Design School


Charlotte Pyatt

PhD Student

"My PhD supervisors are experts in my research area and add value to my work. I feel completely supported in my studies and like being trusted to work independently."

What is your PhD in? Are you able to explain it to us?

I am interested in medical products, patient compliance and design research methods. My research looks to investigate the compliance problem with wrist splints that are prescribed to people with rheumatoid arthritis. I have been using design research methods to deeply understand user behaviour and why participants do and do not wear their prescribed wrist splints. Splint aesthetics has become the focus of my research and I am now investigating how splint appearance can affect splint wear by giving participants the opportunity to personalise a splint and exploring the choices they make and why. 

Why did you choose to do a PhD?

It was clear to me by the time I finished my undergraduate degree that I wanted to be a Design Researcher within a design consultancy. I saw a PhD as a great way to develop my research skills and practice using and developing methods, which would prepare me for a career in research.  

Is you PhD funded or self-funded?

Funded by Loughborough Design School.

Why did you choose to do a placement during your PhD, and where did you do it?

I knew I wanted to work in a design consultancy once I had finished my PhD and therefore felt it was important to make contacts with industry in order to gain experience and become more employable. I did an 8 week placement at DCA Design International.

What were your main duties/tasks during your placement?

I was part of the research team and was put straight onto a live project. The main project I worked on was usability testing for a drug delivery device where I got involved with hands on research, analysis and report writing. Throughout my time, I got to see and have input on various other projects which allowed me to experience the research process from budgeting and planning through to delivering reports. 

What do you think you took away from doing the placement?

One of the most valuable things was seeing the differences between conducting research in a university and in consultancy. It has helped me to consider how I plan and design my research studies. 

Would you recommend doing a placement to other PhD students?

If you are studying for a PhD and plan to work in industry I definitely recommend doing a placement. Make sure the company is relevant to your interests and PhD and, ensure you balance your time well. 

What do you think about your experience so far at Loughborough Design School?

I completed my undergraduate degree at Loughborough Design School and there is nowhere else I would have considered to do my PhD. My PhD supervisors are experts in my research area and add value to my work. I feel completely supported in my studies and like being trusted to work independently.