Q&A with Simon: Why Loughborough? Opportunities and Top Tips

Simon Briley (Lecturer at University of Derby) is a former PhD student (School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences) with matched funding from the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport (PHC) who started his studies in 2017. In this Q&A, he answers questions about his path into a PhD, and provides tips about doing a PhD.

Can you talk about your path into doing a PhD?

I did my undergraduate degree in Strength and Conditioning at the University of Gloucestershire and my masters was Sports Biomechanics at Loughborough. My projects were all related to biomechanics, my undergraduate dissertation was to do with badminton biomechanics and my master’s dissertation was looking at coordination whilst running. My first interactions with the PHC were during my master’s in 2016 when I helped with a project around shoulder health of wheelchair rugby players. I then was excited to see a PhD studentship involving the PHC advertised by Dr Barry Mason in 2017, which I was successful with.

Tell us a bit more about your PhD research.

My PhD explored shoulder health and shoulder pain in manual wheelchair users, so both general wheelchair users as well as wheelchair athletes. My experimental studies were designed to understand better the relationship between shoulder pain and wheelchair proportion biomechanics. My supervisors were Dr Barry Mason, Prof Vicky Goosey-Tolfrey and Dr Riemer Vegter from the Netherlands. I felt supported all the time and it was really nice to have a good group of people around me as part of the PHC.

What did you enjoy the most about your PhD?

I really enjoyed the analysis of data I loved doing that but definitely not the writing! The PHC likes to create a social hub, so I would often have lunch with other PHC students and staff including Barry, which was nice! We played beach volleyball, laser quest, ten-pin bowling, took part in escape room challenges and had many meals out in Loughborough town.

What was your favourite memory of being part of the Peter Harrison Centre?

Probably going to the International Paralympic Committee VISTA Conference in Amsterdam. The opportunity to travel and experience a good conference was fantastic - so many funny stories that were made!

Any tips for new PHC PhD students?

I would encourage new students to get to know the other students around you – even if they are not in the same discipline. Look for social activities to get involved in outside of your PhD - because there are stressful stages of your PhD! It is often reassuring that others feel the same during their PhD journey’s so it is good to support each other. I was fortunate to have a wife and young family that also served as a distracter. Finally, the main thing from my perspective to re-enforce is to just get involved with as many things you can, get to know people, don’t work in a bubble.