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The impact of heat stress on human health, performance, and function across the lifecourse

The interaction between climate change, ageing, and sedentary behaviour mean the elderly are a highly vulnerable cohort for heat-related illness. This is a pressing public health concern given the number of older individuals is growing, and climate change is increasing global average temperatures. Further to this, extreme weather events such as heat waves are forecast to become more frequent and intense.

The doctoral research project will investigate thermoregulatory, sudomotor and cardiovascular responses to a simulated heat wave, the impact of temperature and/or exercise on gut permeability and systemic inflammation, or sports performance implications of heat stress in older vs younger individuals. Experimental work will subsequently consider acute responses in the aforementioned contexts, whilst also examining the efficacy of acute and chronic interventions to ameliorate the impacts of increased body temperature.

Candidates for this project will have an educational background in exercise, environment, health, and/or sport physiology, though full training will be received as required. Applicants with expertise in biomedical sciences will also be considered as strong applicants. Candidates should have an undergraduate degree (first or upper second class) or equivalent qualification in sport and exercise sciences, human physiology or a related field.

A Masters qualification in a relevant area would be desirable.

The lead supervisor will be Dr Oliver Gibson ( and the applicant will join the Centre for Physical Activity in Health and Disease (

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you would be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.

Meet the Supervisor(s)

Oliver Gibson - Dr Oliver Gibson is a Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology and a member of staff in the Division of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences, Department of Life Sciences and a member of the Centre for Physical Activity in Health and Disease. Oliver is the Department of Life Sciences Senior Tutor.  Oliver was awarded his Ph.D from the University of Brighton in 2015 following undergraduate and postgraduate study at the institution where he obtained MSc Sport and Exercise Physiology, PGCE Post Compulsory Education, and BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science degrees. Oliver is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of The Physiological Society. Oliver's primary research interests relate to Exercise and Environmental Physiology and in particular the impact of Heat Stress on Human Health, Performance, and Function. Research in this area includes understanding the impact of climate change/heat waves on human health, quantifying changes in endurance and team sport performance in the heat and examining methods to attenuate performance declines. Oliver’s research also examines cross adaptation between environmental stressors, and the mechanistic role(s) of heat shock proteins in thermal adaptation. These publications can be viewed in the 'Selected Publications' tab. Oliver provides peer-review for a number of international journals, and has presented at a number of national and international conferences winning several young investigator awards.