Photo:

Katy Griggs

Favourite Thing: Learning new information – whether that’s through my own testing to answer a research question or learning about research conducted by other scientists.

My CV

Education:

The Holt School, University of Bath, Loughborough University

Qualifications:

BSc Sport and Exercise Science, MSc Exercise Physiology. I am currently completing a PhD in Exercise Physiology.

Work History:

Ministry of Defence (Army), Environmental Ergonomics Research Centre, Loughborough University, Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport, Loughborough University

Current Job:

Research Associate

Employer:

Loughborough University

About Me

Research Associate (and currently completing my PhD) working in disability sport and thermal physiology

I live in a small town just outside Loughborough with my husband and two cats in a cottage built 150 years ago. I like to keep fit by running, going to the gym and doing pilates. I love baking, but I am not as good as Great British Bake off standards! I also enjoy growing my own fruit and vegetables in our garden. I love to travel (when money and time off work permits!) and learn about the culture of the country, especially eating all the local food. I am a bit of a foodie and like to try and cook food from all over the world.

My Work

I research the body temperature responses of athletes with a spainl cord injury and how sport science can be used in Paralympic sport

For my PhD I study how athletes with a spinal cord injury control their body temperature. Athletes with this type of injury can compete in a number of Paralympic Sports, such as wheelchair rugby, basketball, athletics and handcycling. But these athletes cannot sweat or control their blood flow below their injury. Both sweating and controlling your blood flow are important mechanisms to stop your body getting too hot. When individuals exercise, they produce heat but athletes with a spinal cord injury aren’t able to get rid of this heat so my research aims to look at the problem and ways athletes can try to overcome it.

My work also involves providing sport science support to a number of Paralympic squads. My research group provides fitness testing for these squads and looks at ways we can help improve their performance.

 

My Typical Day

Data crunching, writing, reading, testing, writing emails

Being a scientist is so variable. Each day is different. When conducting a study, you need to plan the study, apply for funding, buy equipment, test out equipment, recruiting participants, testing the participants, analyse the data, write up the findings of the study, present your findings to other scientists and publish your findings in a scientific journal.

When testing, days can be long and you have to think on your feet as things do not always go to plan. But it is a satisfying and enjoyable experience. Plus you always get to meet so many people who volunteer to take part in the study. I always enjoy having a chat and learning about them during testing. Testing also doesn’t just happen in laboratories but also in the field too, such as during sporting competitions or simulated performance where athletes train and/or compete. My participants always inspire me when they talk about the challenges they have faced in life and how they have and continue to overcome them.

Writing and presenting the findings of the study can be in many forms – reports, posters, presentations, scientific articles, magazine articles, radio reports etc. You also get the opportunity to travel to different parts of the world and present at scientific meetings to other scientists or visit other laboratories to learn new techniques and about the research they are doing. Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to go to Japan to present to three different universities and learn new techniques. Plus I got to do some sightseeing too with members from their laboratories.

Talking about Science does not just happen in the laboratory but, for example, whilst having a coffee in a café, whilst going for a run (Sport Scientists love active discussions!) or over dinner.

 

What I'd do with the money

Buy a video camera and interview Sport Scientists in various roles to explain what their job involves, plus video record a typical working day to inspire future Scientists

I would buy a video camera and editing software with the money. I would interview individuals working in various different areas of Sport Science about what their job role involves, plus record what a typical day for them entails.  Once edited, I would work with the University’s outreach team to send the video to a number of schools (hopefully also the schools involved in the live chats too) to show students what a career in Sport Science involves to inspire future scientists in the area. I  believe this would ensure I could reach a greater number of students. Via the video a competition could be set for the students with the winning team getting the opportunity to watch and get involved in physiological testing of a Paralympic athlete at Loughborough University.

The video camera would also enable future videos to be made to continue to inspire the next generation to consider a career in Science.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Innovative, hard-working, ambitious

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Coldplay

What's your favourite food?

Ice cream

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Sky diving over the Great Barrier Reef in Australia

What did you want to be after you left school?

Sport Scientist in elite sport

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Nope

What was your favourite subject at school?

Biology and PE

What's the best thing you've done in your job?

Going to Japan to present my work and learning about the research they are doing

What or who inspired you to do what you do?

My science teacher at school

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be?

Occupational health therapist or physiotherapist

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

My family and friends are healthy, be able to travel the world (with no financial constraints) and own a pig!

Tell us a joke.

Q: How do astronomers organize a party? A: They planet.

Other stuff

Work photos:

This photo shows the lab where Paralympic athletes are tested on various different pieces of equipment. The equipment in the lab includes a large sunken treadmill so wheelchair athletes can be tested, a wheelchair ergometer, various sports wheelchairs and video cameras attached to the ceiling to look at the movement analysis of athletes. myimage1

This photo shows physiological testing of an athlete on our treadmill. The mask the athlete is wearing analyses the air the athlete breathes out to calculate how much oxygen the athlete uses to calculate their fitness myimage2

For part of my PhD, I tested the effectiveness of cooling methods used by Paralympic athletes in the laboratory, looking at how performance is affected but also how body temperature is affected. Underneath the small white patches on the athlete’s arm and forehead is small monitors that measure skin temperature. myimage3

I have also used thermal imaging in my research. This technique is used to look at the skin temperature of athletes after wearing an ice vest, worn to reduce body temperature before a competition to prevent athletes getting too hot during competition. Areas of red represent hot skin, whilst areas of blue represent cooler skin. myimage4

During my research visit to Japan earlier this year I was fortunate to learn a number of new techniques. The research at this University (Kobe University) looks at the mechanisms of sweating – hence all the technical looking equipment! myimage5