This summer, I had the opportunity to both visit and host Professor Carolyn Emery from the University of Calgary, Canada, as part of the Global Mobility Scheme (now named International Research Initiator Scheme).
Professor Emery is a co-chair of the Sports Injury Prevention Research Centre (SIPRC) at the University of Calgary, which is one of nine International Research Centres supported by the International Olympic Committee. The overarching aim of the Centre is to reduce the risk of injury associated with sport and recreation. This is a goal shared by the ‘Rugby Science at Bath’ research group, of which I am a member.
Injuries are one of the unwelcome consequences of participating in sport, and have important health, performance, financial and legal consequences for all stakeholders. The aim of this project was to establish a collaborative research partnership between the University of Bath and University of Calgary, with long-term objectives of furthering our understanding of risk factors for injuries in sport, and exploring ways to reduce injury risk and improve athlete wellbeing.
Discovering opportunities for collaboration
In July I spent a week in Calgary, where I had the opportunity to work with, and learn from, internationally renowned researchers in my field. I had the chance to meet the researchers responsible for the key theories/models underpinning my work to date, which was a highly useful and rewarding experience, and has fuelled many new ideas for future research and collaborations.
I presented an hour long research seminar to the SIPRC group during my visit, which stimulated further discussions and ideas. I also spent a good portion of my time working with the biostatistics team at SIPRC, which was particularly useful for my own research.
I now plan to apply for funding via the Bath Institute for Mathematical Innovation to host one of those biostatisticians, Dr. Alberto Nettel-Aguirre, early next year. This funding will enable Dr. Nettel-Aguirre to contribute to our research activities, present a public lecture, as well a number of other research seminars.
I was fortunate enough to visit Calgary during its annual ‘Stampede’ festival, which is a rodeo event billed as the “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”. It was certainly an eye-opening experience, and provided plenty of opportunities for injury research!
During my short stay, I also had the opportunity to explore Calgary and the surrounding area. I was taken for a hike in Canmore, about an hour’s drive West of Calgary. The scenery was stunning, and certainly made me want to return to Canada in the future to see more of the country.
Continuing our collaboration at Bath
In September, Professor Emery visited Bath and presented a keynote lecture at the inaugural World Rugby Science Network Conference. The focus of her talk was on injury prevention in youth sport.
The conference was a two-day event that used a multimedia delivery format, with a combination of face-to-face and online formats. The first day was hosted at the University of Bath, and the second day at the University of Cape Town. The event was watched (online or in-person) by more than 1000 people from more than 30 countries, and so had a tremendous global impact.
During this visit, we were also able to work on the research outputs we initiated in Calgary (including a paper for submission to Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, and a planning process for a systematic review).
In addition, Professor Emery met with Caroline Baylon (Director of International Partnerships and Head of the International Relations Office) to discuss opportunities for further links between the two universities (e.g. exchange programmes and placement opportunities). Moreover, both of our universities are celebrating their 50th anniversaries in the coming year, and so we will also investigate internal funding opportunities to host an event celebrating this occasion, such as a joint conference on injury prevention in youth sport.
Overall, the Global Mobility Scheme has been tremendously helpful in developing and shaping my research. International collaborations are fundamental to all areas of science and research, and schemes such as this are vital for starting and developing such partnerships. I am looking forward to continued collaboration with both the SIPRC group and the University of Calgary.