Stefania Sansoni

PhD in the aesthetics of prosthetic devices

Stefania arrived at Strathclyde in 2011 to study a PhD in the aesthetics of prosthetic devices. Find out more about her course and her thoughts on life at Strathclyde.

Tell us a little about your background prior to coming to study with the department of Design, Manufacture & Engineering Management (DMEM):

After I graduated in Italy with a BA in Graphic Design, I was employed internationally in industry for a couple of years before starting an MA in Communication Design at the University of Plymouth.

Why did you choose to study at DMEM?

After graduating from my MA, I started searching for a PhD relating to ethical design. One of the most interesting PhD topics I found focused on the ‘aesthetics of prosthetic devices’ at the department of Design, Manufacture and Engineering Management.

My background is in emotional design and psychology which met the requirements for undertaking this innovative research in the field of prostheses.

Why did you choose to study your course?

My motivation to start this PhD was an interest in exploring an ethically-oriented branch of design. The idea of conducting this research on the aesthetics of prosthetic devices began after understanding that amputees can often feel better when wearing a device that they like from an aesthetic point of view, and that unfortunately, very limited research has been carried out on this topic until now.

The final goal is to improve amputees’ views of their own body through prosthetic design: this is the reason I choose this course and it is what keeps me motivated to complete the research.

Have you faced or overcome any challenges or obstacles in the pursuit of your studies and/or career?

In parallel with positive achievements, I have also faced challenges during my academic and professional life. The reality is that being an international student is not always easy, as in some cases you need to make double effort in order to be listened to and supported. Even when your results clearly show your competence in the field, in some cases the reality is that subtle and ‘socially accepted’ forms of discrimination still exist.

Overcoming this obstacle requires hard work, perseverance and an awareness of your own abilities.

What have been the highlights of your course to date?

The major highlight of my research and the course to date relates to international conference presentations and publications. Presenting and discussing my research with a wide audience of students and experts has really boosted my motivation.

As a final year PhD student I feel proud that I can identify my major achievements in three journal publications and three conference papers. 

What are your ambitions following the completion of your course?

My ambitions for the next stage of my life would be to build my CV by undertaking further work and international academic experiences in the research filed of prosthetic devices.

What advice would you give to someone considering coming to study at the department of Design, Manufacture and Engineering Management?

My advice for students considering starting a PhD in DMEM is to choose a topic that you are really interested in and passionate about. Doing a PhD is the best thing you can do when you are motivated about your research topic, however it also requires hard work.