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Human Function and Health (UoA 24)

Unit of Assessment 24 embodies research-related activities associated with the investigation and evaluation of human function, health, and the social context.

This is a growing area of research enquiry, where interdisciplinary and collaborative partnerships are the underpinning basis of our research-related activity. This exciting research area brings together the expertise of academics from health and exercise psychology, sports psychology, psychophysiology, exercise physiology, sociology of sport, biomechanics, physiotherapy, nursing and neuroscience.

Meet the team

Our Human Function and Health research area is led by Dr Shelley Duncan. Shelley is a senior research fellow with expertise within the fields of cognitive and behavioural neuroscience and exercise physiology. A core driver behind her work involves the development and facilitation of research that has potential to lead to real-world impact. To facilitate this activity, Shelley utilises multimodal research designs that incorporate mobile brain imaging, ambulatory ECG, and EMG to evaluate the relationships between cognitive and physical function. Shelley’s core areas of interest include the evaluation of the impact and dynamics associated with ageing and the influence of neurological diseases, namely Parkinson’s disease, and the evaluation and use of different tools and interventions, such as simulated immersive environments, to optimise decision making within the real-world context.

Shelley’s portfolio of research, partnership working with academic partners and community organisations, as well as her contributions to the academic community through contributions to peer review duties, course leadership of the postgraduate certificate in research methods, co-leadership of the Mind-body connections research group, and PhD supervision, underpins Shelley’s proactive approach to the development and leadership of Solent University’s sport and exercise science researchers, whose work concerns the evaluation of human function and health.

Dr James Steele is Associate Professor of Sport and Exercise Science. James’s work is multidisciplinary and ranges from theoretical and mechanistic work, clinical exercise, sports performance, through to public health, all pertaining to sport, exercise, and physical activity. Specific areas of James’s research interests relate to the understanding of effort, both actual and perceived, during both physical and cognitive task performance including its definition and measurement, impact on behaviour, and impact on adaptations to chronic task performance.

View James's profile on Pure

Dr James Wright is a senior lecturer in sport science and performance. In 2019, James completed his PhD, which investigated the reliability and validity of a novel all-out cycling testing protocol to estimate critical power. James is currently interested in the reliability and validity of sports science testing equipment, critical power in cycling, the power-duration relationship, cycling performance and training science.

View James's profile on Pure

Dr James Fisher is a senior lecturer in sports conditioning and fitness. James’s areas of interest include the evaluation of muscular strength and hypertrophy adaptations for health and sports performance including a minimal dose approach, lower back pain and lumbar strength, intensity of effort as a physiological and psychological construct.

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Dr David Webber is the course lead for the Football Studies and Football Business Management degrees. Drawing upon his background in international political economy, David’s research focuses upon the crisis and contradictions facing modern football. He is particularly interested in questions around the increasingly global forms of capital, consumption, and the democratisation of power within the game, while his research agenda seeks to explore alternative and altogether more sustainable post-capitalist futures for football.

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Dr Russell Discombe is a lecturer in sport psychology, who specialises in the use of simulated environments to optimise decision making in sport and use in treatment of sporting-related phobias.

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Dr Darren Britton is a lecturer in sport psychology. Darren’s PhD research focussed on the role of stress reactivity in adolescent athletes performance, well-being, and development. Darren is currently involved in various projects focussing on the role of stress, emotions, and coping in applied sport performance settings.

Live research

Sample of current projects

  • The exploration of breathing interventions, HRV in sport settings, and HRV and executive function.
  • Multimodal research incorporating mobile brain imaging, ambulatory ECG and EMG to evaluate the relationships between cognitive and physical function.
  • Evaluation of electro-cortical brain activity in older adults and neurological diseases.
  • The use of simulated environments (VR) to optimise decision making and anticipation in sport and use of VR in treatment of sporting-related phobias
  • A collaborative research project with The University of Exeter exploring the validity and fidelity of simulated shipping environments within the maritime industry.
  • The reliability and sensitivity of the sub-maximal yo-yo intermittent recovery (level 1) test in professional soccer players during a 6-week pre-season.

PhD project themes

  • Adherence and motivation to exercise.
  • Optimal functioning in strength and conditioning.
  • Nursing pedagogy.
  • Psychological care and wellbeing within allied health professionals.
  • Achieving optimal running performance and economy.
  • Growth, mindset, and physical education.
  • Range of motion and muscle hypertrophy.
  • Training dose and 1RM strength in powerlifters.
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