Dr Jenny Kruger
Meet one of our members from ABI and their experiences of Equity and Diversity.
Dr Jenny Kruger has been at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute since she began her first postdoctoral research here in 2010.
“My focus has been on women’s health – particularly pelvic floor muscle health as it relates to childbirth, incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse,” she says.
Based on her research, Jenny has spun out her own startup company called JunoFem, which is about to release FemFit – a device which can help women diagnose and treat pelvic floor disorders.
She says her gender and background have sometimes made things hard, but she is proud to have overcome those challenges.
“I think I am most proud that – as a ‘non-engineer’ and a woman – I have been able to establish an entirely new research group within the ABI,” Jenny says.
“I find that engineers talk a different language. A term like stress can mean one thing to an engineer but something else entirely to a clinician. That’s something I had to learn to work with.”
“Plus the nature of our research, and our approach, was not typical of many of the other groups when we started out, which presented challenges! The pelvic floor is quite an intimate area for women and early on I was mostly working with men.”
Jenny says that the support of the ABI leadership has made a huge difference for her.
“Without the support of the major decision makers – in particular Peter Hunter, Martyn Nash and Poul Nielsen – I think I would have struggled a lot more than I did,” she says.
Jenny says that the support system at ABI has improved tremendously since she started here.
“We have a lot of systems and programmes in place now, which is great for new people in particular.”
Although there are a lot more women at the institute these days, Jenny says she would like to see them stay for longer and make more of a mark.
“I think it comes back to mentoring – to see what they need to get them to stay, and what they need to help them grow and start their own research groups. And they’ve recently started a mentoring programme, so it will be interesting to see how that helps.”
Her advice to young scientists starting out is to keep at it.
“Have tenacity and passion for what you do – be determined and don’t give up!”