Dr. Simon Choppin

Tell us about your contribution that has been recognised through the associate professorship.Simon Choppin

My outstanding contribution to Research and Innovation (R&I) centred on my work to develop the human morphology theme that I currently lead. Through internal and external collaborations, work with industry, fellowships and grants I have been able to develop a track record of publications and income that work towards a common objective, realising the potential of 3D imaging systems in advanced human measurement and health assessment.

I am currently in a position where I work with a small team of like-minded researchers and have access to a laboratory in the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) which not only has the potential to be a hub for future research, but the basis of a human measurement service for practitioners, elite athletes, and members of the public.

My significant contribution to Teaching and Learning (T&L) was built on over 10 years of teaching the MSc in Sports Engineering and a passionate focus on post-graduate research. In addition to leading the MSc for three years, I have also had the privilege of being the post-graduate research tutor in sport, a responsibility I used to try and refine processes in PGR, improve the wellbeing of our cohort and develop practices and culture ensure to excellence. I strongly believe that teaching and research should be closely integrated and I have tried to practice this in the supervision of my own students. I always try to ensure that they are part of a team wherever possible. By opening up a student’s experiences to include my own research projects and additional opportunities you help to develop skills, you improve satisfaction and you create a body of research which is greater than the sum of its parts.

What does it mean personally to you to be an Associate Professor at Sheffield Hallam?

I am both excited and humbled. I recognise the great opportunity as I see it as a vote of confidence in my own research vision. However I also recognise the responsibility as a researcher leader, I must continue to strive towards my research goals.

Tell us a bit about your career story so far.

While I am a career academic, I feel that my time so far has been very rich and varied. I have worked as a STEM demonstrator in schools, worked on large projects with industry and also collaborated internationally in teaching and research projects.

I have always worked in the Sports Engineering Research Group (SERG) and I consider it my research home. My early work was very much focused on delivering engineering solutions to sports companies of many different sizes. It was through opportunities such as PhD supervision and teaching that I became aware of the wider opportunities that an academic career can bring and started to focus more on my own research focus. I started to apply for and secure fellowships that have allowed me such varied experiences as working with the Guardian Newspaper and spending four months working for a University in Rio de Janeiro. Through working closely with my mentor, Professor Jon Wheat, on a series of projects with the Microsoft Kinect (an accessory for the Xbox games console) I found myself on a path towards 3D imaging and analysis. This work has had a wandering path over the years with many different ideas and directions, but it has always continued to move forwards and continues to excite me with its potential.

If you could go back in time and give yourself some career advice, what would it be?

I spent a lot of my early career making the mistakes and mis-turns that have helped to forge my own ideas about research and academia today. I am very keen with my own PhD students and mentees that they avoid some of the pitfalls I spent too long in. However, I’m not sure I’d change this for myself if I could. I do think my early bumblings and wanderings were unavoidable, I’m too easily distracted and I need that hard-earned discipline to keep me on track!

What’s next? Tell us about how you want to further develop your contribution.

I think we’re in a really exciting position with regards to R&I. We now have a world-class research centre with the AWRC and I want to help contribute to its activities. I have access to some world-class datasets through international collaboration and we now have a laboratory full of fantastic equipment. I am keen to build up a foundation of research using our data and facilities that will hopefully lead to a continuous advanced measurement service attached to larger scale research projects.