Leeds PhD researcher wins coveted IMechE Tribology Bronze Medal

An accomplished Leeds PhD researcher has received a prestigious prize in recognition of her early career success and commitment to tribology and engineering.

Dr Sarah Crossland was given the Tribology Bronze Medal by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), which described her as a “highly accomplished and committed tribologist” who has spent her early career “seamlessly blending her background in engineering and physics with her clinical expertise to pioneer innovative approaches”. The Tribology Bronze Medal is considered the top award for early-career tribologists.

As a prosthetist and orthotist, Dr Crossland started her PhD through the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Integrated Tribology at the University’s School of Mechanical Engineering, under the supervision of Professor Peter Culmer and Professor Claire Brockett. Here, she maintained her clinical practice as an Honorary Orthotist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, allowing her to assess and prescribe orthotic devices and translate this experience into her tribology PhD.

During her PhD, Dr Crossland developed novel ways to characterise strain in the skin on the plantar aspect of the foot as a surrogate measure for shear during gait. Through this, she worked towards a risk assessment tool that predicted regions of the foot that are risk of developing diabetic foot ulcers. Her work has already been translated into clinical application and has acted as a platform for several other research projects.

As a culmination of her work at the University of Leeds in 2022, Dr Crossland received several awards including the STLE Platinum Poster Prize, a first-place podium award at the TriboUK annual conference, and was the runner-up in IMechE’s Best Bioengineering Project Video.

Dr Crossland now serves as a lecturer in Medical Engineering at the University of Hull, where she continues her biotribology research and supports future engineers and scientists.

While one Tribology Bronze Medal is awarded every year, 2023 proved to be a rare instance when two worthy recipients were given the honour; Dr Crossland was recognised alongside Kian Kun Yap of Imperial College London, a PhD researcher whose focus on in-situ tribometry has earned him numerous awards at international conferences.

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