The study of heat balance is one of the core disciplines in our group. The laboratory is equipped with a state-of-the-art environmental chamber and equipment to study the effects of heat on human health and performance.We have also pioneered methods to assess temperature at different regions of the body, such as the muscle and the core organs. We are leading research investigating the effects of heat on behavioural thermoregulation and the associated effects on performance. Further, we test clothing under a variety of environmental conditions and study their insulative properties to assist the clothing industry in the design and production of inner and outerwear. Finally, we are leading research focusing on the implications ofdehydration on performance and we are designing new, accurate, and practical methods to assess hydration levels in the field.
By using our state-of-the-art environmental chamber and equipment we undertake research in cold conditions with the ability to modify environmental factors such as wind chill, temperature, and humidity. We create protocols and examine human and clothing performance under the desired environmental conditions. We also investigate the effects of cold on cutaneous vasodilation and vasoconstriction, as well as the impact of hypothermia on shivering and non-shivering thermogenesis.
Our team members have completed altitude laboratory research and field studies in the Scottish Highlands, the Alps, and the Himalayas. We can undertake research within our laboratory in normobaric hypoxia, and can combine it with cold or warm conditions in order to suit our protocols and research scope. Finally, we can advise and organize the logistics for hypoxic training both to assist athletes in preparation for their sports at sea-level conditions, as well as to prepare and acclimate before exposure to high altitude. Finally, we have in depth experience in providing medical support for high altitude related illnesses and accidents.
Water Immersion / Diving
Our team members have completed water immersion laboratory research and field studies in the English Channel as well as in long-distance (i.e., >100 km) open water swimming events. We have proficiency in undertaking cold water immersion research both for completion of research studies and for cold water acclimation for individuals exposing themselves to cold water, i.e. for open water swimming. Finally, we provide expertise and medical coverage during open water diving and open water swimming.
We organize and undertake field research in extreme environments. We provide scientific support and know-how to individuals in their pursuit to optimally prepare and acclimate for athletic challenges and expeditions (i.e., climbing, running, cycling, open water swimming) taking place in extreme environmental conditions. In addition, we have also lead research investigating the implications of nutritional and psychological aspects during such events and we have extensive knowledge and experience on medical support during events in such conditions. Our most recent venture was during the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara desert.
Our heat balance studies have led us into research focusing on the design and control optimization of microclimate liquid cooling systems worn underneath protective clothing. Variations of these systems are now fairly common in a variety of occupational, medical, and athletic settings including mining, metal/ceramic/glass industries, neurosurgery, multiple sclerosis treatment, art, automobile racing, and during warm-ups prior to athletic competitions. Moreover, these systems are used in aviation, military operations, and are an inherent component of all extravehicular activity suits worn by astronauts. Our studies in this field have been funded by the Canadian Space Agency and aimed at improving the design and efficiency of microclimate liquid cooling systems used by astronauts.