investigate the basic science of the influence of films and deposits on corrosion and interfacial electrochemical processes. Using this last grant he has pioneered the development of in-situ neutron reflectrometry to investigate multilayered materials interfaces.

He is an experienced conference and symposium organizer having organized and chaired a number of international meetings for NACE International, the Electrochemical Society, the International Society of Electrochemistry and the Materials Research Society.