I have made an outstanding Research and Innovation (R&I) contribution, particularly in the field of doping prevention in sport, and this has been recognised in my professorship. In particular, I have led or co-led more than 10 international research and education projects funded by the European Commission, the World Anti-Doping Agency, and the International Olympics Committee. In these projects we have developed a wide array of resources that can help athletes, exercisers, and coaches from different backgrounds and types of sport, to tackle doping issues: From empowering athletes and exercisers to avoid use doping substances, such as anabolic steroids, to teaching professional coaches how to support and promote sport integrity in their sport.
I am particularly proud that I led the EU-funded project IMPACT that developed the first formal communities of practice for clean sport education in the UK and five other European countries. We worked closely with coaches, athletes and exercisers, sport organisations, university students, and anti-doping organisations to create local vibrant communities that promote the spirit and values of clean sport. Through IMPACT we managed to engage a lot of people from diverse backgrounds with anti-doping education and practice, something they would not have done if it was not for the specific project. Those local “hubs” can further promote anti-doping values and ideals, and support local sporting communities remain doping-free. My vision is to make a sustainable and meaningful contribution to making doping history, both in the British sporting communities and internationally.
What does it mean personally to you to be a Professor at Sheffield Hallam?
First of all, I very much value being an active researcher in an institution that aspires to become the world’s leading applied University. I have always been keen to translate and apply research findings to resolve existing and emerging societal and public health issues, from smoking and cyberbullying, to risky driving and doping in sport. Being a Professor at Sheffield Hallam helps me pursue this goal and further extend my research to provide solutions where and when needed, to real problems.
Tell us a bit about your career story so far.
Starting off as a PhD and then post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Psychology of the University of Sheffield, I soon realised that my passion was academic research. I have worked as an academic in Greece, Cyprus, and Italy before finally joining Sheffield Hallam in 2015.
I started as a Senior Lecturer, and was then promoted to Associate Professor two years later, before becoming a Professor in September 2021. It has definitely been my Ithaca, and I’ve always longed to establish myself as an academic in Sheffield, a city that I love and I can relate to. I am very keen on developing synergies and partnerships with the local communities and industry, and contributing to meaningful knowledge-transfer projects.
If you could go back in time and give yourself some career advice, what would it be?
Pursue an academic career in psychology! I can’t really imagine myself doing something different, and if I had the chance I would do the same all over again: Study. Become an academic. Repeat.
What’s next? Tell us about how you want to further develop your contribution.
My next task is to further expand research on anti-doping, with an emphasis on developing interventions and tools that will help younger people avoid using doping substances in recreational sport and exercise settings. Doping in gyms is a much bigger problem than it seems and concerted efforts are needed to address this emerging public health issue. In this course, I also want to secure funding to expand the number of PhD and post-doctoral researchers working in this area, in Sheffield Hallam and in collaborating institutions in the UK.