It is with great pleasure that I can announce Ash Willmott successfully defended his PhD thesis on Friday 27th October 2017 entitled, ‘Optimising heat acclimation state and refining strategies for the acquisition of heat adaptations’. It has been a very emotional “journey” for Ash with many challenges that he has had to overcome, not least within his family. Therefore, seeing Ash perform as well as he did was immensely rewarding and Ash should be very proud of what he has accomplished. His external examiners [Dr Doug Thake (Coventry University) and Dr Jo Costello (University of Portsmouth)] were very impressed with his thesis, the volume of work and how prepared he was for the viva and as such, he has only very minor amendments to make.
Ash was supervised by Drs Neil Maxwell, Mark Hayes and Jeanne Dekerle and each of them were pivotal in his success. Alongside his supervisors, all the members of the Environmental Extremes Lab have been a wonderful support to him throughout it all and should receive recognition too. Ash’s PhD adds to a good number that have gone before him associated with evaluating heat alleviating strategies and is truly giving us an international reputation in the field.
Well done Ash!
Supervisors, Mark Hayes and Neil Maxwell, congratulating Ash for having submitted his PhD thesis (left) and then Ash taking a much-earned break post PhD viva in Seoul ahead of the Kobe ICEE Conference (right).
Welcome to three new PhD students to the Environmental Extremes Lab. All three are graduates from either our BSc or MSc degrees.
Gregor Eichhorn – Heat acclimation strategies in the elderly to promote cellular resistance in hypoxic environments. Self-funded project with support from the University of Brighton. (supervisors: Neil Maxwell, Mark Hayes and Oli Gibson)
Rosie Lewis – An exploration into cross-adaptation: heat acclimation and hypoxic performance. Self-funded project with support from the University of Brighton.(supervisors: Alan Richardson, Mark Hayes and Oli Gibson)
Jemma Gibbons – The performance and well-being of the Paralympic Athlete exercising in the heat. Self-funded project with support from the University of Brighton(supervisors: Gary Brickley and Nick Webborn)
Good luck in your studies!
Para-Monte release their altitude sickness app. Please download and encourage anyone going to altitude to do the same.
Dr Neil Maxwell and a number of the Environmental Extremes Lab presented ‘Beat the heat with science’ at the British Science Festival Event in Falmer on the 5th September 2017. The presentation consisted of live experiments, myths and a range of other content delivered to some very enthusiastic members of the public as well as medical/science students.
Dr Neil Maxwell at the British Science Festival with (from left to right) Gregor Eichhorn (PhD Student), Kirsty Waldock (PhD Student), Bill Norton (MSc Student and Technician), Dr Mark Hayes (Senior Lecturer), Rebecca Relf (PhD Student and Technical Instructor) and Associate Professor Peter Watt (not pictured)
Dr. Neil Maxwell and Dr Oli Gibson (now Brunel University) were featured on the front page of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) autumn issue of the Sport and Exercise Scientist magazine for having contributed. Led by Dr Jo Corbett of Portsmouth University and working in a team with Professor Neil Walsh (Bangor University) and Dr Caroline Sunderland (Nottingham Trent University), EEL’s Dr Oli Gibson and Dr Neil Maxwell met the team at the University of Portsmouth to work on the expert statement.
The Sport and Exercise Science Consultancy Unit (SESCU) and Para-Monte have recently supported six members of staff from British Airways prior to their climb of Jebel Toubkal (4167m) in Morocco for Comic Relief.
They visited the lab and performed an Altitude Screening Test in the hypoxic chamber, which is able to simulate the effects of high altitude through reducing the oxygen levels compared to sea level.
The chamber was set at 3000m whilst they walked at 5km/hr and at a 10% incline, with various measures being taken throughout. This included the Lake Louise Questionnaire which assesses the presence and severity of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) through an individual’s self-reported score on five symptoms: headache, gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue and/or weakness, dizziness/light-headedness and difficulty sleeping. The LLQ scores showed that four of the individuals were at low risk of AMS, however one was at moderate risk and one was at high risk.
Oxygen Saturation was also measured which is the percentage of oxygen in the blood that has bound with haemaglobin. Oxygen saturation declines with altitude as the atmospheric pressure deceases, however the rate varies considerably between individuals. Comparing the oxygen saturation drop to previous data indicated that five members of the group were at low risk of AMS and one was at moderate risk.
SESCU and Para-Monte also provided the team with equipment to use on their trek to assess their physiological responses to altitude and their risk of AMS. They found that those who presented the highest risk of AMS in the Altitude Screening Test also presented the highest risk on the trek.
The whole team managed to reach the summit safely and no-one reported any severe problems, nor required medical support. They believed the information they had received during the screening had implanted the self-awareness to slow down, break, take on fuel and water and slowly ascend.
“The information provided by the University of Brighton certainly helped us prepare for the challenge, and made us aware of the signs and symptoms of altitude illness”
Ash Willmott and Kirsty Waldock along with Dr Gary Brickley and some of our BSc and MSc students attended the Annual BASES Student Conference on the 12th and 13th April at the University of Plymouth. BASES is the professional body for Sport and Exercise Science in the UK and the student conference was attended by around 300 delegates.
Building on the success of last year, the SESCU team worked with 10 contenders in the Marathon des Sables, prior to their journey to Morocco. Endurance runners from all over the UK and as far as Switzerland have sought out SESCU’s expertise and facilities to help them prepare for the race.
The Marathon des Sables, is an annual 6 day ultramarathon in which competitors travel 251km in the desert heat. Continue reading
Dr Neil Maxwell and Kirsty Waldock (PhD student), presented at Public Health England’s Annual Heatwave Seminar on March 14 2017 that reviewed the Heatwave Plan in an attempt to reduce the number of deaths, reduce illness and hospital visits and increase public awareness. The seminar hosted delegates and speakers from PHE, NHS, Met Office, national climate change committees and charities, as well as regional council public health departments and universities from around the country. International representation also came from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In Europe, 71,000 people died during the 2003 heat wave, with over 2000 of these excess deaths in England and Wales. For every 1°C above 23.3°C, an extra 75 deaths per week are estimated in the UK [Public Health England (PHE), 2015]. Last year was the third consecutive warmest year since records began and as the earth’s climate is warming with the frequency, intensity and duration of heatwaves increasing, this presents a significant health risk to vulnerable populations (e.g. elderly, children, chronically ill and those with heat sensitivity). Continue reading
Professor Nick Webborn OBE was elected chairperson of the British Paralympic Association on 28 February 2017. He takes on a 2 year tenure at the BPA which selects, prepares, enters and manages the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team at the Paralympic Games. Nick has attended nine Paralympic Games in multiple roles including Chief Medical Officer for the Paralympics GB at the London 2012 Games.
Nick is involved in on-going research in injury and illness surveillance at each Paralympic games and recently presented at the International Olympic Committee World Conference on Prevention of Injury and Illness in Sport in Monaco to share his current project which is focussed on the prevention of injury through head collisions in Paralympic football 5-a-side.