Winner of the WISE Hero Award 2015
12 November 2015
Dr Jennifer Walsh-O'Donovan, Clinical Scientist / Rehabilitation Bioengineer, NHS Lothian
As a volunteer carer from a young age, Jennifer was inspired to pursue a future where she could help people on a daily basis. After graduating with a degree in Medical Mechanical Engineering, Jennifer undertook a PhD using her engineering skills to investigate the crash safety of customised wheelchair seating systems. She now works in a wheelchair seating department and gait analysis laboratory, supporting amputees and children with cerebral palsy. The patient information leaflet she produced on improving mobility has a dual purpose - informing patients as well as educating children about the role of a bioengineer, a role which is not well known.
Jennifer has improved clinician’s understanding of wheelchair cushions by organising a national conference on the science and clinical application of wheelchair cushions. She says: “Being the mother to a little girl, I want her to see how she can contribute to improving an individual’s life or society through technology, science and engineering because of, and not in spite of, her gender.”
The judges were enthralled by this story of combining specialist engineering skills with a caring profession. The work of this winner impacts on hundreds of people’s lives every year and to her credit she shares best practice and collaborates with her industry peers.