Dr Shaunna Burke


I am an Associate Professor in Exercise and Health Psychology at the University of Leeds. My research focuses on physical activity and cancer and includes a particular focus on the role of prehabilitation for physically and psychologically preparing patients for treatment and surgery. I am also interested in the advancement of qualitative health methods in clinical and health services research and evaluations of interventions in public health. My research is conducted across a range of settings including the UK, Canada, Indonesia, and Nepal. Recent research projects have been funded by Cancer Research UK, National Institute of Health Research, Yorkshire Cancer Research, Macmillan and Arts Council England. 

I am an Associate Editor for the journal Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport and an editorial board member for Psychology of Sport and Exercise and Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise, and Health. I also co-Lead the Leeds Movement and Physical Activity Interdisciplinary Research Network.  

I am an established motivational speaker drawing on my experiences of reaching the summit of Mt. Everest along with my research expertise in the areas of motivation and resilience to not only explain what happens in the minds of people when faced with obstacles but also provide tips on how to overcome them.



  • Movement and Physical Activity Research network co-Lead

Research interests

Current research projects:

  • PREHABS: Prehabilitation Radiotherapy Exercise, smoking Habit cessation and Balanced diet Study – Yorkshire Cancer Research (CoI)
  • Embedding prehabilitation in the cancer care pathway – Macmillan (CoI)
  • Move to Improve: Investigating the feasibility of embedding physical activity into routine breast cancer care in Indonesia – Reasearch England (PI)
  • Investigating the feasibility and acceptability of geocaching for promoting physical activity in childhood cancer patients and their families - CRUK (PI)
  • A pilot study to investigate improvements in physical fitness and quality of life resulting from a 9-week structured responsive endurance training programme following neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy prior to elective rectal cancer surgery - NIHR (CoI)
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://biologicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BA 1997-2000; McGill University, MA 2001-2003; University of Ottawa, PhD 2003-2007; University of Ottawa

Student education

Academic roles:

  • Examinations Officer for UG Programmes - Sports Science programmes
  • Examinations Officer for PGT Programmes - Sports Science programmes


  • Member of Masters Taught Student Education Committee
  • Member of Undergraduate School Taught Student Education Committee (Programme Manager: Sport and Exercise Sciences, Sport Science and Physiology)
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>
    <li><a href="//phd.leeds.ac.uk/project/1926-understanding-perspectives-of-prehabilitation-in-underserved-cancer-populations:-a-qualitative-study-to-inform-service-design-and-delivery.">Understanding perspectives of prehabilitation in underserved cancer populations: A qualitative study to inform service design and delivery.</a></li>