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British Athletics Championships 2019

Environmental Sustainability in the Respiratory Care of Athletes


Funded PhD


3 years (full-time), 5 years (part-time)

Application deadline:

17.00 on 30 January 2023

About this project

Starting May 2023

Applications are invited for a PhD scholarship (PhD Sport Health and Exercise Science) investigating the carbon footprint related to the treatment of athletes with asthma and exploring environmentally sustainable alternative solutions.

Free Webinar

Join our free webinar at 6pm on Thursday 12 January to provide more information about the funded PhD scholarships with our Centre for Sustainability and Olympic Studies. The webinar will close with a Q&A giving you the opportunity to delve deeper into research opportunities, training provision and potential career paths. Book your place.

Asthma and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) are frequently reported in athletes, with an estimated 8% of Olympic athletes suffering from asthma or EIB, making the condition the most common chronic medical condition in elite sport. A recent systematic review suggests the prevalence of lower airway dysfunction is as high as 20% of all athletes, with a higher prevalence in those participating in elite endurance, winter and aquatic disciplines.

Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) and bronchodilators are the mainstay of treatment for airway diseases and many are delivered via pressurised metered-dose inhalers (pMDIs). These pMDI inhalers contain hydrofluorocarbon propellants that have high global warming potential (GWP). The carbon footprint from 1 pMDI (200 doses) is estimated as equivalent to a 290km car journey. Alternative treatments exist which are more environmentally sustainable. Indeed, dry powder inhalers are available as rapid reliever and maintenance therapies, which have similar efficacies in patients and significantly reduced environmental cost compared to pMDIs. The reliance on pMDIs over dry-powder inhalers may, in part, be due to poor education with regards to the environmental impact of pMDIs. Further, there remains uncertainty with regards to the efficacy of pMDI versus dry-powder inhalers for the prophylactic inhibition of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction in athletes.


Given the high prevalence of asthma and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction in athletes and the high carbon footprint of common asthma treatment, the aims of this project are threefold:

  • Quantify the carbon footprint related to the respiratory care of athletes with asthma and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.
  • Explore the effectiveness of pMDIs versus dry-powder inhalers for inhibiting exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.
  • Design and evaluate an education programme aimed to inform athletes and their care staff regarding the carbon footprint related to the treatment of asthma.

The successful student will be registered at University of Hull and supervised by academics at the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Science, the Hull York Medical School and Energy and Environment Institute. Collaborations will also be sought with subject experts at academic institutes elsewhere in the UK and around the world.

For informal inquiries, please contact Dr Andrew Simpson.

About the research environment

The Hull Centre for Sustainability and Olympic Legacy (HCSOL) is an recognised International Olympic Committee Olympic Studies and Research Centre. The HCSOL investigates how the Olympics can be more environmentally and socially sustainable and exploring how the Olympics can leave a lasting legacy and contribute to a positive future for people, society and the environment.

The focus of the Centre is defined by three C’s: Climate, Competitors, and Community; around which three dedicated PhD scholarships are funded. You will be joining an interdisciplinary team of experts across the University, as well as three PhD students who are in their second year of PhD working on Team GB specific projects around the same three key Cs.

Other funded PhD opportunities in this cluster:

Team LGBTQ: investigating the impact of publicly out Olympic athletes on attitudes towards sports among LGBTQ+ youth

Preparing for a Climate Resilient and Net Zero Olympics: Investigating Social and Environmental Sustainability in Host Cities

How to apply

You will need to supply a personal statement when applying for this scholarship position. Find out more about writing a personal statement. Please also ensure you include the following information:

  1. What motivates you to pursue PhD study
  2. Why you are interested in this project
  3. How your skill set matches the requirements for your choice of project and/or any additional training you will need
  4. The wider significance of research in this area and potential future research directions for the project.

Apply for the scholarship: full-time | part-time

Postgraduate student reading in the Brynmor Jones Library
Postgraduate Rebecca Humphries & Georgia Sykes walking by HUBS Wharfe Building

Watch: find out more about postgraduate study at the University of Hull

As a postgraduate researcher at Hull, you will be part of our ambition to be at the forefront of new developments in Social Sciences research. This is a hugely important area of research for us, so you will receive all the support you need to develop your talent, your research skills and your career.

You will be part of the ESRC White Rose community – a vibrant and growing collective of social science researchers. There will be opportunities to network with colleagues at the other WRDTP universities, as well as attending a range of training, conference and development activities run by the White Rose Consortium.


The successful applicant will receive a fee waiver and a maintenance grant/stipend for three years (full-time) or five years (part-time), which covers the research period of the PhD. The fee waiver for 22/23 is £4,596 (Home fee) and the maintenance grant is £17,608 per annum. This rises each year in line with the  UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s recommended stipend allowance.

If you need to move into a fourth year (full time) or sixth year (part-time) to complete your thesis, you will not receive a tuition fee waiver or maintenance grant during this period and you will be required to pay a continuation fee.

Submission of thesis

Submission of your final thesis is expected within three years and three months from the start of your PhD scholarship for full time and within five years and six months if studying part-time.

Research training

As a PhD student here at the University of Hull you will undertake the Postgraduate Training Scheme alongside your main degree, to help you develop the research skills and knowledge you’ll need in your future career. You will gain an additional Certificate or Diploma in Research Training in addition to your PhD. 

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree in a relevant field (first class or upper second class). A Master’s degree in a relevant field is desirable.

For more details on our entry requirements please visit the postgraduate admissions webpage.

This scholarship is available for full-time and part-time study.

International applicants


This opportunity comes with a Home fee waiver only, which will not cover the full International fee. You will therefore need to pay the difference between the Home fee and the International fee and will need to provide evidence that you have sufficient funds to cover this as no additional funding is available.