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20th May 2024 Latest News

Vale Professor Roger Eston

Invictus with Roger Eston

It is with great sadness that we pay tribute to our cherished colleague and friend, Professor Roger Eston, who lost his battle with cancer this month.  

Roger pioneered the development of the Invictus Pathways Program, run by the University of South Australia with funding from The Hospital Research Foundation Group / MESHA, as a world-first, student-delivered interdisciplinary allied health and sports science program to support veterans.  

His contributions to veteran and first responder health, as well as educating the next generation of sports science and exercise physiology professionals, will long be remembered.   

Our thoughts and condolences are with Roger’s family and colleagues.  

Roger’s legacy, courtesy of UniSA:

Roger was born on 7 December 1955 in the UK and dedicated his career to the pursuit of knowledge and excellence. He earned his undergraduate and masters degrees from the University of Birmingham before completing his Doctorate in Physical Education (Human Movement Science) at Springfield University (USA) in 1983. Roger then took up lecturing roles at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (where he also played representative international rugby for Hong Kong). He then took up an appointment at Liverpool University, before moving into leadership roles as Head of School at Bangor University and the University of Exeter. In 2011 Roger moved to Australia to take up the position of Head of the School of Health Sciences at UniSA. Roger served as the Head of the School of Health Sciences for 8 years, before moving to a two-year appointment as Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Division of Health Sciences and then Executive Dean of UniSA Allied Health and Human Performance from 2020 – 2023.

Roger’s contributions to sports science were vast and he has left an enduring legacy. Roger was one of the top 100 cited sport scientists in the world (from over 30,000 in field) with >250 peer-reviewed journal articles/chapters and an H-index of 57 (Scopus). He supervised 30 PhDs and over 30 MSc/MRes to completion and those graduates are now making their own marks on the world. His contributions led to him being one of the first sports scientists to be awarded a lifetime Fellowship of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences in 2000.

During his time at UniSA Roger introduced a range of new teaching programs (e.g., Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Physiology in 2013; Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science in 2017; Bachelor of Public Health in 2018; Bachelor of Speech Pathology in 2020) and streamlined a number of other programs (e.g., Master of Physiotherapy – replaced with the successful Master of Advanced Clinical Physiotherapy in 2015). He also directed the closure of the Division of Health Science’s Honours program to redirect students to the Masters by Research program in 2017, accounting in part for the four-fold rise in the number of Masters HDRs in the first three years of operation, the success of which continues to date.

Roger also oversaw a period of significant change in the structure of research within the School of Health Sciences through the amalgamation of three disparate research groups to form one of UniSA’s recognised research centres, the Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA) in 2015 and the introduction of the Innovation, IMPlementation And Clinical Translation (iIMPACT) research concentration in 2019. Roger also brokered the transfer of The Hospital Research Foundation’ Road Home Welbeing Program into a UniSA trademarked ‘Invictus Pathways Program’, which provided a world first, student-delivered interdisciplinary allied health and sports science program to support veterans. The program has since expanded to include first responders (police, fire, ambulance) with over 80 participants and ~40 x 1-year student placements and 4000 student placement hours per year.

Beyond his own personal academic achievements, Roger was revered as a compassionate mentor and colleague and helped to progress the careers of many UniSA Staff. His kindness, patience, and wisdom left an indelible mark on all who had the privilege of knowing him. His positive leadership style saw the disparate disciplines within the School of Health Sciences come together as a cohesive team and thrive. He celebrated every success of the School/Unit at every level of achievement, and the competitor in him was quickly awoken by any comparative metrics with other Schools/Units or institutions.

As we mourn the loss of Professor Roger Eston, we take solace in the enduring impact of his work and the memories he leaves behind. His passion for knowledge, his commitment to
excellence and his compassionate spirit will continue to inspire us all.

Though he may be gone, Professor Eston’s legacy will live on in the countless lives he touched and the profound influence he had on the world of sports science and beyond. He will be deeply missed but never forgotten.

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