Dr Paula Fitzpatrick, IT Carlow
Dr. Paula Fitzpatrick, Institute of Technology Carlow
Dr. Paula Fitzpatrick is a Sport Science Lecturer and Research Director within HealthCORE in the Department of Science and Health, Institute of Technology Carlow. Paula completed her PhD in Dublin City University in the area of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. She also completed a BSc in Sport Science and Health from Dublin City University, along with an MA in Teaching and Learning from IT Carlow. Prior to working at IT Carlow, Paula established and led a physiological performance assessment company. Within both industry and research, Paula has collaborated with national governing bodies including the Irish Rugby Football Union, Olympic Council of Ireland, Paralympics Ireland, along with multiple sports technology and nutrition companies. She is also a Level 3 accredited anthropometrist with the International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry (ISAK).
Paula’s three key areas of research interest include:
1. Physiological demands of elite female sport
2. Performance nutrition interventions in female sport
3. Strength training in older adults
Paula’s main research interests involve sports nutrition and the physiological demands associated with elite female athletic performance. Within sport science, there is a considerable lack of evidence-based guidelines specifically for female athletes. As a result, Paula is currently involved in the formation of a specialised research group, within healthCORE in IT Carlow, focusing on female athlete performance research. This research group is dedicated to raising the profile of female athlete research and expanding the level of robust investigation carried out in this area.
In a sporting context, Paula is a former player and captain with the Irish Women’s Rugby Team. She was fortunate to be involved in a team that reached the semi-final of the World Cup and won the 6 Nations Championship. She was also inducted into the Barbarians Rugby Football Club, completing two successful international tours with the club in 2019. Following her rugby career, Paula has enjoyed participating in several ‘alternative’ challenges including the Polar Marathon in Greenland, the Art O’Neill 53km Ultra and the Irish Sailing and Mountaineering Adventure Challenge, along with several triathlons and adventure races.
“Balancing an academic career with sporting pursuits, while challenging at times, has been hugely rewarding and made possible through a supportive working environment in IT Carlow. Throughout my rugby career, I have been influenced by people, and immersed in environments, that have shaped my perspective, personally and professionally. Many parallels in terms of attitudes to adversity and lessons in resilience can be drawn between sport and research. A common thread to overcoming the challenges we face as educators and researchers is in the strength of the team around us. I feel very fortunate to work in a collaborative environment, surrounded by colleagues and mentors that foster resilience in the face of the failures, doubts and dilemmas that inevitably arise throughout the research process.
"COVID-19 presents many challenges to teaching and research, most notably the lack of social connection, inclusive accessibility and face-to-face engagement. While we have been forced to reflect and re-think our approach to our work, this disruption has the potential to encourage growth. My hope is that by modelling resilience as educators, we may help to develop resilient students that are prepared to tackle future personal and societal issues despite the challenges.”