International Society of Biomechanics
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I recently received the student travel grant from the International Society of Biomechanics which allowed me the opportunity to attend the XXII Congress of the ISB as well as the satellite conference of the Footwear Biomechanics Group held in Cape Town, South Africa and Stellenbosch, South Africa respectively. I would first like to give my thanks to the ISB for the funding they provided as without this award I would not have been able to attend the conferences.

I am currently a PhD student studying at the University of Calgary in Canada under Dr. Darren Stefanyshyn with my focus being footwear traction and joint injury. Being able to attend the conferences was invaluable at gaining constructive criticism for my project as well as providing an opportunity to get to know many of the names in biomechanics both on a personal and professional level. It was nice to finally be able to put some faces and personalities to names on papers.

2009-bill1-300x225.jpgUpon arrival in Africa I was both amazed and held breathless at the vast landscape and beautiful scenery. The day of arrival was mainly composed of sightseeing, going up the beautiful mountains to look down on the city as well as experiencing the excitement that was beginning to surge due to the upcoming World Cup which will be hosted here.

Before I knew it the conference was underway. I was fortunate enough to attended two tutorials, one by Paolo Bonato titled ‘Wearable Technology and its Application to Rehabilitation' and the other by Peter Cavanagh titled ‘Foot Biomechanics: Clinical Applications'. These two tutorials were great ways to kick off the conference with these two scientists describing their areas of research and what the future may hold.

The conference was a great opportunity for me to gain an understanding of what other institutes and researchers are doing in all areas of biomechanics and the coffee breaks allowed ample opportunity to mingle in order to ask additional questions or introduce myself to some well-known scientists. At the conference I presented a poster titled ‘Footwear Traction and Lower Extremity Joint Loading' which was an excellent experience as it provided a great opportunity to share my research with interested parties as well as allow a more one on one conversation.

Attending the keynote lectures was also a treat in itself as, even though some of the lectures were outside my area of research, they were still able to keep my interest and not allow me to fall victim to the ever present jet lag.

2009-bill2-300x225.jpgThe conference is not all about science and the many social events were a testament to that. While in South Africa I was able to go on a Safari on a game reserve which was truly an amazing experience. The highlight of the Safari was of course was seeing the lions, and we were lucky enough to be able to drive right up beside them, so close that I could reach out and touch one (if I was brave enough); a truly frightening and exhilarating experience. As well to end the ISB conference there was the closing ceremony gala, which involved dinner, and dancing and was a great way to finish the conference.

After the ISB I attend the satellite footwear conference which was a mere hour away in Stellenbosch on a winery. It was great that these two conferences happen in sequence and having the smaller more focused FBG conference after the ISB was perfect as I went from a broader biomechanics community to a much more focused biomechanics group related to my area.

While at the winery again the keynote lectures held by Dr. Cavanagh, Dr. Nigg and Dr. Shorten were very inspiring and all gave completely different viewpoints of footwear biomechanics. I had an oral presentation here which was a great experience as it allowed me the opportunity to again share my work but also allowed me to gain some presentation skills as well as answer some questions. There were many social activities here as well such as wine tasting and an opening soccer match. The conference concluded with an expert panel discussion with the three keynote speakers which was a fun and engaging way to finish the conference.

All in the all the experiences and connections I made will not be forgotten and again I would like to thank the ISB for the financial support.

Bill Wannop