Research Interests: G.E. Sarty

Space / Portable MRI

Brains, Ovaries and Binary Stars


Last updated November 26, 2014

Information for potential graduate students

Note that prospective students will need to find, or be very competitive for, scholarship support (GPA in the 90% ± 5% range).

I have been involved in a number of research areas as outlined below but my current active area of research is in re-inventing magnetic resonance imaging or MRI. So I am primarily interested in hearing from potential doctoral students with a background in mathematics and/or electrical RF engineering to do groundbreaking work on new ways to do MRI. Students may apply for a program under Biomedical Engineering or Engineering Physics. I collaborate with, and you may be co-supervised by Paul Babyn, our head radiologist or by Michael Bradley, of the Plasma Physics Lab where our experimental MRI hardware is kept.

Information on the Physics graduate program and application procedures may be found by clicking this button:

Information on the Biomedical Engineering graduate program and application procedures may be found by clicking this button:

Some potential funding sources for international students are listed on Canada's International Scholarship site.


Synopsis of my research work/career

My interests in all areas has included both the data (observational/experimental/clinical) side and the mathematical (theory/model/design) side. Hardware development - e.g. meteor cameras, telescopes and now the Portable MRI - is also an aspect of what I do. A list of my papers is posted; you can also take a look at my academic pedigree for fun.

The Space/Portable MRI work focuses on the development and application of new developments in MRI technology that will result in an MRI that is an order of magnitude lighter and cheaper than any existing MRI and includes work on putting an MRI in space in the form of a wrist-sized MRI on the International Space Station. Hand held MRI is the ultimate long term goal. The applications of Portable MRIs include deployment in remote rural and northern locations, developing countries, disaster and war zones. The Portable MRI will also have applications in small X-ray clinics, nursing homes, the Emergency Room where it would be safer for children than X-ray CT, and in the Operating Room where it will be useful for minimally invasive surgery and futuristic robotic surgery.

For brains I have applied functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to the study of the cognitive functioning of the human brain. My primary fMRI collaborator over the years has been neuropsychologist Ron Borowsky; I have also done some interesting fMRI stuff with Lorin Elias. I have also had a more general interest in MRI methods and data analysis in general including the development of novel pulse sequences for generating MRI image data. For fMRI, I have been involved, through my former graduate student Dr. Vasily Vakorin, in the development of a math model of the underlying hemodynamics that influences the fMRI signal. Another interesting application was the MRI of post-mortem brains, where I developed a mathematical model of formalin diffusion into the brain on the basis of MRI data.

With ovaries I have applied MRI to the study of these reproductive organs in both women and cows (cows being an excellent physiological model for humans). My primary collaborator is Roger Pierson, at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Saskatchewan. My primary theoretical creation in this field is the application of a math model of follicular dynamics to the problem of detecting ovulatory follicles by ultrasound in assisted reproductive therapy. The development and application of that model is ongoing.

Binary stars represents my research interest in astronomy and my interests extend beyond binary stars. I have research interests in both observational and theoretical astrophysics. On the observational side, my focus has been on the environments of compact objects like black holes, neutron stars and white dwarfs, primarily in systems known as High Mass X-ray Binaries (HMXBs). Observations have been done, of HMXBs across the electromagnetic spectrum from X-rays to the infrared (no radio observations yet) and I have worked with data from the space telescopes RXTE, MOST and Spitzer. On the theoretical side, I have worked with numerical general relativistic models of spinning objects near black holes using the Mathisson-Papapetrou-Dixon (MPD) equations in collaboration with Dinesh Singh at the University of Regina. In addition to semi-pro research interests, I have been an amateur astronomer since Apollo 8 and one of my first professional publications was about fireballs. I have maintained the RASC Saskatoon Centre web page since its inception. I still have an interest in chasing meteorite dropping fireballs, especially with my fireball cameras, but my more recent interest has been in extreme binary star systems including cataclysmic variables (CVs) and high mass X-ray binaries (HMXBs). I have a variable stars research page with lots of useful information. My primary collaborators have been Kinwah Wu of the Mullard Space Science Institute of University College London and Laszlo Kiss at the Konkoly Observatory, Budapest, Hungary. Actually, to get all the work done requires many other collaborators, far too numerous to mention here - you can see their names as authors on our publications.

My educational background is in Mechanical Engineering (BSc, New Brunswick) and Applied Mathematics (PhD, Saskatchewan). Between my undergraduate and graduate studies I worked at SED Systems in Saskatoon where I designed mechanical hardware for some of the first CCD cameras ever made (for WAMDII and WINDII - doppler imaging interferometers; WINDII was on the UARS satellite) and worked on various other space science instrumentation including a sounding rocket microgravity experiment to grow CMT, a material used in infrared CCD cameras.