Dr Mark Patterson received the 2015 Minister’s Award for Achievement in Defence Science for his significant contributions to meeting increasing demands for the continued protection and wellbeing of Australian soldiers.
At a ceremony in Canberra on 25 November 2015, the then Minister for Defence Materiel and Science, the Hon Mal Brough MP, presented the award to the Defence Science and Technology Group scientist for his research into the soldier combat system, physical employment standards and the reduction of heat injuries.
Dr Patterson’s expertise in human physical performance has been critical in developing improved protective combat gear for soldiers, reducing heat injuries suffered by deployed troops, and establishing a set of standards that match individuals to tasks, irrespective of gender.
An expert in physiology, Dr Patterson has made a major contribution to the integration of the soldier combat system under the joint initiative ‘Diggerworks: Driving innovation and effectiveness in the defence sector’.
Diggerworks was established to ensure that soldiers had the best possible combat ensemble by reducing deficiencies that had been identified in the soldier categorisation and procurement processes. This ensemble reduces the soldier’s weight burden significantly without compromising protection through the development of the Tiered Body Armour System.
Australian soldiers have also benefited from Dr Patterson’s research into preventing and treating heat injuries. His team developed an inexpensive hand-held device for Australian Defence Force personnel to monitor environmental conditions in remote locations and reduce exposure to heat stress.
Dr Patterson also led the groundbreaking research program that introduced objective physical performance criteria for the selection and training of Defence personnel, opening opportunities for women to undertake tasks from which they were previously excluded.
The physical employment standards enable military personnel to perform their roles safely and effectively while significantly reducing work health and safety incidents and compensation claims.