Biomedical engineer rides wave of Fox Sports Net show's success to Emmy's

DETROIT - How do you go from studying brain trauma to holding up an Emmy your Hollywood production team just won Monday evening at the 29th Annual Emmy Awards for Sports held in New York City?

Wayne State University Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering Cynthia Bir might be able to tell you. It’s hard to believe how the world for this mother of two boys and girls, ages 4 to 14, has changed in the past several years. She started her career as a research nurse, earned her PhD in biomedical engineering at WSU, and joined the faculty in 2000.

In 2005, Base Productions sought bioengineering consultants for its National Geographic Channel project to analyze and capture the science of martial arts. The show was to show incredible athletic feats and answer such questions as, “How powerful and lethal can a karate chop be?” From that summer on a Hollywood dojo stage set, Bir rode the show’s success leading to a new series on Fox Sports Net called Sport Science, and renewal of the show by Fox for next season.

As the lead scientist and the only female engineer on the set, she is a natural icon for the show. Recently, she’s given interviews to Detroit print and radio media, was showcased on WXYZ TV, and appeared on the cover of “twist”, the Detroit Free Press Sunday feature supplement.

In the laboratory, her research examines the effectiveness of non-lethal weapons and most recently, the injury mechanism and treatment of head trauma caused by the pressure wave produced by roadside bombs in Iraq.

Sport Science was up for four Emmys, including Technical Achievement Award. The team consisted of Bir and Base Productions Executive Producers Mickey Stern and John Brenkus. Besides setting up and analyzing the data, Bir and Brenkus appear in the on-air shots with the athletes.

Monday night the Sport Science team went one for four; the Emmy won was for Outstanding Graphic Design. “I’m really happy that Wayne State and our efforts were recognized by the nomination and by Mickey Stern [Executive Producer] during the acceptance of the award,” Bir said. “Even though we didn’t win the technical achievement Emmy, John (Brenkus) said several times that the Emmy for Outstanding Graphic Design should be considered “won” by everyone involved.”