Ronsky, Dr. Janet

2011 Outstanding Contribution to the Alberta Science and Technology Community, Honouree

Ambassador for science and technology helps create an important legacy

Dr. Janet Ronsky's substantial contributions to the science and technology community in Alberta and beyond take many forms - education, promotion, research, community building and policy development. 

From early in her career, the professor in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering in the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary, has had a passion for engaging individuals in science, engineering and technology. She has influenced many students through her teaching and mentoring. 

It's important to open student minds to the possibility of careers in technology and science. I try to get them to try different things. They don't have to think in narrow disciplines, or be afraid of embarking on new paths in science.

Providing for Students 

"I like to get students to find different ways of approaching complex problems," she says. "I really enjoy challenging these bright young minds and see the light bulb turn on." 

Responding to student demand, Dr. Ronsky was instrumental in establishing the graduate Biomedical Engineering (BME) program in 1998 and the undergraduate BME specialization in 2003. She also created the Centre for Bioengineering Research and Education (CBRE) at the U of C, one of the first in Canada, and the model for numerous other programs in the country. 

Dr. Ronsky promotes interdisciplinary research and development activities and plays an integral role in the U of C BME executive committee, developing planning and strategic documents and initiatives. 

"It's important to open student minds to the possibility of careers in technology and science," she says. "I try to get them to try different things. They don't have to think in narrow disciplines, or be afraid of embarking on new paths in science."

Impressive Accomplishments 

Dr. Ronsky's high calibre of achievement is also apparent in her research endeavours. She is recognized for advancing discoveries in the areas of knee joint mechanics, combining medical imaging with numerical modelling and novel experimental methods to uncover mechanisms relating to joint degeneration - including reducing radiation in adolescents with spinal deformities. 

Dr. Ronsky says teamwork is essential in the "exciting and complex field" of BME. 

"In order to make advances in a realistic timeframe we have to work in a team," she says. "We each bring our own expertise to the table, but we have to pull together using the same language and challenge each other to realize success." 

Dr. Ronsky's outstanding scientific reputation has led her to be recognized both nationally and internationally with numerous awards. She has served on several prestigious committees that drive research and innovation funding direction, policy and implementation. 

Ambassador for Alberta

Provincially, she has played a key role in biomedical technology innovation and commercialization. She has promoted and led the charge for the development of a framework for BME technology innovation with her counterparts at the University of Alberta and numerous government and industry agencies. Nationally, Dr. Ronsky sits on the 2011/12 expert panel review on science and technology for the Council of Canadian Academies, which will help shape Canada's policies on science and technology development for the future. 

With these many activities, she has been a strong ambassador for Alberta and has helped to raise the profile of science and technology within Alberta, Canada and internationally. 

"I'm proud to contribute to diversifying the Alberta economy through science and technology, so we continue to be known nationally and internationally as leaders in BME. That's a really important legacy," Dr. Ronsky says. 

- Dr. Janet Ronsky, Professor
Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Schulich School of Engineering with a joint appointment in the Faculty of Kinesiology 
University of Calgary
Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering (07/2001 - 07/2011) 
Director, Biovantage Alberta Ingenuity Centre
Director, Zymetrix - the Bose Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Technology Development Centre