Gemma Whatling, Winner of the 2011 Karen Burt Award
The WES Karen Burt Memorial Award is made annually to the most outstanding newly chartered woman engineer. This year’s deserving winner is Cardiff Academic Fellow for the Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre at Cardiff University Dr Gemma Whatling, who was presented with her award at the WES Annual Conference on Friday 7th October 2011.
WES President Dr Jan Peters, on congratulating the winner, said: "Gemma’s achievements to date are outstanding, she is an inspiration to us all and will undoubtedly go on to bigger and greater things. The WES Karen Burt Memorial Award is an important award to both showcase the outstanding work that women engineers do, but also to celebrate women engineers!"
Gemma is a Mechanical Engineer and was nominated by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Eur Ing Penny Taylor, representing the Institution's Professional Review Committee (PRC) said: "The PRC chose Dr Gemma Whatling as the IMechE candidate from a very strong shortlist, due not only to her work at the forefront of biomechanical research, but also her extensive work in promoting engineering to young people and public engagement in science and engineering. Additionally she has a close involvement with the Institution, refereeing part H of the Journal and organising an Engineering Researchers network at Cardiff University." The award was presented by WES member and IMechE Deputy President Professor Isobel Pollock at the WES Conference.
Each engineering institution is invited each year to nominate their most outstanding female candidate providing a formidable field of competition. Gemma's research clearly demonstrates the underpinning nature of engineering skills in everyday life. Working closely with the medical profession her vital engineering insights and skill includes the assessment of the biomechanics of patients with osteoarthritis to identify how the disease affects patient mobility and examine the effectiveness of treatment options. With increased biomechanical understanding of joints with osteoarthritis, it may be possible to identify improvements in treatment and rehabilitation that will improve patient outcome.
Dr Karen Burt was an eminent physicist who gained her PhD in electron microscopy at Reading University before joining British Aerospace Systems as a project engineer for scientific satellites. She set up her own consultancy and was instrumental in establishing the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation Systems within University College, London. Karen is remembered as a gifted communicator and her fight to recover speech and mobility following a stroke was an inspiration to all who knew her.