Staff profile

Professor Nick Draper

Head of Department of Life Sciences


Outdoor and Adventure Sport, Sport and Exercise Science


College of Life and Natural Sciences


School of Human Sciences


Kedleston Road, Derby Campus, Oaklands Manor, Buxton Campus



I joined the Department of Life Sciences in 2014, having just returned from Christchurch, New Zealand where I lived for seven years and was Head of the School of Sport and Physical Education at the University of Canterbury.

My specialist teaching areas are in the areas of exercise physiology and outdoor education, although I've a long-standing passion for Judo, which I started when I was eight years old.

Originally from the UK, I was excited to return to the Peak District and to join the Life Sciences Department at the University of Derby. During the 1990s I lived in the Peak District for a number of years and in my spare time I'm currently exploring old climbing and paddling haunts with my sons and wife.

Teaching responsibilities

I have been involved in undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the UK, New Zealand and USA, teaching in the areas of exercise physiology, environmental physiology, sports biochemistry, and research methods.

Practical activity courses I've been involved with include rock climbing, canoe expeditioning, kayaking, judo, weight training, exercise prescription and swimming.

Professional interests

My professional interests include developing strong working teams; breaking down discipline boundaries to create multi-disciplinary teams to harness the synergies that such collaborations can bring about; working closely with students and local communities to ensure universities are linked with and respond to the needs of stakeholders; real-world teaching and applied research; and creating courses that link theory and practice such that laboratory and activity sessions make links to theory, allowing material to come alive and for students and increase their understanding.


Research interests

I'm an active researcher and my key areas of interest involve health and physical activity promotion and adventure physiology.

With regard to health and physical activity, I was recently involved in a Health Research Council (NZ) funded project to study the beneficial effects of high intensity interval training, in comparison to low intensity continuous exercise, on exercise economy and markers of health for individuals at risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Since joining the University of Derby I have been establishing a research team and developing a project to examine the effects of a combined nutritional and exercise programme on health markers for those previously sedentary individuals.

In the area of adventure physiology, my research team has been focused on the psychophysiology of rock climbing, and I personally maintains a keen interest on exercise in extreme environments. At the University of Derby, I'm working with David Giles, one of my PhD students and members of the Outdoor Leadership Team, to develop aspects of research in the area of psychophysiology of rock climbing.

If you are interested in postgraduate study and research in either of my research areas please contact me via email or telephone to discuss options.

Membership of professional bodies


Academic qualifications

Sport and outdoor qualifications

Recent conferences

Conference- Keynote Presentations (2012 – 2014)

Conferences- Oral Presentations

Conference – Poster Presentations

Experience in industry

I'm a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Strength Training and Conditioning, Isokinetics and Exercise Science and the International Journal of Sports Science. I was elected President of the International Rock Climbing Research Association in 2011 for a term of three years.  I've been an invited chair for oral presentations at European College of Sports Science Congress. 

I've worked closely with athletes from a range of sports and taking part at a variety of levels; including serving as Performance Planner for British Judo between 1998-2002, supporting elite rock climbers, coaching club judo, u7 rippa rugby and High School 1st 15 rugby in New Zealand. My role with British Judo included serving as Team Manager for Judo at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.   

In the last three years years I worked closely with two New Zealand engineering companies and the Engineering department to develop climbing holds containing force sensors to measure forces during rock climbing.  

My research links with industry in New Zealand have included conducting studies of a GP exercise referral programme and cardiac rehabilitation programme as well as being involved in stress and immune function studies with the Crusaders and Canterbury professional rugby teams. 

International experience

I have worked as a researcher and teacher in New Zealand and the US.


Additional interests and activities

Outside of work (but somewhat related) my other interests include rock climbing, canoeing, judo, triathlons and guitar. 


Recent publications

Authored books

Edited book

Chapters in books

Journal articles