Associate Professor Heather Karen Smith

BPHE (Toronto), MA (McGill), PhD (Toronto)

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Associate Professor

Research | Current

We seek to discover and explain the physiological adaptation of skeletal muscle to exercise or inactivity:

Why does muscle fail to grow or decrease in size and function when it is under-used? How does muscle interpret and respond to exercise stimuli to maintain or increase size and function?

Current studies address these questions in athletic individuals and in older adults, and by using animal models of exercise and aging. The eventual aim of our research is to specify, justify and evaluate interventions to ensure sufficient muscle size and function for movement and metabolic health.

Teaching | Current

EXERSCI 101: Foundations of the Exercise Sciences: Exercise Physiology

EXERSCI 201: Exercise Physiology 1: Exercise Metabolism, Neuromuscular System

EXERSCI 301: Exercise Physiology 2: Mechanisms of the Adaptation to Exercise

EXERSCI 705: Research in the Exercise Sciences

EXERSCI 706: Seminar in Advanced Exercise Physiology

Areas of expertise

Exercise and Muscle Physiology

Muscle Biology: Regulation of Muscle Size and Function

Physiology of Resistance Exercise; Power Training; Weightlifting


Committees/Professional groups/Services

The University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Commitee (UAHPEC)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Wette, S. G., Smith, H. K., Lamb, G. D., & Murphy, R. M. (2017). Characterization of Muscle Ankyrin Repeat Proteins in human skeletal muscle. American journal of physiology. Cell physiology10.1152/ajpcell.00077.2017
  • Hennebry, A., Oldham, J. M., Shavlakadze, T., Grounds, M., Sheard, P., Fiorotto, M., ... Jeanplong, F. (2017). IGF1 stimulates greater muscle hypertrophy in the absence of myostatin in male mice. The Journal of endocrinology10.1530/joe-17-0032
  • Storey, A. G., Birch, N. P., Fan, V., & Smith, H. K. (2016). Stress responses to short-term intensified and reduced training in competitive weightlifters. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 26 (1), 29-40. 10.1111/sms.12400
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Nigel Birch, Vicky Fan
  • Jeanplong, F., Osepchook, C. C., Falconer, S. J., Smith, H. K., Bass, J. J., McMahon, C. D., & Oldham, J. M. (2015). Undernutrition regulates the expression of a novel splice variant of myostatin and insulin-like growth factor 1 in ovine skeletal muscle. Domestic Animal Endocrinology, 52, 17-24. 10.1016/j.domaniend.2015.01.002
  • Smith, H. K., Matthews, K. G., Oldham, J. M., Jeanplong, F., Falconer, S. J., Bass, J. J., ... McMahon, C. D. (2014). Translational Signalling, Atrogenic and Myogenic Gene Expression during Unloading and Reloading of Skeletal Muscle in Myostatin-Deficient Mice. PLoS One, 9 (4), 1-12. 10.1371/journal.pone.0094356
  • Storey, A. G., & Smith, H. K. (2012). Unique Aspects of Competitive Weightlifting: Performance, Training and Physiology. Sports Medicine, 42 (9), 769-790. 10.1007/BF03262294
  • Smith, H. K., & Merry, T. L. (2012). Voluntary resistance wheel exercise during post-natal growth in rats enhances skeletal muscle satellite cell and myonuclear content at adulthood. Acta Physiologica, 204 (3), 393-402. 10.1111/j.1748-1716.2011.02350.x
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Troy Merry
  • Storey, A. G., Wong, S., Smith, H. K., & Marshall, P. (2011). Divergent muscle functional and architectural responses to two successive high intensity resistance exercise sessions in competitive weightlifters and resistance trained adults. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 112 (10), 3629-3639. 10.1007/s00421-012-2346-4


Contact details

Primary location

TAMAKI BUILDING 731 - Bldg 731
Level 3, Room 334
New Zealand

Social links

Web links