Laura Forrest

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Area of academic expertise - outline

Research interests

My areas of interests and research lies broadly within applied exercise for health and performance and more recently, around menstrual health, the impact of the menstrual cycle in sport and physical activity and menstrual health education.

With a background of working at the sportscotland Institute of Sport as an Exercise Physiologist and using evidenced-based approaches to enhance elite performance, in conjunction with seeing first-hand the unique physiological demands of the female athlete, my interest in the area of the female athlete began. This led to research exploring female athlete experiences and perceptions of the menstrual cycle in relation to sporting performance and sport coach experiences and knowledge of the menstrual cycle. With education being a key means of enhancing experiences and management of the menstrual cycle, my research has expanded to the education sector. Specifically, understanding teacher experiences of delivering menstrual health education and assessing menstrual cycle education interventions in sport and education sectors.

My PhD (completed in 2012 from the University of Glasgow) was centred around very high-intensity exercise for health and performance. My research interests in this area lie within trying to translate the lab-based high-intensity exercise regimes and tests into modes which are practically feasible in the real-world environment.  

I have extensive experience conducting exercise tests (specific to various sports), training studies, and measuring physiological outcomes in a wide-range of different populations including sedentary "at-risk" adults, trained, elite and world-class athletes.  

I am currently Director of Studies for the following research students:

2021 - Present: Ms Julia Donnelly (PhD): The impact of the menstrual cycle: health and performance perspectives in elite women’s football (Funded by Glasgow City Foundation and University of the West of Scotland)

2021 - Present: Ms Mairead Slevin (MRes): Tracking of performance variables with respect to maturation status in female academy football players over the course of one soccer season.

I am currently second supervisor for the following research students:

2021 – Present: Mr Mark Wright (MRes):

2022 – Present: Mr Steven Morton (PhD): Validation of Novel Physical Performance Assessments for Ski Athletes (Funded by University of the West of Scotland PhD Scholarship. In collaboration with Snowsport Scotland and sportscotland institute of sport)

I have been awarded:

2022-2023: Royal Society of Edinburgh Personal Research Fellowship: The Menstrual Health Education in Schools (MHEiS) Study: Developing and Trialling a School-Based Menstrual Health Education Programme for Scottish Pupils



Teaching interests

From a teaching perspective, I primarily teach aspects of exercise physiology on the Sport and Exercise Science programme. I am currently module coordinator for L7 (first year) Introduction to Sport Science and L10 (fourth year) Applied Exercise Physiology. I have previously been the module coordinator for L8 (second year) Sport and Exercise Nutrition and have contributed towards several other modules including Introduction to Physiology, Kinetic Anatomy, Research Methods and Dissertation.


I have a keen interest in curriculum development and design and co-chair the Division of Sport and Exercise Sport Programme Development Group. This group aims to combine the quality assurance and annual monitoring functions of the programme boards with the extended, cross-programme functions of sharing of best practice and professional/curricular development. I am also a member of the Sport Curriculum Review Group and contribute towards the facilitation and document preparation for the Divisional programme re-approval event and the Institute-Led Review.  

Current research activities

My current areas of research lie within the areas below:

Understanding the female athlete and elucidating the relationship between health, menstrual cycle and performance.

Menstrual health education in school and in sport 

Translating high-intensity exercise and exercise testing from the laboratory into the 'real-world' environment.

Desired research direction

My areas of desired research include:

Develop a more refined understanding of the role and impact menstrual cycle function/dysfunction has on female athlete performance (and health). 

Enhance menstrual cycle education in schools and in sporting clubs

Developing ‘real-world’ effectiveness studies in translating high intensity exercise and exercise tests in a laboratory setting to the community/sport with a multi-disciplinary approach.


Target collaborative organisations

1. Glasgow City Football Club

2. Scottish Rugby Union 

3. sportscotland Institute of Sport

4. Welsh Intitute of Performance Science

Target collaborative companies

1. SPARC (Sport, Performance and Rehabilitation Centre) at UWS - with the aim of facilitating a business plan to develop a spin-out company. 

2. Scottish Rugby Union 

3. sportscotland Institute of Sport

4. Glasgow City Football Club


Other areas of expertise available for knowledge exchange

Physiological and fitness testing and analysis

Body composition

Sport science support to well-trained-elite athletes

Exercise nutrition


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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