Isotope Production: Occupation and/or Adventure, Dr. Etienne Vermeulen, Senior Scientist, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Radioisotope production is a fascinating field of study that encompasses multiple disciplines, ranging from nuclear physics and chemistry to nuclear engineering and medical science. Users of isotope include fields as diverse diagnostic and therapeutic medicine, nuclear forensics, geochronology, antimatter research, cosmology and high energy physics. This lecture follows a semi-autobiographical path of the speaker around the world, producing isotopes for all the disciplines mentioned above and more, hopefully illustrating the incredibly diverse and interesting (and frustrating) challenges provided to the avid researcher.
Dr Etienne Vermeulen started his career in 1998 at what was then known as the National Accelerator Centre in South Africa. He received the Degree B.Tech in Chemistry during this time and was then employed as Chemist from 2001 to 2003. In 2007 he received an M.Sc. (cum laude) in radiochemistry from Stellenbosch University. He played a large role in the establishment of Positron Particle Emission Tracking (PEPT) at iThemba LABS in conjunction with the University of Cape Town. From 2009 to early 2014 he was the Targetry and Bombardments coordinator responsible for all aspects of isotope production targetry at iThemba LABS. In March 2014 he received a PhD in Physics from Stellenbosch University with the topic “Production of radionuclides with medium energy protons with the emphasis on targetry” and then joined the Paul Scherrer Institute as Staff Scientist from 2 June 2014 to June 2017. At PSI he was involved in the production and separation of radiolanthanides as well as the design of targets and production control systems for routine isotope production. He played a major role in establishing the Tb-161 production. During this time he also played a pivotal role in the production of the novel therapy/diagnosis isotope Tb-149 at the ISOLDE facility at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. He joined Los Alamos National Laboratory in July of 2018 as senior scientist and is currently lead physicist for the Isotope Production Facility at the LANSCE accelerator at LANL.