Jasper Wong

Jasper Wong

Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Master of Sport and Exercise
Bachelor of Sport and Recreation in Sport and Exercise Science

For Jasper Wong, one of the most enjoyable aspects of being a postgraduate student at AUT is being part of the AUT Sports Performance Research Institute of New Zealand (SPRINZ).

“There’s a range of different research groups within SPRINZ and it has been great to see first-hand the different research areas of other researchers. There’s a strong emphasis on developing a welcoming environment for students, and a great mix of domestic and international students, so building new connections has been a great experience. There are also opportunities to be involved in different research studies, and I’ve had opportunities to work as a research assistant at SPRINZ and a teaching assistant for AUT, which has helped me develop skills for my future in academia.”

Jasper’s own PhD research focuses on wearable technology as a tool to monitor running injury risk. His research is supported by an AUT Doctoral Scholarship, and supervised by Dr Kelly Sheerin, Dr Hannah Wyatt and Associate Professor Chris Whatman from AUT’s School of Sport and Recreation.

“Running is one of the most accessible and popular forms of exercise in the world. It has many health benefits, but is also associated with high injury rates. There are various biomechanical, training and morphological risk factors that can contribute to running-related injuries. Typically, many of these risk factors have been investigated in isolation or in laboratory settings, which may not be reflective of what happens in a real-world running environment.

“My research seeks to better understand the degree to which some of these factors interact to inform running injury risk, so that we can take a more individualised approach to running injury monitoring. A big part of my project involves collecting individual training metrics using GPS smartwatches. Through this we seek to gain a better understanding of how runners can use smartwatches to help them monitor running injury risk, taking into account their unique body size and shape, training habits and running biomechanics.”

Following his passion
Jasper says he has always had an interest in sports and enhancing athletic performance.

“I’ve actually been with AUT since my undergraduate degree, having completed my Bachelor of Sport and Recreation in Sport and Exercise Science, then going on to complete my Master of Sport and Exercise in 2020, before deciding to pursue a PhD.

“Throughout my bachelor’s and master’s degrees it was clear that AUT has great connections with many sporting organisations, and access to a wide range of research facilities and equipment, which gave me a comprehensive range of experiences and insights into potential research opportunities.”

One of his greatest experiences was being able to spend a semester at the Hong Kong Sports Institute for the workplace experience component of his Bachelor of Sport and Recreation.

“This was a fantastic opportunity to experience sport science in a high performance setting in another country, and it could not have happened without the support of my academic supervisors at the time, with whom I still work in a teaching and research capacity to this day. My time in Hong Kong developed my interest in injury prevention research and using measurable data to help minimise injury risk, which led me to pursue postgraduate study in sport science.”

Advice for other students
Jasper, who expects to complete his PhD in late 2024 and hopes to stay in academia, has some great advice for other students considering postgraduate study.

“Find something that you’re passionate about pursuing in terms of a research topic – there’s such a wide variety of knowledge and expertise in the research team at AUT SPRINZ. Don’t be afraid to explore new research ideas with your supervisors.

“Get stuck in with other research projects happening around you. This is very eye-opening in terms of the range of research that happens in your field, and helps you gain invaluable research and communication skills. It also opens up opportunities to collaborate with other students and researchers, and helps to develop professional relationships and lasting friendships.”

He would highly recommend AUT’s postgraduate sport and recreation programmes.

“AUT has great research facilities and connections in the sport and exercise industry, which open up plenty of research opportunities. The student culture at SPRINZ is welcoming and supportive, with regular workshops aimed at developing academic and research skills, writing retreats, as well as social sports events. The support from my supervisors has been amazing – just being able to draw on their experience and having their support was very important, especially around formulating my research topic, journal submissions and the submission of my master’s degree thesis.”