In this Editor Spotlight, Dr. Lindsay Bottoms shares with us why she enjoys her experience as a PLOS ONE Academic Editor and her personal and professional background as a source of inspiration for her work in sport science.
Dr. Lindsay Bottoms is a Reader in Exercise and Health Physiology and the Head of Centre for Research in Psychology and Sport Sciences at the University of Hertfordshire. Lindsay is also the Deputy Director of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. Lindsay’s research focuses on two distinct areas, one being the Olympic sport of fencing and improving performance and the other being physical activity for health. Lindsay is also currently the British number 1 women’s epee fencer for veteran category 1 fencing and was an international fencer for GB for several years. She is also a member of the British Fencing Medical Committee.
What excites you about your role as a PLOS ONE Academic Editor?
I find we spend so much time in our academic jobs attending meetings, writing grants, and doing lots of administrative work that I don’t often get time to sit down and read papers. Therefore, I enjoy the fact that being an academic editor it makes me sit down and read papers in my field. I always love learning new knowledge when reading articles. I also believe it is good to give people a good experience (especially early career researchers) when having a paper peer reviewed and being an academic editor, I can try and ensure this happens.
You had a successful career in competitive fencing and continue to be involved in sport. How have these experiences inspired your research?
I have been incredibly fortunate to have had an opportunity to compete internationally in the sport I love. It was only by chance that I got to do it. I used to do fencing occasionally but someone stole my fencing kit when I was doing my PhD. I had to make a decision whether I was going to continue with it and spend lots of money on new kit, or finally give up. I thankfully chose to take the opportunity to work hard at it and soon became a top 10 UK fencer and got the opportunity to travel the world fencing. Being an exercise physiologist, my fencing friends used to often ask for advice on how to prepare for competition and how to improve performance so I began offering them sport science support. It became noticeable that there was very little scientific literature available and I disagreed with some of the practices happening, that I decided to start doing research in the area. Since retiring from senior level fencing 8 years ago, I have been a team manager for the young fencers going to competitions and supporting them as well as being a selector for all levels (cadet, junior and seniors). In addition to being a selector, I am now on the British Fencing Medical Committee and help advise on areas such as creating a heat policy.
One area that I have spent a lot of time exploring is the physiological demands of fencing, although I have focused mainly on epee. There are three different weapons in fencing (epee, foil and sabre) and often people look at fencing as a whole and develop strength and conditioning programs without considering the differences. To me this is a bit like creating a fitness program for a rugby player regardless of whether they play league or union. But until we have the data, it is hard to change opinions. With my work in fencing, I have developed really good collaborative links with Professor Xavier Iglesias at the Insitut Nacional d’Educacio Fisca de Catalunya who also does a lot of fencing research.
In addition to your role as a researcher, you also actively educate the public on exercise science. What motivates you to do so?
I have suffered with Crohn’s disease for 30 years, I developed it when I was 13 years old. At the time I was one of the first children on the Isle of Wight to ever be diagnosed with it, so there was very little advice available. I remember not exercising for almost a year, which was awful as I have always been fanatical about sport. I developed strictures (a narrowing of the bowel) and suffered with many bowel obstructions over the years but somehow I was still able to do my fencing and compete at a high level.
In 2012, I made the decision to have a bowel resection as the biologics weren’t working very well and I kept getting hospitalized with the blockages. I did my national championships the weekend before I had surgery and was planning on qualifying for England in 2014 for the fencing Commonwealth Championships. I had half a meter of small intestine removed and frustratingly, I was hospitalized for 12 days as my gut shut down afterwards. But it did start working again and I was saved from having a stoma. All the literature I received in hospital was about doing gentle exercise when I felt able to. I was planning on competing the following month to start my qualifying season for the Commonwealths. This information I was receiving seemed to contradict how I felt, and it made me start exploring more the role of exercise in inflammatory bowel disease.
My gastroenterologist was a keen sports person and together we started to develop research. I suddenly was driven to explore the efficacy of exercise in IBD and I still am. But obviously it is very hard to find funding to do research, so I realized I couldn’t change the world over night. I have branched out to other health conditions and have looked at exercise for different health conditions. As all researchers know, having patient public involvement is really important – I have engaged in a lot of PPI (Patient and Public Involvement) work and also public engagement to ensure I have got the information back to the right people. I actually enjoy writing lay writing more so than academic writing and have written many The Conversation articles.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by contributors are solely those of individual contributors, and not necessarily those of PLOS.