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My interest in biomedical engineering evolved while volunteering at Bloorview Children’s Hospital (now Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital). I realized that the technology available to these children did not allow them the same freedom as other children. I have since dedicated my research career to improving the lives of people with disabilities. My research is diverse covering three main areas: biomaterials, motion analysis and assistive technology.

My primary research goal focuses on increasing independence of people with disabilities. Understanding the perceptual and physical responses of all the senses, primarily vision, haptics and sound, has given me insight into how design of devices should be undertaken to create human-machine interfaces that are easily navigated and accepted. After spending several years designing to meet the needs of specific clients, I have realised the need for universal design. Universal design is becoming increasingly popular such that devices should be easy to use by all people without the need for adaptation.

I am currently an assistant professor in Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Queen’s University with an honorary senior lecturer appointment in the Departments of Surgery and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Auckland. Most of my work is interdisciplinary and seeks to combine input from both clinicians and engineers in the design of medical technologies. Some of the student projects of which I am the primary supervisor include development of a system that will allow tailored reminiscence therapy for individuals with cognitive impairment, development of a boccia ramp for paralympic athletes, development of an umbrella for individuals with muscular dystrophy, and methods to simplify computer tasks for youth with cerebral palsy.

I continue to expand my areas of research to establish more evidence based clinical evaluations of individuals with assistive technology.  Improvements to prosthetic and orthotic design will allow increased efficiency of human movement.  Increasing the universality of assistive technology will enable more effective use of devices.  Interface design that provides ease of use is essential to the acceptance by all individuals. My research projects allow engineering students to engage with clinicians and complete design projects that are clinically relevant. Expanding this research can increase the productiveness of all individuals and allow them to become more confident members of our society.