Class of 2020: Joseph Barker

We’re so proud of our class of 2020. They've overcome enormous challenges to graduate, but at the same time they've been determined to make a difference - helping others, grasping opportunities to develop their skills and showing their Essex Spirit in so many different ways. Now we're taking the chance to celebrate their achievements.

  • Date

    Wed 22 Jul 20

Joseph Barker, wearing a dark blue collared jumper and standing against a white wall

Joseph Barker chose to study BSc Sport and Exercise Science at Essex after being wowed by our fantastic lab facilities, which he later got the chance to use to develop his own skills when he spent a placement year in the Human Performance Unit.

Stepping into the role of Assistant Sport Scientist, Joseph was able to get hands on with athletes conducting physiological exercise testing, writing reports and making training suggestions, as well as leading educational sessions for local schoolchildren.

He was able to work with a range of athletes including ultra-endurance runners, IronMan triathletes and even an elite motorsport competitor.

“The most enjoyable thing about the placement was being able to engage with such an array of different characters,” he said.

“I loved being able to talk about sport science with them and try to apply the theories I had learnt to their particular situations and performances.”

But it came with challenges too, most notably time management: “With a range of different responsibilities, I initially found it hard to be able to keep on top of several tasks at once,” he said.

“My mentor helped me to improve my organisational skills by advising techniques, such as setting short term goals of what I wanted to accomplish each day.”

The placement also afforded the opportunity to become qualified in operating the Unit’s Dual-energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DXA) scanner which assesses body composition. This added skill helped him conduct his own research on the relationship between physical activity, diet and body composition in university students and his findings have already been cited by other researchers.

“Throughout the work I put in there were bumps in the road which took a lot of effort to overcome. Knowing my work will mean something to future studies makes it all so worth it in the end,” he said.

Joseph is planning to complete an MSc Applied Sport and Exercise Physiology in London before using the skills he’s picked up during his Essex placement to pursue a career in applied sport science.