Emma graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Exercise Science from Brighton University before completing an MSc in Exercise Science at the University of Toronto, Canada. She then went on to complete her PhD in Exercise Science with a specialisation in cardiovascular physiology at the University of Toronto, Canada (2013).  After completing her PhD, Emma undertook post-doctoral studies in the Clinical Cardiovascular Physiology Laboratory at the Toronto General Hospital, Canada.  Emma’s research focuses on the cardiovascular health of women, with emphasis on the independent and combined effects of estrogen deficiency and exercise training in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. 

In January 2016, she returned to the UK to take the post of Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at the University of Loughborough, becoming Senior Lecturer in 2022.

Emma is a member of The American Physiological Society and The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. 

Emma’s main research interests focus on sex hormones and their effects on cardiovascular health and sporting performance. Her work includes the effects of the menstrual cycle on athletic performance in female athletes, the interactions between exercise and loss of sex hormones on cardiovascular health in postmenopausal women, and the effects of gender affirming hormones on athletic performance in transwomen athletes.

Emma is currently undertaking research in the following areas:

  • The menstrual cycle and athletic performance
  • The amenorrheic athlete and cardiovascular health
  • Postmenopausal women, cardiovascular health, and the effects of exercise
  • Gender affirming hormone therapy and athletic performance in transwomen athletes.

Invited reviewer for: Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism; European Journal of Applied Physiology; Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; Journal of Human Hypertension; Endocrine; Physiology and Behavior; and Osteoporosis International.

Featured publications

  • O’Donnell E and Craig J.  Habitual exercise in healthy postmenopausal women does not augment basal cardiac autonomic activity yet modulates autonomic-metabolic interactions. Menopause.  2022. Jun 1;29(6):714-722. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001963.
  • Hogervorst E, Craig J, and O’Donnell ECognition and mental health in menopause: a review. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2021. In press. doi.org/10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2021.10.009
  • Hutson MJ, O’Donnell E, Petherick E, Brooke-Wavell K, Blagrove RC. Incidence of bone stress injury is greater in competitive female distance runners with menstrual disturbances independent of participation in plyometric training. J Sports Sciences. 2021 Nov;39(22):2558-2566. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2021.1945184.
  • Harper J, O’Donnell E, Sourori Korashad B, McDermott H, Witcomb G. How does hormone transition in transgender women change body composition, muscle strength and haemoglobin? Systematic review with a focus on the implications for sport participationBr J Sports Med. 2021 Aug;55(15):865-872. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2020-103106.
  • Tom Norris T, Mansukoski L, Gilthorpe MS, Hamer M, Hardy R, Howe LD, Hughes AD, Li L, O’Donnell E, Ong KK, Ploubidis GB,, Silverwood RJ, Viner RM, Johnson W. Distinct body mass index trajectories to young-adulthood obesity and their different cardiometabolic consequences. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2021 Apr;41(4):1580-1593
  • Rowland S, Chessor R, French G, Robinson G, O'Donnell E, James L, Bailey S.  Oral nitrate reduction is not impaired after training in chlorinated swimming pool water in elite swimmers. Appl Physiol Nutri & Metab. 2021 Jan;46(1):86-89
  • Hutson MJ, O'Donnell E, Brooke-Wavell K, Sale C, Blagrove RC. Effects of Low Energy Availability on Bone Health in Endurance Athletes and High-Impact Exercise as A Potential Countermeasure: A Narrative Review. Sports Med. 2021 Mar;51(3):391-403.
  • O'Donnell E, Goodman JM, Floras JS, Harvey PJ.  Indexes of aortic wave reflection are not augmented in estrogen-deficient physically active premenopausal women.  Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2020 Jun;30(6):1054-1063
  • Notarius CF, Millar PJ, Kier DA, Murai H, Haruki N, O'Donnell E, Marzolini S, Oh P, Floras JS. Training heart failure patients with reduced ejection Fraction Attenuates Muscle Sympathetic Nerve Activation During Mild Dynamic Exercise. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2019 317(4):R503-R512
  • O’Donnell E, Scheid JL, West SL, De Souza MJ. Impaired vascular function in exercising anovulatory premenopausal women is associated with low bone mineral density. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2019 Apr;29(4):544-553
  • Notarius CF, Millar PJ, Kier DA, Murai H, Doherty C, Incognito A, Haruki N, O'Donnell E, Marzolini S, Oh P, Floras JS. Training Heart Failure Patients with Reduced Ejection Fraction Attenuates their Muscle Metaboreflex and Lowers Muscle Sympathetic Nerve Activity at Rest and During Mild Dynamic Exercise. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2019 44(2):194-199
  • West SL, O’Donnell E. Cardiovascular disease and bone loss—new research in identifying common disease pathophysiologies and predictors. Editorial. AME Med J.  2018 3(42):1-5
  • Harvey PJ, O’Donnell E, Picton P, Morris BL, Notarius C, Floras JS.  After-Exercise Heart Rate Variability is Attenuated in Post-Menopausal Women and Unaffected by Estrogen Therapy. Menopause. 2016 23(4):390-395
  • O’Donnell E, Goodman JM, Morris BL, Floras JS, Harvey PJ.  Augmented Vagal Heart Rate Modulation in Active Hypoestrogenic Premenopausal Women with Functional Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. Clin Sci. 2015 129: 885-893
  • O’Donnell E, Goodman JM, Morris BL, Floras JS, Harvey PJ.  Discordant Orthostatic Reflex Renin-Angiotensin and Sympathoneural Responses in Premenopausal Exercising-Hypoestrogenic WomenHypertension. 2015 65(5):1089-95
  • De Souza MJ, Williams NI, Nattiv A, Joy E, Misra M, Loucks AB, Matheson G, Olmsted MP, Barrack M, Mallinson RJ, Gibbs JC, Goolsby M, Nichols JF, Drinkwater B, Sanborn C, Agostini R, Otis CL, Johnson MD, Zeni Hoch A, Alleyne JMK, Tyler Wadsworth L, Koehler K, VanHeest J, Harvey PJ, Weiss Kelly AK, Fredericson M, Brooks GA, O’Donnell E, Callahan LR, Putukian M, Costello L, Hecht S, Rauh MJ, McComb J.  Misunderstanding the Female Athlete Triad: Refuting the IOC Consensus Statement on Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S). Br J Sports Med. 201448(20):1461-5
  • O’Donnell E, Floras JS, Harvey PJ.  Estrogen status and the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2014 307(5): R498-R500
  • O’Donnell E, Goodman JM, Mak S, Harvey PJ.  Impaired Endothelium-Dependent Function in Physically Active Premenopausal Women with Functional Hypothalamic Amenorrhea is Associated with Low Shear Stress and Increased Vascular Tone. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 99(5):1798-806
  • O’Donnell E, Goodman JM, Harvey, PJ.  Cardiovascular Consequences of Ovarian Disruption: A Focus on Functional Hypothalamic Amenorrhea.  J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 96(12):3638-48