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Mary Nevill

Mary Nevill

Interim Head of Department

School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)


Professor Mary Nevill is Head of Department of Sport Science in the School of Science and Technology here at NTU. Together with a talented academic staff she strives for the highest possible standards in teaching, research and enterprise and thus an enhanced position for Sport Science at NTU in the national subject league tables.

Professor Nevill is research active in the physiology of high intensity exercise in sport and in health. She has 70 full peer-reviewed academic journal papers, 200 other publications and over 3,000 citations.

Career overview

Professor Nevill began her career with a one year temporary lectureship at Birmingham University (1987-1988), which was quickly followed by a permanent lecturing post at Manchester Metropolitan University (1988-1989). However, when the opportunity arose to return to Loughborough University, where she trained, she could not resist and she took a lectureship there in 1989 followed by a senior lectureship in 1996. A key substantive role at Loughborough, from 2001-2013, was the Director of the Institute of Youth Sport, responsible for up to 20 full-time and part-time research fellows and associates and for liaising with senior staff from the wider School who joined the IYS for particular projects. She managed over 40 multi-disciplinary research projects for the Institute, all of which were delivered to a high quality and on time. Until March 2009, she led the research of the New Opportunities for PE and Sport Initiative (£1.2 million over 6 years) which examined the impact of new facilities and associated sporting activities on the physical activity, health and wider social outcomes for children, their families and the wider community. In addition Professor Nevill led on the evaluation and research of physical activity and sport interventions for large numbers of primary and secondary age pupils including the School Sport Coaching programme for the Youth Sport Trust and the Great Activity programme which used sport and physical activity as a vehicle to improve the health of school age pupils in England.

Professor Nevill has had extensive involvement in national sport and exercise organisations and has been a member of the United Kingdom Sports Council (1998-2000), Chairman of the United Kingdom Sports Science Advisory Group (1998-2000), Chairman of the International Teams Committee for the English Hockey Association (1997-2001) and member of the East Midlands Sports Board (2003-5) responsible for writing the East Midlands Regional Plan for Sport and Section Editor of the Journal of Sports Sciences (2000-2005). Currently she is Chair of the Sport and Performance Division and a Board Member for the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences.

Outside of academia Professor Nevill is a keen sportswoman. She has participated in two Olympic Games and was captain of the British Women's Hockey Squad in Barcelona in 1992 when the team took the bronze medal. She has also coached the England U21 Women's Squad and was Director of Hockey at Loughborough University for 15 years. Currently she takes tennis seriously and competes in the British Veterans' Championships.

Research areas

Professor Nevill has had a career interest in the physiology of maximal and high intensity exercise. Her PhD was on the 'Effect of training on muscle metabolism during treadmill sprinting.' She followed this with several papers on the aetiology of fatigue during sprinting, a number of which have been cited more than 100 times, including two Journal of Physiology papers. This interest in the physiology of sprinting, together with her own sporting career as an international hockey player, developed into an examination of the physiological demands and limitations of performance during high intensity intermittent exercise, such as the activity patterns found in field hockey and football, including intermittent exercise performance in the heat. Some key findings were that: enhanced sprint performance following training is accompanied by an increase in energy provision from anaerobic metabolism without a further decline in muscle pH and; that performance during intermittent exercise including maximal sprints seems to be limited by phosphocreatine availability due to limited recovery time between sprints, together with the gradual decline in muscle glycogen over the duration of the event, except during exercise in the heat where the rise in deep body temperature is the key limiting factor.

Professor Nevill spent 12 years as the Director of the Institute of Youth Sport at Loughborough University. Here her interest in intermittent exercise was focused on children and young people, including substantive work on talent identification and development for young elite performers, particularly in football, and on the impact of intermittent exercise on health and quality of life in the school age population. Some key findings were that after controlling for age and maturity sprint performance is an important physiological variable contributing to progression to senior professional football and in the school aged population participation in intermittent exercise, such as that found in the major team games, can reduce blood lipids following meals contributing to enhanced health.

Opportunities to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil/PhD exist and further information may be obtained from the NTU Graduate School.

External activity

Professor Nevill is the Sport and Performance Division Chair and Board Member for the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences.

Sponsors and collaborators

Some key collaborators have included: Professor Clyde Williams (Loughborough University), Dr Gregory Bogdanis (University of Athens), Dr Henryk Lakomy (formerly Loughborough University) and Professor Leslie Boobis (Sunderland Hospital) on the aetiology of fatigue during sprinting; Dr John Morris and Dr Caroline Sunderland (both NTU) on the physiology of intermittent exercise and talent identification and development in football; Dr Keith Stokes (University of Bath) and Profesor George Hall (Hammersmith Hospital London) on work on growth hormone; Professor Paul Greenhaff (Nottingham University) on work on muscle metabolism in single fibres; Professor Stuart Biddle (Loughborough University), Dr Trish Gorely (Stirling University), Dr Laura Barrett (Loughborough University) and Dr Matt Sedgwick (Leeds Trinity University) on the effect of exercise on the health and fitness of children and adolescents with a special focus on postprandial lipaemia; and Dr Simon Cooper (NTU) and Dr Stephan Bandelow (Loughborough University) on the effect of exercise and diet on cognitive function in adolescents.

During her role as Director of the Institute of Youth Sport key collaborators were: Professor Tess Kay (Brunel University), Professor Barrie Houlihan (Loughborough University), Professor Kathy Armour (Birmingham University), Dr Carolynne Mason, Dr Steve Bradbury, Dr Rachel Sandford, Dr Rebecca Duncombe, Dr Iain Lindsay, Dr Ruth Jeanes, Dr Dominic Malcolm, Hayley Musson and Susie Brown (all currently or formerly Loughborough University).

Since 2002, Professor Nevill’s total research income has been £2.7 million. Awarding bodies have included:


Recent publications

Exercise and Health

DRING, K.J., COOPER, S.B., WILLIAMS, R.A., MORRIS, J.G., SUNDERLAND, C. and NEVILL, M.E., 2020. Effect of exercise duration on postprandial glycaemic and insulinaemic responses in adolescents. Nutrients, 12 (3): 754. ISSN 2072-6643

SAVAGE, M.J., JAMES, R., MAGISTRO, D., DONALDSON, J., HEALY, L.C., NEVILL, M. and HENNIS, P.J., 2020. Mental health and movement behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic in UK university students: prospective cohort study. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 19: 100357. ISSN 1755-2966

WILLIAMS, R.A., COOPER, S.B., DRING, K.J., HATCH, L., MORRIS, J.G., SUNDERLAND, C. and NEVILL, M.E., 2020. Effect of football activity and physical fitness on information processing, inhibitory control and working memory in adolescents. BMC Public Health, 20 (1): 1398.

WILLIAMS, R.A., DRING, K.J., COOPER, S.B., MORRIS, J.G., SUNDERLAND, C. and NEVILL, M.E., 2020. Predictors of postprandial glycaemia, insulinaemia and insulin resistance in adolescents. British Journal of Nutrition. ISSN 0007-1145

DRING, K.J., COOPER, S.B., MORRIS, J.G., SUNDERLAND, C., FOULDS, G.A., POCKLEY, A.G. and NEVILL, M.E., 2019. Cytokine, glycemic and insulinemic responses to an acute bout of games-based activity in adolescents. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 29 (4), pp. 597-605. ISSN 0905-7188

Performance Sport

SAWARD, C., HULSE, M., MORRIS, J.G., GOTO, H., SUNDERLAND, C. and NEVILL, M.E., 2020. Longitudinal physical development of future professional male soccer players: implications for talent identification and development? Frontiers in Sports and Active Living, 2: 578203. ISSN 2624-9367

SAWARD, C., MORRIS, J.G., NEVILL, M.E., MINNITI, A.M. and SUNDERLAND, C., 2020. Psychological characteristics of developing excellence in elite youth football players in English professional academies. Journal of Sports Sciences, 38 (11-12), pp. 1380-1386. ISSN 0264-0414

Examples of publications with over 500 citations

BOGDANIS, G.C., NEVILL, M.E., BOOBIS, L.H., LAKOMY, H.K., 1996. Contribution of phosphocreatine and aerobic metabolism to energy supply during repeated sprint exercise. Journal of applied physiology, 80 (3), pp. 876-884

BOGDANIS, G.C., NEVILL, M.E., BOOBIS, L.H., LAKOMY, H.K., NEVILL A.M., 1995. Recovery of power output and muscle metabolites following 30 s of maximal sprint cycling in man. The Journal of physiology, 482 (2), pp. 467-480

Examples of publications with over 100 citations

GORELY, T., NEVILL, M.E., MORRIS, J.G., STENSEL, D.J. and NEVILL, A. (2012). Effect of a school-based intervention to promote healthy lifestyles in 7–11 year old children. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 6 (1), 1-12.

COOPER, S.B., BANDELOW, S. and NEVILL, M.E. (2011). Breakfast consumption and cognitive function in adolescent schoolchildren. Physiology and Behavior. 103(5), 431-439.

GREENHAFF, P.L., NEVILL, M.E., SODERLUND, K., BODIN, K., BOOBIS, L.H. and WILLIAMS, C. 1994. The metabolic responses of human type I and II muscle fibres during maximal treadmill sprinting. The Journal of Physiology 478 (1), 149-155.

NEVILL, M.E., BOOBIS, L.H., BROOKS, S., WILLIAMS, C., 1989. Effect of training on muscle metabolism during treadmill sprinting. Journal of applied physiology, 67 (6), pp. 2376-2382

See all of Mary Nevill's publications...