Monash BDI researcher leads ‘out of the box’ research to enhance lives

Dr Joanne Caldwell Odgers in her lab at Monash BDI
Dr Joanne Caldwell Odgers in her lab at Monash BDI

As one of the largest biomedical research institutes in Australia, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) has a broad range of research areas and world-leading researchers committed to enhancing lives through discovery.

Newly appointed Lab Head, Dr Joanne Caldwell Odgers' research areas of thermal, exercise and cardiorespiratory physiology, showcases some of the unique and impactful research housed at Monash BDI. From the impacts of heat exposure in health and performance, to enhancing the uptake of bike riding, and improving the health and wellbeing of paramedics and their patients, Dr Caldwell’s research is focused on discoveries that help lessen the burden of global change on human health.

Dr Caldwell from Monash BDI’s Department of Physiology, leads a team of researchers in the Exercise Physiology and Environmental Health Research lab. Dr Caldwell works with many researchers across other Faculties and Schools at Monash, as well as engaging with industry to enact change. Her three distinct research areas include:

Heat exposure in health and performance: As a member of Monash BDI’s Global Change Program, Dr Caldwell’s research looks at the many environmental factors and biological responses that affect an individual’s everyday lives. This study looks into how heat affects an athlete’s health and performance during exercise and potential methods for acclimatising the body to deal with rising body temperatures during sporting events. The impact of this consensus statement has provided athletes and their support teams strategies to mitigate the effects of heat stress and hypohydration in training and competition.

Enhancing the uptake of bike riding: In collaboration with Monash School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine and the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering, this research project uses physiological measurements to capture a bike riders user experience. Funded by the Monash Data Futures Institute and using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to determine emotion detection strategies, this series of projects aim to develop an understanding of when people feel unsafe and to map these events to inform infrastructure planning to enhance the safety and uptake of bike riding as a healthy and sustainable mode of transport.

Health and wellbeing of paramedics and their patients: In collaboration with Ambulance Victoria and the Department of Paramedicine at Monash, Dr Caldwell’s research has focussed on the physiological demands of helicopter rescue paramedics to ensure that the Physical Employment Standards are aligned with an employee’s physiological capacities. Dr Caldwell has extensive experience developing Physical Employment Standards for physically demanding occupations, including developing new standards for the Army and Royal Australian Air Force. This research project is one of many that Dr Caldwell is involved with, as well as being the Human and Exercise Physiology lead on the Paramedic Health and Wellbeing Research Unit. She is also focussed on improving trauma patient outcomes where she is leading a group of researchers to determine the best methods to keep trauma patients warm to prevent the progression of shock.

About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute

Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Spanning seven discovery programs across Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Development and Stem Cells, Infection, Immunity, Metabolism, Diabetes and Obesity, and Neuroscience, Monash BDI is one of the largest biomedical research institutes in Australia. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.