Members

Professor Jonathan Rossiter – Project Chief Investigator

Jonathan is the Professor of Robotics, head of the Soft Robotics group at Bristol Robotics Laboratory and a multi-disciplinary innovator of soft robotic smart materials, compliant mechanisms, nonlinear models and complete soft robotic machines. He has delivered radical new soft robotics technologies, with world firsts including: biodegradable and edible robotics; energy-autonomous pollution eating robots; cephalopod-inspired smart skins; ionic-shape memory polymer actuators; auxetic actuators; fully 3D printed electroactive polymer actuators; and dielectric liquid zipping (DLZ) actuators with largest ever contractile strain. He has managed and delivered on over £21M of research funding and published over 150 peer reviewed papers, patents and licensing agreements. Jonathan led the largest six institute EPSRC Ideas Factory project, the £2.3M, Wearable Soft Robotics for Independent Living, the Right Trousers. With a new £1.5M grant, Jonathan continues leading this project in the FREEHAB study, in collaboration with UWE Bristol.

His exceptional communication, education and public engagement skills are evidenced by activities including: TED talk on bio-integrating soft robotics (1.25 million views), one of the most viewed robotics TED talks; soft robotics demonstration stands at GadgetShow Live 2016 (>100,000 visitors), Founders Forum 2016, At-Bristol and the Science Museum; recent media exposure includes BBC2 robotics series, 6 Robots and Us (2018, 350M viewers worldwide). He is also Deputy director of the EPSRC Doctoral Training Centre in Robotics (FARSCOPE), managing the training of 56 robotics PhD students.

Dr Ailie Turton – Co-Investigator

Dr Ailie Turton is an Occupational Therapist and Senior Lecturer at UWE Bristol. Ailie has a clinical background with 18 years of experience as an HCPC registered Occupational Therapist and her research career spans 30 years and includes rehabilitation sciences, neurosciences and development of new treatments and technologies for rehabilitation and assisted living. The primary aim of her research is to improve recovery of function to enable people to participate fully in everyday life activities. Her research involves close collaboration with Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy services and with academics in rehabilitation research internationally. Laboratory experience includes kinematic analysis and EMG recording.

She was Co-applicant and Co-investigator on the £2.3M project, Wearable Soft Robotics for Independent Living, the Right Trousers, leading all aspects of patient engagement and perception analysis, and is co-designer of proof of concept wearable devices. Currently in addition to being a co-investigator on the FREEHAB project, Ailie is now Co-investigator on the FREEHAB study. Currently she is also coinvestigator on two National Institute for Health Research funded stroke rehabilitation projects in the UK and a National Health Medical Research Council clinical trial in Australia.

Dr Mary Cramp – Co-investigator

Dr Mary Cramp is a HCPC registered physiotherapist who has worked in NHS, private healthcare and academic sectors. She is currently Associate Professor in Long Term Conditions and Associate Department Head, Research and Knowledge Exchange in Allied Health Professions at UWE Bristol. Her research focuses on understanding the mechanistic basis of mobility problems of neuro-musculoskeletal conditions such as stroke and osteoarthritis that affect older adults and the use of physical interventions such as exercise programmes to address these problems. She has experience in the use of human movement analysis techniques including three dimensional biomechanical motion analysis and neuromuscular assessment to assess gait and mobility tasks with various patient groups for clinical and research purposes.

In the last 4 years alone she has won over £0.4M grant income and published more than 12 journal articles. She is active in professional forums such as the physiotherapy working group for National Clinical Guidelines for Stroke and Council for Allied Health Professions Research. Mary was also Co-applicant and Co-investigator of The Right Trousers project and will continue her work in the FREEHAB study. Her professional activities and collaborations with clinical colleagues inform her knowledge of the contemporary challenges of healthcare practice.

Dr Leah Morris – FREEHAB Research Fellow

Dr Leah Morris is a HCPC registered physiotherapist who has recently been awarded her PhD after completing her thesis on the Patient acceptability of the physiotherapy First Contact Practitioner. This PhD utilised realist evaluation, a methodology which takes into consideration the complexity of the contexts in which interventions are implemented, such as those in the NHS.

Leah has strong dissemination skills which is apparent to those who have seen her platform presentations. She was the recipient of a competitive Research Travel Scholarship which has allowed her to visit two groups in Australia (Melbourne and Sydney) to present her PhD project, hear about their expertise and to observe how other human analysis labs/groups operate. She has also presented her thesis at the International Qualitative Methods conference, Canada, as well as conferences nationally.

Leah has expertise in patient-centred research and finds it particularly rewarding. She has recently been appointed as a FREEHAB Research Fellow and she looks forward to expanding her skill-set as an early-career researcher.

Dr Richard Suphapol Diteesawat – Research Associate

Dr Richard Suphapol Diteesawat is a Research Associate at University of Bristol, working on this Right Trousers project to develop a smart assistive suit, which can improve human body mobilities, such as walking, moving from sitting to standing, and etc. He recently obtained a Ph.D. in Robotics and Autonomous Systems in the field of Soft Robotics from University of Bristol, UK, in 2020. His thesis was developing and inventing novel soft pneumatic and electrical artificial muscles for wearable assistive devices. He is interested in artificial muscles, wearable assistive devices, and medical robotics.

Dr Richard originally came from Thailand. He received his BEng with honour in Mechanical Engineering from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand in 2015. After graduation, he worked as a research assistant at Chulalongkorn University on the ‘XGlove’ project, creating an active cable-driven glove with the purpose to enable disabled or stroke patients to perform and recover grasping motion (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZoamUs_bcA&t=6s). At that time, he had met many patients who suffered from disabilities, and this inspired me to work towards smart assistive technology to address these difficulties in lives.

His passion is to invent a smart flexible assistive suit which can facilitate people to achieve mobility and maintain independence with more efficiency and less fatigue. He is also interested in investigating other advanced features, e.g. self-fitting, sense of stability and dangers, skin communication and display, washable and breathable materials, and intelligent navigation.

Dr Nahian Rahman – Research Fellow

Dr. Nahian Rahman is currently employed as a Research Fellow at the Bristol Robotics Lab at the University of Bristol, where his primary research goal is to develop a soft, wearable, assistive device that helps elderly people while moving. The work primarily includes the engineering aspects of developing soft actuator, sensor and fabrication. He was a Post Doctoral Fellow in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech (2018-2019). Prior to joining Georgia Tech, he was a Ph.D. researcher in the Advanced Robotics Department at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), Italy. He completed undergraduate studies in Mechanical Engineering from the Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology (BUET) in 2009. He received his M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering with majoring in Intelligent, Control, and System from Pusan National University, South Korea in 2014.

He obtained a Ph.D. in Advanced Robotics from IIT in 2018. His doctoral study titled “Towards Developing Gripper to obtain Dexterous Manipulation” discusses explicitly the challenges of obtaining human-like prehensile and dexterous in-hand manipulation in artificial grippers and constructs a mathematical guideway to develop grippers that are capable of conducting in-hand manipulation and some prehensile tasks. He designed and developed two novel gripper platforms which are adaptable to a plurality of grasps and dexterous at the same time.  In Georgia Tech, he worked on the deflection measurement of flexible and continuum robots.  His work also focused on developing an intravascular steerable robot that is guided to the mitral valve by multimodality imaging to deploy a novel, low profile device that can effectively repair Mitral regurgitation (MR) of all forms.Research Interest: Control, Dexterous Manipulation, Gripper/Grasping, Medical Robotics, Soft Robotics.

Google Scholar: https://tinyurl.com/yy3z4dxz

Other Experience and Professional Memberships:

IEEE member; Professional member, American Heart Association (AHA);

He has published more than 25 papers in several top journals and conferences and he voluntarily provides academic service by reviewing papers in several top international journals and conferences.

Zoë Pascucci – Clinical partner

Zoë Pascucci is a specialist community neuro and stroke physiotherapist.  Zoë is registered with HCPC and has over 13 years’ experience in clinical practice. She has been working full time for the early supported discharge team for stroke for the last 5 years, which is currently run by Virgin Care Ltd.  Zoë completed her Msc in Physiotherapy – Neuro Rehabilitation at the University of Nottingham in 2018 and a poster of her research was exhibited at the international conference, the third congress on NeuoRehabilitation and Neural Repair in May 2019.  Zoë is passionate about providing the best available evidence based rehabilitation for her service users and tailoring the service to their goals.  She is looking forward to collaborating with the FREEHAB team as a clinical partner to further improve the outcomes for those with mobility issues.

Chris Priestman – Patient representative

Chris is 63. He has worked in theatre, radio and as a teacher, most recently in university as a lecturer and manager. That was until 7th June 2014 when, out of the blue,  he suffered a major, ischaemic stroke. He was 57, slim, a non-smoker and reasonably fit. Fortunately his partner knew immediately what the matter was and within a few minutes he was in an ambulance. After a month in Bristol hospitals he went home. With the unstinting support of his partner and 9 weeks of Monday to Friday physio from the fantastic NHS Early Supported Discharge team, they gradually coaxed his right arm and leg into some very weak movement. He had massive fatigue but no depression. However it became clear that the stroke had left him with partial aphasia.

6 years later, retired since then, he has recovered sufficiently to walk upwards of 3 miles, now unaided, and regained much of the use of his right shoulder, arm and hand. This has been through hard work and a lot of focused determination: daily home exercises, the gym twice weekly, Pilates sessions and regular swimming. Thus he has gained considerable experience of longterm rehabilitation and – particularly to this project – the possibilities for rebuilding leg movement over time, both internally, through rewiring the brain, and with external support. He is now a volunteer with Bristol Health Partners’ Stroke Health Integration Team and involved as a patient rep in the reorganisation of the whole stroke pathway in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

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