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Sports Science: Fully Funded PhD Scholarship: The effect of mineral rich Algae with and without plant-based protein supplementation on endurance exercise performance

   School of Sport and Exercise Sciences

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  Dr S Heffernan  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Funding providers: Swansea University's Faculty of Science and Engineering and Marigot Ltd.

Subject areas: Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, Thermal Physiology

Project start date: 

  • 1 July 2022 (Enrolment open from mid-June)


Aligned programme of study: PhD in Sports Science (Exercise Physiology and Nutrition)

Mode of study: Full-time

Project description:

Both animal-based protein (Frontiers in Physiology, 2018; 9, 598) and inorganic dietary mineral supplementation (Nutrients, 2019; 11(3)) have shown improvements in endurance performance. However, the impact of plant-derived protein and mineral-rich Algae (natural organic minerals) have not been investigated for this purpose, either individually or in combination. This is despite the huge increase in general and athletic population adopting animal free (or animal less) dietary patterns (Nutrients, 2018; 11(29)) and the global move towards plant-based alternatives. This PhD study will address these literature gaps and will include mechanistic work (via blood and potentially in vitro methodologies). The study will include a number of independent experimental studies focusing on the combined/individual impacts of plant-based protein combinations, with/without Lithothamnion Algae species (Aquamin Ca+ and Mg products) on acute, prolonged and exercise training via a number for nutritional supplementation trials.

Here are the likely outcome measures/markers of endurance performance that the student will learn/execute;

In response to nutritional interventions, and exercising in a thermally challenged environment

  • Global adaptation
  • VO2max (gasses exchange), heart rate, exercise tolerance (pain and perceived exhaustion), sweat response (volume and molecular content)
  • Systemic adaptation
  • Blood Flow Kinetics (FMD via ultrasound), muscle blood flow (near inferred spectroscopy) etc.
  • Molecular adaption
  • Systemic biomarkers of inflammation, reactive oxygen species, blood lactate accumulation etc. (with some potential for in vitro work depending on the results and the successful candidate)

For more information:


Candidates must normally hold an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University) in Sports Science or similar relevant science discipline.

Other requirements:

  • Evidence of completing high-quality research projects at BSc (Hons) and MSc level (or equivalent)
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Experience working in nutrition and/or human exercise physiology
  • Comfortable working independently and as part of a postgraduate research team

Desirable skills/experience:

  • Trained in vascular ultrasound assessment
  • Hospital trained (and certified) phlebotomist
  • Experience with thermal physiology and environmental chamber use
  • Experience in independently conducting molecular techniques (blood derived analysis)

English Language requirements: If applicable – IELTS 6.5 overall (with at least 5.5 in each individual component) or Swansea recognised equivalent.

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to UK and EU based students only. EU Students must be eligible to receive the EU Transitional Bursary Scheme.

Funding Notes

This scholarship covers the full cost of UK tuition fees and an annual stipend of £15,609.
Additional research expenses will also be available.
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