Dr Michael Berthaume, Research Associate, Bioengineering

I joined Imperial in February 2018, as a Research Associate in the Department of Bioengineering, before which I worked in the Department of Anthropology at Durham University and at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology studying teeth and primate evolution.

I am interested in the intersection of anthropology and engineering (anthroengineering), and am currently applying anthroengineering to the design of biomedical devices for low-to-middle-income countries. I am working with a team in Sri Lanka, focusing on the design of culturally relevant and sustainable orthopaedic devices – specifically external fixators to stabilize broken bones that can be manufactured locally. Additionally, we are working towards the design of prosthetics for amputees in northern Jaffna, the vast majority of which received their injuries as a result of the nearly 30 year civil war.

A major highlight of my time at Imperial was the trip my team and I took to Sri Lanka in November 2018. I had been working with our Sri Lankan colleagues for the better part of a year, but hadn’t met many of them in person yet. It was a great experience to meet them, see their research first-hand at the University of Moratuwa, and discuss the future of the grant. Afterwards, we travelled up to Jaffna and visited collaborators at Jaffna’s teaching hospital, and the Jaffna Jaipur Centre for Disability Rehabilitation (JJCDR). The JJCDR was established in 1987, and provides prosthetics and orthotics to patients across northern Sri Lanka at almost no cost to the patients. Seeing their work brought tears to my eyes, and knowing that the research I was doing could help them and thousands of amputees was a humbling experience.

I have never done research that has such direct applications, and the fact that such work is supported and pursued at Imperial makes me proud to work for such a university. Imperial is supportive in every sense of the word, both out of and in the work place. Outside of Imperial, we support people in other countries live better lives. At Imperial, I work in a very diverse environment with colleagues from all over the world. We also have a lot of women working in our department, which being an engineering department, is not common, as engineering is mostly dominated by men.

Michael has also been featured in Imperial’s LGBT History Month campaign. Read his profile here.

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