27 July 2017
A USC researcher who helps push elite athletes to their limit has been named Exercise & Sports Science Australia’s (ESSA) Accredited Exercise Scientist of the Year.
Ava Kerr, who manages the technical services at USC’s Health and Sports Sciences facilities, received the award from ESSA for her commitment to research, teaching support and industry practice.
Her citation from ESSA noted that her “commitment to both supporting and undertaking research in her field of expertise is contributing to important knowledge generation which is ultimately good for the exercise science profession”.
In addition to providing technical support to USC’s teaching academics, Ms Kerr regularly conducts cutting-edge fitness and body composition testing of Sunshine Coast Lightning netball players and USC Spartans’ Olympic and Paralympic swimmers.
Ms Kerr has also put renowned big-wave surfer Mark Visser, marathon runner Mel Panayiotou and motorcycle racer Chris Vermeulen through their paces in USC’s Exercise Science laboratories, using a VO2Max test on a treadmill to test maximum aerobic capacity and utilisation.
She said she was honoured to have been nominated for the ESSA award by her USC colleagues and clients from her Pilates classes.
“It felt like a really strong endorsement of the work I’ve been doing with USC over the past 10 years,” Ms Kerr said.
“I like to think that I’ve made a contribution to some of the incredible research that’s underway at the University, as well as the education of our graduates in Sport and Exercise Science.
“It’s an exciting time to be at USC. We’re seeing more and more high performance athletes, including students, come through for testing and training at our world class facilities.”
USC Health and Sports Sciences laboratories feature cutting-edge technology, including a BOD POD to provide precise body composition measures; a DXA scanner for measuring bone health and physique traits; several VO2 max testing metabolic analysers, using a top of the line treadmill worth $80,000.
Ms Kerr is in the final stages of a five-year PhD research project, which is aiming to improve the reliability of common body composition assessment methods used by athletes.
“My research is about determining the technical and biological error within different techniques, and reducing that error to ensure the results are as precise as possible,” she said. “We know this information can make all the difference for elite athletes.
“We’ve tested dozens of athletes, with a particular focus on large muscular males, and I think the results will really help improve how high-level athletes are tested in the future with the creation of best practice protocols.”
— Gen Kennedy