Craig Paterson – Postgraduate research student profile
18th December 2018
BSc Sport and Exercise Science Graduate and PhD student interview with Craig Paterson
What programme are you enrolled on and when did you start?
At the start of October this year I started my PhD in Applied Sport and Exercise Science.
What is your research area?
It’s early days yet but loosely I’ll be investigating how mental stress and sedentary behaviour may interact to affect the cardiovascular system. Put simply, we know that both sedentary behaviour and stress can negatively affect the cardiovascular system but we don’t know how these two factors may interact together. Both mental stress and prolonged sitting are common in the modern workplace so understanding how they may interact and what we may be able to do to offset any negative effects is important and should keep me busy for the next few years.
Why did you choose UoG for Postgraduate study?
I completed my undergraduate degree at UoG only a few months before starting my PhD and in my final year became very involved with the research of my now supervisor, Dr Simon Fryer. His support and enthusiasm in combination with the equipment and connections available at UoG are what made me choose to stay.
What did you do prior to starting Postgraduate study at UoG?
Prior to my PhD I completed my BSc in Sport and Exercise Sciences here at UoG. Going further back than that, I started my undergrad at 23 so in the time between college and then, I worked in a golf club professional shop full-time.
Tell us about your time at the university for your undergraduate degree…
UoG has been a great experience from start to finish. To try and pick out one or two highlights is almost impossible. Staff here create a huge range of opportunities for students and I’ve always tried to capitalise on them where possible. I’ve had the opportunity to work with professional athletes from a range of disciplines and in a number of different ways, including lactate threshold tests with professional footballers and heat acclimation protocols with professional triathletes. Away from sport, I’ve also been able to work on really exciting research projects, giving me invaluable lab skills as well as opening my eyes to the ‘exercise’ aspect of sport and exercise science.
What is life like as a student in Gloucestershire?
I’ve lived in Gloucester for the entirety of my degree and have really enjoyed it, there’s plenty to do and it’s easy to visit other places like Bristol or Birmingham as the M5 is easily accessible. My favourite bit about Gloucester, however, is the amount of green space only a short distance away. University can be stressful so being able to escape that easily is a real bonus. I can’t comment on the student nightlife too much but there are loads of great pubs around the city if, like me, you’d rather have a quiet drink with friends.
What do you do when you are not studying?
Away from studying, I keep myself sane through a combination of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Gracie Barra Gloucester, the gym, a little golf, and socialising with friends. Nothing extravagant, just a healthy balance.
What advice would you give to students considering Postgraduate study at UoG?
My best advice to anyone considering postgraduate or undergraduate study at UoG is to say “yes” to as many opportunities as you can and figure out the details later. Staff do a fantastic job of creating opportunities here at UoG but it is up to the student to make the most of them. It’s better to say “yes” to something and realise that maybe that thing wasn’t for you than to say “no” and miss out on what could be a career changing opportunity.
The experience I draw on came at the start of third year where the opportunity to do some sport science support for a professional football team, Forest Green Rovers, became available. Football is not a major interest of mine and subsequently I wasn’t going to take the opportunity, it was only when a friend said “you might as well go” that I changed my mind. To abbreviate the story somewhat, as a result of that evening I got a job working in the University’s Performance Lab. From that job I got the opportunity to be a research assistant on a number of different projects. It was working on those projects that ultimately lead to me gaining the opportunity to undertake my PhD. The take home message, rather than boring you with a life story, is that, had I said “no” to that initial opportunity at Forest Green Rovers, I would be in a completely different place and wouldn’t have had all the experiences that I have been lucky enough to enjoy. Say “yes” to things, figure out the details later.
What does the future hold for you (career aspirations, dreams etc.)?
Hopefully a PhD if all goes to plan. My overall goal is to be a lecturer and researcher in sport and exercise physiology so it’s just a case of me carrying on with what I’m doing just with the added stress of teaching in the future.