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.