The OSS is supported by a wealth of experienced researchers from across Scotland and around the world, all of whom share their research, analysis and expertise to help deepen Scotland's understanding of all aspects of community sport, recreation and physical education, and its relation to physical and mental health and wellbeing. The OSS Research Advisory Group meets regularly to discuss knowledge gaps, advise on the shape and methodology of OSS research and apply academic rigour. In 2020 we created 'OSS Research Associates' in response to interest from a growing number of people in supporting OSS in their chosen fields, but without the time to commit to core work. We also support students and recent graduates - 'OSS Research Assistants' - by linking them to mentors, and developing their research skills and profile. If you are interested in working with the OSS, please contact David Ferguson at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nick took over in 2019 from Professor Davison as chair of the Research Advisory Group for the Observatory for Sport in Scotland, having supported the OSS with research and guidance since its inception. The former Head of Research Strategy at Sport England now provides consultancy services on sport and public policy across Europe, and is a Visiting Research Fellow at Leeds Beckett University. His book setting out a new paradigm for sports development, 'Sporting capital: Transforming sports development policy and practice' was published by Routledge in November 2017. He recently published his first major research for OSS, 'Sports participation in Scotland: trends and future prospects', and is leading on the development of new research projects.
Nick was educated at Oxford Polytechnic, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Texas and joined the then Great Britain Sports Council (to become Sport England) research team in 1983 where he remained until June 2012. Whilst at Sport England Nick held the post of Head of Strategy, Research and Planning and Strategic Lead for Research where he was influential in shaping and delivering a world leading national research programme. Nick led the design and delivery of the Active People Survey - the largest sport survey in Europe and was lead author on the Sport England Strategy document ‘The Framework for Sport in England’. He has been influential in international research initiating and for 5 years co-directing the European wide COMPASS project on comparative sport participation statistics. Nick has been the invited speaker at international conferences in China, Australia, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Israel and Spain.
Nick has completed 5 London Marathons and recently 'enjoyed' a 3,600 bike ride around the coast of Britain. A keen golfer, Nick is the current President of Woodford Golf Club near his home in Essex.
Widely respected across Europe, Geoff has published over 40 refereed papers on the topic of volunteering in sport, as well as 16 book chapters and research reports from 13 projects. Most recently Geoff has been researching the response of community sports clubs to the Covid-19 restrictions, and the ‘community asset transfer’ of the management of leisure facilities to volunteers. Both of these are part of the broad question of how volunteers can best contribute to meeting society’s need for sport and recreation; and thus physical and mental health. Geoff has also researched the role of sport in programmes to reduce youth crime, which was the focus of his PhD and a subsequent book. Geoff has a sharp focus on making his research relevant to policy and practice, a key function of the OSS.
He was a founding member of the UK Sports Volunteering Research Network, which facilitates exchange between practitioners and academics, and is a member of the steering group of the Voluntary Sector Studies Network and the research advisory group of 'Power to Change'.
Also a keen mountaineer and climber, and committee member of his local mountaineering club, Geoff can often be found in the hills and mountains of Scotland. He was a professional outdoor instructor for eight years, working with the Outward Bound, and has led Scouts groups since the 1970s.
Geoff states: "While sport and physical exercise makes a vital contribution to individuals’ wellbeing participation is uneven and differences between the health of groups are growing. Thus, promoting sports participation is only part of improving the wellbeing of everybody in society."
Dr Remco Hoekman is co-director of the Mulier Institute and affiliated to the Radboud University. Furthermore, Remco is president of the European Association for Sociology of Sport (EASS) and co-editor of the European Journal for Sport and Society. His research interests include sport policies, sport facilities, sport participation and financial aspects of sport. He has an extensive national and international publication list, including both policy-oriented and fundamental research, and is a frequently asked expert, advisor and speaker on the abovementioned topics. Remco is like no other capable of connecting science and practice and is a recognized expert in both fields. Consequently, he holds several advisory positions and is, amongst others, columnist for SportAccom (a journal on sport facilities), and member of the evaluation committee for the election of 'Sport municipality of the year’ and 'Best sport policy initiative’ in the Netherlands. Internationally, he is known as the founder of the expert group on sport facility databases and related research, and as one of the initiators of the ‘Measure’ network, a network with the aim to enhance knowledge on sport participation. In addition, he is an expert member of networks on sport organisations (SORN) and sport policy and politics (POLIS).
Remco breaths sports and is in his leisure time an active sport participant and sport volunteer. He enjoys to play tennis, visit the gym and cycle with his friends. In addition, he contributes as a volunteer to the sport activities of his children and he is the chairman of a tennis club.
Professor Gayle McPherson holds a Chair in Events and Cultural Policy within the School of Business and Creative Industries at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS). She joined the University in 2010 from Glasgow Caledonian University where she was a Professor in Cultural Policy and Head of Department of Cultural Business. Her research interests revolve around the interventions of the local and national state and wider agencies in events and festivity of all types and the social and cultural impacts of large-scale events on communities. A key area of her work examines soft power, cultural diplomacy and the contribution of culture in fragile contexts.
She recently completed a research project for the British Council on the Contribution of Art and Culture in Global Security and Stability and is currently working on Inclusive Cultural Heritage for Skills Development in Kenya on behalf of the British Council. She is also working on a follow-up study on Major Sport Events and Parasport Participation: Investigating Post-Event Opportunities and Experiences on behalf of the SSHRC with colleagues in Canada and is part of an ESRC networking grant on sport and disability with Waseda University in Japan for the Toyko 2020 Olympics. She teaches in the broad area of cultural diplomacy and in particular the role of events and culture in cultural diplomacy as a soft power initiative between nations and states. She has a range of external roles and she acted as the Legacy and Evaluation advisor to Paisley 2021 UK City of Culture Bid team, is member of European Cultural Parliament and also teaches at the Institute of Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin and is an expert advisor to the OECD on their Recommendation on Global Events and Local Development. She is a REF sub-panel member of Unit 24 Sport, Exercise Science, Leisure and Tourism 2021, and is Co-Chief Editor of Frontiers in Sport and Active Living: Sport, Leisure and Tourism section. She has published widely in the events, culture sport and festivals area and is a reviewer for many journals and acts as a college panel member for the AHRC.
Professor Gayle McPherson https://research-portal.uws.ac.uk/en/persons/gayle-mcpherson
Since then Christine has been heavily involved in sport coaching and as a result her career has not always followed a ‘traditional’ route in higher education. Much of her credibility and understanding of the coaching process has been developed during periods as a national coach and this immersion within the profession has informed her subsequent career and research interests.
Her research experience covers Sport Pedagogy, Coach Education, Development of Expertise and Player/Coach Development Pathways.
An internationally-recognised exercise physiologist with over 25 years experience, he has developed a global reputation in investigating the factors that influence cycling performance and the physiological responses to cycle ergometry. Other areas of research interest include the use of exercise and physical activity to improve health and quality of life in the general population and clinical groups. He is also an editor of the Journal of Sport Medicine and the Journal of Science and Cycling, former editor of the Journal of Sports Sciences and has published in excess of 50 scientific papers and book chapters and is currently an expert reviewer for the Journal of Sports Sciences, the International Journal of Sports Medicine, European Journal of Sport Sciences, International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise the Welcome Trust and the Medical Research Council. He is a Fellow and former Chair and Honorary Treasurer of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences and currently a professor of Exercise Physiology and President of ECSS 2021 Glasgow in the School of Science and Sport at the University of the West of Scotland.
Richard was also a successful competitive cyclists winning 11 medals (6 gold, 2 sliver, 3 bronze) at Scottish Championships. He is a Level 3 Coach and Coach Educator for British Cycling (18 years) and has coached at Commonwealth and Olympic Games level.
Specialities: Exercise physiology teaching and research, Higher Education management, change management, coach education, elite cycling coaching, Chromosome 18.
OSS Research Associates
Simon is a graduate in Physical Education, Sport Science and Recreation Management from Loughborough University. Since 2004 he has been the Director of the Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC) at Sheffield Hallam University, where he is also Professor of Sport Management. SIRC is a business unit within the University that has a turnover of £1m per annum and which employs 18 staff. In 2003, Simon was admitted to the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and is one of very few qualified accountants working in sport management in the UK. His main research interests are in the applied use of techniques from the fields of finance and economics to research questions in sport and leisure.
Simon prides himself with two key strengths. First, he uses technical management accounting rigour and common sense, in equal measure, to deliver credible and practical solutions for clients. Second, he is a clear communicator of complex information that is pitched appropriately for the intended audience. As a leader of his team and an academic, Simon's ethos is that managerial excellence and academic excellence are not mutually exclusive. He is in regular demand as a speaker at national and international conferences and is a widely published author of both textbooks and peer reviewed papers with a variety of collaborators from across the world of sport management.
Heather has substantive research interests in digital health, methodological expertise in designing, leading and delivering qualitative and mixed methods studies in applied health sciences and a pedagogical research focus on postgraduate training and employment, within and beyond universities. She is a member of several national and international research groups and works closely with a range of community, government and industry partners to undertake and apply her research, and facilitate student work placements.
Heather currently lectures on Exercise and Health Sciences and Biomedical and Sports Sciences, is lead author or co-author of more than 20 peer-reviewed papers and two edited collections, reviews for a number of high impact journals/publishers and is co-creator of Aberdeen’s original, free-to-play, location-based, augmented reality game for iOS devices: [m]apping. She has also been nominated 'Funniest Lecturer' in the 2020 Aberdeen University Student's Association and University of Aberdeen Awards for Excellence in Teaching.
He holds both MSc and BSc (Hons) degrees in Sport Coaching from the University of Stirling and University of the West of Scotland, respectively. Mark currently coaches academy players at Ayr United football club, and previously held community coaching positions at Celtic FC – where he worked in Scotland and abroad – and United Sports. Mark also volunteered as a coach for East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure, helping to run football programmes in partnership with the Scottish Football Association.
Before coaching, Mark played both academy and boys club level football, and competed in Karate at regional and national levels. Outside of sport, Mark has worked as a fitness instructor for South Lanarkshire Culture and Leisure and Lifeguard for Nuffield Health and Camp Seneca Lake Pennsylvania. He is also a keen recreational runner and the large part that sport and physical activity has played in Mark’s life drives his desire to improve participation rates and experiences within these domains across Scotland.
She studied her BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Sciences at Ulster University before studying her MSc Sport and Exercise Psychology at Leeds Beckett University. In 2018, Liz completed her PhD at Ulster University, conducting a cross-cultural analysis of the management and motives of Special Olympics volunteers. During this period, Liz also worked as a research assistant with Special Olympics Europe Eurasia on a project developing an assessment tool for coaches to evaluate promotion of social inclusion of their athletes with intellectual disabilities within teams and their wider community. Liz has previously worked at Loughborough University and the University of the West of Scotland on research projects working with people living with dementia and people with disabilities.
As a researcher, Sarah examines gender in sport, focusing on the experience of adolescent girls. Her ground-breaking work on menstruation and sport helped her earn the Early Career Scholar Award from the Journal of Sport for Development and she hosted the UK’s first workshop on sport and menstrual health in 2020, through a Wellcome Trust Foundation grant.
She has conducted research in the UK, USA, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. Working with global partners such as the International Working Group for Women in Sport (IWG), the Women Win Foundation, the UK Government, the Gender Equality for Generation Z (GETZ) EU project, the Sheerose Foundation (India) and the University of Tsukuba (Japan), her work has helped inform policy and practice in sport.
Sarah earned her PhD in Development Studies at Erasmus University (Netherlands) and a master’s degree in Sport Management from Virginia Commonwealth University (USA). An immigrant from the USA, Sarah is a mum of two adolescent girls and has lived in Scotland and the Netherlands - and has developed a great interest particularly in Scotland's Highland Games - as her action pic demonstrates!
Dr Zipp's research is available at: https://www.stir.ac.uk/people/256560#outputs.
Prior to studying for her higher degree, she completed a BSc (Hons) in Physical Activity and Health and was previously a Club Development Co-ordinator for Scottish Swimming at a club in the North East of Scotland, successfully increasing participation in swimming, and contributing to improving coaching quality and the club structure.
Paula is a Level 2 swimming coach and recognised as a CIMSPA Coach Practitioner, and is currrently involved in coaching the Loughborough University swim team. Previously, she was the Lead Coach for the Edge Hill University swimming team. Her experiences in swimming have allowed her to develop an understanding of the realities of coaching and sports development in recreational, club and performance environments.
Paula has a keen interest in sport having participated in Athletics and Swimming, representing Scotland in athletics at the Loughborough International and Celtic International tournaments.
He was a member of the Expert Panel at EuroBike and the World Commission of Sports - Cycling Science Steering Group.
An Associate editor for the Journal of Science and Cycling, he was an invited lead guest editor for Special Issue for Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, “Exercise, Free Radical Metabolism, and Ageing: Cellular and Molecular Processes".
James remains an enthusiastic golfer who has mostly played off a single figure handicap for the last 50 years, playing for St Andrews University in the Scottish University Golf Championships and remaining a member of the Scottish Universities Golfing Society. As a volunteer in sport, he has helped marshall at a number of British and Scottish Open Championships held at Muirfield and Gullane, and was also Chief Recorder looking after the teams that recorded the scores of the players at the Open at Muirfield in 2002.
This passion for sport combined with his academic background stoked his enthusiasm to help the OSS to shape its research and evidence base to help Scottish sport more widely. James graduated from St Andrews University with a Botany degree in 1978 and after a year at the University of California in Riverside, he did a PhD at Cambridge, where was was a golf Blue. His career took him to Heriot-Watt University where he developed an interest in the science and technology of malting, and into roles as Director of the Brewing and Distilling degrees at Heriot-Watt University and Fellow of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. He also held positions with the University of Edinburgh and University of Adelaide, in Australia.
James has conducted widespread research in recent years and been an external examiner across a range of British universities, and is looking forward to supporting the OSS to maintain high standards of academic rigour in its research programmes.
In 2009 Gemma was awarded a prestigious international PhD scholarship at The University of Queensland, Australia, to explore workplace sedentary behaviour in office employees and completed her PhD in 2013. She then started at the University of Stirling where she worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for several years on projects which included investigating physical activity in older women from low socio-economic status areas and workplaces perceptions of physical activity in paid work time. Dr Ryde won a highly competitive Impact Fellowship at the University of Stirling to progress her work in physical activity and sedentary behaviour in the workplace, and is now a Lecturer in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport.
Her research interests are still focused on physical activity and sedentary behaviour with a specific interest in the workplace setting. Her current work includes the measurement, prevalence and influences (correlates) of physical activity and sedentary lifestyles, and the development and delivery of interventions to modify these behaviours.
Ian holds a number of academic leadership positions nationally and internationally, is the current Honorary Chair and trustee of the Joint University Council (JUC) - the UK learned society for public administration, public policy and social work - and in this capacity represents UK universities who teach and research in these subjects. He is subject expert in Public Sector and Healthcare on the CABS Academic Journal Guide Committee, and a member of the International Commission on the Accreditation of Public Administration and Training Programs (ICAPA) Accreditation Committee. He co-convenes the International Institute of Administrative Sciences EGPA Permanent Study Group IX Teaching Public Administration, and is a member of the Editorial Board of Teaching Public Administration, Policy Policy and Administration and Public Administration: An International Quarterly.
Ian has over 15 years' experience of teaching and learning across five UK universities, leading the development of postgraduate and doctoral programmes in public administration and management, and has also held strategic leadership roles within and across faculties including at Graduate School and Senate.
Much of his prior academic experience has included engaging with employers such as City of Edinburgh Council, Dundee City Council, Orkney Islands Council and Association of Chief Officers of Scottish Voluntary Organisations. Dr Elliott has also been commissioned by organisations to run training courses and has been invited to speak at numerous academic and professional events including for the Higher Education Academy, MacKay Hannah and Holyrood Events.
Ian is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA), a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (FCMI) and a Chartered Management & Business Educator (CMBE).
OSS Research Assistants
A former Scottish and GB swimmer Ryan graduated from University of West of Scotland with a BSc (Hons) in Sport and Exercise Science. Born and raise din the Borders, and now living in Stirling, Ryan started swimming competitively aged 10 and swam for Scottish and British teams, regularly featuring in the top 10 in Britain in a number of different events. The Scot won the British Championship title for the 200 butterfly in 2016 and competed at the European Junior Championships in Hungary that year.
Ryan has always had a keen interest in all levels of sport and how to most effectively support athletes, with particular interest in both physical and mental health. He has developed research into the mindset of athletes at different levels, what drives people to participate and compete, and how they can be best supported to ensure they enjoy sport.
Born in Edinburgh, sport has been a major passion for Jamie from a young age and he represented his school at rugby, hockey, cricket, tennis and squash. He played tennis and hockey for over 10 years, representing East of Scotland and Scotland respectively at age grade level, and has coached at his local tennis club for four years - looking to help coach the younger generation and get more people playing and enjoying the sport. This developed an interest in the availability of accessible and affordable facilities/resources and the impact it has on participation.
Fiona Beth started this doctoral project in 2018 after graduating with a first-class degree from the University of Aberdeen. It was during her undergraduate degree that she first became interested in the topic of sex-segregation and sport after this was covered for a week in a Gender Equality class. Her dissertation on this topic won the Hutton Prize in Mental Philosophy.
She has been interested and involved with sport for most of her life, as an athlete, a coach and official. She began with equestrian vaulting and gymnastics at school, competing at national events in vaulting, and training and coaching at her local gymnastics club. Once she finished school, Fiona Beth was employed by the Scottish Rugby Union as a modern apprentice rugby coach based at her local rugby club, Perthshire. She then began to play rugby, competing at club and university level, and went on to represent Scotland at a national 7s event in 2014.
At the launch of Scottish Rugby's new 'FOSROC Super6', Oliver took over as Stirling County RFC’s Super6 Team and Media Manager, learning and developing his knowledge and experience in Scotland’s top tier of domestic rugby, and gaining experience in a similar role with Scotland U20s rugby squad during their 2020 Six Nations campaign.
Sport has always been a major part of Oliver's life, having played football with local club St Cuthbert Wanderers, and a variety of other sports, including rugby, tennis and downhill skiing. His passion for sport led him to strive for a career in the industry, and he is eager to use this passion to contribute to the development of sport in Scotland and help others get as much enjoyment out of sport as he does.
Emily has taken part in various sports through her life, from achieving a black belt in Taekwondo to competing nationally in Dance. She has been a part of the Napier Dance Team for the last four years and helped with running the club for the past three. This year she enjoyed being club president and took great pride in managing to keep the club running and members dancing via online classes through a very challenging year.
Emily works as a Health Care Assistant, caring for the elderly, which she finds highly rewarding and this has increased her knowledge of and enthusiasm for caring.
She previously volunteered for Scottish Rugby, and has worked with athletes from Elite Taekwondo Scotland, Hamilton FC, Olympic athletes and Scottish athletics as part of her studies, which provided a great breadth of insight to the sporting industry.
He began learning to row during his first year at the university and quickly took to the sport, joining the committee as the development officer and overseeing key initiatives such as large fundraising campaigns, improved development strategies and outreach, before going on to become the youngest director on the board of Scottish Rowing - whilst also sitting on the executive committee of the Athletic Union at Saints Sport. In his role as Volunteering and Engagement Officer, his work into LGBT inclusion was recognised as best in Scotland by Scottish Student Sport.
In his spare time, Sam founded and leads a social enterprise called Here For Sport which works to identify and reduce barriers to participation across sport. He has collaborated with Loughborough University on research into barriers to participation faced by the BAME community, as well as partnering with Stonewall to address barriers to participation faced by the LGBTQ+ community, and delivered a lecture in sports business and innovation focusing on his experience as a student entrepreneur and activist.