Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Design


Matthew Fuller

PhD Research Student

+44 113 343 3711

Clothworkers' Building South, Room 1.10

MChem (Hons.) MSc (Hons.) PNCB

Postgraduate Researcher of the Year 2012.

Major research interests: down feathers, materials science, chemistry (particularly polymer chemistry), performance clothing, mountaineering equipment, thermal comfort, the outdoor industry, sleeping bags/sleep systems, tensile testing.


I graduated from The University of York with an MChem in Chemistry in 2010, having spent my industrial placement year working on carbon fibre composites for aerospace at Cytec Engineered Materials. I then changed tack and decided to pursue a long-held idea of becoming involved in research relating to the outdoor industry. This led me to the University of Leeds where I undertook an MSc in Advanced Textiles and Performance Clothing in the Centre for Technical Textiles. My dissertation was on the chemical degradation of textile slings used in mountaineering. I am now a PhD student at Leeds, having started my research in October 2011.

Research Interests

My research is quite interdisciplinary, involving aspects of textile and materials sciences, chemistry, physiology, thermal comfort and heat transfer. It stems from my interests in the outdoors and in advanced materials.

Mountaineers, skiers, and explorers all rely on clothing to protect their body from cold. Mountaineers, in particular, demand their equipment to be lightweight, durable, and adaptable to a range of conditions. In recent decades mountaineering has been revolutionised by a fast-and-light approach, and the outdoor industry and clothing manufacturers have been hard-pushed to keep up. Much is known about how insulating materials such as goose down should be used, but little is understood about exactly how it works or how its major flaw – it’s poor performance when wet – can be resolved. The design of sleeping bags and insulating clothing such as belay jackets could benefit from an improved knowledge of down’s efficacy.

I am undertaking a detailed investigation into the physical, chemical, morphological and thermal properties of down feathers. Much of it is fundamental research, and the vast majority is completely uncharted territory. It is hoped that this work will impact on both the outdoor and bedding industries.


Module assistant in:

TEXT5111 – Measurement of fabric breathability and waterproofness

TEXT5122 – Measurement of thermal resistance of textile fabrics by using Togmeter and SGHP

TEXT5301 – Textile product innovation

Research Projects & Grants

University Postgraduate Research Scholarship

JB Speakman Travel Bursary 2013

Clothworkers’ Innovation Fund (CIF) project 2013

Research Centres & Groups

Centre for Technical Textiles

Performance Clothing Research Group

Nonwovens Research Group (NRG)

External Appointments

Member of the International Down Task Force, a group that aims to increase welfare and husbandry standards of geese and ducks across the outdoor industry.

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

Dr. Ningtao Mao, Dr. Mark Taylor

PhD Thesis

An investigation into down feather insulation.

Professional Practice

1st prize – Postgraduate researcher of the year 2012 – a University-wide award presented at Showcase.

1st prize – PVAC faculty’s postgraduate researcher of the year award 2012.

1st prize – PVAC and Arts faculties’ research poster competition October 2012.

Industrial collaborations with two major sleeping bag manufacturers and consultancy and testing work carried out for numerous other brands in the outdoor industry.

Joint author of chapter (with Dr K Stevens) in “Textile-led design for the Active Ageing Population”: Clothing and the body’s thermoregulation system: implications for apparel design for the active ageing population.


I am lead author of the following articles, written for UKClimbing.com, the world’s most-viewed outdoors website:

Waterproof breathable fabric explained (over 30,000 unique views)

Insulation explained – part 1

Insulation explained – part 2

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