SPHERE's PhD Students

SPHERE has several PhD students working on the project on a range of subjects. SPHERE is a pioneering multidisciplinary project, providing excellent opportunities for PhD students to learn in an exciting and challenging real-life project.

We currently have six PhD students working on the project, on subjects ranging from Unsupervised Routine Analysis to Energy-Harvesting for Powering Autonomous Body-Worn Healthcare Devices.

Case Studies

Paul Worgan

Hi, my name is Paul Worgan and I am undertaking a human-computer interaction PhD with the SPHERE project. My PhD is focussed on providing power to wearable health sensing systems in a flexible and convenient manner. As well as being a SPHERE researcher, I am undertaking my doctorate in the Centre for Doctoral Training in Communications (www.bristol.ac.uk/cdt-communications) and I am based within the Bristol Interaction and Graphics laboratory (http://big.cs.bris.ac.uk).

In my year and a half spent as a PhD on the SPHERE project I have been exposed to a fantastic range of disciplines including human-computer interaction, human factors engineering, energy management and healthcare. I have also learnt more skills than I thought possible; including a familiarity with accelerometers, gyroscopes and Arduino prototyping, 3D printing, laser cutting, Bluetooth communication, wireless power transfer systems and experimental design.

Initially I developed a wearable electronic knee goniometer for use in exercise rehabilitation programs. During the project I got to work alongside a very talented physiotherapist, who assisted in bringing the project to fruition.

My current research focusses on providing power to wearable health sensing systems in a novel and flexible way. Asking patients to wear sensing systems can be enough of a burden without having to invest effort into recharging or changing batteries. My research focusses on providing ambient wearable health system recharging and considers the human factors and safety challenges associated with this.

Outside of research I have had the opportunity to assist as a postgraduate teaching assistant in a masters level computer science module and an undergraduate electronics course.

My experience of life as a SPHERE PhD student has been very positive. A particular highlight of the PhD for me has been assisting in the SPHERE wearable competition Dress/Sense (www.dress-sense.org.uk) and seeing the fantastic range of creative ideas generated from a diverse and talented group of people.


Ruth White

I am currently working towards a PhD in Cybernetics at the University of Reading as part of the SPHERE IRC project. My research focuses on understanding higher level routine behaviours in people’s daily activities to provide useful diagnostic information for healthcare needs. I am using a machine learning technique, originally developed by the text processing community, known as topic models. Being part of SPHERE is really exciting as it is an interdisciplinary project, which gives me a great opportunity to work with a wide range of fascinating and talented people. This helps me to try and develop engineering solutions that could have a real and positive impact on people’s lives.

One great example about working as part of SPHERE are the annual Away Days where everyone from across the project gets together in a lovely countryside location and shares ideas and thoughts on challenges that have arisen from their work. This is a great chance to think about all sorts of interesting problems from a different perspective and see how to work together to find solutions. There are also other group brainstorming events throughout the year that provide a brilliant opportunity to network with people interested in similar areas of work. One such event enabled me to start a collaboration with a nutritionist to use the techniques I had been developing to look at dietary patterns.

Furthermore, there have been many great learning and training experiences available during my PhD. For example, there are weekly seminars from leading experts in a wide variety of fields related to the project. In addition, the University of Reading provides a large range of training courses, such as a recent 3 day workshop on leadership. Beyond my research, undertaking a PhD also provides the chance to be involved with undergraduate teaching, one-to-one mentoring of students, outreach activities with local schools and colleges and much more.