Henry Tank, from Plymouth, studied the BSc Sports and Exercise Science degree at USW. He has just landed his "dream job" at the age of 23.
What are you doing now?
I’m at King’s College London studying a Master’s in Space Physiology and Health, researching how the space environment affects astronauts physiologically - particularly in light of future interplanetary expeditions to Mars or Enceladus, but also with the possibility of establishing a lunar base in the near future.
I have also accepted a job offer from QinetiQ as an aerospace physiologist.
What does an aerospace physiologist do?!
I will be conducting research into the effects of the flight environment (i.e. acceleration, altitude, disorientation, thermal stress) upon the health of military pilots or future space tourism passengers.
Why this area?
My future plans are to one day embark on a PhD in the field of acceleration physiology and place myself in prime position ready for the arrival of commercial spaceflight and space tourism ventures here in the UK!
What are you looking forward to about your job?
What excites me most about the aerospace industry is the questions it seeks to answer; what physiological complications arise during dynamic aerial combat and what are the operational consequences? Can the human body survive the perils of interplanetary space travel? What considerations must be accounted for when one day launching civilians into space?
Why did you choose a Sport Science degree?
Taking an A-level in PE studies opened my eyes to how my two areas of interest - biology and sport - could overlap, a discovery that inevitably led me to want to study Sport and Exercise Science at USW.
Exercise science is not simply confined to sport and health, but extends into research involving astronauts, pilots, F1 drivers, submariners, divers, and commercial spaceflight tourists. Embarking on this BSc at USW made me aware of the vast array of global opportunities that were within reach for aspiring physiologists, sport scientists, nutritionists, biomechanists, and sport psychologists.
What were the most valuable aspects of the course?
The practical skills and theoretical knowledge have proved exceedingly useful during further study and will no doubt remain imperative to my professional development throughout the rest of my career.
I also had the opportunity to conduct a placement at a cardiac rehabilitation centre and the professional skills I developed, in addition to combining it with my dissertation research, provided me with ample talking points and greater commercial awareness in later interviews and networking events.
What comes next for you?
I am about to embark on my MSc thesis looking at how acceleration impairs lung function in typhoon fighter pilots. Thanks to the extensive preparation I received during my undergraduate degree I feel I have a solid foundation upon which to develop this research project as it unfolds.