Dr Nick Draper
Originally from England, and having studied in the USA for three years, Nick chose to work at the University of Canterbury because of the strength of its Physical Education teaching. ‘It is a great course with a strong reputation nationally and internationally. When I came here for the interview, the people were very friendly and there appeared – and this has since proven to be true – to be lots of opportunities for developing ideas and research.’
Nick’s specialist areas of interest are the physiology of adventure sports, namely the way the human body responds to the stresses of those activities, especially rock climbing; and exercise and health. In recent research he has looked at specific ways to measure athletes’ performance in rock climbing, the popularity of which has created a growing research base for the sport.
He is also co-leading a project to find how best to apply to an Aotearoa New Zealand context recent findings that high and medium-intensity exercise can reduce the chances of at-risk groups developing Type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. The findings reversed the previous thinking that low-intensity exercise was best for this group.
‘The freshness of the research in this field, and the variety of work are things I really enjoy about my subject. It is also very popular with students, and so the enthusiasm they bring to it is fantastic.’
Nick says that UC has offered him all the opportunities he could expect from a large university, especially for collaboration with other staff within the School, the College and the University. ‘The colleagues with whom I work have a very positive and enthusiastic attitude. I’ve also appreciated the support I’ve received to enable me to establish very quickly a team of postgraduate students working in my research field.’
Nick teaches exercise science to intending physical education teachers, his aim being ‘to develop their knowledge, understanding and passion for the subject so they have the confidence to establish engaging and caring learning environments for the students they teach’.
He is also keen to make sure that his postgraduate – mainly PhD – students not only further develop their knowledge in the field, but also publish work before and after completing their research project, and develop their teaching in small groups and larger lecture settings. ‘I want them to develop a well-rounded graduating profile,’ he says.
Away from work, Nick likes to spend time with his wife and young sons, as well as canoeing, kayaking and climbing. ‘I also do a bit of woodworking, and fencing – to stop our Labrador escaping after food…’
Nick’s advice to prospective students is to ‘ask lots of questions. Make sure you have a passion for the subject, and seize the opportunities that come your way’.