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Caroline Sunderland

Caroline Sunderland

Associate Professor

School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)


Dr Caroline Sunderland (FBASES) is a Reader in Environmental and Sports Physiology. She is the Head of Research for the Department of Sport Science and Head of the Sport Performance Research Group.

Dr Sunderland is the Unit of Assessment Coordinator for REF Unit of Assessment C24: Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism.

Career overview

Dr Sunderland is currently a Reader in Environmental and Sports Physiology and the Head of Research for the Department of Sports Science. In addition she is the Unit of Assessment Coordinator for C24. Her PhD was awarded by Loughborough University in 2001 which investigated the effect of heat acclimation on field hockey performance, since which time she has worked at NTU. Dr Sunderland has also worked as a Doping Control Officer for UK Sport.

Research areas

Dr Sunderland’s research interests lie within the area of exercise physiology and encompass exercise in extreme environments, team sports physiology and exercise responses of females.  In particular, she is interested in interventions to improve exercise performance in the heat; appetite regulation in extreme environments; training, nutrition and talent identification for football and hockey; and the effects of the menstrual cycle and oral contraceptives on metabolism and performance of females during exercise.

Dr Sunderland has over 70 publications and has generated income of over £250k for NTU.

Current projects include:

  • The effect of intermittent exercise and the heat on neuromuscular and cognitive function.
  • Preparing team sport players for competing and training in hot environmental conditions.
  • Talent identification in team sports.
  • Maximising performance in elite field hockey players.
  • The effect of training load and match load on injury in team sports.

Opportunities arise to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil / PhD in the areas identified above. Further information may be obtained on the NTU Research Degrees website.

Past postdoctoral supervisions:

  • Dr Ricci Hannah

Current PhD students:

  • Mr Brett Biddulph
  • Mr David Harrison
  • Miss Scarlett Fountain
  • Miss Stacey Cowe

Previous PhD Students:

  • Dr Chris Tyler: The effects of a cooling collar on running performance and capacity in a hot environment.
  • Dr Hannah MacLeod: The effects of hydration status and hot environmental conditions on performance of elite female field hockey players.
  • Dr David Macutkiewicz: The effect of tournament play and nutritional supplements on field hockey performance in elite female players.
  • Dr Lucy Wasse: Effect of exercise and different environmental conditions on appetite, food intake and the appetite-regulatory hormones, ghrelin and peptide YY.
  • Dr Bryan Saunders: Effects of buffering agents on high-intensity exercise performance and capacity.
  • Dr Chris Saward: Development of anthropometric, psychological, and match performance characteristics in elite male youth football players.
  • Dr James Fisher: Manipulation of resistance training variables for strength increases in young adults.
  • Dr Athalie Redwood-Brown: Effects of score line on match performance in professional soccer players.
  • Dr Rob Corney: Energy intake and appetite responses following manipulation of fluid balance and intake.
  • Dr Rachel Malcolm: The influence of intermittent exercise and heat exposure on neuromuscular and cognitive function.
  • Dr Karah Dring:  Effects of exercise training on adolescent cardiometabolic health and performance.
  • Dr Ben Cousins: Examining the demands and loads of elite rugby union: Influence on time-loss incidence occurrence and severity.
  • Dr Neval Grazette: An evaluation of the musculoskeletal profile and injury epidemiology in under -9 to under-23 elite male academy soccer players.
  • Dr Jack Ashby: An investigation of made-to-measure compression garments and their utility during running.
  • Dr Lorna Hatch:

External activity

Dr Sunderland is a BASES accredited Sports Scientist (Exercise Physiology Sports Science Support and Research) and regularly advises elite teams and individual athletes. She has over 20 years’ experience working with a range of clients from elite athletes to young children.

Work undertaken includes, but is not limited to:

  • Physiological assessment of fitness and screening
  • Training programme development and monitoring
  • Blood, sweat and urine analysis
  • Preparation for exercise in extreme environments
  • Hypoxic exercise during rehabilitation

Previous work includes:

Dr Sunderland is an experienced external examiner for undergraduate and postgraduate courses as well as several PhDs.

Sponsors and collaborators

Current and recent research is being conducted with the collaboration, funding and/or support of:

Recent research funding includes:

  • The effect of compression clothing on recovery from muscle damaging exercise, Kurio Compression, £30,000.
  • Prediction of injury risk in elite rugby union and subsequent development of injury prevention strategies, Bristol Rugby Club, £75,000.
  • Talent identification and development in professional football, Manchester City Services Ltd, £72,158.

External Collaborators:


Selected publications

MALCOLM, R., COOPER, S., FOLLAND, J.P., TYLER, C.J. and SUNDERLAND, C., 2022. The influence of a competitive field hockey match on cognitive function. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 16: 829924. ISSN 1662-5161

COUSINS, B.E.W., MORRIS, J.G., SUNDERLAND, C., BENNETT, A.M., SHAHTAHMASSEBI, G. and COOPER, S.B., 2022. Training and match demands of elite rugby union. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. ISSN 1064-8011

HATCH, L.M., WILLIAMS, R.A., DRING, K.J., SUNDERLAND, C., NEVILL, M.E., SARKAR, M., MORRIS, J.G. and COOPER, S.B., 2021. The Daily Mile™: acute effects on children’s cognitive function and factors affecting their enjoyment. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 57: 102047. ISSN 1469-0292

COUSINS, B.E.W., MORRIS, J.G., SUNDERLAND, C., BENNETT, A.M., SHAHTAHMASSEBI, G. and COOPER, S.B., 2021. Synthetic playing surfaces increase the incidence of match injuries in an elite Rugby Union team. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. ISSN 1440-2440

WILLIAMS, R.A., COOPER, S., DRING, K.J., HATCH, L., MORRIS, J.G., SUNDERLAND, C. and NEVILL, M.E., 2021. Effect of acute football activity and physical fitness on glycaemic and insulinaemic responses in adolescents. Journal of Sports Sciences. ISSN 0264-0414

LAM, E.P., SUNDERLAND, C.D., MORRIS, J.G., FURLONG, L.-A.M., MASON, B.S. and BARRETT, L.A., 2021. Effect of changing match format from halves to quarters on the performance characteristics of male university field hockey players. Sensors, 21 (16): 5490.

Barron, D., Ball, G., Robins, M. and Sunderland, C. (2018) Artificial neural networks and player recruitment in professional soccer. PloS One 13(10) e0205818. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0205818.

Macutkiewicz, D. and Sunderland, C. (2018) Sodium bicarbonate supplementation does not improve elite women’s team sport running or field hockey skill performance. Physiological Reports, 6(19), e13818.DOI: 10.14814/phy2.13818.

MacLeod, H., Cooper, S., Bandelow, S., Malcolm, R. and Sunderland, C. (2018). Effects of heat stress and dehydration on cognitive function in elite female hockey players. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, 10, 12. DOI: 10.1186/s13102-018-0101-9.

The effect of cooling prior to and during exercise on exercise performance and capacity in the heat: A meta-analysis. Tyler, C.J., Sunderland, C. and Cheung, S.S. (2015), British Journal of Sports Medicine,49(1), 7-13.DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2012-091739.

See all of Caroline Sunderland's publications...

Press expertise

  • Exercise in the heat
  • Training for team sport performance
  • Team sports and female athletes

Course(s) I teach on

  • Exercise Physiology
    Postgraduate taught | Full-time / Part-time | 2023

  • Sport Science MRes
    Postgraduate taught | Full-time / Part-time | 2023

  • Person using running machine
    Undergraduate | Full-time / Sandwich | 2023