Me and my PhD – Dr Meghan Brown
4th September 2018
Over the summer, our Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Nutrition, Dr Meghan Brown, published her final study from her PhD collection. Here is a quick blog post about her PhD research and experience, including advice for those considering postgraduate study:
I started my PhD in October 2013 after successfully securing a studentship at Northumbria University following my undergraduate degree. It was really only during my final year of undergraduate study – particularly when completing my dissertation – that I was convinced that postgraduate research was where I wanted to go, so I was thrilled to be accepted! I had applied for a studentship under the supervision of Professor Emma Stevenson, and Professor Glyn Howatson; real experts in the fields of nutrition and exercise metabolism / physiology – so I was in good hands!
The broad topic of my research was nutrition for exercise recovery, and what I was particularly interested in was to look at this in female exercisers, and for the findings to have applications to dancers; a population I am particularly passionate about. I was lucky to have a lot of influence over the design of the PhD, particularly as the findings of each study evidently effects the subsequent course of investigation. So the title of my thesis was only finalised really towards the end of my studies: ‘Energy balance, exercise-induced muscle damage, and the efficacy of nutritional interventions on recovery in female dancers’. This brings together the four progressive experimental studies I completed over a three-year period, with a bit of a story to tell! In brief, the findings of my PhD indicated that, 1) there is a prevalence of energy deficiency in pre-professional female contemporary dancers; particularly during periods of scheduled dance training, 2) female dancers are at risk of exercise-induced muscle damage following both dance and sprint-type exercise and experience the associated negative symptoms for several days, 3) tart Montmorency cherry and whey protein hydrolysate supplementation are able to attenuate damage and accelerate recovery following muscle-damaging exercise to some extent in female dancers. Here are the publication details for these studies:
Brown, M. A., Howatson, G., Quin, E., Redding, E., & Stevenson, E. J. (2017). Energy intake and energy expenditure of pre-professional female contemporary dancers. PLoS One, 12(2).
Brown, M. A., Howatson, G., Keane K., & Stevenson, E. J. (2016). Exercise induced muscle damage following dance and sprint exercise in females. J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 56(11), 1376-1383.
Brown, M. A., Stevenson, E. J. & Howatson, G. (2018). Whey protein hydrolysate supplementation accelerates recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage in females. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, 43(4), 324-330
Brown, M. A., Stevenson, E. J. & Howatson, G. (2018). Montmorency tart cherry (Prunus cerasus L.) supplementation accelerates recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage in females. Eur J Sport Sci, 43(4).
Alongside my own PhD research, I was also involved in a number of other research projects (see my profile on Research Gate), applied practice (nutrition and physiology support for a range of athletes), and undergraduate teaching and postgraduate supervision. So, you can imagine it was a very busy time! But I wouldn’t change a thing! I learnt so much from so many people who are now great friends, colleagues and collaborators. I got to travel when attending conferences to share the findings of my work (dissemination of research is so important!). And I also found my love of teaching during my PhD too! So, a lot to be thankful for!
Postgraduate study, particularly of a research nature, is not for everyone. But here at UoG in the community of Applied Sport and Exercise Science, there are always quite a number of students who pursue this after their undergraduate degree – which is fantastic! My advice to those students is always to truly make the most of it! At the time it might seem stressful (well it is!), but I am of the opinion that you should take every opportunity you can, so say ‘yes’ to everything! And like me and many others it should be one of the best and most rewarding times of your life!
If any current or prospective students want to hear more about my experience or want any advice about postgraduate study, then just ask! Indeed, there are many staff in the community who have their own tales to tell! We love to talk about our research, and certainly it informs our teaching too! There are a number of opportunities available to complete postgraduate study here in the community of Applied Sport and Exercise Science, including research supervision. To find out more about taught programmes click here and to learn more about research click here. Or again please just ask a member of staff.