3 PhD’s available – Sport Surfaces Research Group (SSRG)

Loughborough University

PhD
Posted 6 months ago
PhDs available – Sport Surfaces Research Group (SSRG) at Loughborough University

Three PhD projects are available for applications in 2017. Please enquire for discussion of the topics and deadlines to the email/telephone contacts supplied for each project.

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Graduate School, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career.

Find out more: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/supporting-you/research/ Please Note: This is an open call for candidates who are sponsored or who have their own funding. If you do not have funding, you may still apply, however Institutional funding is not guaranteed. Outstanding candidates (UK/EU/International) without funding will be considered for any funding opportunity which may become available in the School.

The PhD student would join an active Sport Surfaces Research Group at Loughborough University which currently includes five postgraduate projects, investigating topics ranging from experimental measurement of player interactions with ATPs to optimising maintenance practice. The group has strong industrial links with companies such as Labosport and Technical Surfaces Ltd. The University campus acts as an outdoor laboratory, supplementing the indoor laboratory facilities which include VICON and Coda motion capture systems, Kistler forceplates, pressure mats/insoles and a range of industry standard surface testing devices (e.g. advanced artificial athlete). It also runs the international ‘SportSURF’ Network, which runs workshops and conferences on the topic of sport surface science. Dr Fleming and Dr Forrester lead the group. Dr Fleming’s background is in geo-materials engineering, and is a committee member for the UK trade association SAPCA (see www.sapca.org.uk) and the British Standards Committee PRi/57 (see https://standardsdevelopment.bsigroup.com/committees/50001432). Dr Forrester’s background is in sports engineering and biomechanics with a research focus on the interactions between sports surfaces, footwear and the athlete. The overall aim is to better understand the mechanics of these interactions to help inform surface and footwear development.

The three proposed PhD topics are set out below 1. PhD title: Investigation of Player–Surface Interactions on Third Generation Artificial Turf Reference number: SSRG/2017/1; Preferred Start date (if any): October 2017

The use of artificial turf pitches (ATP) is growing worldwide including at the elite level in sports such as association football, hockey and rugby football. Many stimulating research questions exist for ATPs regarding: play performance; safety/injury risk; and design/construction/maintenance optimisation. Traction behaviour is one of the key performance variables for ATPs closely linking to play performance and injury risk. The traction behaviour of ATPs is one of the fundamental surface variables affecting both athlete performance and injury risk. The complex and viscoelastic nature of the surface fibres and infill, combined with the challenging environment in which to take measurements, means that limited knowledge exists regarding how athletes achieve the traction they require, how the surface contributes to this traction behaviour and what limits of upper and lower traction might be available. This project aims to improve our understanding of athlete footwear-surface interactions on artificial turf (with a focus on football and rugby) through a principally experimental approach. This will involve the development and validation of novel measurement techniques to quantify the relevant variables such as impact deceleration, contact area and contact pressure. The work packages will include: developing a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms involved in traction performance at the footwear-surface interface; an assessment of the key variables to measure from both the player and the surface; extensive athlete testing to support the development of valid experimental protocols; and an evaluation of the protocol to explore the interaction on a range of ATPs, natural turf and hybrid pitches. The knowledge developed during this PhD would be highly beneficial to the sports surfaces industry in terms of being able to understand the athlete experience on different surface (and footwear) systems. Find out more: Please contact Dr Steph Forrester (01509 564824; s.forrester@lboro.ac.uk) or Dr Paul Fleming (01509 222616; p.r.fleming@lboro.ac.uk) Entry requirements: Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in Mechanical Engineering, Medical Engineering, Sports Science, Sports Technology or a related subject. A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: Biomechanics, Research Methods.

2. PhD title: Modelling the Traction Behaviour of Artificial Turf Pitches The industry and research into artificial turf sport surfaces has seen significant growth over the last decade. This is linked to the proliferation of artificial turf pitches in Europe for use in high participation sports such as soccer, rugby union and rugby league as well as the introduction of these surfaces into their laws of the game globally, and use at elite competition level. Despite this increased focus, our fundamental understanding of the mechanism(s) of interaction between player and surface remains poor. Hence, although the benefits of artificial turf are well recognised many research challenges remain before it can be viewed as a realistic alternative to natural grass at all levels of sport. For example, despite their widespread use at the recreational level the last vote in 2014 ensured they remain banned from the top flights of English football. Artificial turf pitches are typically comprised of multi-components and their interactions with users and equipment can be relatively complex under compression, tension, shear, and with regard profiled footwear and studded boots. Many of the materials utilised in surface construction exhibit behaviour that is anisotropic, non-linear, viscoelastic and temperature dependent. At present there are no useable numerical models to describe artificial turf system behaviour. A working model describing element behaviour and system response would be a major step forward in helping predict player-surface (and ball-surface) interactions, and in optimising surface designs in a virtual environment, prior to physical changes in production or construction. The principal aim of this PhD is to develop a numerical model to describe the traction behaviour of multi-component artificial turf systems. A secondary aim is to characterise the material behaviours as necessary to support the model development. The research group is currently working on modelling the response of artificial turf systems to vertical loading and this project would interlink with, and expand, this area. Find out more: Please contact Dr Steph Forrester (01509 564824; s.forrester@lboro.ac.uk) or Dr Paul Fleming (01509 222616; p.r.fleming@lboro.ac.uk) Entry requirements: Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Civil Engineering, Sports Technology or a related subject. A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: Finite Element Modelling, Polymer Science or Mechanical Design.

3. PhD title: Development of a Biomechanically Inspired Mechanical Test Device to Assess Traction Performance of Artificial Turf Pitches The use of artificial turf pitches (ATP) is growing worldwide including at the elite level in sports such as association football, hockey and rugby football. Many stimulating research questions exist for ATPs regarding: play performance; safety/injury risk; and design/construction/maintenance optimisation. Traction behaviour is one of the key performance variables for ATPs closely linking to play performance and injury risk. Existing mechanical methods to quantify the traction behaviour of ATPs suffer from poorly representing the player experience on the surface principally due to over-simplified representation of the boot–surface interaction combined with the complex and viscoelastic nature of the surface fibres and infill materials. This project aims to develop a biomechanically inspired valid and reliable mechanical test device that can be used on ATPs to evaluate their traction behaviour from a player perspective. The work packages will include: the assessment of existing traction testing devices; human testing to capture the relevant biomechanical boot–surface interaction parameters; design and construction of a novel mechanical test rig to measure the traction performance; and an evaluation of the test rig on a range of ATPs and natural turf pitches. Such a device would represent a powerful tool in the ongoing development of new artificial turf products and in benchmarking performance against natural turf and hybrid systems. Find out more: Please contact Dr Steph Forrester (01509 564824; s.forrester@lboro.ac.uk) or Dr Paul Fleming (01509 222616; p.r.fleming@lboro.ac.uk) Entry requirements: Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Civil Engineering, Sports Technology or a related subject. A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: Biomechanics, Polymer Science or Mechanical Design.

Recent papers from the research group:

Twomey, D.M., Petrass, L.A., Fleming, P.R., 2014. Abrasion injuries on artificial turf: A real risk or not? South African Journal of Sports Medicine. 26(3), 91–92. ISSN 2078-516X.

Fleming P.R., Forrester S., McLaren N.J., 2015. Understanding the effects of decompaction maintenance on the infill state and play performance of third-generation artificial grass pitches. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology. 229(3), 169–182. (Awarded Best Journal Paper JSET Part ‘P’).

Tay, S.P., Hu, X., Fleming, P.R., Forrester, S.E., 2016. Tribological investigation into achieving skin-friendly artificial turf surfaces. Materials and Design. 89, 177–182. (SNIP 3.291)

Tay, S.P., Fleming, P.R. Forrester, S.E., Hu, X., 2016. Addressing Skin Abrasions on Artificial Turfs with Zwitterionic Polymer Brushes. RSC Advances. 6(39), 32446–32453. DOI: 10.1039/C5RA26194E (SNIP 0.95).

Tay, S.P., Fleming, P.R., Hu, X., Forrester, S.E. Skin friction related behaviour of artificial turf systems. Accepted for publication in the Journal of Sports Sciences.

Fleming P.R., Frost M.W. Simpson M., Everett R., Gibbs R.J., 2016. Drainage behaviour of sports pitches – a case study. Accepted for publication in Journal of Crop Science, International Turfgrass Research Journal.

The Science and Engineering of Sport Surfaces, 2015, Eds. Dixon S., Fleming P. R., Carre M. J., James I. T., Taylor and Francis, London. Print ISBN: 9780415500920.

Anderson, F.D., Fleming, P.R., Sherratt, P., Severn, K, 2016. Design and Development of A Novel Natural Turf Shear Stability Tester. In International Sports Engineering Association – The Engineering of Sport 11, Procedia Engineering. 147, 842–847.

Sharma, P., Fleming, P., Forrester, S., Gunn J., 2016. Maintenance of Artificial Turf – Putting Research into Practice. In International Sports Engineering Association – The Engineering of Sport 11, Procedia Engineering.147, 830–835.

Fleming, P., Ferrandino, M., Forrester, S., 2016. Artificial Turf Field – A ‘New Build’ Case Study, 2016. In International Sports Engineering Association – The Engineering of Sport 11, Procedia Engineering. 147, 836–841.

Mehravar, M., Fleming, P., Cole D., Forrester, S., 2016. Mechanical characterisation and strain rate sensitivity of rubber shockpad in 3G artificial turf. Proceedings of the 24th UK Conference of the Association for Computational Mechanics in Engineering, Cardiff, UK. pp6.