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Student Vacation Research Assistant: The combined and independent effect of reducing core and skin temperature during intermittent exercise in the heat - Open to current University of Worcester students only*

Research Assistantships provide undergraduates and recent graduates with ‘hands on’ experience of working on a research project over the summer vacation, enabling them to gain insight into a research career, as well as enhancing their CV.


Current research

We have recently demonstrated that ice slurry ingestion does not enhance self-paced intermittent exercise in hot conditions (30.2 °C, 41% RH) (Gerrett et al. 2016). Despite core temperature (Tc) and thermal sensation being reduced compared to a control beverage, the speed/distance covered was similar between the two conditions. The planned project builds on the findings reported in this paper, with the aim of publishing the results in a peer reviewed high impact journal (see ‘intended outputs’ for journals that will be targeted).

How the project fits with current research

Sporting competition frequently takes place in hot environmental conditions (>26 °C), which impose additional physiological stress on the human body. Including increased cardiovascular strain, core temperature and skin temperature. To combat such issues, ice slurry ingestion that directly cools the core have been investigated and showed similar benefits to external pre-cooling (Siegel et al. 2012) in time-trial and continuous exercise protocols (Booth et al, 1997; Kay et al. 1999; Hasegawa et al. 2005)

There is limited research when it comes to intermittent exercise protocols and any research that has been conducted has found conflicting findings due to the diverse array of pre-cooling methods used and exercise protocols (Drust et al. 2000; Cheung et al. 2002; Duffield et al. 2003; Castle et al. Drust et al. 2005; Morris et al.2005; 2006; Duffield & Marino, 2007). Intermittent exercise is known to induce greater physiological stresses than continuous exercise (Drust et al. 2000). Investigating the effectiveness of different pre-cooling techniques on intermittent exercise has practical application to intermittent sprint sports such as football and field hockey. This will aid appropriate pre-cooling strategies to implement when competing in hot climates. We have recently shown (Gerrett et al. 2016) that lowering core temperature (Tc) using an ice slurry beverage did not enhance self-paced intermittent exercise in the heat. Interestingly skin temperature (Tsk) did not change nor did thermal sensory feedback during exercise, both of which are thought to be implicated in the regulation of exercise intensity (Schalder et al. 2014). The findings from our previous study (Gerrett et al. 2016) and the disparity of information from the literature suggest that we must determine the role of lowering Tc and Tsk (concomitantly and independently) on self-paced intermittent exercise in the heat. It is suggested that a combination of internal and external pre-cooling would be the most ergogenic.

Aims and objectives of the project

The aim of the study is to determine the role of core and skin temperature upon self-paced intermittent exercise performance in hot conditions (33°C, ~59% RH).

* Please note that this post is open only to students completing the penultimate or final year of an undergraduate degree (or equivalent) at the University of Worcester or partner institutions;
Students completing, or who have completed, an undergraduate degree at another university (with 1st or 2:1 predicted/achieved) who are about to commence postgraduate studies at the University of Worcester.

Closing date: Monday 05 Jun 2017

Reference number: STUVRA1717 - 2016

Job details

Job details

£8.44 per hour, plus £1.18 per hour holiday pay
Up to 37 hours per week
4 weeks full time (1.0 FTE) or part time equivalent (e.g. 8 weeks at 0.5 FTE)
Responsible to
Gavin Thomas
Responsible for
Interview date

Institute of Sport and Exercise Science

Explore the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science

"Our aim is to attract ambitious students who will be challenged as sports academics and practitioners to be the best that they can be."
Mick Donovan, Head of Institute



The University of Worcester is funding 20 Vacation Research Assistantships for the summer of 2017. These Research Assistantships will provide undergraduates and recent graduates with ‘hands on’ experience of working on a research project over the summer vacation, enabling them to gain insight into a research career, as well as enhancing their CV. These are prestigious awards, marking out a student as a future researcher and potential academic. In addition, this scheme provides UW staff leading on a research project with invaluable support in taking the project forward and experience of supporting and developing a young researcher.

On completion of the project, the supervisor and student must complete a report providing the following information: 

  • Objectives set
  • Objectives met
  • Methods employed
  • Results
  • Conclusions
  • Outputs
  • Benefits to the student including training undertaken, skills developed, etc.
Main duties

Main duties

This exciting research project aims to determine the role of core and skin temperature upon self-paced intermittent exercise performance in the heat. In order for this project to be a success we require a motivated and dependable assistant who can be professional and apply high attention to detail. The assistant will be expected to support staff with the data collection of a variety of physiological measures (core and skin temperature analysis; blood sampling analysis).

1. Assist with participant recruitment and arrangement of testing times 

2. Assist with the collection of high quality data within a novel research area

3. Contribute to a dedicated research team (Gavin Thomas (University of Worcester, UK) and Dr Nicola Gerrett (Kobe University, Japan))

*Maintain personal and professional development to meet the changing demands of the job; participate in appropriate training activities and encourage and support staff in their development and training.

*Take steps to ensure and enhance personal health, safety and well being and that of other staff and students.

*Carry out these duties in a manner that promotes equality of opportunity and supports diversity and inclusion, and takes into account the University's commitment to environmentally sustainable ways of working.

Person specification

Person specification


1. Demonstrate high quality degree level work (achieved/potential to achieve first or 2.1 in sport science, exercise or health related degree).

2. Ability to work independently and apply high attention to detail.

3. Demonstrate accurate and precise data collection skills.

4. Ability to work to, and meet deadlines

5. Good interpersonal skills

6. Ability to contribute to and work well within a research team.


Applications from Non EEA Workers:

Prospective applicants are advised to ensure that they are eligible to work in the UK without restriction.Prospective applicants in points-based system immigration routes should assess their circumstances against the published criteria, which are set out on the GOV.UK website at

Visit for more information on how you can use a qualification from outside the UK to meet the requirements of the immigration rules.

Unspent convictions, cautions and bind-overs

The University is strongly committed to the fair treatment of its staff and potential staff, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, responsibility for dependants, age, physical/mental disability or offending background.

In line with the University's policy on the Recruitment of People with a Criminal Record, shortlisted candidates are required to provide information of any unspent convictions, cautions and bind-overs. Applicants are advised to seek independent advice if there is any doubt about the status of a previous conviction, caution or bind-over. Disclosures will only be considered at the point when an offer of employment is made. The existence of a criminal record will not in itself prevent you from gaining employment.This is a description of the job as it is presently constituted.

This job description is intended to enable a flexible approach to be offered working across the University as required. It is subject to review and amendment in the light of changing needs of the University and to provide appropriate development opportunities. Members of staff are expected to participate fully in discussions about changing requirements and it is the University's aim to reach agreement to reasonable change. If agreement is not possible, it reserves the right to require changes to the job description after consultation with the individual concerned.

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