I am a Research Fellow in Psychology, Security and Trust. My research interests are primarily focused on human behaviour, performance and health under conditions of extreme stress. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the biopsychosocial basis of stress resilience, the role of regulatory flexibility in coping with stress and the experience of individuals transitioning in and out of extreme situations and settings. Much of my research is conducted in natural field environments. I have worked with many different extreme environment populations including expeditioners in desert, polar and mountain environments, Antarctic scientists, space simulation participants, elite military personnel and extreme medics. I have collaborated on projects with colleagues at the European Space Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST). Prior to joining the University, I was a Senior Research Scientist at the Ministry of Defence's Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).
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 have recently led on the development 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 and programme for the World Extreme Medicine WEMSKI course in Livigno, Italy. I am also the founder of In Extremis, the first online school for psychology in extreme environments (https://inextremis.teachable.com).
I regularly speak to practitioner audiences and I collaborate with a number of organisations that deliver training to prepare people for extreme deployments. I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Associate of the Alpine Club and Honorary Lecturer at the University of Exeter’s Medical School.
Follow me on Twitter: @DrNathanJSmith