What are you working on at the moment?
My current area of research investigates how safety footwear design features can affect workers’ walking economy and biomechanical gait adaptations.
Where do you do your research?
I have an honorary appointment in the Faculty of Health Sciences, at the University of Sydney. The Faculty of Health Sciences campus has just relocated to the main campus and I’m looking forward to getting data collected in the all new purpose-built building and laboratories. I am also currently employed at UVEX Safety as Head of Product Management, Footwear.
How could your research change clinical practice?
Safety footwear is the only footwear that patients can be legally required to wear, since it falls under the SafeWork Acts. For these patients, they spend the majority of their time in this footwear which can easily exceed 50 hours a week. Our research looks to better harmonise safety footwear design with workers’ foot function to improve workers’ quality of life and foot health. Recommending footwear is a key role of clinical practice and recommending the right footwear for workers to wear can have a significant impact on patient outcomes.
What first got you interested in research?
I have always had an interest in footwear. When I was a pre-schooler I would walk around and check people’s footwear to see how good their ‘traction’ was. Recently my mum had been de-cluttering my childhood home and she handed me my creative writing book from primary school and said, ‘You might like this’. It had two stories of shoes in it, one was on a running shoe and the other was about a soccer boot. I have always been interested in ‘why’ in most areas of my life. So, when I decided to change from studying engineering to podiatry (to be able to apply what I was learning in atmospheric and water dynamics to the body) it made sense to answer questions in an area that I had been passionate about for such a long period of time. Since then I have always had some research going on even when I was working clinically or now when I am working in the industry.
How have things changed since then?
My research career is not that long, so things have not changed that much since I first started doing research. My research has always been related to footwear, but the patient cohort and methodologies have varied significantly in order to answer the specific research question. The research hardware that we use to quantify the effects of footwear on the body has not changed that much either, but they have all become a lot more user-friendly over time.