Adam Sullivan


Portobello Institute Sports Lecturer in

  • Human Physiology
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Strength & Conditioning

“I’ve always been interested in sport but was never sure how to make it a career. Luckily, I’ve managed to work in sport in some capacity for the last 10 years and it’s been a rollercoaster so far!

“I did a BSc in Leisure Management at DIT as I didn’t have enough points for sports science. I then did a part-time MSc in Exercise and Nutrition Science from the University of Chester whilst interning with the Dublin Senior Footballers.

“I still wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do even at that stage and contemplated becoming a sports nutritionist. I quickly realised though I preferred the atmosphere of the gym and being on the pitch working with players.

“Towards the end of my MSc, I got a chance to work for Cricket Ireland as a Strength and Conditioning Coach. I spent 4 years working across the senior women’s, academy, provincial and men’s squads and gained some invaluable experience along the way, including some international tournaments.

“I spent time working in GAA and a private training facility during this time working with athletes and the general population. On top of this, I set up a website where I developed excel spreadsheets for sports scientists, as a new passion for training load monitoring developed.

“This led to a cold email from the head of academy sports science at Liverpool Football Club, Dr Jack Ade asking if I was interested in a role at the club whilst pursuing a PhD in Exercise Physiology under Professor Barry Drust. I leapt at the opportunity and spent four seasons working full-time at one of the biggest football clubs in the world during their most successful period in decades.

“My role at the club developed from a laptop-based sports scientist dealing with numbers and trying to do research on injury reduction, to more of a fitness coach role with the u23s squad. I spent most of my time in the gym, working with fit players, as well as working alongside the medical team helping injured players in the gym and on the pitch.

“My PhD research was also an ever-changing rollercoaster. What was initially supposed to be a PhD on training-loads and injury prevention, quickly turned into a PhD with a more holistic view of physiological adaptation. This journey was based on a flow of questions:

  • Can we predict/link injuries with GPS training loads?
  • Why do injuries occur?
  • Can GPS explain what happens in the body?
  • What is going on in the body behind the GPS numbers?
  • How do all the different tissues and systems adapt to exercise? Bone, Muscle, Tendon etc.
  • What demands are placed on these tissues in football?
  • How do these tissues adapt to those unique demands?

“My PhD journey has been a training course in exercise physiology amongst other subjects, but mainly how to think critically, ask better questions, and come up with some potential answers.

“I hope to pass on as much knowledge as I can from my varied research and practical experience and help students think critically and ask better questions.

“Furthermore, having completed an MSc and PhD whilst working full-time, I completely understand the mental, physical, emotional, and time-management challenges that come with the territory, life happens! I hope to help students navigate these challenges, making the journey as enjoyable as possible as they develop as academics and practitioners.”

Adam Sullivan Adam Sullivan