My research investigates the relationships between thinking and doing in performance, training and everyday life. I am particularly interested in how people make sense of these experiences as they happen, and the impact of the broader context surrounding a given moment or event.
I draw on detailed case studies from real-world situations to ask how people flexibly and intelligently adjust their actions in response to challenge, pressure or unpredictability, and what this reveals about human capacities for coping and excelling in high-risk, high-pressure situations and the routine challenges of day-to-day life.
My academic work is unusually transdisciplinary, drawing on ethnographic methods to expand on research in performance studies, cognitive science, anthropology, philosophy, psychology, cultural studies and sports science. By placing these different perspectives in conversation with one another, my work consistently reveals new insights into the theoretical debates explored and the activities investigated.
Considering how people make sense of experiences in sport and physical performance reveals new ways of thinking about other situations where attention, focus and memory are important for guiding movement and collaboration. These range from aesthetic practices such as theatre and dance, to job-specific expertise like performing surgery or flying a plane, to supporting memory and communication processes as we age, and to day-to-day activities where we don’t think about every step of an action in order to carry it out. This training translates to equipment consultation, product testing, cycling advocacy and general media work I do within the cycling industry.
Current projects investigate: decision-making processes while mountain biking down steep, rocky trails; the important roles of failure and staying attuned to bodily and affective variability in scaffolding skilled performance; and how an app designed by an Australian tech start-up, Brain Changer, is used by people with persistent pain to learn to live well with, or overcome, the impact of pain on their daily lives.
Please contact me if you’re interested in hearing about upcoming talks or workshops related to this work.
Header image by Gaye Camm (top). Second image by Jeff Kennel, at the Trek Bikes Global Women’s Summit in 2016.