During Covid-19 and the UK lockdown, children have been impacted severely (and unequally), meaning that many children were away from school for 6 months during the first lockdown (Holt & Murray, 2021), potentially influencing learning and educational development. As children are now returning school, it is vital that provisions are put in place to support effective learning. One focus is around improved access to fluids in schools which may hold relevant educational implications, increasing children’s ability to learn by improving attention, concentration, and short-term memory. Despite access to fluids during school hours, anecdotal evidence suggests that UK children do not consume enough, although this is likely given that data from a range of other westernised countries show this to be the case (Assael et al., 2012; Stookey et al., 2012; Michels et al., 2017). It is also essential that the fluids children choose to drink and/or are provided in primary schools offer the best means of promoting behaviour change surrounding hydration, thus it is important to also consult with other key stakeholders such as parents and teachers.
Milk is a naturally nutrient-dense foodstuff and contains a package of electrolytes that has been shown to be effective in improving hydration in adults (Maughan et al., 2016). Evidence (from exercise studies) also shows that milk may hydrate better than water or carbohydrate-electrolyte beverages in 7-11 y children after exercise in hot conditions (Volterman et al., 2014). Following a comprehensive review of the literature, we recently concluded that further, more robust research is needed exploring the link between milk, hydration and cognition in school settings (Rumbold et al., 2021). This doctoral research programme will address this need. Additionally, it is understood that there may also be unfounded, negative connotations around milk consumption by primary school aged children (8-11 y), parents, and teachers. What is unique, novel and exciting about this research programme is the potential to evaluate a novel milk permeate, a clear drink (which can be flavoured later), to explore its effectiveness in comparison to milk and other beverages.
The supervisory team is multi-disciplinary in nature, comprising of Dr Penny Rumbold who has a passion for proactively developing collaborative research links and relationships with local schools to advise on evidence-based nutritional practices to promote health in young people. Dr Gavin Tempest will provide expertise in the assessment of brain function/fMRI and Claire Bruce-Martin will provide qualitative expertise to inform the narrative around the acceptability of various beverages and their appropriateness in a school setting.
We are seeking a candidate who has an education background in sport, exercise and/or health nutrition and it would be desirable if the applicant understood the ultrafiltration method required to produce milk permeate.
Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
- Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
- Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
- Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD.
For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see
Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF22/…) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: 18 February 2022
Start Date: 1 October 2022
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.
Informal enquiries to Associate Professor Penny Rumbold ([Email Address Removed]).