PhD lockdown story: Iwan Rowlands

Iwan, Sport Psychology PhD student


My PhD journey began in April 2020, in the middle of lockdown. It was a daunting time as not only did I have to get to grips with being a new postgraduate research student, I also had a new topic area and a lot of reading in front of me. 

My thesis involves using psychological interventions to aid physiological recovery in elite athletes, working in partnership with Sport Wales. I am currently planning the protocol of my first research study – a rapid review, mapping the relationship between heart rate variability and fatigue status over time. 

Although being stuck at home can be difficult, especially when it comes to structuring your day, having this time during lockdown to study at home has not impaired my learning too much as I have been able to attend various webinars to aid my learning. 

I have had weekly meetings with my supervisors and other PhD students via video calls on Teams. Although I have never met them in person, I feel as if I know them well already!

Once it is safe to do so, I am looking forward to meeting other PhD students, my supervisors, and partners at Sport Wales in person!  I’m also looking forward to trying out some of the lab equipment that I’ve been learning about over the last few months. 

My first research had planned to involve human participants and measuring physiological responses so I have had to adapt the type of research to conduct a review. Hopefully, by the beginning of next year I will be able to fulfil this as my next piece of research. 

The psychology behind human behaviour has always intrigued me and this, alongside my passion for many different sports, has generated my enthusiasm within this area of research. 

Post-PhD I would love to continue my training in Sport Psychology to become a fully qualified sports psychologist.


Iwan is studying an ESF-funded KESS PhD Scholarship. You can see current KESS-funded scholarships here