Name: Martin Knight
Degree and university: BEng Mechanical Engineering
(University of Bath), MSc Biomedical Engineering (University of Surrey), PhD Cell and Tissue Engineering (Queen Mary University of London)
Job title: Reader in Mechanobiology, Director of Medical Engineering Degree Programme, Director of Admissions
What do you actually do?
My research investigates the influence of mechanical forces on human tissue and how this is important in health and disease. In particular I am interested in articular cartilage and development of novel repair strategies for when this specialised load bearing tissue becomes damaged through trauma or disease such as osteoarthritis. This might involve the development of new scaffold materials for tissue engineered implants, research into the mechanical properties of living cells or investigation of biological signalling processes through which cells convert a mechanical stimulus into a biochemical response.
I am also involved in teaching on our undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes in Medical Engineering here at Queen Mary University of London. This also involves supervising research projects on a wide range of medical engineering applications from tissue engineering of a silk based cartilage implant to development of a novel urine flow meter. These projects are frequently supported by industry and provide an exciting opportunity to get involved in all sorts of areas of medical engineering research and development.
What skills do you need to do that?
The main skills I need are the ability to work within a multidisciplinary environment communicating with scientists, engineers and clinicians with a range of backgrounds. I also have to do a lot of data analysis, writing reports, scientific papers and grant applications.
How did you know you wanted a career in engineering?
I was always interested in medical engineering from school as I wanted to use my interest in design to do something useful working within the medical field. The interest in research came from my MSc and sparked a passion in this area which led me on to my PhD and academic career.
What would you like to be doing in ten years time?
I would like to have helped to understand how cartilage cells sense mechanical forces and have been able to use this to develop new strategies for treatment of painful arthritis.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The opportunity to do something that will have a lasting benefit to society whilst working in an interesting and varied environment with nice people.
And the worst?
Trying to squeeze in teaching, research and administration into my working day without compromising any of them.
What advice would you give new graduates who want a career in engineering?
Choose a field that interests you and is useful to society such as sustainable energy engineering or medical engineering.