Stephen F. BURNS

Associate Professor

Stephen F. BURNS​

Physical Education and Sports Science Academic Group (PESS),

National Institute of Education

Office: 6219 6214

E-mail: stephen.burns[at]nie[dot]edu[dot]sg



Biographical Profile

Academic Qualifications:
PhD (Exercise Physiology) Loughborough University, U.K.​
​Positions Held:
Assistant Professor, Physical Education and Sports Science, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
07/2009 - Present​

​Research Associate, Division of Weight Management and Wellness, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, USA

​08/2007 – 06/2009
Lecturer, Department of Kinesiology, University of Texas at El Paso, USA​ ​08/2006 – 08/2007


Research Interests

My major research interest has been examining the effect of physical activity on risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus.  However, I have recently completed a project with a PESS colleague, Asst. Prof. Masato Kawabata, examining how exercise and breakfast interact to effect short-term academic and cognitive performance in Singaporean youth aged 15-18 years. 


Research Interest in the Neuroscience of Learning and Education

I am interested in how physical activity, physical fitness and nutrition effect short- and long-term academic performance and cognitive processes in youth.  Whilst we can measure outcomes (academic and cognitive tests) it is difficult to determine the mechanisms behind any changes in outcomes which result from physical activity, fitness or food intake.  Neuroimaging techniques such as event related brain potentials and structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging could provide explanatory supportive data to future experimental interventions in this area.  These neuroimaging techniques could potentially be combined with metabolic (e.g. glucose) and hormonal measurements (e.g. cortisol) and measures of brain growth (e.g. brain-derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF) and vasculature associated with brain nutrient supply (e.g. vascular endothelial growth factor, VEGF) for a more complete picture of brain changes/development.