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Life at PDR: Research edition

Hi, I’m Dr. Katie Beverley, Senior Research Officer at PDR.

There’s a lot of autonomy when you work as a researcher in PDR and you get to investigate the things that you really care about, so it's really good fun! There’s a ‘go and grab it’ attitude to research here. If the research is related to your specialism, to design, and it looks like it’ll be of value to PDR, just go and do it. It’s a very supportive culture, and everyone gets excited about new projects. It’s a great working environment!

My daily work depends on whether I'm fully occupied in a project - if so, I'll spend a lot of time reading around the project area, planning research instruments, using them and analysing the outputs. Doing the research could be anything from what people think of as ‘classical research’ where I calculate pages of data on environmental impact through to running workshops and having fun in a creative space with people.

If I’m not working on a live project, I’ll be seeking funding opportunities, trying to think about new partners, and potentially thinking about new projects that I'd like to do. Or if I’m at the end of a project, I’ll be considering how to write papers or distribute the findings - because the main role of the researcher is to further the knowledge in their discipline. We can do loads of really good research, but if we're not getting it out there, then we’re not being the researchers we should be!

The research team at PDR is quite small, so everybody gets involved both in research and commercial projects. When we’re in, we all share an office together which is great because we can throw ideas backwards and forwards - before you know it, projects get born. But whether we’re in the office or working remotely, there’s still lots of discussion between us all.

When you work in research, you need to be self-motivated. You may work with one or two other researchers but quite often, you’re working on your own - so you have to have confidence in your work and ideas, and you can’t be afraid to fail! Ultimately sometimes things do go badly, and you learn as much from what goes wrong as what goes right.

My area is ecodesign, sustainability, circular economy, social design and anything that's about ‘people and the planet’. A lot of my work is about building capacity in the circular economy or introducing people to design-driven innovation. I also do evaluative work on the creative industries, looking at how processes in the creative industries are becoming more sustainable. But probably the key thing that I do is develop tools and systems that allow people to look at how to do new things; how to either design or redesign products, services, systems and particularly business models to be more sustainable.

My favourite thing about working in research at PDR is definitely the culture thanks to how open it is; it's the inspiration you get from the people around you and it's the support you get from them. And it's their willingness to go with you when you're on a mad journey - there’s never a sense that you can’t explore an idea! It’s just inspiring to be around people who really care about what they do.