Sport and exercise course news

Greg and Neil at graduation

Student wins BASES Masters Dissertation Award

Recent graduate Greg Wright has been awarded the Masters Dissertation Award from the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES).

Greg (right in photo)graduated in February with a distinction from our Applied Exercise Physiology MSc having completed the course in September 2021. He decided to apply for the award after the MSc course lead, Dr Neil Maxwell, (left in photo) contacted him as had been discussing with other academics about the intention of putting Greg’s dissertation forward.

Greg’s dissertation was titled: Low energy availability, disordered eating, exercise dependency, and depression are more prevalent in non-elite endurance athletes than in non-athletic individuals.

It investigated the prevalence of low energy availability in the two groups, a syndrome that can lead to negative psychophysiological effects such as loss of menstruation, compromised bone health, and increased risk of illness, injury, and depression. Active individuals are particularly at risk due to their high levels of energy expenditure.

Most research has been conducted on elite athletes and females, and limited research has compared to recreationally active/inactive individuals. Greg’s research found that low energy availability, disordered eating, exercise dependency, and depression were more prevalent in the athletes than non-athletes but that disordered eating wasn’t too dissimilar in the groups. This demonstrated that individuals with low energy availability may present with it unintentionally (insufficient knowledge) rather than intentionally (reducing energy intake purposely).

Neil Maxwell said: “I remember meeting Greg and his parents at our Postgraduate Open Evening and he showed a real energy and inquisitiveness to learn. His motivation and curiosity stayed with him throughout the Applied Exercise Physiology MSc degree, but for Greg the depth of physiology he now has is a testament to his strong work ethic.

“He already has many of the attributes you would want to succeed in academia and he was able to use these as he embarked upon his research project. The originality, sophistication and relevance of the what he was studying made it an easy choice for my colleagues, Dr Gary Brickley and Dr Jeanne Dekerle, and I to nominate Greg to be put forward for this prestigious award. We are thrilled he has won it!”

BASES logoAs recipient of the award Greg will be presenting at the BASES Annual Conference in November and be entered in the BASES hall of fame.

Greg said: “My future career goal is to hopefully work in academia. I believe being in the BASES Hall of Fame will help me to stand out as it shows that I can produce high-quality and impactful research.

“Presenting at the conference will also allow me an opportunity to network and build useful partnerships. It’s nice to be recognised by experts in my field and a useful self-confidence boost as I am prone to downplaying my achievements.”

Greg is continuing his studies at Brighton studying for a PhD which will expand his MSc research. He is being supervised by Dr Ifigeneia (Fenia) Giannopoulou who was also his supervisor for his MSc dissertation. He said: “I chose to continue at Brighton as I had made an excellent research network here. Primarily though, Fenia had always been very passionate about my ideas and was thoroughly supportive of everything I wanted to achieve, so I felt as though this was the place for me.“

Greg and Fenia are collaborating with experts in Australia, Greece, Spain, Italy, and Cyprus to investigate the prevalence of low energy availability and disordered eating in adults – aiming for a minimum of 600 people to take part in the large-scale survey. They will be applying for a RisingStar grant to enable in-person physiological testing. The data will allow them to understand the overall prevalence of low energy availability in these countries, the physiological ramifications for health and performance, and the psychological rationale behind why low energy availability may be occurring.

Fenia said: “Greg has been a creative and inventive postgraduate student with strong critical thinking skills since the beginning of his MSc studies under my supervision. His capacity to critically analyse and reflect on the research literature findings and his strong scientific creativity and imagination, allowed him to design and develop an excellent PGR project, with some novel research findings on low energy availability (LEA) and relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S) in high risk athletes.

“This exceptional work led to him receiving the prestigious award of the best dissertation of the year in BASES. Greg continues his excellent work on this same topic under my supervision in his PhD, in collaboration with a strong global network of researchers from Europe and Australia impacting the lives of athletes with LEA and RED-S and the general public. Although Greg is still in his first year of studies, he has already provided some strong preliminary results that can have an original contribution and impact in the literature in this field, demonstrating his future potential as a researcher.”

Reflecting on his University of Brighton journey to date and the award Greg said: “I never realised the potential I had until I came to the University of Brighton and found such a supportive group of peers and lecturers. I cannot thank Fenia, Neil, and the rest of the team enough for helping me to discover what I can do.

“Receiving this award is proof that you are capable of anything you want to put your mind to. I hope my success with this award is an inspiration to current and future students in Sport and Exercise Science to show them that their research does matter and can be impactful.”

Kerry Burnett • March 23, 2022

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