Sally Barber

Vote for me, vote for me!!

Favourite Thing: Doing physiological tests on human participants to see how healthy their bodies are. One of the tests I use is called echocardiography. This is using an ultrasound machine (like the ones they use when taking scans of babies in the womb) to take a scan of the heart. From the scan of the heart I can take all sorts or measurements of the size of the heart and how well it is working.



Brooke Primary School, Norwich 1987-1993. Framingham Earl High School, Norwich 1993-1998. Hewett 6th Form, Norwich 1998-2000


University of Birmingham 2000-2003, University of Leeds 2004-2008

Work History:

Lecturer in Exercise Physiology, University of Leeds. Research Associate In Exercise Physiology and Childhood Obesity, Childhood Nutrition Research Centre, Institute of Child Health, University College London (UCL)


Bradford Institute of Health Research and University of Leeds

Current Job:

Senior Research Fellow In Exercise Physiology and Elderly Care

Me and my work

I am an exercise physiologist; I investigate how we can use exercise as well as, or instead of drugs to prevent or treat different diseases.

About my work

We all know that exercise is good for our health. In fact this has been well know for the past 2 and a half Millennia! But there is plenty that we still don’t know about exercising like, what changes occur in our bodies when we exercise to reduce our risk of getting diseases? Can exercise be used to prevent and treat different diseases and conditions? And, what type of exercise is best at preventing or treating different diseases and conditions? In my job at the moment I am working on 4 different projects which are all at different stages. My projects are as follows:

1. How does physical activity and sedentary behaviour (time spent sitting or lying down) relate to obesity in pre-school children?
2. How does exercise training improve health and wellbeing in people with dementia? What type of exercise is best for people with this disease?
3. Can exercise training in frail elderly people living at home help them to stay independent and reduce their risk of hospital admission and death?
4. How does exercise training in postmenopausal women with and without type 2 diabetes reduce their risk of heart disease?

In answering these types of questions and developing effective exercise training programmes for different populations we can improve health and wellbeing, and prevent/treat diseases all at little cost to the NHS.

About me

I like to keep my evenings and weekends full and I hate sitting around not doing anything so I have quite a few hobbies. I go to a yoga class, play in a netball team and a womens 5-a-side football team, go jogging and swimming and I’ve just started training for a triathlon. I go to a stained glass class one evening a week which I love doing, it’s a great way to be creative without having to be good at drawing. I’m just finishing off a window to go in my mum and dads house at the moment. I’ve also just joined an acting group and we’ve starting rehearsals for a play which we’ll hopefully perform in August. Also, this year my boyfriend and I have started growing our own fruit and vegetables so we’ve been out in the garden alot recently planting things – we don’t really know what we doing, so fingers crossed everything grows!

My Typical Day

At the moment all my projects are either at the start or at the end so I spend most of my time writing new research ideas down, and writing up results from projects which have been completed.

What I'd do with the money

With the money I would host a hands-on event for older people, their carers and professionals that work with older people to promote physical activity as a way of improving health and well-being in older people.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

“Go For It”

Who is your favourite singer or band?

I don’t have a favourite band or singer. I love any kind of live music and love to go to watch local bands and artists perform.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

The most fun thing I’ve ever done was to go travelling around Central America on my own (it is also probably the scariest thing i’ve done!). I went to Guatemala first where I learned Spanish and worked in a school for disadvantaged children. I went on weekend adventures around the country and did some great things like white water rafting, jumping off waterfalls, and I even climbed an active volcano. In Guatemala I made friends with a group of girls and some of us went to Belize next where we went caving and we snorkelled with ray fish and sharks. Then to finish my trip I went to Mexico where I travelled around the south exploring the local towns and villages. The whole trip was 3 months and definately the most fun thing I’ve ever done.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

1. To have detachable bird wings strong enough to fly myself and anyone I chose to take with me all over the world 2. To be wealthy 3. To know the meaning of my life so that I can do what I’ve been put in the world for.

What did you want to be after you left school?

When I left school I wanted to be a PE teacher. I loved playing sport and I’d really enjoyed the theory part of GCSE and A-level PE. It wasn’t until I went to University that I found out that research jobs in sport and exercise existed, so when I left school never thought that 10 years on this is what I would be doing.

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Not really. I was always really lucky and stopped messing around just before the teacher came back into the classroom. My friends weren’t alway so lucky! oh, I’ve just remembered, I did once have a school report which said that I was the leader of an unruley gang in cooking lessons!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I think the best thing I’ve done is present some of my work at a conference in New Orleans, USA. The person who was leading my session is famous for his work in how physical activity reduced death rates, so I was really nervous speaking in front of him and a room full of people. After I’d finished he said how much he’d enjoyed my presentation, which felt like a real compliment.. That evening I went out to celebrate with some friends, we had a great night dancing at some of the Jazz and Blues Bars in New Orleans; that was a great day.

Tell us a joke.

Why did the baker wash his hands?…. Because he kneaded a poo.