Current Student Research
Michael McGrath – 2nd year PhD student
Project: Appropriately complex models of human walking
The modeling of human gait is a concept that has applications in a wide range of fields such as prosthetics, robotics and rehabilitation. Theoretical models of human walking tend to fall into one of two categories; simple, dynamic approximations or multiple degrees-of-freedom, computer generated, complex ones. My project starts with the simple models and increases the complexity incrementally. This methodology is used to determine if there is an optimum trade-off between the complexity of the model and accuracy of result. In addition to this, it highlights the effect each subsequent change causes, which could prove useful in improving the understanding of the determinants of gait.
Daniel Parker – 3rd year PhD student
Project: Soft Tissue Response Imaging Device to assess the Properties of the Sole of the Foot.
The soft tissue at the heel and ball of the foot is a highly adapted shock absorber which allows for both impact (heel strike) and continuous loading (standing). The tissue has multiple layers which generally consist of a boundary (skin), a dense positioning layer (microtubules), a region of highly compressible fat pockets (macrotubules) and a rigid interface (tendon/bone). To assess this complex tissue we have developed STRIDE (Soft tissue Response Imaging Device) which is capable or simulating the tissue loading experienced in gait, whilst collecting data for tissue compression (ultrasound) and tissue load (load cell). From this data we are able to derive tissue properties for an individual. We aim to collect data for 50 individuals, of different ages, who have no pathology so we may form a base line allowing us to see how tissue properties change with age. The knowledge gained from this work will allow us to better understand the natural changes which occur within the tissue, and it will inform the development of mechanisms (therapy/treatment) or interventions (orthotics/shoes) which may compensate for these changes.
Mingxu Sun – 3rd year PhD student
Project: State-machine control of upper limb functional electrical stimulation systems
Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is the use of electrical pulses to activate paralysed or weak muscles in such a way as to support the performance of functional tasks. Over recent years there has been growing interest in the use of FES to support intensive practice of upper limb functional tasks in people with stroke, as a means of encouraging motor recovery. However, there remain major control challenges to delivering the appropriate stimulation to the right muscle(s) at the right time. In my PhD, which is closely aligned with an ongoing NIHR-funded project “An advanced FES rehabilitation tool for upper limb therapy after stroke” I am investigating methods for setting up state machine (sequential) controllers, particularly focusing on how best to exploit signals from arm-worn inertial sensors. We hope that the resulting work will feed into future devices.
GTA Student Profiles
Jon Radcliffe – 3rd year PhD student and GTA
Project: The use of Psychology within Strength and Conditioning: Applied use and perceived effectiveness
The GTA scheme is a fantastic opportunity for early career researchers or anyone with an interest in higher education teaching. I think of the GTA scheme as an apprenticeship in lecturing and with the mentoring and supervision received provides a vital experience for anyone with a drive to be involved in teaching at university.
The GTA scheme is run similar to a studentship in which your PhD tuition fees are covered and you receive a bursary in return for a teaching responsibility equating 6 hours per week. This responsibility does however factor in the preparation time, so in real terms it is possible that contact time may be much less. My teaching is centred on conducting seminars and lectures and supervising various lab based projects at undergraduate level within sport psychology modules as well as light administration duties.
The GTA runs alongside my PhD research which is exploring the perceptions of Psychology within Strength and Conditioning. This involves a range of techniques including questionnaire design and validation. Semi-structured interview, and reflecting the multidisciplinary approach to strength and conditioning, I am using 3D technique analysis to examining the effects of various instruction on weight lifting performance. Therefore, in addition to the teaching skills, I will be completing the GTA scheme with a range of advanced skills applicable to various strands of research.
I feel extremely privileged to have teaching responsibility. With the mentoring and training provided, including the PG Certificate in Academic Practice (a professional HE teaching qualification), and the encouragement from the students, teaching is the most rewarding aspect of being at the university.
Training and Skills
All postgraduate research students are expected to attend the College’s research methods seminars during your first year of study, covering subjects such as conducting a literature review, methods of data collection, research governance and ethics, and analysis, presentation, interpretation and rigour in qualitative research.
In addition, the University offers all postgraduate research students an extensive range of free training activities to help you develop your research and transferable skills. The Salford Postgraduate Research Training Programme (SPoRT) has been designed to equip researchers both for your university studies and for your future careers whether in academia, elsewhere in the public sector, or in industry and the private sector.
As a postgraduate research student at the University of Salford, you are required to meet a number of milestones in order to re-register for each year of study. These 'progression points' are an important aid for both you and your supervisory team and it is essential that you complete them on time.
Learning Agreement: this is completed by you and your supervisor collaboratively in the first 3 months of your research programme. It encourages both of you to develop a thorough and consistent understanding of your individual and shared roles and responsibilities in your research partnership.
Annual Progress Report: this report is completed by your supervisor at the end of each year of study, and reports on your achievements in the past year, the likelihood that you will submit on time, confirmation of the Learning Agreement and relevant training undertaken.
Self Evaluation Report: this is completed by you at the end of each year of study. It asks you to comment on your academic progress, supervisory arrangements, research environment, research training, and relevant training undertaken.
Interim Assessment: this is an assessment of your progress by a panel. It takes place towards the end of your first year, and is designed to ensure you have reached a threshold of academic performance, by assessing your general progress. The assessment comprises a written report, presentation and oral examination by a Panel. You must successfully complete it in order to register for your second year.
Internal Evaluation: this will take place towards the end of the second year and successful completion is required in order to continue onto your third year of study. You will be expected to show strong progress in your PhD study reflected in the submission of a substantial piece of work, generally at least 4 chapters of your thesis.