In my research I focus on developing strategies for designing effective auditory feedback for enhancing learning of new movements. I focus on a particular type of auditory feedback called sonification. This type of feedback can provide information about an individual’s movements in real time in the form of a sound. It can be an effective addition to the training of many movement-based skills. However, there are still unanswered questions about how to design this feedback in order for it to be effective. As part of this project, we are trying to gain deeper understanding of how people learn new movements and what changes occur during learning that could help sonification design. In addition, we are looking into what types of sounds are the most informative about movements and which aspects of the sound should be controlled by movements to achieve the highest effectiveness of sonification.
My project is funded by a Department for the Economy Studentship.
What is your ideal Research outcome?
Ideally, we will be able to develop more objective methods for designing sonification feedback than are currently available. More objective methods can lead to more effective feedback which can then be applied in numerous ways – from sports training to rehabilitation.
Dr Matthew Rodger and Dr Joost Dessing
Why did you choose this PhD and why at Queen's?
During my undergraduate studies at University of Aberdeen I worked as a research assistant on a movement study (we were looking into how surface materials can affect reaching movements). It made me curious about how our movements respond to our environment in a way we are not really aware of. In addition, I enjoyed researching and utilising the advanced methods that are needed for movement analysis. I completed MRes at University of Aberdeen in this topic as well and afterwards I wanted to continue researching movement. School of Psychology at Queen’s has a great team of researchers studying various aspects of movement and perception. Therefore, when I saw an advert for a PhD focusing on movement learning I was immediately interested.
How have you been supported at Queen's?
I have two amazing supervisors that are always ready to provide support. I meet with my primary supervisor almost weekly to discuss the project, my progress, and next steps. In addition, he runs a journal club where we discuss interesting papers related to our research interests. Our Perception and Action group also gets together once a month to discuss various topics (an interesting paper, a current study one of us is preparing, a presentation one of us would like to deliver, etc.). Lastly, the School ensures numerous activities for its PhDs – we organize a postgraduate conference once a year, we organize a smaller conference combined with a hike once a year, and we are invited to talk about our research at the school seminar series.
In what ways have you developed at Queen's?
Professionally, I have made huge strides in the development of my skills - from improving writing and research skills, through improving organisation and project management skills, to massive improvements in technical skills such as programming, advanced statistics, and data analyses. Personally, I have learned how to persevere and ‘get the job done’ and that anything is possible if there is enough time and resources.
Can you describe the postgraduate community in the School and at Queen's?
Almost all of us, PhDs, in School of Psychology work in the same large office and organize several events throughout the year so there is a sense of community. On top of that, there are regular meetups of PhDs and post-docs.
Where do you hope your PhD will lead?
I hope to keep researching movement or provide analysis of movement. Although, my project has also opened the door to possible careers in statistics or data science.
Anything else you would like to add or advise to new PGR students?
Make sure you try to look for a good balance between work and life from the beginning. PhD schedule is very flexible and can be a great opportunity to experiment with different work schedules to find out what works the best for you. PhD is also a challenging endeavour and plans will not always work so do not be afraid to seek support when you need it and be prepared to update and change your plans when needed.