Professor Karen Beeton

I am Head of Department of Allied Health Professions, Midwifery and Social Work and a chartered physiotherapist. Having completed a PhD exploring quality of life in people with haemophilia, I now supervise doctoral students as well as MSc and BSc qualitative projects. I was a member of the Standards Committee of the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMPT) a sub-group of World Physiotherapy until 2016 and I am now a member of the IFOMPT Advisory Group on Membership Development. I am also a member of the World Physiotherapy European Region Education Matters Working Group.  I am a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, a Fellow of the Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists and was awarded life membership of IFOMPT in 2020.

Dr Mindy Cairns, Associate Professor in Research

Mindy is an experienced clinician, researcher, and educator.  She is an Assoc Prof in Research and Postgraduate Programme Lead MSc Advanced Physiotherapy in the School of Health and Social Work.   Her clinical and research expertise is in the management of musculoskeletal and orthopaedic conditionals – specifically spinal pain. Her methodological expertise are quantitative methodologies; randomised clinical trials, trial interventions and evaluation, survey and questionnaire design and evaluation of current clinical practice.  She is an experienced external examiner for and successful research supervisor at both PhD and MSc. 

She is actively involved with the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMPT), a sub-group of World Physiotherapy and is Chair of the International Scientific Committee (ISC) for the 2024 IFOMPT Congress and was ISC Chair for the 2016 IFOMPT Congress.  She was UK IFOMPT representative (2012-17).  She has served on numerous Trial Steering Committees and is currently Chair of the ARTISAN Trial TSC.

She is a Fellow of the Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (MACP) and continues to work clinically treating acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions, specialising in spinal pain dysfunction, management of hypermobility and rehabilitation.

Dr Nicola Heneghan, Honorary Senior Research Fellow

Dr Nicola Heneghan is a highly experienced clinician and academic with 30 years’ experience working in the field of physiotherapy. Nicola has published >120 peer reviewed publication, has a H-index of 25 and has contributed to >£1M in career research funding. Her publications, which include 3 book chapters and numerous keynotes are illustrative of her expertise in a range of research methodologies and areas of expertise (spinal pain, elite sport, postgraduate education). Moreover she has supported >150 physiotherapists to successful completion of postgraduate degrees (MSc, MRes and PhD) and continues to supervise PGR students at a number of global universities and offers mentorship to a number of AHP. Nicola regularly reviews grant applications and publications for peer review. Additionally she has held a number of honorary positions within the Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapy, being awarded an honorary fellowship in 2019. Recently Nicola has been part of a number of collaborations of national and international importance. These include amongst others, an exploration of multi professional stakeholder perceptions of accreditation of advanced musculoskeletal (UK), the KNOWBEST project to explore the knowledge, skills, behaviours and attributes required of the modern physiotherapy graduate (UK) and a multidisciplinary consensus on a definition of defining adverse events following spinal/peripheral manipulation/mobilisation and their classification (International).

Dr Binoy Kumaran, Senior Research Fellow

I am a Senior Research Fellow in physiotherapy. My doctoral and post-doctoral work has been predominantly on the physiological and clinical effects of various electrophysical agents used in therapy, combining laboratory-based research and clinical trials. I have been working in this area with Professor Tim Watson and multiple commercial partners for over 10 years. In addition, I supervise MSc and PhD students here at the University of Hertfordshire. Prior to this I qualified as a physiotherapist in 2001 from Kerala, South India and subsequently achieved MSc and PhD from the UK.

David Mayor, Honorary Research Fellow

David Mayor has been engaged in acupuncture research since 1998. His primary interest is in the physiological effects of different frequencies of electroacupuncture stimulation, whether applied through needles or transcutaneously (‘TEAS’). Since 2011, with Tony Steffert from the OU, he has investigated these using EEG, ECG (heart rate variability), respiration, skin temperature, mood changes and unconscious body movement, including eyeblink rate. Out of these investigations has grown an interest in nonlinear measures of complexity and entropy in physiological signals, and development of CEPS, an open-access software package for their estimation ( He has also explored the influence of personality or physiological ‘type’ and treatment response to electroacupuncture, and is currently planning to analyse EEG data from TEAS studies using a variety of connectivity measures and artificial intelligence methods.  

Dr Catherine Minns Lowe, Associate Professor in Research

Catherine leads the Musculoskeletal Research Unit at Herts and is the Research Lead for Physiotherapy. She has quantitative and qualitative expertise in the following methodological approaches: developing trial interventions, randomised clinical trials, mixed methods studies, systematic reviews (including meta-analyses and meta-ethnographies), qualitative studies, surveys and reliability studies. Her areas of research interest are rehabilitation, musculoskeletal interventions, physical activity for people with long term musculoskeletal conditions and developing physiotherapy practice. She has over 75 research publications and has been awarded approximately £2 million research funding to date. Until recently she was a Senior Associate Editor for BMC Systematic Reviews. She is Chair of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s Scientific Panel and a Trustee of the CSP Charitable Trust.  She is a member of the Clinical Reference Group for the East of England Musculoskeletal Network, the Herts and West Essex Health, Wellbeing and Social Care Research group, Regional CAHPR organisational group, and a committee member of UH HSET ECDA ethics committee.

Andrea Moulson

Andrea is an experienced senior lecturer and clinical specialist with a demonstrated history of working in higher education and the NHS. Andrea is currently joint programme lead and principal lecturer for the MSc Advanced Physiotherapy programme. She holds two Master’s Degrees (MSc Neuromusculoskeletal Physiotherapy & MA Professional Health Research) and is a member of the MACP (Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists) and the education sub-committee of the ACPIVR (Association of Chartered Physiotherapists with an Interest in Vestibular Rehabilitation). Research interests include MSK rehabilitation, vestibular rehabilitation, exploration of current practice in MSK Physiotherapy and developing the physiotherapy evidence base. Andrea supervises and examines undergraduate and postgraduate students, is a published author and has a strong clinical profile with clinical specialist roles in MSK, vestibular rehabilitation and ESP (foot and ankle).

Elizabeth (Lizzy) Ong, Research Fellow

Lizzy began her role as a research fellow of physiotherapy in March 2024 and is also a newly qualified physiotherapist working in a private musculoskeletal physiotherapy clinic. She is a recent graduate of the Doctor of Physiotherapy at Glasgow Caledonian University and holds a degree in Exercise and Sports Sciences at the University of Exeter in 2019.  

Throughout Lizzy’s doctorate, she developed her skills in qualitative research focused on the lived experience of people with abdominal aortic aneurysms. As an early-career researcher and physiotherapist, she is keen and open to both develop her research skills and explore different areas of research in physiotherapy with particular interest in musculoskeletal physiotherapy and physiotherapy education.

Emeritus Professor Tim Watson

Tim trained as a physiotherapist in London, UK, qualifying in 1979. After spending some years in the Health Service, and with various sports clubs and National Teams, he took up a lecturing role at West Middlesex Hospital, then Brunel University and now at the University of Hertfordshire. He undertook a degree in Biomedical Sciences followed by a PhD in Bioelectronics from the University of Surrey in 1994. He researches in several fields associated primarily with electro physical agents / electrotherapy and tissue repair and is currently Professor of Physiotherapy at the University of Hertfordshire, Visiting Professor at the University of Lincoln and a freelance consultant. He has published over 60 journal papers, is editor of a core text on electrotherapy and has contributed numerous chapters in other edited texts. He has served on the Editorial Board of 2 physical therapy journals and has reviewed for more than 25 journals and grant authorities and has presented more than 975 professional lectures, short courses and conference papers. He is responsible for the web site and instigated the Electrophysical Forum ( He was awarded a Fellowship of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in the UK in 2013 and is on the Executive for the Electro Physical Agents and Diagnostic Ultrasound (EPADU) group in the UK and was President of the International Society for Electro Physical Agents in Physical Therapy (ISEAPT) group of the WCPT (2015-2019). Although technically retired, he continues to research, write and present.

PhD Students

Student name: Sheila Billings

Supervisors: Dr Lisa Whiting and Dr Catherine Minns Lowe

Title: Living with hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome: the perspectives and experiences of primary school children and their parents. A qualitative study.

This research is exploring the experiences and perspectives of children living with hypermobile Ehlers Danlos (hEDS) and those of their parents, in caring for them. Previous research has focussed on the effectiveness of treatment on their musculoskeletal symptoms but there has been no previous study of the effect of this multisystemic condition on the lives of young children and their parents.

The research is qualitative using Narrative Inquiry as the overarching methodology.  The objective is to hear the voices of the children, aged 5-11 years, and their parents regarding their experiences of living with hEDS. Photo-elicitation interviews were used to collect the data for both the children and the parents. All participants took photographs of their daily lives to represent their experiences of being a child with hEDS or a parent caring for the child. Because of COVID restrictions, the participants were interviewed individually, online, using the photographs to prompt the conversation. The interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The resulting data are being analysed using Reflective Thematic Analysis.

It is hoped that the resulting analysis will inform health professionals and direct assessment and management of their symptoms.

Student name: Laura Eccott MSc, MMACP, FHEA

Supervisors: Dr Mindy Cairns, Prof Jeremy Lewis & Dr Salvatore Livatino.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic physiotherapy undergraduate education underwent a sudden and unexpected shift to increased delivery by e-learning.  Physiotherapy courses traditionally delivered learning and teaching by practical demonstration and hands-on practice; therefore it was unclear what effect this change to increased e-learning would have on students.  This doctoral project aims to understand the effect of undergraduate physiotherapy students transitioning from traditional campus-based education to increased e-learning as a result of Covid-19 and exploring if virtual reality can enhance knowledge and skills in this group.  This project is being conducted part-time.

Student: Jayne Bartholomew

Title: Perceptions/experiences of end of life care for those living with/supporting those living with respiratory disease

Supervisors: Dr Mindy Cairns & Professor Karen Beeton

Aims: The overall aim of this study is to explore the experiences of three different groups in relation to end of life care and non-malignant respiratory conditions:

1) Patients with a long term, progressive, non-malignant respiratory disease
2) Individuals who are supporting, or have supported, someone living with/lived with a long term, progressive, non-malignant respiratory disease and
3) Nurses in primary care (practice) who are supporting or have supported, someone living with/lived with a long term, progressive, non-malignant respiratory disease. This study utilised a qualitative design using individual semi-structured interviews with 31 different participants to facilitate the discussion regarding their experiences.

Current status: this study has completed all data collection and analysis and is currently in the write up phase.

Student: Chris Bilsborough

Supervisors: Dr Mindy Cairns, Professor Jeremy Lewis & Associate Professor Rachel Chester

Title: The clinical, physiological, and psychosocial outcomes following corticosteroid injection for people with frozen shoulder. A multi-baseline case series methodology

The research began with a narrative review on the adverse reactions and side effects of corticosteroid injections for peripheral musculoskeletal conditions, and highlighted myriad gaps in knowledge around which medicines or dose to use to minimise unwanted effects of corticosteroid injections. Next, a qualitative study has examined what it is like to live with a frozen shoulder using an ‘Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis’ approach. Novel findings were described, particularly around injection therapy, providing valuable insights and will inform best practice for patient information. Following this, a survey on social media was conducted to discover the practice of healthcare professionals in terms of delivering corticosteroid injections for frozen shoulder. The results will provide useful information on ‘real-world’ practice. The next stage is a clinical trial observing the clinical, physiological, and psychosocial outcomes following corticosteroid injection for people with frozen shoulder. Safety must be the primary concern when considering any healthcare intervention including injections and reporting adverse events is one of the primary outcomes reliably assessed using the case series methodology. This study aims to provide a wealth of data to better inform practice in terms of patient safety for corticosteroid injections and could be considered a type of ‘screening tool’ for hypotheses that are worthy of further examination.

Student: Elizabeth Watson-Rose  

Supervisors: Associate Professors Catherine Minns Lowe, Mindy Cairns (both UH) and Gemma Pearce (Coventry University)

Title: Exploring the views and experiences on physiotherapy-related musculoskeletal health of women living with either Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder or Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome throughout pregnancy and up to one-year post-partum: a mixed methods study.


  • To explore the views and experiences on physiotherapy-related musculoskeletal health of women living with either Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD) or Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS) throughout pregnancy and up to one-year post-partum using a hermeneutic phenomenological methodological approach.
  • To develop, test and conduct a UK wide survey to explore the generalisability of the above results with people living with either HSD or hEDS with experience of pregnancy.
  • To explore the experiences of physiotherapists treating women with either HSD or hEDS throughout their maternal journey with existing, worsening, or new musculoskeletal health concerns. This will include identifying and exploring the skills and knowledge required to manage musculoskeletal health conditions in people with either HSD or hEDS throughout pregnancy and up to one-year post-partum, along with their confidence levels etc.