It is today well accepted that exercise is beneficial to physical health, mental health, and well-being. The fitness industry is booming in the UK and exercise-based programmes such as cardiac rehabilitation or fall prevention programmes are spreading across the Nation. Olympic Games every four years inspire all generations to engage in sport, with more and more sport scientists involved with athlete’s or team’s preparation.
In this context, if you join our research team as a postgraduate research student, you will join us to address the challenge of happier, healthier and fitter living, using exercise as a critical vehicle. As a Sport and Exercise Science PhD student you will be based in the School of Sport and Health Sciences, the sports department of which operates from our Eastbourne campus. You are likely to be a member of one of our Research and Enterprise Groups:
Sport and Leisure Cultures Research and Enterprise Group
Sport and Exercise Science and Sports Medicine Research and Enterprise Group.
Our school has a dynamic and vibrant research community of around 20 part-time and full-time PhD students in Sport and Exercise Science. PhD students form an integral part of our school and take an active role in a range of intellectual and social activities.
Our postgraduate research students value what may be seen as a small-size PhD provision: each student receives personal attention and guidance throughout their doctoral study. The close mentorship process forms the foundations of a successful research degree, and subsequent career. Our PhD students rapidly become members of our academic team with various opportunities to contribute to the life of our department: consultancy projects, world-leading collaborative research, seminars, journal clubs, engagement within our community, teaching, etc.
Our community of PhD students also has a vibrant social life through which our postgraduate research students build life-long relationships. The Brighton Doctoral College offers a training programme for postgraduate researchers, covering research methods and transferable (including employability) skills. Academic and technical staff also provide more subject-specific training.
Our specialist sport and exercise science laboratories:
Environmental Extremes Laboratory (Lead: Dr Neil Maxwell)
Our internationally renowned research addresses the challenges of environmental extremes on human health and function. We develop and evaluate interventions using basic and applied scientific methodologies to influence health, occupational activity and human performance practice and policy. Individuals with and without disease (e.g. elderly, breast cancer survivors, type 2 diabetics) engaging with physical activity are informed from our research how to embark in safe and effective exercise in environmental extremes and reduce the risk of illness. Occupationally, we work with fire instructors and have conducted product testing to support industry. We investigate how to optimise sporting performance in environmental extremes.
Exercise for Health and Well-being Laboratory (Lead: Associate Professor Peter Watt)
The research within this lab encompasses a range of methods and applications, from cell and molecular approaches to whole body measures and application. At the cellular level we are particularly interested in stem cell responses to exercise and application to health and injury recovery. The group has also experience and opportunities for research into lifestyle modifications such as exercise and nutritional interventions in special populations (e.g. elderly; sedentary; physically disabled, heart conditions or overweight).
Aim of interventions may be either to reduce health risks in these populations or to optimise health and assist performance and recovery, with some work conducted with paralympians more specifically.
Some recent work has focussed on tendinopathies; cardiac damage and marathon running; mindfulness eating, eating disorders and exercise; acute and chronic effects of exercise on metabolism and health.
Expertise and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory (ExCeL) (Lead: Dr Nick Smeeton)
Researchers within ExCeL examine human performance and learning, motor behaviour and its sub-areas of skill acquisition and expert performance, cognitive and behavioural neuroscience, and psychophysiology. Current research projects investigate cognition in gait and locomotion; sensory processing in exercise, the development and improvement of expert performance; and practice, training and acquisition/learning. They conduct this work across a range of domains, including sport and exercise; education; and medical.
Fatigue and Exercise Laboratory (Lead: Dr Jeanne Dekerle)
We are specifically interested in the mechanisms of fatigue during exercise and want to understand better the physiological and behavioural limitations to exercise. Our findings give exercise scientists, clinicians or other practitioners evidence for the development of robust science-based interventions such as effective training programmes or ergogenic aids. These may be to enhance human exercise tolerance or more broadly to improve overall physical fitness.
Our group also seeks to explore the relationship between physical exercise, psychophysiological stress and well-being. We see physical exercise as a potent stressor to human homeostasis for long-lasting beneficial effects on human health. More specifically, we want to understand better how exercise can treat chronic physiological dysfunctions in some populations (chronic fatigue, mental health, musculoskeletal conditions).
Our work finds impact in the areas of health, sport and wellbeing.
Genomics laboratory (Lead: Professor Yannis Pitsiladis)
Our laboratory is set up to apply systems biology approaches to anti-doping research (with particular reference to the detection of recombinant human erythropoietin, blood doping and testosterone) and to the field of sport and exercise science and medicine in general. Other active projects include the Sub2 marathon project and the Athlome Project, with the aim to promote clean, high performance marathon running, and to characterise the genomic/transcriptomic/proteomic landscape of human performance in both health and disease. Our recent research is funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and International Olympic Committee (IOC).