Joan Stevenson (Kinesiology and Health Studies) recently received the Canadian Society for Biomechanics (CSB) Career Award, the highest honour given out by the organization.
“I’m humbled that they would offer me the award. It’s a wonderful way to end a career,” says Dr. Stevenson. “I share the honour with my colleagues because we really are a team, including many students who are absolutely critical to my research programs.”
Dr. Stevenson began her career as a sport biomechanist but changed to occupational biomechanics when her research was needed to comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Her early research helped establish the first bona fide occupational requirements (BFORs) under Canadian law. BFORs are required for employers to discriminate who is eligible for various jobs based on job demands, a validated scientific approach and setting standards at a minimum.
Since the 1990s, Dr. Stevenson has continued to work in biomechanics and ergonomics, with an emphasis on workplace injury prevention. Her lab has developed simulators to aid the design and testing of new load carriage system for the Canadian military.
Her team also recently created the Personal Lift Augmentation Device (PLAD) that uses elastic elements to assist the back muscles during lifting and forward bending tasks. The device reduces the force required of the back muscles during lifting tasks by approximately 20 per cent. More than 80 per cent of workers who tested the device say they would wear it for specific tasks. PARTEQ has patented the device and a local company has developed a final-stage prototype.
“Dr. Stevenson has been a key role model who has created an infrastructure of talent across Canada,” says Dave Andrews, President, CSB. “She has positively impacted so many of us with her dedication to and promotion of the science that when we think of biomechanics and ergonomics in Canada, Joan’s name comes to the top of the list.”
A special issue of WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation will be published in Dr. Stevenson’s honour. It will include contributions by students and colleagues, past and present who have been influenced by her work and mentorship.