EEL Members present at ICEE Conference in Kobe, Japan


Conference attendees (Ash, Emily & Kirsty circled, left picture)

Three of our members presented at the recent International Congress on Environmental Ergonomics (ICEE, in Kobe, Japan. Emily Watkins (oral and poster presentation), Ash Willmott (oral presentation) and Kirsty Waldock (oral presentation).

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Congratulations to Dr Willmott who secures PhD

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).

New PhD Students Join EEL!

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!

EEL Contribute to PHE’s Annual Heat Wave Seminar

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

Congratulations to Dr Ben Duncan!

Congratulations to Ben Duncan who passed his PhD defence on 20 January with only minor changes to complete the process.

Ben’s work was on the effects of low oxygen concentration, high altitude exposure, on metabolism of fuel in humans. He did a lot of work in the labs and also translat-ed this to field work during an educational and developmental trip by staff and stu-dents to Peru. A well rounded set of skills and experiences. Congratulations to Ben’s supervisors; Associate Professor Peter Watt and Dr Alan Richardson too!

Ben Duncan (right) with co-PhD graduates Gareth Turner and Jess Mee

Congratulations to Dr Gareth Turner – Awarded PhD!

Gareth Turner was awarded his PhD subject to minor corrections on Thursday 8 December. His PhD thesis, entitled “Hypoxic exposure to optimise altitude training adaptations in elite endurance athletes” was examined by Dr Charlie Pedlar (external examiner, via Skype) and Professor Jo Doust (Internal Examiner). Dr Neil Maxwell (supervisor) sat in on the viva and he said “there is no question the examiners were thorough, but they complemented Gareth on the work he had done, not least as he effectively served two masters in the university and the English Institute of Sport (EIS).” This was a particularly important PhD for the School, being part funded (£40k) by the EIS and strengthened the relationship between the University of Brighton and the EIS. Both examiners encouraged Gareth not to let the data and research sit just within a thesis, as there was valuable information and outcomes that could benefit athletes in the future. Congratulations should also go to the other supervisors (Dr Alan Richardson and Dr Jamie Pringle) for all the support they have given Gareth over the years and of course the extended team at the English Institute of Sport and British Athletics (not least Dr Steve Ingham, Dr Barry Fudge and Dr Emma Ross). Gareth currently works fulltime as a physiologist for the EIS, contracted to British Rowing.

Gareth Turner (left) with co-PhD graduates Jess Mee and Ben Duncan

EEL Receive Awards at International Conference on the Physiology and Pharmacology of Temperature Regulation

Congratulations to Dr Jess Mee and Dr Oli Gibson (former Technical Instructors and PhD Students of SaSM and allied to SESAME) for separately being winners of the American Journal of Physiology–Regulatory, Integrated, and Comparative Physiology Poster Awards at the 6th International Conference on the Physiology and Pharmacology of Temperature Regulation, Slovenia. Congratulations should also be extended to Ash Willmott (Sport and Exercise Science Support Officer and PhD student) since he led the study and poster that Oli presented, but could not attend due to lab testing commitments. Both presenters won $265 to offset the cost of their meeting registration and have been strongly encouraged to submit the presented work to the journal that sponsored the awards.


EEL Present at a House of Lords Select Committee

Head of EEL, Dr Neil Maxwell and PhD student, Rebecca Relf, were invited to present to a House of Lords Government Select Committee on Breast Cancer Symptom Management in November 2016, to talk about their up-coming research linked to heat sensitivity amongst breast cancer survivors. Following breast cancer, survivors experience intense heat reactions (hot flashes) and night sweats similar to symptoms associated with menopause that can be very debilitating and impact quality of life. In addition to pharmaceutically-based interventions to treat these symptoms, there is interest in non-pharmaceutically based methods. However, current methods have shown variable success. After hearing about the research coming out of the University of Brighton linked to applied heat-alleviation methods, the committee were keen to learn whether cooling interventions could be potential candidates to recommend post treatment.

The committee were very encouraged by the planned research programme, offered their assistance as the project develops and have linked the research team [Neil, Rebecca, Dr Mel Flint (School of Pharmacy and Biological Sciences) and Dr Louisa Beale] with a Brighton-based Oncologist Consultant. The meeting was held at the Breast Cancer UK headquarters in London and was nevertheless a great experience for both Neil and Rebecca to showcase the research activity of the Environmental Extremes Lab.

The presentation was a bit of a baptism of fire for Rebecca who had only started her PhD seven weeks beforehand. However, she did an excellent job and the committee were very encouraged by the planned research programme, offered their assistance as the project develops and have linked the research team [Neil, Rebecca, Dr Mel Flint (School of Pharmacy and Biological Sciences) and Dr Louisa Beale] with a Brighton-based Oncologist Consultant. Unfortunately, the meeting was moved from Westminster to the Breast Cancer UK Headquarters, but was nevertheless a great experience for both Neil and Rebecca to showcase the research activity of SESAME’s Environmental Extremes Lab.


Congratulations to Dr Rosie Twomey – Awarded PhD!

Congratulations to Dr Rosie Twomey who successfully defended her PhD entitled “Neurophysiological Responses to Rest and Fatiguing Exercise in Severe Hypoxia in Healthy Humans” on 10 November 2016. The external examiners Dr Jamie McDonald of Bangor University and Dr Thomas Rupp of the University of Chambery (France) were very impressed with the quality of Rosie’s work, as well as the quality of her thesis. A clear illustration of this is the absence of any request for amendments to the thesis post-viva!

Rosie was supervised by Dr Emma Ross and Dr Jeanne Dekerle before Emma left for the English Institute of Sport. Jeanne officially became lead supervisor on Emma’s departure and was supported by Dr Neil Maxwell. Jeanne said “Rosie is a wonderful person, she must be proud of her achievement and totally deserves this success”.