Dr Samantha Fawkner (PhD, SFHEA)

Deputy Head of Moray House School of Education and Sport / Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity and Health


I joined the University of Edinburgh as Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity and Health in November 2011. My reseach focuses on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health in young people. I am also passionate about teaching. I currently co-direct the MSc Physical Activity for Health, and teach on both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.  I am currently the depute director of the Institute of Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences in the School of Education and Sport. 


  • Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy, 2018
  • Level 3 accredited anthropometrist, International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry, 2017 
  • PGCert in Academic Practice, Heriot Watt University 2004
  • PhD Paediatric Exercise Physiology, University of Exeter, 2002
  • BSc(Hons) Sport and Exercise Science, University of Exeter, 1999

Responsibilities & affiliations

I am a member of the Physical Activity for Health Research Centre (PAHRC)

Undergraduate teaching

  • BSc Applied Sports Science

  • BMedSci Physical Acticity for Health 

Postgraduate teaching

  • MSc Physical Activity for Health (Co-course director)
  • MSc Strength and Conditioning 

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised

  • Chuchu Li - The effect of classroom-based interventions that reduce sedentary behavior on school-aged children’s psychological and educational outcomes
  • Nicky Laing- Why older adults start and continue to walk with walking groups
  • Eva  Coral Almeida - The role of standing desks on musculoskeletal disorders  
  • Helen Weavers- The effect of a resistance training intervention on physical activity levels in youths.

Past PhD students supervised

  • Mhairi MacDonald- Walking for health in adolescent girls
  • Chuang-Yuan Chiu- Building Individual 3D Human Models from Depth Images
  • Laird Yvonne- Social support for physical activity in adolescent girls

Research summary

My PhD was in paediatric physiology, and focused on young people's responses to exercise, particularly non-steady state exercise and the oxygen uptake kinetic response, and I have an interest in the important role of growth and maturation on the exercise response in normal and 'athletic' children.

In the last decade, my research has primarily focussed on physical activity and sedentary behaviour in young people, specifically exploring low active groups (particularly adolescent girls), measurement of physical activity and sedentary behaviour, and interventions to encourage positive behaviour change.

My current research interests include

  • Role of standing desks in schools on changing sedentary behaviour and optimising the learning environment 
  • The role of personal health monitoring in the classroom on positive behaviour changes and digital health literacy
  • The potential role of walking interventions in adolescent girls to enhance physical activity  

Project activity

Funded research since 2008

  • 2013 Knowledge Exchange Grant, College of Humantities and Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh. £2,202 awarded to Samantha  Fawkner - Woking together with the Hibernian Community Foundation to develop a programme to increase physical activity in adolescent girls
  • 2012 Paths for All; £45,000 awarded to Ailsa NIven and Samantha Fawkner – Walking for Health in older adults. PhD studentship.
  • 2012 West Lothian Community Health and Care Partnership; £4,500 awarded to Samantha Fawkner and Ailsa Niven - Physical activity and nutrition status in families in West Lothian.
  • 2010 West Lothian Community Health and Care Partnership; £17,000 awarded to Samantha Fawkner and Ailsa Niven - Physical activity in primary and secondary school children in West Lothian.
  • 2009 Scottish Government; SPARColl Physical activity for health PhD studentship - £61,000 awarded to Samantha Fawkner and Ailsa Niven - Walking for health in adolescent girls
  • 2009 The Nuffield Foundation - £7447 Ailsa Niven and Samantha Fawkner – A qualitative investigation of the psychological determinants and consequences of walking for health.
  • 2008 Scottish Funding Council; Knowledge exchange on public policy in Scotland - £54,174 awarded to Samantha Fawkner and Ailsa Niven - Increasing physical activity for health in hard to reach groups
  • 2008 Chief Scientist Office; Small Grant award - £47,645 awarded to Samantha Fawkner, Ailsa Niven and Alasdair Thin - The potential health benefits for adolescent girls of active computer gaming.
  • 2008 Paths to Health; £5,000 awarded to Samantha Fawkner, Ailsa Niven and Edward Finch – A pilot study to investigate active and sedentary behaviour in a work environment 

View all 47 publications on Research Explorer