UNB scientist wins top research award for work in field of bionics

A top health research award is going to a man who is quite literally bridging the gap between man and machine.

University of New Brunswick researcher recognized for work in building better, more intuitive, prostheses

Jon Sensinger has been studying the interactions between humans and prostheses - including exoskeletons – in order to help people living with disabilities become more independent. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

A top health research prize has been awarded to a University of New Brunswick scientist who is quite literally bridging the gap between man and machine. 

Jon Sensinger, 36, is working to build more responsive prostheses and exoskeletons by studying how the human body sends signals throughout its many systems.  

He has been awarded the 2016 Young Health Researcher of the Year by the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation. 

"I look at people with an amputation or a spinal cord injury and so I was awarded for my research which is ultimately… helping people with disabilities," said Sensinger. 

Much of Sensinger's work revolves around making more intuitive artificial limbs for people with amputations or spinal injuries. (Submitted by UNB)

Sensinger's research revolves around a number of aspects of man-machine interactions. But he is quick to point out that the work he's doing — and all subsequent rewards and results — are the product of a team. 

"All of my research is so team-based that it's kind of humbling to be singled out for an award like that because none of the research that I do I would be able to do myself," he said. 

Some aspects of that research include the mapping and identification of the body's electrical signals and translating them into possible power and direction for replacement limbs. 

"We're also learning a lot about just how the body reacts," said Sensinger.

"So we can translate that into better mechanical prostheses." 

More Rewarding than Awards 

Sensinger says the most rewarding part of his research is making the lives of people with disabilities easier by developing better prostheses. (Submitted by UNB)

Sensinger said the real reward in his line of work comes from making a difference in people's lives. 

"Being able to interact with people who have a disability and make a small improvement in their life is really the sole reason why I chose to enter this field," he said.

"To be able to do work that is helping particular groups of patients, but can also potentially transcend to other patient populations is really that sweet spot where I love to be." 

About the Author

Shane Fowler


Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.