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Tuesday 13 June 2023 1:16pm

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Dr Margot Skinner

Physiotherapy's highest global honour awarded to Dr Margot Skinner

Distinguished physiotherapist Dr Margot Skinner has been awarded World Physiotherapy's highest honour for her outstanding contribution to the physiotherapy profession as a clinician, teacher and researcher.

After announcing the Mildred Elson Award at the 20th General Meeting in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on 31 May, Dr Skinner's contribution was recognised before more than 2,000 physiotherapists at the World Physiotherapy Congress 2023.

“It was truly an honour for me to receive the Award, but on reflection it is also a wonderful recognition of the contribution that those of us in the far south can make to the global profession of physiotherapy,” says Dr Skinner.

Dr Skinner's career as a physiotherapist, clinician, educator, and researcher spans more than 50 years. She retired as Associate Dean Academic Engagement at Otago's School of Physiotherapy Te Kura Kōmiri Pai in December 2021, after a long involvement with the School, since she first enrolled as a student in the early 1970s.

Dean of the School, Professor Leigh Hale, says Dr Skinner's enthusiasm, depth of knowledge and work ethic are unparalleled.

“For over 50 years she has worked tirelessly to advance both our School and the profession of Physiotherapy, and has been instrumental to so many successes within our School. We are absolutely delighted that her expertise and dedication has been honoured by the bestowment of our profession's highest accolade, the World Physiotherapy's Mildred Elson Award. We are very proud of Margot,” says Professor Hale.

Dr Skinner was World Physiotherapy vice president, 2015-2019, executive board member elected by the Asia Western Pacific (AWP) region, 2007-2015, and was chair of AWP region, 2003-2007. She also served two terms as president of Physiotherapy New Zealand.

Dr Skinner has always been a strong advocate for the physiotherapy profession to be able to control its own body of research. This requires opportunities to develop degree-based entry level education and postgraduate programmes. In the early 1990s, she led the drive for degree-based education to become a reality at the University of Otago.

She has since worked with colleagues in many other countries and territories, particularly in the AWP region, to support the development of entry level physiotherapy education and for the education to meet international guidelines. The concept of an accreditation process was developed while Dr Skinner was World Physiotherapy vice president and she was the inaugural chair of the accreditation committee.

You can read more about Dr Skinner's career here:

Otago alumna Rayyanah Barnawi becomes first Arab woman in Space

Astronaut and Otago alumna Rayyanah Barnawi made history in May by becoming the first woman from Saudi Arabia to travel to the International Space Station.

Rayyanah, who was an International student at Otago, completed her BBioMedSc in 2011, majoring in Reproduction, Genetics and Development. She is part of the Saudi Arabian space mission, which is a collaboration between the Saudi Human Spaceflight Programme and US-based private spaceflight company Axiom Space.

Former University of Otago student becomes first female Arab to go to space | RNZ News

Looking into entrepreneurship later in life

Dr Angela Robertson

With more than 40 years' experience in adult and community development, Otago alumna Dr Angela Robertson works with individuals, groups, and communities to encourage people to broaden their perspective on ageing, and continually expand their horizons. Her latest book Changing Gears: Entrepreneurs @50+ looks at the emerging trend for people to start a business for the first time later in life.

The 33 entrepreneurs she features in the book offer candid accounts of the challenges they faced and their aspirations for the future, along with useful tips and ideas.

“Regardless of your age and stage, circumstances and experiences, there are always opportunities to pick up ideas and lessons learned from others who have embarked on this path beyond mid-life,” says Dr Robertson.

Otago alumni behind new health and wellness app

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Dr Christoph John

A new digital health and wellness start-up developed in Germany by an Otago alumnus is working with Plant and Food Research to provide people with nutritional information.

The New Zealand Food Composition Database (NZFCD) has been selected as a key source of data for the new My-Nutri-Diary nutrition and activity tracker app. Created by Information Science PhD graduate Dr Christoph John, the free of charge app aims to create a digital twin of the user to help them achieve their nutrition and fitness goals, with products from the NZFCD incorporated as an option for users looking for information about their food choices.

Dr John says half the start-up team consists of friends he made during his years at Otago. They are based in different countries around the world, working in multiple time zones. A current focus is seeking partnerships with companies in the food, fitness, medical technology, clinical trials or secondary health markets to integrate their products with the platform.

“This strategy presents a quick and cost-efficient way for partners to offer and outsource additional digital services and sales channels,” says Dr John.

The NZFCD data is jointly owned by Plant and Food Research, and the New Zealand Ministry of Health, and is the most comprehensive collection of nutrition data for more than 2,700 commonly-consumed New Zealand foods.

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