Hannah Tiedt

Hannah Tiedt

Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Master of Sport, Exercise and Health in Strength and Conditioning with Distinction
Bachelor of Sport and Recreation in Exercise Science and Nutrition & Sport and Exercise Science

Deciding to study sport and recreation was easy for her, says Hannah Tiedt who has completed a Bachelor of Sport and Recreation and a Master of Sport, Exercise and Health, and is currently enrolled in a PhD.

“I was always playing some of kind sport growing up in South Africa – hockey, netball, cross country, soccer, touch rugby, sailing and a bit of ballet – and as I grew older the human body started to fascinate me more and more in how adaptable it was. I wanted to learn more about the science behind the body and what we can do to optimise performance.

“The other reason I chose sport and recreation was because at the age of 18 I had a bilateral release and arthroscopy operation on both of my kneecaps. Growing up playing sport came with an injury here and there, but as I grew my knees started to hurt more with no clear signs of injury. After a three-year journey of rehab, doctors’ appointments and endless scans and MRI’s, a doctor discovered I had grown up with misaligned patella bones. My rehab journey after the operation involved a biokineticist, and because of my journey I was keen to study the science behind the human body.”

She says she always had postgraduate study in the back of her mind, even when she was doing her bachelor’s degree.

“I guess the competitive spirit I have has always wanted to push myself to be the best I can be. During the workplace experience in the third year of my bachelor’s degree, I was also placed in SPRINZ biomechanics lab and research team where I got a real taste for what research was like as a pathway for study and career. I was able to involve myself in the many projects taking place at SPRINZ and I loved it. I then applied for a summer internship where I carried out my own small research project, which I loved. After that, I applied for my master’s degree and am now doing my PhD.”

A passion for research
For her doctoral research, Hannah is investigating the effect of nutritional interventions to mitigate sleep deprivation, and the downstream impact on endurance performance training profiles. Her research is supervised by Dr Ed Maunder and Associate Professor Caryn Zinn from AUT’s School of Sport and Recreation.

“Sleeping and nutrition are two of the things I was doing each day to optimise my performance as a long-distance runner. After reading the literature, I discovered that the area of sleep deprivation in endurance runners is quite controversial, and research is mainly carried out in an ultra-endurance context. Another thing missing was nutritional interventions to mitigate the effects of sleep deprivation and optimising performance in non-elite endurance runners. My research aims to combat the physiological and psychobiological effect of sleep deprivation through nutritional interventions and how this can possibly affect the training profile.”

Hannah – who has received a number of scholarships throughout her studies at AUT, including a Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences Master's Fees Scholarship, a Callaghan Innovation Stipend Scholarship and an AUT Doctoral Scholarship – is enjoying her PhD journey so far.

“I love the amazing community that SPRINZ has fostered. The staff and students are one, working together in a cohesive, supportive environment towards the successfulness of each person’s research. The community of both students and staff is amazing, and I really enjoy the approach we take to research and the attitude of all involved. I also represent the School of Sport and Recreation in the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences postgraduate advisory group and am a SPRINZ student representative.”

Advice for other students
Go after what you’re passionate about, Hannah advises other students.

“If you’re passionate, the discipline will come to achieve your goals. Consistency is key, but I find consistency is easier when you actually enjoy what you’re doing each day. If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, then take the time to figure it out; the first thing you try is most likely not going to be the most interesting to you. You have time to work it out – and when you do run with it.”

She says she would 100% recommend studying sport and recreation at AUT.

“If you want to learn from the best, then you need to be with the best! AUT’s sport and recreation staff are often leading the way in their respective fields, and the calibre of our research is impressive and the top of the game by far. The programmes are very practical and lean towards kinetic learning, so if this is your learning style, then AUT is the place for you. The facilities are well-equipped and allow you to carry out meaningful work, and the staff are extremely helpful and willing to work alongside you to achieve your best.”