Dr Claire Jones Shares Insights into Bionic Body Parts

How much do you know about bionic body parts? BrainSTEM students have been studying bionic body parts this term. So, it was a great opportunity for the girls to have a Zoom presentation with Dr Claire Jones this week.

Claire is Head of the Biomechanics Laboratory, Adelaide Spinal Research Group & Centre for Orthopaedics & Trauma Research. Claire studies the biomechanics of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems in normal, diseased, and injured states. She explained the different strategies her team uses to assess and research spinal injuries and factors impacting spinal injury. The students were fascinated by the equipment used in Claire’s research, such as devices to measure head and neck movement and movement associated with different actions. 

Students were also very interested in the role and importance live animals played in spinal research. They were able to ask questions of Claire about the role of animals and the role of animal ethics regulations when using animals for research. 

Claire also shared information about her career pathway. After studying Mechanical Engineering at UWA, she travelled overseas to carry out research in the UK and US before returning to Australia, where she now works at the University of Adelaide.  

The opportunity highlighted how the scientific process students follow at school is the same process followed by scientists such as Claire and her team. It was also a great opportunity for the students to appreciate how models such as the model bionic body parts our students have been working on represent an important way scientists can further develop their understanding of the way the body works. 

One of the bionic body parts students have been working on.

Above is a model of a bionic jaw bone BrainSTEM students have been working on in class. It’s just one of the models they’ve built. The jaw bone and muscles of the jawbone are replaced with a prosthetic allowing the person’s brain to send messages to the muscles of the jaw, which would enable the person to control the movement of the jaw as in a natural situation.

Brainstem teacher Joanne Priest said, “Claire was inspiring, and a fabulous role model for young women in the field of mechanical engineering, putting her passion into a rewarding field of research, spinal injury prevention and rehabilitation.”

Tisya Chowdhary Year 10 said, “Dr Jones gave a thorough insight into her career in biomechanics, and how she researches spinal cord injuries. It was an eye-opening presentation for the class because it linked back to what we have been doing recently in our topic for BrainStem – bionic body parts. 

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