When you were a child, what was your response to this question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
I went through many stages and wanted to be a multitude of things, but most often I aspired to be a pastry chef. I even did one of those Food Network-style challenges when I was in elementary school and decorated a cake like an island for a land-mass geography project. I still love to bake, but it is definitely more of a hobby now and less of a career choice.
Share the pivotal moment in your life that helped you choose research as a career path.
My high school’s certified athletic trainer had a large impact on my love for athletic training and concussions. She showed me what a passionate athletic trainer looked like and that women can be successful in male-dominated fields. After helping her provide first-aid at one of our high school football games, I expressed my concerns over the amount of head impacts that our players were taking and how that might affect their behavior — linking the psychology and sports medicine fields early. She taught me what a concussion was and how the explosive head hits could cause one. I’ve been hooked on the subject ever since.
What’s an interesting thing that’s happened during your research?
When I was just beginning to establish myself in the research center at which I work, I was asked to take part in a presentation for Chancellor Folt and the Board of Trustees. I presented with a MacArthur Fellow to notable researchers about concussions in the athletic and military service member populations. I specifically spoke about the work I do linking traumatic brain injury and psychology. It was an amazing experience to be on the same stage as the people I look up to.
What advice would you give to up-and-coming female researchers in your field?
Follow your passions. Find what interests you and go for it. Even if your research interests are unique and you’re asking questions no one has asked before, still pursue it. Research is a laborious process and requires a lot of hard work, but that work can also be extremely fun and rewarding if it pertains to something you’re enthusiastic about.