Alumni Achievement Award 2019 – Dr. Sandra Olney

Making strides and leading biomechanics research on a global scale

Sandra Olney

Over the course of her career, Kinesiology alumna Dr. Sandra Olney has made significant and lasting contributions to the field of rehabilitation therapy. Dr. Olney is a Professor Emeritus at Queen’s University in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy. With former degrees from McGill (Physical and Occupational Therapy) and Queen’s (Master of Education), Dr. Olney completed her PhD in Biomechanics in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo in 1982. Her research studied the biomechanics of physical movement and rehabilitation, with a particular focus on normal and abnormal gait. At Waterloo she was supervised by the late Distinguished Professor Emeritus David Winter.

Since her time at Waterloo, Dr. Olney has made significant contributions to research in rehabilitation biomechanics. At Queen’s University, Dr. Olney has worked in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy as a Professor, Director of the School, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, and is now a Professor Emeritus. Dr. Olney has made essential contributions to the development and implementation of rehabilitation programs around the world through her involvement with the International Centre for the Advancement of Community-Based Rehabilitation.

Dr. Olney’s contributions to the field of biomechanics cannot be overstated: her global-facing work on integrating research into improving health outcomes in developing nations resulted in her receiving an Honorary Doctor of Medicine from Rigas Stradina Universitate in Latvia; from 2001-2003 she was the first female president of the International Society of Biomechanics.

Dr. Olney is committed to the support of education and nurturing new talent. At the University of Waterloo, Dr. Olney has contributed to a number of initiatives on campus including support for the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, the Kinesiology program, graduate scholarships, and the AHS Expansion Building. In her retirement, Dr. Olney is a mentor to students, staff, and faculty at Queen’s University and is a Certified Executive Coach.