Dr Nathan Smith


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I am a Research Fellow in Psychology, Security and Trust. My research is primarily focused on issues related to human behaviour, performance and health under conditions of extreme stress. This falls broadly into two areas: defence and security operations and remote fieldwork and expeditions (sometimes these areas overlap; see Smith & Barrett, 2018).

With these interests in mind, I currently lead a programme of work that draws upon contemporary psychological, behavioural and data science theories and methods to understand, and, through the development of innovative tools and technologies, augment the performance and psychological health of personnel in extreme situations and settings (e.g., www.driftextremes.com). 

I have been funded by and collaborated with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD), Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST), European Space Agency (ESA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

With my colleague, Professor Emma Barrett, I helped establish the Behavioural and Social Science Research Network in Extreme and Adventurous Settings. The network aims to narrow the gap between researchers and practitioners, helping identify end user requirements and providing clear pathways to impact. We had our first meeting at the Royal Geographical Society in May 2018 and inaugral conference at the University of Manchester in February 2019. 

In a teaching capacity, I led on the development and am currently module leader of the University College of Interdisciplinary Learning (UCIL) course From Antarctica to Outer Space: Surviving and Thriving in Extremes. I am also part of the teaching faculty on both the Imperical College London BSc in Remote Medicine and Kings College London MSc in Aerospace Physiology and Health. Previously I co-designed the psychological and human factors module on the Extreme Medicine MSc programme at the University of Exeter. I am also the founder of In Extremis (https://inextremis.teachable.com). 

Prior to joining the University, I was a Senior Research Scientist at the Ministry of Defence's Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). I continue to engage with practitioner audiences and have provided consultancy services to various defence, security and law enforcement departments and third sector organisations. 

I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Associate of the Alpine Club, member of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and Honorary Lecturer at the University of Exeter’s Medical School. 

Follow me on Twitter: @DrNathanJSmith 


External positions

Honorary Lecturer, University of Exeter

1 Jun 2017 → …

Areas of expertise

  • BF Psychology - Psychology, Extreme Environments, Security, Military

Education / academic qualifications

  • 2015 - Doctor of Philosophy, PhD Sport and Exercise Psychology, University of Birmingham (2011 - 2015)

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