Name: Dr Jenny Tillotson
Research institution: Senior Research Fellow at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, and Visiting Scholar at Cambridge University
Research career length: 18 years
Research Council: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Location: London, England
Salary: £22-29k (part-time)
Brief summary of research: My research investigates responsive textiles and the biomedical sciences. Using the human body as a source of inspiration, I have developed Scentsory Design®, offering new sustainable design opportunities for enhancing mood through smell. I have developed computerised scent-output systems worn on the body for fashion and wellbeing.
A-levels: Art (print)
8 ‘0’ levels
Art Foundation Course, Saint Martins School of Art
BA Fashion Communication With Promotion, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design
PhD in Printed Textiles, Royal College of Art
Fashion stylist in music industry, TV, advertising
Lecturer in fashion and textiles
‘Buddy’ for the Terrence Higgins Trust and volunteer mental health carer
Assistant to fashion designers
Senior Research Fellow at Central Saint Martins
Founder of Sensory Design & Technology Inc., Central Saint Martins spinout company
Visiting Scholar at University of Cambridge
Founder of CEROMA, University of Cambridge spinout company
Our sense of smell can be used to help improve mood and wellbeing for people with chronic health conditions. Jenny Tillotson draws on her own health experience, and on a background in fashion, to create mood-enhancing clothing and textiles, and explores methods of delivering discreet fragrances to reduce stress, increase relaxation and promote sleep.
At school, I was always very creative and not academic - I failed all maths and science exams and had no interest. After A-levels, I did an art foundation course at Saint Martins School of Art in London, leading to a degree at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, in Printed Textiles for Fashion. I then switched to fashion communication because I was interested in ways to communicate creatively in the fashion industry. It was at this point that I became interested in science for the first time, purely out of curiosity. After graduating, I worked as a stylist for a few years in the music industry, pop promos, TV, editorial, and advertising, which was glamorous, but not demanding or challenging enough for me. I was also diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder, which means that I experienced far greater mood swings (both highs and lows) than the majority of people. This diagnosis contributed to my dramatic career change and a return to my studies. I would say that much of my inspiration and grounding for my research comes from this period in my life, together with personal and work experiences in the healthcare sector - working as a ‘buddy’ for the Terrence Higgins Trust, supporting people living with Aids and HIV.
This has all led to my current work, which comprises developing smart intelligent clothes to complement taking medication, by offering an 'emotional support system' dispensing fragrances. To improve wellbeing, these fragrances are designed to boost confidence, lift mood and disguise less pleasant smells, that can occurs with some illnesses.
I am seeking to find new ways of improving lifestyle and self-manage my condition. I want my clothing to energise and relax, I am dedicated to finding new ways to reduce stress and improve sleep. Many conditions, including bipolar disorder, are better managed when the person is able to be calm and experience good quality sleep.
My work includes collaborating directly with scientists and technologists, experimenting with new scent technology delivery systems, filing patents on new inventions and disseminating my research at conferences, workshops, seminars and science symposia.
Given that I did so badly in science and maths at school, it is surprising that I am now a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Ambassador, which involves talking to school and college students about my research and my career path. I often present my work to the fragrance, fashion design, textiles, healthcare and biotechnology industries.
One day I will be able to wear my own responsive designs that I hope will help me to manage my mood by responding to my specific needs at different times.
I have two broad ambitions for my work. I would like to gain promotion to the next stage of the academic ladder as a reader, and then ultimately Professors.