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Face to Face

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2017 news

LJMU hosts first National Co-ordinating Centre for the Public Engagement Ambassadors event

LJMU hosted this event in April on behalf of the NCCPE which saw 15 Ambassadors from the Midlands and the North attend to share ideas and experiences for public engagement. Dr Zoe Knowles who leads Face to Face with Sports Science hosted the event and is herself a NCCPE Ambassador. Laura Steele, a representative from the NCCPE, noted how fantastic it was for colleagues to meet their peers and share best practice, drawing inspiration from LJMU’s public engagement activities.

2016 news

Sports Science Radiotherapy and Physiotherapy event


Ben Brown explaining physiology based data

On the 6 October 2016, as part of the Merseyside Network for Collaborative Outreach (MNCO), the University of Liverpool organised a visit day surrounding the subject of Sports Science, Radiotherapy and Physiotherapy. This event was directed towards providing boys (year 10-11) with a taste of university life. Three PhD students Katie Hesketh, Katie Whytock and Benjamin Brown (all from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences) delivered three exciting presentations on the different aspects of being a sport scientist. Firstly Katie Hesketh presented on ‘What is a Sport Scientist?’ explaining the different roles that a sport scientist undertakes. Following this talk Katie Whytock described the health benefits of exercise, especially the increasingly popular high intensity training (HIT). Finally, Benjamin Brown gave the students an insight into how an elite team has support from sport scientists. The students were extremely engaged with the presentations, they completed different activities such as ‘Guess the job title’ from the support staff of Liverpool Football Club and watching a live HIT demonstration on a Watt Bike.

Interview with Claire Stewart

We talk to Claire Stewart, Professor of Stem Cell Biology at LJMU and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

So Claire, it’s been a busy year for you so far could you take a minute to tell us what you’ve been up to?

Claire StewartIt has been a busy, but exciting year. I have had a PhD student start (linked to GSK), working on aspects of nutrition, ageing and muscle repair and a second (linked to Unilever and the Cardiovascular Health Sciences Research Group within RISES) is due to start in October. I am a co-applicant on a large grant application, headed by Southampton University and associated with limb reconstruction post land mine injury. I have become a Wellcome Trust Crunch Ambassador and have had training with MerseyStem on the “People like me” course. I have recently been elected as Chair of the British Society for Research on Ageing, the chair of the Female Professoriate at LJMU and invited to join the working group of the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs. Papers continue to be published and grants submitted. One successful grant was to the Society for Endocrinology, which funded a public engagement event on Doping in Sport – hosted at LJMU and attended by ~90 delegates (GCSE/A level student, teachers and coaches) in July. I have also been elected to the Society for Endocrinology Public Engagement Committee.

You’ve been involved with public engagement for many years, and in particular promoting more girls to enter STEM subjects what do you enjoy about this work?

I love the interaction with students that such outreach activities bring. I am always blown away by just how bright the students are and how excited by the concept of progressing to STEM subjects. Being able to talk about my research passions and inspire young people to realise their capabilities is very rewarding.

When you speak to schoolchildren about science subjects and careers, what is the key message you try and get across?

I try to convey the opportunities that science careers can bring. The chance to travel, to work around the world, to meet new people, to learn something new every day and to be trained and to work in an area that you love. The notion that to do well you need to study and to work hard but also that you get paid to be inquisitive, which is quite amazing.

You’ve recently delivered on the School's first public engagement grant with the Society for Endocrinology, what did you learn from that experience?

The first thing I learned is that to put together a successful public engagement event you need the support of people who are as motivated by the day being planned as you are. Fortunately, I had that support in Zoe Knowles and Neil Chester, both within RISES at LJMU. I learned that if people are free, they are extremely generous with their time, their engagement and their motivation to help; this was evidenced, not only by PhDs, post docs and staff within RISES, but also by the fantastic support of Mark Roughley, Elaine McNeill and Kate Walchester, who ran the outreach sessions in the afternoon and Emma Smith and her team who were our links to the schools. I learned that it takes a lot more time to develop such an event than I expected and this will help for my future planning. Mainly, however, I realised that such opportunities are fantastic, the day went very well, the delegates seemed to thoroughly enjoy the event and I look forward to developing the web-based legacy that will follow.

Public engagement is becoming a significant part of university ‘core business’ and a key aspect within grant applications amongst ‘Pathways to Impact’. What would say to inspire those academics who are perhaps thinking about being involved in this type of activity?

I would advise them to simply get involved. MerseyStem is a good starting point, being an Ambassador eases you into public engagement with excellent support. I would also advise people to get involved with the regular STEM events being led from RISES. These give insight into how the days are developed and delivered. Ultimately, applying for funding to host an event is the icing on the cake.

So what’s next?

From a public engagement perspective, developing the website linked to the Doping in Sport day is a pressing priority. Subsequently, however, delivering events around the work that we do in association with the Doctoral Training Alliance is something I will look to develop next term. Finally, going to schools as a STEM or Crunch Ambassador will continue to feature over the coming year.

Watch a video of Claire talking about her research at LJMU.

Interview with Greg Whyte

Greg WhyteWe catch up with Olympian, 'physical activity guru' and world-renowned sports scientist, Greg Whyte. Greg is a Professor in Applied Sport and Exercise Science at LJMU and an authority on exercise physiology, sports performance and rehabilitation with extensive experience assessing, treating and improving the performance of athletes and sporting enthusiasts.

He is well-known for training, motivating and successfully coaching celebrities such as David Walliams, John Bishop, Jo Brand, Davina McCall, Gary Barlow, Eddie Izzard and Dara O'Briain in their Sport/Comic Relief Challenges.

So Greg, it’s been a busy year for you so far could you take a minute to tell us what you’ve been up to?

It has certainly been a busy year. I began the year with Sport Relief 2016 looking after Jo Brand on her 'Hell of a Walk' from Hull to Liverpool (140 miles in seven days), followed by Radio 1's Greg James on his five triathlons in five cities in five days (swimming in freezing open water!), then Blue Peter's Lindsey Russell on her Zorb across the Irish Sea. Since then I have been writing my new book on exercise and pregnancy, 'Bump It Up' which is out in August, as well as lots of media (print, radio and TV) related to Physical Activity, European Football and the Olympics. I've also presented at some fabulous public engagement events including the Cheltenham Science Festival.

You’ve been involved with public engagement with the School of Sport and Exercise for many years, what do you enjoy about this work?

Science is an amazing area and there is no better way to pass on the wonders of science than through sport and exercise. I love the integration of all the disciplines in sport science from physiology to engineering and talking to people about what we do as sports scientists is an amazing experience. All too often academics sit behind impenetrable walls, hiding away their work from the public. For me, public engagement is probably the most important job of a scientist, but also, one of the most difficult and challenging.

You must have spoken to thousands of schoolchildren over the years about science subjects and careers, what is the key message you try and get across?

ENJOYMENT. The more you love a subject the easier it is to learn.

You’ve won several awards for your work including being listed as one of the top UK Science Communicators what makes a great science communicator?

There are a range of attributes that great science communicators must have. Firstly, the ability to explain the complex in simple terms is fundamental; it shouldn't be an opportunity to show off how intelligent you are, it should be about how much your audience learns. You have to be fun and engaging; your audience learns a lot more if they are smiling and laughing. In addition, don't just rely on words; use images, video, props and even get the audience to participate in your talk to keep them fully entertained and engaged. Finally, love what you do; if you love it, your audience will too.

Davina McCall and Greg Whyte

Davina McCall at the finish line of her 506 mile cycling, swimming and running challenge from Edinburgh to London for Sport Relief.

You’re probably most well-known for your work with Sport Relief – anything you can share with us that reflects what you set off to achieve with the celebrities on these challenges?

The most important thing to remember is that we all have the potential to achieve something great in life. You don't have to be a celebrity to achieve success but will have to have the one ingredient that all successful people have – the ability to work hard and the tenacity to keep going even when the going gets tough.

Public engagement is becoming a significant part of university ‘core business’ and a key aspect within grant applications amongst ‘Pathways to Impact’. What would you say to inspire those academics who are perhaps thinking about being involved in this type of activity?

Public engagement should be an integral part of every academic's work. But, it's not easy! To excel at public engagement takes hard work and commitment however, it is worth it in the end. After all, an academic's greatest skill is to teach others the wonders of their discipline to create greater understanding.

So what’s next?

My new book, 'Bump it Up', focussing on lifestyle, nutrition and fitness is out in August and I will be working hard on promoting the book. I also have a number of TV projects coming up including the Olympic Games and a series on Human Physiology and Behaviour – busy times ahead!

Welcome home Tim!

A group of researchers from RISES and the F2FSS programme participated in the “Return to Earth” event at the Liverpool World Museum on Saturday 18 June. The day was dedicated to celebrating British astronaut Tim Peake's return to Earth after a six month mission on the International Space Station. Following on from the successful Mission X event during the launch in December, the Liverpool John Moores University exhibition included posters about ‘Humans in Space’ and how living in space affects the human body. The focus of our exhibition was the effects on muscles, tendons and bones in particular, and the exercise countermeasures that are necessary to reduce the negative effects of microgravity. Our exhibition included an ultrasound scanning system for imaging the muscle and tendons of visitors to assess the size and mechanical properties of the tissues (similar to the systems used by the astronauts at the ISS for monitoring the condition of their muscles) and a vertical jump test system for assessing the strength and coordination of the muscles in the lower limbs. Families and visitors had the chance to see their muscles in ‘action’ and to test their vertical jump ability that correlates with general health and physical capabilities in order to appreciate the consequences of the loss of muscle strength and function when astronauts return to Earth but also the importance of physical activity for health and wellbeing in general.

Face to Face at the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon

Rock and Roll logoFace to Face with Sports Science took a team of expert staff and students to the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in Liverpool on Saturday 25 May. A Q&A booth was set up in the athlete Expo for anyone wanting to know about nutrition, biomechanics/footwear, cardiovascular health and training science. Staff were supported by postgraduate students with an interest in endurance running. Questions ranged from what type of fuel to use during and after a race to the risks of running with a prior diagnosis of hypertension.

First International AKU Patient Workshop

AKU Patient Workshop

Hannah Shepherd and Professor Gabor Barton at the International AKU Patient Workshop.

Professor Gabor Barton and Hannah Shepherd attended the First International AKU Patient Workshop at Everton Football Club on Wednesday 20 April where they delivered a presentation about gait analysis. Read the blog post about the event.

Sport and exercise psychology talk at University of York

University of York sport science talk

Dr Paula Watson, right, and Ellie Whitaker, left, with two University of York alumni at the University of York's psychology careers day.

Dr Paula Watson and Miss Ellie Whitaker (MSc Sport Psychology student) were invited to the University of York on 8 February to deliver a talk on sport and exercise psychology on their psychology careers day. Dr Watson and Ellie followed a similar pathway with both studying psychology at University of York, both president of the women’s football team whilst there, then both came to LJMU to study MSc Sports Psychology. Dr Elizabeth Kirk from the University of York said:

‘I have received very positive feedback from students who have been inspired by what they have learnt. My hope is always that these careers days will open up the minds of students to different career possibilities and I’m delighted to have people like you willing to come and give up your time to help inspire and motivate the next generation of psychology graduates. I really liked the double-act format with Ellie, I think that worked really well.’

Dr Watson and Ellie Whitaker have been invited to act as mentors for University of York students who may wish to enter into sport and exercise psychology as a career.

Prof Keith George inspires pupils at Sandbach School

Keith George talks at Sandbach School

Prof Keith George gave an inspirational talk to the year 9 pupils of Sandbach School in January. His talk focused on sport and exercise science including the current portfolio of degree programmes at LJMU, university studies in general and his world leading research. Prof George is as a cardiovascular physiologist interested in the health and well-being of different human populations from elite athletes to clinical groups.

2015 news

Mission X

As hundreds of schoolchildren gathered to watch Tim Peake’s launch into space on 15 December at World Museum, Liverpool John Moores University’s sports scientists were on hand to deliver expert scientific knowledge and interactive workshops based on ‘Mission X’ so that children could learn how to ‘train like an astronaut’. This international learning challenge focused on fitness and nutrition in preparation for the demands of space travel. This included pre-flight medical checks like heart rate monitoring and hydration, gravity, balance and resistance games.

The story attracted media coverage from across the UK including Granada Reports, Liverpool Echo, Your Move Magazine, BBC Radio Merseyside (at approx. 13 minutes in) and across social media #BlastOff.

Mission X Mission X

Children who attended the Mission X event wrote to the museum afterwards and said:

"I am writing to you because I want to thank you for letting us look at the museum. It was a lovely day at the fantastic and brilliant museum. Thanks for showing us how to be fit in space. I learnt you have to be fit before going to space. Also I learnt when you're in space you have to eat dry and spicy food. I enjoyed the fitness bit the most because it is good to be fit."

- Christ Church Primary School, Bootle, Liverpool - Age 9-10

"I am writing to tell you that I had the best time in the museum. My favourite activity was the stretch test to test how supple you are."

- Christ Church Primary School, Bootle, Liverpool - Age 9-10

Mission X Mission X

"I am writing to tell you thank you about the wonderful day you gave us on Tuesday. Thank you very much...What I enjoyed the most was when we did the jump exercises which was fun but tiring."

- Christ Church Primary School, Bootle, Liverpool - Age 9-10

National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement Award for Dr Zoe Knowles

Reader in sport and exercise psychology and public engagement lead, Dr Zoe Knowles, has been accepted into the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE)’s ambassador scheme in the role of Network Co-ordinator.

Find out more

Sport scientists support European Researchers Night

Dr Tom O'Brien from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences contributed to Manchester Museums's Science Uncovered event, part of the European Researchers' Night, which provided an opportunity for visitors in 280 European cities to meet scientists and learn more about their research. The LJMU team (Dr Isabelle De Groote, Dr Kyoko Yamaguchi, Dr Eline van Asperen, students Ian Towle and Elisabeth Parrot, Dr Thomas O’Brien, Barbara Kalkman and a PhD Education, Health and Community student) set up and explained displays and activities around the DigiArt project, human evolution, fungi and muscle function scanning using ultrasound. 250 visitors passed through the doors of the museum and explored the research stations which included three minute soap-box science talks, two science bars and experiments and specimens displays. LJMU exhibited technology and specimens that generated interesting discussions with both visitors and science researchers.

European Researchers Night

Dr Tom O'Brien from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences demonstrating muscle function scanning using ultrasound.

PhD students are accelerating elite athletes through sport science

What makes an acceleration athlete and how can elite runners get themselves in the best possible condition before an event?

Postgraduate students from LJMU’s Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences (RISES) provided expert opinion drawing on their world-leading research to answer these questions for BBC Radio 1Xtra’s World Athletics Championships 2015 coverage. The academics used interactive testing from Face to Face with Sports Science, which has won multiple awards and gained competitive funding for its innovative, engaging activities.

Read the full story

Emeritus Professor outlines the science of floating in football and ballet

Would you like to float like a ballerina or hang like a footballer heading a ball? Believe it or not these magic-like moments are humanly possible without the use of a hoverboard. This illusion is all about the way the centre of gravity shifts in combination with body movement, perfected at times by both a ballerina during a leap and a footballer performing a header.

Emeritus Professor Adrian Lees from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences explains all via BBCIWonder.

F2FSS at Liverpool's Light Night 2015

Staff from the F2FSS team exhibited at Liverpool Light Night on 15 May 2015 with LJMU as the Principal Sponsor of the overall event. Visitors were shown advanced biomechanical techniques for muscle scanning and could have a BP check as well as pitting their skills in grip strength, jump tests, on cycle ergometers and rowing machines against the scores/times of the best athletes in the world. SOKKA provided their kit for those wanting to try and improve their passing and ball control whilst also engaging in fitness and fun.

Royal Society Partnership Grant inspires young sports scientists

Pupils from St Margaret's Church of England Academy had the chance to work in a hands-on environment at the state-of-the art facilities in the Tom Reilly Building in December 2014 and March 2015, thanks to a third Royal Society Partnership Grant. A mixture of lectures and interactive activities including sports nutrition, stroboscopic vision and biomechanics were designed to inspire the pupils and raise awareness of STEM subjects and how they are applied to elite sport.

See our Events page for an event report.

Find out how you could work with us via a Royal Society Partnership Grant.