Dr Clara Watkins PhD BSc (hons)

Dr Clara WatkinsProgramme Director Product Design (BA & BSc)
Research Officer
PhD BSc (Hons)
e: cwatkins@cardiffmet.ac.uk
t: 029 20416624

Specialist Subject Areas

Product Design, Human-Centred Design, Design Thinking, Medical Product Design, Ethnography, Design Process, Disruptive Innovation


PhD: Disruptive Innovation: Developing culturally Appropriate Transformative Medical Product Solutions in Rural Zambia.

BSc (Hons)



Clara Watkins is a Product Designer who works as a part time Lecturer and Research Officer within CSAD’s product design department. She is also Programme Director for CSAD’s BA and BSc Product Design courses.

Clara recently completed her PhD, entitled ‘Disruptive innovation: Developing Culturally Appropriate Transformative Medical Product solutions in Rural Zambia.’ Her PhD was funded by Cardiff Met’s Research and Enterprise Innovation Scholarship scheme.

During her PhD studies Clara worked alongside Welsh charity Mothers of Africa, a medical educational charity that trains medical staff in Sub-Saharan Africa to care for mothers during pregnancy and childbirth. The charity was set up by Prof. Judith Hall (OBE) of Cardiff University’s Medical School who was a member of Clara’s PhD supervision team. The aim of the project was to assess the potential for the employment of disruptive innovation techniques based on rapid, prototype-based ethnographic appraisal in the development of radical but culturally, politically, economically and legally appropriate medical product solutions. The project focused on the needs of the Chongwe region of Zambia.

In her role as a Research officer Clara has been working alongside Prof. Steve Gill, Dr. Gareth Loudon & Prof. Judith Hall. Using the findings from her PhD studies she is working on a number of projects in collaboration with Cardiff Medical School and the National University Hospital in Wales. The aim of these projects is to improve patient care through increasing the usability and accessibility of life saving equipment. She is currently working on a range of products for users including: the British Ministry of Defence, the International Community of the Red Cross, the Zambian Ministry of Health, the Welsh Ambulance Services and the NHS. This Research strongly informs her teaching.


Current research

Clara is currently engaged in her post-doctoral studies, which aim to understand the impact of social, economic, political and cultural elements on the use of medical products in low-resource environments. She is a member of Cardiff Met’s User Centred Design Research (UCD-R) group and works closely with Cardiff School of Medicine and Cardiff Universities Bill Mapleson Centre. A key element of her research involves the creation of low-cost, fit for purpose, sustainable, medical products that enable universal access to life-saving medical equipment.


Principal Publications, Exhibitions and Awards

• Watkins C. A., Loudon, G. H., Hall J. E., Gill, S. and Hall, J.E. 'The Challenges of taking a User-Centric Approach within developing countries: A case study of designing medical solutions for Zambia' in the proceedings of the 11th European Academy of Design Conference, Paris Desartes University, Boulogne Billancourt, France, April 22-24 2015

• Watkins, C.A., Loudon, G.H., Gill, S., and Hall, J.E. 'Can design thinking be used to improve healthcare in Lusaka Province, Zambia?', International Design Conference, Dubrovnik – Croatia, May 19 – 22.