Wednesday, 14 September 2016 08:00

Wall of Fame recognition special for MRI expert

Written by  Craig Albrecht, Palliser Regional Schools
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Sharing a laugh after the Wall of Fame ceremony are (from left to right) 2016 inductee Blaine Chronik, his junior high science teacher Jim Tratch, Wall of Fame Committee Chair Mike Saad and Dan Ferguson from Alberta Education. Sharing a laugh after the Wall of Fame ceremony are (from left to right) 2016 inductee Blaine Chronik, his junior high science teacher Jim Tratch, Wall of Fame Committee Chair Mike Saad and Dan Ferguson from Alberta Education. Photo by Palliser Regional Schools

Blaine Chronik is an internationally-recognized expert in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) systems, has had his work published in numerous journals and holds several patents relating to the diagnostic device.


Yet the Picture Butte High School grad (1990), who has been away from southern Alberta longer than he lived here, calls his induction into Palliser Regional Schools’ Wall of Fame Sept. 1 the “definition of special.”
“It’s a cliché — but it’s one of those true ones — that the only reason you are where you are now is because of where you came from,” says Chronik, who hopes the ceremony opens students’ eyes to the possibilities before them. “You don’t have to grow up in Vancouver, and you don’t have to go to a 2,000-student high school that has 2,000 programs. What’s required is that you drink deeply of what you have, where you’re at, at the time.”
Along with his research at Western University on ways to make MRI systems cheaper, smaller and more customized, through his own business he works on ways to reduce the impact of the imaging tool on patients with implanted medical devices such as pacemakers.
Chronik’s interest in science began early, with astronomy his first love. His passion was later fuelled by success at various science fairs and the chance to meet like-minded students on the national stage.
His attention then turned to physics and he graduated from the University of Lethbridge in that discipline before earning his doctorate in physics at Western University. First introduced to MRI systems by a local professor, he went on to do research in that area at Stanford University’s Department of Electrical Engineering.
Recruited back to Canada, Chronik is now a professor of physics, astronomy, medical biophysics and biomedical engineering at Western University.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging initially interested him because it was a field which involved a diverse group of researchers, and not just “physics people.” He remains attracted to the possibilities of improving the technology to make an even bigger difference.
“You could work on all sorts of exotic things, but they’re not frontline in people’s lives. They don’t directly impact your family or friends, says Chronik.  “The fact that what we work on has that rubber on the road feel for most people, that this is a technology that matters and has continued to change since I’ve been in it, that’s important,” he says.
Chronik, a well-rounded athlete in high school who played hockey and competed in triathlons during his university years, lives in London, Ont., with his wife, Nicole Bechard, and their two-year-old daughter, Sasha.
For more information on previous inductees into Palliser’s Wall of Fame, go to http://goo.gl/6HcmxH.

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