SA scientist wins top engineering award

Flinders University’s Professor Karen Reynolds has become the first woman to be awarded Engineers Australia’s top award for biomedical engineering.

Nov 04, 2016, updated Nov 04, 2016
Professor Karen Reynolds, director of the Medical Device Research Institute at Flinders at Tonsley.

Professor Karen Reynolds, director of the Medical Device Research Institute at Flinders at Tonsley.

Professor Reynolds this week received the David Dewhurst Award in recognition of her contribution to Australian biomedical research, through a range of projects including Flinders’ Medical Device Partnering Program, which is preparing for a national roll-out.

The chair of Engineers Australia’s College of Biomedical Engineers, Paul Junor, said Professor Reynolds shared many traits with David Dewhurst, who was known for his easy communication style, gift for teaching, and ability to inspire and organise others.

“Professor Reynolds embodies these same qualities,” Mr Junor said. “Her suitability for this award is evident from her prominence in the Australian biomedical engineering community over the past two decades.

“This includes her major and tireless contribution over many years to Engineers Australia’s College of Biomedical Engineers as a past board chair who spearheaded120802_det_sci_reynolds_0186_1200x720 many initiatives.

“We have great pleasure in congratulating her on this well-deserved acknowledgement of her ongoing major contribution to the biomedical engineering community, both industrial and academic.”

One of South Australia’s brightest scientific minds, Oxford-educated Professor Reynolds regularly features in the Top 100 Most Influential Engineers in Australia and has been named South Australian Scientist of the Year in 2012 and Australian Professional Engineer of the Year in 2010.

In 2008, she established the Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP), an innovative and highly-successful initiative which harnesses university expertise to help companies or inventors looking to develop cutting-edge medical devices and bring their products to market.

The State Government-funded program has energised the medical technology industry in South Australia by facilitating partnerships between more than 300 medical researchers and manufacturing companies.

The Flinders MDPP is poised for a national roll-out with funding from the Australian Government’s Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals Industry Growth Centre (MTPConnect)

MTPConnect, which received 38 applications, this week announced a total of $7.4 million in funding over two years for 14 national projects in the med tech, biotech and pharmaceutical (MTP) sector.

“Working closely with end-users and clinicians, we are able to respond to industry-driven problems, fast-forwarding the R&D process,” Professor Reynolds says in the Flinders University 50th Anniversary publication The Investigator Transformed.

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“Our MDPP projects run for around 250 hours. While this might not seem like a long time, it gives the team long enough to learn whether they can work productively together and also see whether there are opportunities in the near future to continue the working relationships.”

Professor Reynolds is Director of Flinders’ Medical Device Research Institute (MDRI) at the Tonsley Innovation Precinct and Deputy Dean of the University’s School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics.

The David Dewhurst Award is given by Engineers Australia (Australia’s peak body for engineers, representing over 100,000 members) to a biomedical engineer who has made exceptional, sustained and significant contributions to the field.

“It’s been a great privilege to be able to contribute to biomedical research, and to have the opportunity to collaborate with inspiring colleagues and champion new and improved ways of doing things, while mentoring aspiring researchers along the way,” Professor Reynolds said after receiving the award.

“This award is a great vote of confidence that my work is having positive impacts throughout Australia – and hopefully beyond.

“I’m also proud to be the first woman to receive this award, and hope I will be the first of many.”



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