The Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science (Honours) or the Bachelor of Exercise and Health Science (Honours) are one-year full-time or equivalent part-time degrees for students who have already completed a relevant bachelor degree. There are opportunities across our Brisbane, Melbourne and Strathfield campuses, see below for a list of research projects available in the School.

The ability to carry heavy loads is critical to many physically demanding occupations, such as military and fire-fighting. While it is convenient to study load carriage using a treadmill, it remains unknown how or if the energy cost and biomechanics of load carriage differ between treadmill and overground walking. This project, being run in collaboration with the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST Group), will examine the differences in energy cost between unloaded and loaded walking on a treadmill and overground. There is also the possibility to expand the project to examine differences in gait kinetics and kinematics between the two conditions. In addition to directly informing pack-marching guidelines in the military, the outcomes of this project will also help guide future load carriage research and determine whether a correction factor needs to be added to treadmill data in order to translate findings into real world settings.

Supervisors: Doug Whyte, Paul Tofari and Jace Drain (DST Group) 
Contact: doug.whyte@acu.edu.au

Oxytocin (OT) is a protein-based biomarker that has been hypothesized as a physiological mediator of an integrated ‘anti-stress’ response attributable to social affiliation, with resulting long-term health benefits and that facilitates socio-cognitive responses. Although there is considerable support for the idea that OT is involved in the encouragement of important processes linked to greater performance in sport, empirical support for this association is preliminary and limited to laboratory studies, making it difficult to generalise them to elite sport environments. What’s more, there is very limited knowledge about the individual differences in athlete oxytocin reactivity. In this honours project, we will develop a methodology to study the association between social cognition, sport performance and oxytocin (OT).

Suitable for exercise science, high performance sport, science, and psychology students.

Supervisor: Dr. Gert-Jan Pepping, Dr. Francesca Fernandez 
Contact: gert-jan.pepping@acu.edu.au
Campus: Brisbane

Gait-related falls are a large public health burden, and both the sheer number of gait-related falls, and the associated societal costs continue to increase. Recent research has shown that an individual’s ability to adapt their gait is an important factor related to gait-related falls and mobility as people age. In the current honours project, which takes place in ACU’s Perception-Action Rehabilitation Clinic and Learning Environment (PARCLE), we will use Virtual Reality and the task of bushwalking as an activity that can improve gait adaptability of community dwelling older adults.

Suitable for exercise science, high performance sport, science, and psychology students.

Supervisor: Dr. Gert-Jan Pepping, Mr. Steven van Andel
Contact: gert-jan.pepping@acu.edu.au
Campus: Brisbane

Hamstring strain injuries remain one of the most prevalent injuries in elite and sub-elite sport. Of these cases, the biceps femoris long head (BFlh) has been the hamstring most commonly strained. Recently research has focussed on identifying risk factors that can be modified through various interventions. As such, athletes with low levels of eccentric knee flexor strength and short BFlh fascicle lengths have been shown to be at an increased risk of future injury. Therefore, understanding the alterations in these variables to a training stimulus is important for injury prevention and rehabilitation processes. However, there is a range of exercise interventions that can be implemented to reduce the risk of injury, with a multitude of stimuli. Therefore, this project aims to look at the activation profile of the hamstrings during isometric and eccentric hip extension exercises as well as the architectural and morphological alterations seen following a 6 week training intervention.

Supervisors: Ryan Timmins and David Opar 
Contact: ryan.timmins@acu.edu.au
Campus: Melbourne

People with a diagnosis of a severe mental illness (SMI; psychotic illness primarily schizophrenia spectrum or bipolar affective disorder) account for around 600,000 Australians. SMI negatively affects morbidity and is associated with higher mortality (~20 years less life expectancy). People with SMI are at a 12 times greater risk of suffering cardiovascular diseases. There is a need to identify and describe psychosocial and physical factors that may increase cardiovascular and metabolic diseases risk. This project will be conducted as an exploratory retrospective audit of medical records at one of Australia’s largest publicly funded mental health service providers located in Melbourne. Outcomes of the study will be used to inform future innovative physical health interventions for people with SMI.

Supervisor: Dr Trentham Furness
Contact: trentham.furness@acu.edu.au

A critical aspect of a team-sport player’s on the pitch behaviour is their situation awareness (SA), that is, the level of awareness that an individual has of a situation; a player’s dynamic understanding of ‘what is going on around them’ during the game. Research has shown that SA is importantly linked to player’s development, performance, and rehabilitation. That is, SA: i. can be (and needs to be) developed from a young age, and needs to be promoted and maintained during training; ii. is related to player’s and referee’s performance and expertise; that is, better, more skilled/expert players/referees possess a higher degree of SA; iii. is related to injury proneness, as well as rehabilitation; that is, lowered SA is a precursor to injury, and increased/recovered SA can be used as an identifier for game readiness following rehabilitation. We have a number of honours projects, in which we use a wireless wearable technology system (SATS) to assist player development, player monitoring, and rehabilitation in team-sport (soccer, field-hockey, AFL) to address important research questions in skill acquisition and SA.

Suitable for exercise science, high performance sport, science, and psychology students.

Supervisor: Dr. Gert-Jan Pepping
Contact: gert-jan.pepping@acu.edu.au
Campus: Brisbane

The time we eat may be as important as what we eat. Recently, intermittent fasting (IF) and time-restricted eating (TRE, in which meals are consumed over a shorter daily time period), have become ‘hot’ research topics in the scientific community due to their purported effects on weight loss and health.

This project will be a part of a larger set of ongoing experiments investigating the effects that IF and TRE have on several interdependent metabolic outcomes (i.e. glycaemic control, body composition, skeletal muscle adaptations, gut microbiome, hormones).

Supervisors: Dr Evelyn Parr, Dr Brooke Devlin, Dr Imre Kouw, and Professor John Hawley
Contact: evelyn.parr@acu.edu.au
Campus: Melbourne

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are commonly used in team sports to quantify the demands of competition and training. Previously, the validity of these systems has been established using discreet running activities. However, in a practical setting GPS are regularly used over longer durations (2 to 45 minutes). Therefore there is a need to investigate the ability of GPS to quantify the running activities over durations specific to what they are commonly used for. This project will use the VICON system as the criterion measure to compare outputs from various GPS systems. The outcomes of this project will help establish the suitability of using GPS to quantify running activities in team sport athletes.

Supervisors: Dr Grant Duthie 
Contact: grant.duthie@acu.edu.au

A critical aspect of child play is the accessing of the visual (and other) information of the surrounding opportunities for action – i.e. exploration. Research has shown that this exploration behaviour is importantly linked to a child’s motor-development and physical activity. That is, exploration: i. can be (and needs to be) developed from a very young age, and is promoted and maintained during play; ii. is related to the child’s actions during play, and thereby to physical activity; iii. is related to the child’s motor-development; that is, children at different developmental stages exhibit different exploration; iv. is related to coordination, and as such, exploration can be used as an identifier/precursor to movement/coordination disorders (such as autism, etc.), and measures of exploration can be used in therapy and/or rehabilitation. To assist child development research and educational play-ground design, in the current honours project we will develop and validate a wireless wearable technology system (CEPAPS) that can capture a child’s exploration during play by simultaneously measuring allocentric (child position on the playground), egocentric (head and body movements that accompany and support exploration) and notational (child actions) data.

Suitable for exercise science, high performance sport, science, and psychology students.

Supervisor: Dr. Gert-Jan Pepping, Dr. Kassia Beetham
Contact: gert-jan.pepping@acu.edu.au
Campus: Brisbane

More information

If you have any other questions or queries in relation to completing an honours degrees, please contact Dr Doug Whyte, National Course Coordinator via email: doug.whyte.acu.edu.au

 

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