Heather Massey

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Cold water immersion, cold water swimming, thermal physiology, thermoregulation in ectodermal dysplasia

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Personal profile

Summary

I am a Senior Lecturer in Sport, Health and Exercise Science and member of the Extreme Environments Laboratory and Clinical, Health and Rehabilitation Research Team (CHaRT) at the University of Portsmouth. I am also an honorary researcher at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and have a varied profile of research studies. These involve the preparation, selection and support of humans in extreme environments (hypoxia, heat and cold). More recently we are now investigating the impact that these environments have on health conditions.

I deliver invited talks to local, national and international external organisations about elements of water safety and outdoor swimming. I am a peer-reviewer for 15 internationally recognised scientific journals. I am also an invited reviewer for several funding bodies in the area of water safety and cold-water immersion. Within our school, I am also an active member of the Athena Swan Committee.

Biography

Before arriving at Portsmouth, I worked in the Environmental Medicine Unit at the Institute of Naval Medicine (INM) for 5 years. I was involved in a wide variety of applied physiological projects at INM. My main role was to provide physiological research support to the Royal Navy’s fitness testing programme, and teaching Navy Physical training Instructors, and I also contributed to a number of projects researching cooling devices and heat acclimation.

I joined the University of Portsmouth in October 2007 as a PhD student, having previously completed my BSc and MSc at Loughborough University. I completed postdoctoral research with in the Extreme Environments Laboratory. During this time, I undertook a range of projects for commercial companies and charities ranging from thermal comfort of footwear to testing lifejacket retention systems on lifejackets to working. More recently I have been invited to join the Medical Advisor board of the Ectodermal Dysplasia Society.

Outside of the university, I am a keen open water swimmer having completed a number of long-distance relay and solo swims including a solo swim of the English Channel and Lake Windermere. I also work closely with outdoor swimming organisations and community interest companies to promote safe practice within outdoor swimming communities and am a Trustee of a local organisation that support people with additional needs to participate in outdoor swimming activities Swim the Wight.  

Research Interests

We work closely with a range of agencies, charities and companies that support the following research specialisms:

  • The risks and potential benefits of cold-water immersion
  • Water safety: providing the underpinning science behind public messaging
  • Floating
  • Heat Illness and acclimation
  • The risks and benefits of extreme environmental conditions on physiology and pathophysiology.

Teaching Responsibilities

I teach on a variety of undergraduate modules in the area of Physiology.

  • U30090: Environmental Physiology – Level 6 (module coordinator)
  • U26152: Humans in Extreme Environments – MSc Level (module coordinator)
  • U30064: Introduction to Sport & Exercise Physiology - Level 4
  • Undergraduate and MSc level research projects
  • MPhil and PhD Research Supervisor

In addition to my teaching responsibilities I am also a mentor for early career female academic staff from other institutions through the Women in Sport and Exercise Academic Network; a network formed for the purpose of growing, strengthening and promoting research on women in sport and exercise, with the ultimate goal of optimising women’s athletic success and their participation.  

PhD Research Supervision

I especially welcome enquiries and applications from students wishing to study a PhD with me in the area of Environmental Physiology and Water Safety.

Media Availability

I am happy to take calls and emails from media on my research, and am aware of the need to respond to journalists in a timely manner.

Interested journalists can also contact the University's Media and Communications team for support and advice on all media engagement, including out of hours.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

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