Jim Cotter

Jim CotterBSc, BPhEd, MPhEd, PhD
Tel 64 3 479-9109
Email jim.cotter@otago.ac.nz


Jim Cotter is an Associate Professor at the School of Physical Education (Lecturer 2001-6). Jim obtained his BSc (1987, Physiology), BPhEd (1988, Distinction) and MPhEd (1992, Distinction) at Otago before heading to Australia to complete a PhD in Environmental Physiology at the University of Wollongong (1998). Following a lectureship there in 1997, he worked as a Research Scientist in the Australian Defence Science & Technology Organisation for three years (1998-2001), investigating human tolerance and adaptation under adverse ergonomic and environmental conditions. Now at The University of Otago, he researches in these fields in both health and performance contexts, with related teaching and service on editorial boards (Journal of Applied Physiology; Frontiers in Physiology),  the Executive Board of Sport & Exercise Science NZ (2005-2010), and advice on High Performance Sport as required (especially for Athens and Beijing Olympics).

Research Interests

Jim has three broad research interests:

  1. Which exercise stressors are important for health- and performance-related fitness adaptations; especially the separate and interactive roles and dose:response relations of different forms of strain in (e.g., heat, hypoxia or hypohydration).
  2. Thermoregulatory and cardiovascular control and determinants of tolerance under heat or hydrative stress, and subsequently the effects of physical and physiological strategies to reduce physiological strain and maximise tolerance.
  3. The limits of ultra-endurance, especially within exercise tasks lasting multiple days.

Questions addressed in current and recently-completed research projects include:

  • Does acute mountain sickness arise from combined effects of altered brain blood flow, barrier integrity and fluid regulation?
  • How effectively do humans thermoregulate when swimming in warm and cold water?
  • Do humans acclimate by swim training in warm water? Is it ergogenic for swimming in temperate water?
  • What role does heat play in cardiovascular health and capacity?
  • To what extent and why does exercising limb (arms versus legs) and intensity (intervals vs continuous) alter cardiovascular, autonomic, cerebrovascular, metabolic and psychophysical responses during exercise and recovery?
  • Does training status and the type of training (sprint versus endurance) alter the cardiorespiratory, metabolic and psychophysical responses to exercise?
  • What is the role of inherent individual factors (age, sex, aerobic training status, spinal cord injury) and situational factors (hyper- and hypo-hydration, hypoxia, heat, airflow, artificial cooling) on thermoregulatory, cardiorespiratory and cerebrovascular control, perceived status and exercise tolerance;
  • Can exercise induce fever in healthy humans? What role does the gut or muscle play in this response? Are trained people less susceptible? Is this response involved in exercise pacing?
  • Is fluid-regulatory strain detrimental or beneficial for heat and aerobic conditioning?
  • Are well-trained athletes less sensitive to acute cardiovascular, thermoregulatory, metabolic and cognitive effects of dehydration?

These questions are addressed in collaboration with some excellent Honours, Masters and Doctoral research students and colleagues in our School (esp. A/Prof Nancy Rehrer and Dr Elaine Hargreaves), University (Dr Chris Baldi, Profs Rob Walker, Andre van Rij and Patrick Manning), Australia (Dr Jonathon Peake (QUT) and Prof John Hawley (RMIT)), Singapore (Dr Chin Leong Lim), Denmark (A/Prof Jörn Helge, Prof Frank Pott) and England (Prof Keith George (LJMU), Dr Emma Ross (Essex)), and long-term, enjoyable collaborations with Dr Sam Lucas (now at Birmingham) and A/Prof Phil Ainslie (now at UBC Kelowna).

Techniques used in the projects include measurement of body temperature, on-line sweat rate and composition, perfusion of the whole-body, brain and isolated limbs, blood volume and composition, respiratory function, perceived status, work performance, blood glucose, and plasma concentrations of cytokines, fluid-regulatory and stress hormones and oxidative stress markers. Funding for projects has been obtained from the IOC Medical Commission, ITU, FINA, NZ Academy of Sport, SPARC, Otago Medical Research Foundation, NZ Rugby Union, Otago University and confidential bodies.

Selected Publications

  • Francois, M.E., Baldi, J.C., Manning, P.J., Lucas, S.J.E., Hawley, J.A., Williams, M.J.A & Cotter, J.D. Exercise snacks before meals: a novel strategy to improve glycaemic control in individuals with insulin resistance. Diabetologia, In press
  • Cotter, J.D., Lucas, S.J.E., Mündel, T. (2013). Environmental Ergonomics XV. International Society for Environmental Ergonomics. 312 pages. Hardcopy: [ISBN 978-0-473-22438-7]; Online: [ISBN 978-0-473-22821-7]
  • Garrett, A.T., Goosens, N.G., Rehrer, N.J., Patterson, M.J., Harrison, J. Sammut, I. & Cotter, J.D. Short-term heat acclimation is effective and may be enhanced rather than impaired by dehydration. American Journal of Human Biology, 10.1002/ajhb.22509. (2014).
  • Lucas, S.J.E., Ainslie, P.N., Murrell, C.J., Thomas, K.N., Franz, E.A. and Cotter, J.D. Effect of age on exercise-induced alterations in cognitive executive function: Relationship to cerebral perfusion. Experimental Gerontology. 47(8): 541-551 (2012).
  • Ross, E.Z., Cotter, J.D., Wilson, L.C., Fan, J-L., Lucas, S.J.E. and Ainslie, P.N. Cerebrovascular and corticomotor function during progressive passive hyperthermia in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology, 112, 748-758 (2012).
  • Lucas R.A.I., Ainslie P.N., Morrison, S.A. & Cotter J.D. Compression leggings modestly affect cardiovascular but not cerebrovascular responses to heat and orthostatic stress in young and older adults. Age 34(2): 439-449 (2012).
  • MacRae, B.A., Cotter, J.D. and Laing, R.M. Compression Garments and Exercise: Garment Considerations, Physiology and Performance. Sports Medicine 41(10): 815-843. (2011)
  • Lind-Holst, M., Cotter, J.D., Helge, J.W., Boushel, R., Augustesen, H., van Lieshout, J.J. & Pot F.C. Cerebral autoregulation dynamics in endurance-trained individuals. Journal of Applied Physiology, 110(5): 1327-1333 (2011).

Current Research Students

  • Ashley Akerman PhD
  • Carl Bradford PhD
  • Kate Thomas PhD (co-supervisor)
  • Craig Palmer PhD 
  • Robert Creasy PhD
  • Ryan Sixtus MPhEd
  • Matthew Shallcrass MPhEd

Completed Research Students

  • Carissa Murrell PhD (co-supervisor)
  • Luke Wilson PhD (co-supervisor)
  • Rebekah Lucas PhD (co-supervisor)
  • Samuel Lucas PhD
  • Stacy Sims PhD (co-supervisor)
  • Shawnda Morrison PhD
  • Brad Wilsmore PhD (co-supervisor)
  • Andrew Garrett PhD
  • Terrence Hill MPhEd (co-supervisor)
  • Michael Dessoulavy MPhEd (co-supervisor)
  • Monique Francois MPhEd
  • Matthew Graham MPhEd
  • Evelyn Parr MPhEd (co-supervisor)
  • Braid MacRae MPhEd (co-supervisor)
  • Craig Harrison MPhEd
  • Olivia MacLaren MPhEd
  • Hayley Guiney MSc (co-supervisor)
  • Linda Groenewegen (MSc, co-supervisor)
  • Guy Scoon (MSc, co-supervisor)

To see details of postgraduate students this staff member may be supervising please visit the Postgraduate Profiles section of our website.

Last updated 27 March 2014

University of Otago The School of Physical Education - Te Kura Akoraka Whakakori