Julie Steele

Julie Robyn Steele

Citation delivered by Professor Tracey Moroney, Executive Dean (Interim), Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health at the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Julie Robyn Steele as an Emeritus Professor of the University on 28 April 2021.

Deputy Chancellor, I present Senior Professor Julie Steele AM.

In a stellar career defined by passion and purpose, Julie Steele AM has forged significant breakthroughs in basic, clinical and applied biomechanics research which has improved the lives of countless individuals. She has established herself as a world-class Biomechanist in a field dominated traditionally by male scientists.

Julie is internationally regarded as one of Australia’s most eminent and influential biomechanists. She joined UOW in 1983, beginning a 37-year tenure during which she would make a profound contribution to research and teaching in biomechanics and to the University’s reputation for innovation.

Her extraordinary research spans a wide range of applications. Julie’s early work focused on the mechanisms of human lower limb injuries during activities involving landing from height and the effects of obesity, ageing and occupational loading on lower limb structure. This work has driven new approaches to footwear design, paving the way for novel wearable technologies to enhance quality of life across the entire age spectrum. In 1994 she founded the now globally renowned Biomechanics Research Laboratory (BRL), leading a dedicated team of researchers in some of the field’s most innovative collaborations and discoveries – among them the world-first Intelligent Knee Sleeve using fabric sensors for immediate biofeedback, in partnership with experts at the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute.

In recent years, Julie has poured her energy and expertise into developing wearable technologies to improve breast health through the scientific study of breast biomechanics and to enable every female – irrespective of age, health status or breast size – to enjoy the benefits of exercise without suffering discomfort. Among her proudest achievements in this arena is a prototype bionic bra that can sense motion and adapt its support accordingly, developed in collaboration with industry giants such as Marks & Spencer and Berlei, along with UOW experts in intelligent electromaterials. She established Breast Research Australia in 2006 as a focal point for this and other internationally unique research to improve the lives of women.

A mark of the esteem in which she is held, Julie has been an invited speaker at numerous international research events, attracted significant competitive grants, and contributed hundreds of highly cited articles and chapters to respected publications worldwide. She was also the first-ever Australian elected President of the International Society of Biomechanics, is one of only 44 biomechanists currently appointed to the World Council of Biomechanics, and is a Fellow of Sports Medicine Australia and a Fellow of the International Society of Biomechanics. Her vast impact has been recognised in academia and beyond, from numerous research and teaching excellence awards to being named 2005 NSW Telstra Businesswoman of the Year and a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in 2019. She was made an Honorary Professor of UOW on her retirement in 2020.

A dedicated and inspiring leader, Julie has actively fostered research excellence across UOW and her profession, and has participated extensively in community-based seminars and mentoring. She has ably guided PhD, Masters and undergraduate honours students to successful completion, led course development innovations, and undertaken a range of academic governance and committee roles.

Deputy Chancellor, Julie Steele’s contribution to impactful research and leadership is exemplary, and her work has brought widespread exposure and acclaim to the University. She is a true leader in her profession and a deserving recipient of this honour.

It is a privilege to present Senior Professor Julie Steele AM to be admitted as an Emeritus Professor of the University of Wollongong.