Mark becomes latest Doctor Cooke after graduating from Leeds Beckett
Mark, who is a lecturer at the Carnegie School of Sport, will collect his doctorate in front of his mum Belinda and brother David, who also teach in the same school, along with dad Carlton, a former Associate Dean who worked at the university for over 25 years.
Mark initially studied undergraduate sport and exercise science at the university and was offered the opportunity to study for a PhD after working as a Research Assistant at Carnegie Great Outdoors.
“I made the jump straight from undergraduate to PhD level.” He explained. “I was very lucky to have a family who have so much experience in academia. They really helped me to make the step up and gave me a lot of helpful advice that I was able to use.”
His PhD focused on the effects of high altitude and included a trip to the Dhaulagiri mountain range in Nepal, where he worked alongside the army.
He added: “It was fortunate we were able to use military participants as they are always very committed and passionate about the work.”
To succeed, Mark and his supervisory team professor John O’Hara and Professor David Woods had to overcome unlikely challenges. In 2015, his research team were caught in an avalanche, and although they avoided serious injury, ended up losing important blood samples in the ensuing chaos.
“I actually wasn’t on the trip as I was best man at my brothers wedding, and although the team escaped injury, the work that they’d done was lost.
“It made our trip to Dhaulagiri even more important, as we were able to get results from terrestrial altitude, as opposed to simulated altitude at sea level.”
Alongside working on his PhD, Mark passed on his insights to students through his teaching at the Carnegie School of Sport.
After graduating, his ambition is to continue teaching at the university.
“They’re building new altitude chambers in the new Carnegie School of Sport Building, so I’d love to stay here as I really enjoy the teaching I’m doing and I want to continue researching human performance in extreme environments.”