Dr Vikki Burns - School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences

Dr Vikki BurnsWhen did you come to Birmingham?

I came to Birmingham as a Sportex undergrad and never left! After my degree, I stayed on to do my PhD, then completed a two year teaching and research fellowship, before taking my current post nearly five years ago. Sportex born and bred!

Where did you do before coming to Birmingham?

I'm from Cambridge originally, and came through the traditional route of GCSEs and A levels. It was Sport Studies A level that convinced me I wanted to study Sportex, and my teachers told me that Birmingham was the best Sportex department in the country.

Why did you decide to come to work in Sportex?

I was offered a job during my PhD, and decided to stay. It was a big decision, because most people say that you learn more by going somewhere new, but I decided that it was too good an opportunity to miss. It's a prestigious department, we were getting fabulous new facilities, and it's the perfect place for me to pursue my research and teaching.

What are your current areas of research?

I am interested in how exercise affects the immune system. Our work has shown that a short bout of exercise could boost the antibody response to vaccination, and therefore improving the protection levels. I'm also interested in psychological stress; we have found that people who are experiencing a lot of stress have poorer immune function and may be more susceptible to disease.

Why do you like being an academic?

I love the variety - one minute I'm writing a paper for specialist academics, the next I'm explaining a concept to a first year undergrad. I get to develop young researchers as part of our PhD programme, but I'm always still developing my own skills and knowledge.

Tell us a little bit more about yourself away from work

I'm one of those people who does a little bit of everything, but nothing very well! My newest interest is adventure racing, so I love getting out on my mountain bike, preferably somewhere nice and muddy, but not too hilly! I also read a lot, watch far too much cheesy television, and love to spend time with my family and friends.

What do you most enjoy about Birmingham?

Birmingham is a totally under rated city, and I love bringing friends here and surprising them with how nice it is. I love all the newly developed parts of the city, with all the restaurants and bars, but I also love the fact that there is so much green space. I can run from campus to the centre of town without crossing a road, and can even cycle all the way to Stratford alongside the canal.

Describe your favourite holiday

I spent a couple of summers in New Zealand, hiking up glaciers, jumping off bridges, and out of aeroplanes. It was a fantastic time, in a beautiful country. I also love a more relaxed break, and had a fabulous holiday in Venice drinking bellinis with my sisters.

What's your favourite sport?

Definitely adventure racing for participation now, but I will always have a soft spot for gymnastics. I did gymnastics for a long time, never to a high standard, but really loved it. I'm just coming to terms with the fact that my body is a little too old and creaky for it now!