SHE Mentors

An Advisory Group of leading academic and researchers will guide and mentor the research activity undertaken in the group.

Professor Marie Murphy

Marie is Professor of Exercise and Health, Dean of Postgraduate Research and Director of the Ulster Doctoral College. She graduated from Ulster with a BA (Hons) Sport & Leisure and PGCE (with distinction) in Physical Education and was awarded an MSc in Sports Science (with distinction) and a PhD in Exercise Physiology from Loughborough University.

Marie’s research focuses on the effect of physical activity and exercise, in particular walking, on health and uses multidisciplinary approach that has included outcome measures ranging from the behavioural to the biochemical. Her work has contributed to the evidence base underlying the current physical activity guidelines in the US, UK and Ireland and she was a co-author of the UK guidelines by the 4 Chief Medical Officers in 2011 and 2019.  She has over 140 peer- publications including a number of highly cited peer-reviewed papers, book chapters and invited editorials.

Marie is principal investigator on the cross-border WISH (Walking In ScHools) Trial testing the efficacy of a school based intervention which uses peer-led walking groups to increase physical activity among adolescent girls.

Marie is a member of the UK Chief Medical Officer’s expert advisory group on physical activity. She is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the British Association of Sport & Exercise Sciences (BASES) and the Higher Education Academy and is vice-president of the WHO Europe Health Enhancing Physical Activity Steering Committee (HEPA Europe).

Marie was a member of the Research Excellence Framework 2014 (UK-wide assessment of university research quality) sub-panel for Sport & Exercise Sciences Leisure & Tourism and is chair of this sub-panel for REF2021.

Marie has held public appointments on the Board of Sport Northern Ireland (2 terms), the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland and the Board of the International Society of Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH). She is an advisor to the Department for Communities on the development of the NI Sport and Physical Activity Strategy (Strategy 2020). She is an active gymnastics coach and chair of the Board of Directors of City of Lisburn Salto National Gymnastics Centre.

Dr Katie Liston

Dr Katie Liston is a former high-performance sportswoman: holder of youth national athetics titles, GAA All Star and All Ireland medal winner, Irish representative player in soccer and rugby. She holds national league titles in soccer, north and south. She has also held a number of administrative roles in womens sport clubs. She completed her PhD in sport and gender at University College Dublin and worked at the University of Chester for a number of years, before joining Ulster University (Jordanstown) in 2008. Katie is a senior lecturer in the social sciences of sport, and has published on a wide range of topics and issues, drawn mainly from sociology. These include gender and womens sports, pain and injury, national identity, concussion, policy and media-sport. She is author of a 2005 Joint Committee report on womens sport and physical activity and has presented to the Stormont Assembly

On the same topic. Katie is a regular media contributor who works to raise the profile of research on sport, health and physical activity. Her role in SHE is the support all members to bridge the gender data gap in sport-related research, to embed gender equality into teaching and research activities and to collaborate with key stakeholders in the dissemination of research that will inform future policy.

Dr Kirsty Elliot-Sale

Kirsty completed her undergraduate degree and PhD [Exercise Physiology] at Liverpool John Moores University. Her PhD examined the effects of female reproductive hormones on muscle strength and since then her work has mainly focused on female athletes. She worked as a Lecturer at Brunel University and the University of Brighton before undertaking a four-year Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at Kings College London. Kirsty joined Nottingham Trent University (NTU) in September 2009. In addition to her research on female athletes, which includes the menstrual cycle, hormonal contraceptives, the Female Athlete Triad and Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport, her work in recent years has involved designing exercise interventions for weight management in overweight and obese pregnant and postpartum women. She is an Associate Professor [Reader] of Female Physiology and the Head of the Musculoskeletal Physiology Research Group at NTU.


Kirsty has tween-aged twin boys and has lived in the UK for 25 years. She is married to another academic, who she often collaborates and publishes with. She is originally from Ireland, Dundalk to be precise. A very long time ago she was an international level kickboxer! Since hitting the big 40, she has taken up running and is currently trying to upgrade herself from half-marathons to full marathons

Professor Helene McNulty

Helene is Director of NICHE, a centre of excellence for nutrition research at Ulster University.

Having graduated from Trinity College Dublin (BSc and PhD in Nutrition) and Dublin Institute of Technology (Diploma in Dietetics), Helene joined Ulster University in 1992 and was promoted to Professor of Human Nutrition & Dietetics, in 2001.She is an elected Member of the Royal Irish Academy (since 2008), Fellow of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (since 2017), and was co-Chair of the 13th FENS European Nutrition Conference (Dublin, Oct2019).

Helene’s research programme aims to provide greater understanding of nutrition-related health issues and achieve impacts in food and health policy. She has particular expertise in B vitamins research and has published extensively in this field, building impacts in early life and ageing nutrition and frequently delivering keynote presentations at scientific conferences worldwide.

Helene is actively involved in teaching at BSc and MSc levels and programme administration in Food, Nutrition & Dietetics, and has supervised 30 PhD students to date.

A Stakeholder Group of key policy makers, industry representatives and practitioners will help to specify and shape as well as, deliver research projects.  

Stakeholder Group

A Stakeholder Group of key policy makers, industry representatives and practitioners will help to specify and shape as well as, deliver research projects.  

Tony Wheat

Tony Wheat became the Sports Partnership Coordinator of Westmeath Sports Partnership in July 2019, moving over to Ireland after 20 years working in England.  After graduating from Staffordshire University in 1996 with a B.A (Hons) Sport and Leisure Studies degree, he built a career in the sport and leisure sector, beginning as a sports coach before eventually becoming a Sports Development Officer for Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. In 2008 he became Sports Development Manager and in 2011 became Leisure Services Manager.  Throughout his time in the sector he has worked with numerous agencies including Sport England, National Governing Bodies of sport, private leisure facility operators, sports clubs, community groups and educational establishments.  A family move brought him to Ireland where he began his current role with Westmeath Sports Partnership. The role involves collaborating with a wide range of agencies including Sport Ireland and Healthy Ireland, to increase participation in sport and physical exercise in Westmeath. The Sports Partnership has a universal offer but also has specific target groups including women and girls, older adults, people with disabilities and socially excluded groups.  Away from work he played rugby at semi professional level for 20 years in England and enjoyed a season in New Zealand. He is now a Judicial Officer for the English and Irish Rugby Unions, European Professional Club Rugby and Pro 14, and is also a qualified World Rugby Match Commissioner and game analyst.

Nora Stapleton

Nora worked for six years as a GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) Games Promotional Officer with Ballinteer St Johns GAA club in Dublin. In 2013 she joined the Irish Rugby Football Union as the Women’s and Girls Development Manager. This role carried a national remit and involved developing programmes and strategies to progress the growth of female rugby in the country. In April 2019, she took up the role of Women in Sport Lead with Sport Ireland where her remit is to implement the Women In Sport Policy. This policy aims to increase female involvement across all areas of sport, from participation to visibility, coaching and officiating to leadership and governance. Nora’s role has a wide remit liaising and working with each of the various Units within Sport Ireland as well as stakeholders such as the Local Sports Partnerships and the National Governing Bodies.

On the field, Nora played Intercounty Gaelic Football for Donegal winning two All-Ireland medals (2003 and 2010). She has national titles in soccer with UCD and competed in the UEFA knock out stages with them three years in a row. In 2017 she retired from International Rugby with 50 caps and participated in three Women’s Rugby World Cups. She was selected to play on the first ever Women’s Barbarian team in 2017. Nora is now a coach with Old Belvedere Rugby Football Club.

Shirley O'Shea

Shirley O’Shea is Senior Health Promotion Office for Physical Activity in the HSE. Shirley worked in the Early Years sector before completing her BA (Hons) Health Promotion in 1996 from Liverpool John Moores University. In 1999 she received her Masters in Education from Liverpool Hope University College. Shirley has worked in the health services for over 20 years in the area of Education, Physical Activity and Behaviour Change, working on the development of the National Physical Activity Guidelines and the National GP Exercise Referral Programme.   Shirley is currently a member of the Project Team of the Irish Physical Activity Research Collaboration (IPARC) a member of the REP’s Ireland Council and is trainer for the HSE’s behaviour change programme ‘Make Every Contact Count’

Colin Regan

Colin Regan, GAA Community & Health manager, holds a BA (Hons) in communications and journalism from the Dublin Institute of Technology and an Msc in Sport and Exercise Management from University College Dublin.  He joined the team in Croke Park in 2011, leading a nationwide programme delivering in partnership with the HSE a drug and alcohol awareness programme to the GAA’s 1,600 clubs and 650,000 members. He is responsible for the creation of the GAA’s Community & Health Department, which has seen the Association broaden its health promotion work into areas such as emotional wellbeing, healthy eating, youth leadership, smoke-free clubs, gambling awareness, and social inclusion (particularly of older community members, persons with additional needs, and new Irish populations and immigrants). He oversaw the creation of the award winning GAA Healthy Club Project (currently engaging 300 clubs). This model is based on WHO recommendations regarding a settings-based approach to the delivery of health promotion. It involves a unique partnership with the Department of Health, HSE, the National Office for Suicide Prevention, and supported by Irish Life as CSR partners. Most recently, his work directed the Association in prohibiting the sponsorship by a betting firm of any GAA competition, gear, equipment, or team.

Colin was appointed as a member of the inaugural Healthy Ireland Council (2015-2018), a multi-stakeholder national forum that provides the government with a platform to connect and mobilise communities, families and individuals into a national movement with one aim: supporting the nation to enjoy the best possible health and wellbeing. He also represents the GAA on the European ‘Sports Clubs for Health’ research collaboration. In a previous football life he represented his club Melvin Gaels and county, Leitrim, at every level.