Leeds Mechanical Engineering graduate wins British Council Alumni Award

Dr Jumana Ma’touq, a 2012 graduate from the School of Mechanical Engineering, has won a major honour at the prestigious 2023-24 British Council Alumni Awards.

The annual international honours, which recognise the outstanding achievements of alumni around the world, celebrate those who used their experience of studying in the UK to make positive contributions to their communities, industries, and countries.

Dr Ma’touq, who qualified for the award after obtaining her MSc in Medical Engineering (with distinction) from Leeds, is now an Assistant Professor at German Jordanian University near Madaba, Jordan. She was shortlisted in the Science & Sustainability category earlier this month – a significant achievement and honour, given how competitive the awards are – and was confirmed as the winner on 20 February.

Finding success at Leeds

Born and raised in Jordan, Dr Ma’touq left her home country at the age of 25 – the first time she had left her family and lived on her own in a foreign nation. In 2011, she secured a distinguished Said Foundation Scholarship, which named her one of the top three students in Jordan and one of the top 25 in the Middle East. She used the scholarship to secure her place at Leeds in 2011.

During her time within the School of Mechanical Engineering, Dr Ma’touq explored biomechanics of NHS cardiology staff, specifically the measurement of foot pressures and spinal angles over time for interventional cardiologists. These critical surgeons have the highest incidence rate of back pain in any job, due to time-consuming procedures to restore heart rhythms while wearing lead aprons.

Her time at Leeds proved to be “a significant turning point” in her life, but another great success to add to her list of achievements: Dr Ma’touq obtained her MSc in 2012, and her work was published in the International Journal of Cardiology.

Todd Stewart, a Professor of Mechanical and Medical Engineering who worked closely with Dr Ma’touq during her studies, said: “Jumana demonstrated the ability to apply her engineering science knowledge to a very challenging medical problem, and with her excellent work ethic she excelled. I’m very proud to have been Jumana’s supervisor, and to have been part of her journey towards her fabulous successes.”

Dr Ma’touq’s time in Leeds proved to be a life-changing opportunity. She praised the University’s encouragement of critical thinking, as well as its multicultural environment, which she said “fosters acceptance of others, understanding different opinions and backgrounds, and exchanging expertise and ideas”.

“I had no idea how much this period would have such a lasting impact on my personality, knowledge, and future,” she said. “I would never have recognised my capabilities without having such experience outside of my comfort zone.”

“I still feel I am a part of Leeds”

Recognition by the British Council Alumni Awards is hugely important to Dr Ma’touq, who is grateful that her hard work and dedication, plus the impact of her time at Leeds, helped her professional career development – an experience underpinned by the collective effort and support from her family, professors, the University, and funding organisations.

She continued: “It is an opportunity to showcase the excellence and quality of research, education, and the environment associated with education and experience at the University of Leeds. Even after more than ten years since my graduation, I still feel I am part of Leeds through the Alumni support and engagement provided by the University.”

Dr Ma’touq hopes her journey will inspire others, especially women in STEM, to follow her path to Leeds and other UK institutions, encouraging them to act upon their determination and hard work and make the most of challenges as an opportunity for personal growth and development.

She added: “As a woman, recognise your strength and importance in shaping the future. Break barriers, challenge stereotypes, and be an inspiration to those who come after you. It was not an easy journey, but it was possible, and it is worth it.”

Now in its tenth year, the British Council Alumni Awards received more than 1,450 applications from international UK alumni from more than 90 countries, representing over 140 UK higher education institutions across the nation.

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