To the question “what brings you joy in research“, Dr David Randall from Medical Physics (Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health) told us:
There are many things I could say so I’ll offer one short daily life point and a story that reminded me of how much I love my job!
– I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to work on numerous interesting projects with flexibility whilst being surrounded by a great group of supportive people.
– We had begun a study which attempted to stabilise an image for people with acquired nystagmus. Acquired nystagmus is characterised by erratic involuntary eye movement that causes the world to be in constant motion. It can be debilitating and there is a lack of effective treatment options.
We had developed software that tracked eye movements and attempted to stabilise the image inside a virtual reality headset.
Our first participant in the study had lived with the condition for 2 years and came with her husband as she struggled to travel unaided. The experiment lasted about 1 hour and unfortunately the software didn’t significantly help her, but enabled us to revise the software. We continued to talk and I mentioned an app we’d developed which simulated acquired nystagmus in virtual reality.
Her reaction as she put on the headset was immediate as she proclaimed “this is exactly what I see!”. She called over her husband (who had remained completely silent for the hour+ so far) to show him. Suddenly he burst into life with “my god! This is what you see” as he suddenly began to realise what life was like for his wife. As she nodded there was emotion on her face and I could tell that was quite a significant moment for the two of them.
So despite needing to revise the software, I was left buoyant that something we’d created in research had had a direct impact on someone’s life.