Sport Psychology PhD graduate from St Mary’s University, Twickenham, Ciara Everard has won the 2023 PhD Award in the Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology from The British Psychological Society (BPS).
The Award is given annually to a PhD student whose thesis is regarded as an exceptional, and innovative contribution to knowledge in the field. Research on any aspect of sport and exercise psychology is eligible for the prize, with Ciara taking a psycho-social-cultural look at how sports injury is understood.
This is the second year in a row SMU has won this international award, with former PhD student Hannah Levi winning the prize last year for her psycho-social-cultural exploration of female athletes in elite sport.
Speaking on winning the award, Ciara said: “I am very pleased to be joint winner of the PhD Award for this year from the BPS Sport and Exercise Psychology division (DSEP). A massive thank you to my incredible supervisory team for their continuous guidance and support throughout this project, Prof Ross Wadey, Dr Melissa Day, and Dr Karen Howells. I am also incredibly grateful to all the participants who willingly shared their injury stories and without whom this research would not have been possible.”
Ciara’s research aims to cultivate a more inclusive understanding of the different ways in which athletes make sense of their injury experiences. She argues that while sports injuries can have devastating consequences for athletes, particularly on mental health, injuries are often downplayed and normalised by being seen as an unavoidable part of elite sport.
Through her research, Ciara moves beyond the binary categorisations of injuries having ‘good’ or ‘bad’ recovery outcomes, instead exploring the multiple ways athletes may experience injury. By doing so, she aims to expand the perspectives and possibilities from injury, as well as provide a broader and more nuanced understanding of injury experiences.
Ciara’s doctoral supervisor at SMU, Prof Ross Wadey, added: “We’re just so happy for Ciara. It’s a wonderful PhD thesis that brings theory to life. Ciara was a joy to work with and learn from. She thoroughly deserves this award.”
SMU has a thriving Doctoral College with over 100 students, all supported by a supervisory team of active researchers in the chosen subject area. Current subject areas include sport, applied science, theology, health, arts and humanities, social sciences, business and education. In addition, several students are working within a range of important cross-disciplinary fields.
SMU also offers Professional Doctorates in Education, Ministry, and Strength and Conditioning.