AIS nurtures PhD sport science scholars to enhance athlete performance
The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in collaboration with it partners is nurturing some highly talented PhD scholars like recent doctoral graduates: Dr Annette Eastwood and Dr Laura Garvican (AIS) who are helping to drive innovation and excellence at the sharp edge of sports science while enhancing athlete performance.
Dr Eastwood (South Australian Sport Institute (SASI) and Dr Garvican (AIS) recently graduated with PhDs from Flinders University. They successfully completed their PhD qualifications conducting ground-breaking applied sport science research, which has the potential to impact Australia’s sporting success.
The two were both students of the late eminent Australian exercise physiologist Bob Withers, an early pioneer and leading educator of PhD exercise physiology scholars, who passed away in 2007. Bob Withers has mentored many other Australian PhD scholars including their current supervisor Professor Chris Gore.
Now Head of AIS Physiology, Professor Gore congratulated PhD scholars on achieving their respective doctorates.
‘Both of the PhD scholars are working at the forefront of sports science research and innovation with great potential to help Australian athletes and teams gain that winning edge,’ said Professor Gore. ‘These PhD scholars have shown tremendous passion, drive and commitment in their applied studies.’
The focus of Dr Eastwood’s research thesis, mentored by Professor Gore over the past five and half-year years, was to quantify the stability of haemoglobin mass in athletes and the extent to which it is influenced by training.
This research work is being applied to determine whether haemoglobin mass (the oxygen carrying protein in red blood cells) could be used for talent identification and anti-doping purposes.
Dr Garvican is the fourth AIS sports-based PhD student to complete her studies with the national high performance cycling program, under the co-supervision of Professor Gore and Dr Dave Martin. Working primarily with the AIS women’s and under-23 men’s road cycling programs, Dr Garvican travelled extensively with the teams providing on the ground daily support at camps and competitions. Her important work on altitude exposure and haemoglobin mass has influenced how the women’s road cycling team currently use both natural and simulated altitude.
While completing her PhD, Dr Eastwood worked as the Talent Identification and Development (TID) Co-ordinator for SASI, gaining valuable experience in high performance sport and is currently SASI’s physiologist for cycling and hockey and the TID Co-ordinator with cycling, rowing, kayaking and volleyball.
Dr Garvican continues to work closely with elite sport but has swapped two wheels for the pool assisting the women’s AIS Water Polo program in their quest to win gold in London. She maintains an interest in altitude training and believes the full potential of altitude training is yet to be understood.
The Australian Sports Commission and AIS offer regular PhD scholarship opportunities. For more information about PhD work at the AIS go to the ASC website.