Katie Pickering

Absolutely shocked! Thank you to everyone who has voted for me and asked questions its been a great couple of weeks meeting you all and the other scientists too. Good luck with all your school work and research everyone. KP x

Favourite Thing: Work with participants and collect data in various ways. I am trained to conduct exercise tests in laboratory settings as well as collect data in the field. This means going out into the setting that your participants are performing in and taking various measurements from them. Sometimes this is data where specific portable laboratory kit is needed and sometimes it can be observational data or interviewing people too. Data collection is the most exciting part about being a scientist!



The Kingstone School in Barnsley, Barnsley Sixth Form College, Manchester Metropolitan University and now Leeds Beckett University


I have 10 GCSE’s, 3 A levels, a Bachelor of Science degree in Sport and Exercise Science and a Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology. I am also a qualfied DXA scan operator. A DXA scanner is a 2D X-ray machine that scans a person’s bones and looks at how dense they are as well determines acurately their body composition. This is used in medicine to assess bone health and diagnose osteoporosis but is also used in sport by athletes to determine how much muscle and fat mass they have.

Work History:

I have worked as a fitness instructor at the Barnsley Metrodome after my first degree, then worked as a Childhood Obesity Exercise Specialist and Project Coordinator for an intervention based out of Liverpool John Moores University. This was also a research project exploring the most successful ways to help obese children and their families become fitter and healthier. I have also worked briefly as a Strength and Conditioning Coach for basketball teams in America and am now a part time lecturer in Physical Activity and Health as well as PhD student at Leeds Beckett University.

Current Job:

PhD research student and lecturer


Leeds Beckett University (formally Leeds Metropolitan University)

Me and my work

Exploring the effectiveness of Smartphone technology and social media in encouraging inactive adults to become active and reduce obesity and related diseases.

Being physically inactive and overweight has meant that in the UK we have a lot of people that have diseases which could be prevented. Diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, depression, and certain types of cancer can be reduced if we lead physically active and healthier lifestyles. This will mean that we will live longer, need to visit the doctor less and ultimately save the NHS a lot of money.

Technology has been blamed a lot for this problem however it is integral to our daily life. We all need technology and use it in many different ways so we can’t just tell people not to use it to become more active. Therfore as researchers we are now exploring how we can still use technology as much as we like but in a way that encourages us to be active, eat healthily and live longer.

My specific area of research is based on smartphone technology and physical activity apps. The average person unlocks their phone around 160 times per day. This is really important to know as it means we can deliver health messages and encouraging messages about taking part in activity through the phone because everyone will see it! I am also very interested in the types of physical activity apps people like to use and why they prefer using them for exercise rather than giong to the gym.

My Typical Day

Sending e mails, reading research papers, writing research papers,collecting data, analysing my data, teaching degree students, and drinking tea!

My typical day consists of catching up with any e mails I need to that are related to my research such as responding to particpants questions, networking with important people involved in technology and Public Health. I conduct some of my research through Facebook and Twitter so have specific pages on these sites I have to check each day. I use social media to reach audiences who communicate this way frequently. I ask them specific questions related to their physical activity levels, how they use smartphone apps to help them become active, and how they like using this method to become more active and healthier. This is a great way to recruit research participants from around the world as well which you cannot do face to face. I have recently finished an online survey about using smartphone apps for health and physical activity and have reached 981 people this way from around the world!

Once I have collected my data I have to analyse it and make sense of it all. The data I am collecting will be important in helping to inform the government and those who design the guidelines around how much physical activity we need to do. It will help them to make decisions on how we can use technology to help inactive and obese individuals become healtier.

What I'd do with the money

Promote the use of technology in reducing obesity and diseases linked to being inactive AKA save the world!

I would use the money to design sessions to inform people how they can use their daily technology to become fitter and healthier. I will also use the money to speak at other events and schools and publish reports that the general public can read and get ideas from about how to use technology to become healthier. If you have any ideas about what you think I could do to promote technology in health please let me know. You never know I may be able to come to your school and talk to you and run a workshop 🙂

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Outgoing, sporty, down to earth

Who is your favourite singer or band?

I like all music especially the song All about the bass at the minute, but i have to admit I’ve been a die hard Bon Jovi fan since I was 12!!! You can’t beat a good old fashioned Power Ballad!

What's your favourite food?

Mexican Food

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I’ve completed 2 Tough Mudder events! Google it…..its ace!

What did you want to be after you left school?

A basketball player!

Were you ever in trouble at school?

I got detention once for laughing in class when a teacher told another student off!!!!! Whoops!

What was your favourite subject at school?

PE, but I also really liked English and Science and I am lucky enough that my job combines all of these things now :-)

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Present my work at an international conference in Italy in front of experts in Persuasive Technology, and be part of a documentary on TV about childhood obesity! Science is a great way to meet new people with similar interests and now and again it presents great opportunities many people don’t ever get the chance to experience! I have friends who have been to Mount Everest as part of their work!

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

I suppose my A Level Sports Studies lecturer at college as I had no idea what careers there were out there in science prior to that. I love sport and enjoyed the exploration of science and becoming a Sports Scientist was perfect as it matched the two up nicely. Since studying to become a Sports Scientist I found my knowledge and skills were transferable into Public Health research which is how I became an Obesity Exercise Specialist and now a researcher in Smartphone technology as a means to reduce obesity.

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

An interior designer! Or a professional Tough Mudder if there is such a thing! haha

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

Complete another Tough Mudder, live a fulfilled life, and marry Channing Tatum! :-)

Tell us a joke.

What do you call cheese thats not yours? Nacho cheese!!!!! (sorry)

Other stuff

Work photos: