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Hai-Jung Steffi Shih

New PhD Graduate, University of Southern California

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Be couragious! You never know until you try.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I am a human movement researcher striving to understand musculoskeletal pain and its effect on movement, and how we can best treat it. I am particularly interested in low back pain, and injuries affecting performing artists.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?

My mom was a physical therapist and a researcher, so I knew about this profession and was immersed in lectures and workshops about movement science growing up (yes, my mom took me to some of her talks). I was passionate about dancing in high school, and my mom was able to help with some of my friends' injuries. I think the key moment when I realized physical therapy (and subsequently, a PhD in kinesiology/movement science) is something I want to do was when my mom was able to provide consultation to my friend and her family, whose grandfather just had a stroke. Seeing her power to provide assistance to an anxious family was inspiring and that was when I knew I wanted to combine my passion for movement and desire to help others and pursue this line of career.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"

Directly pursuing a PhD without a master's degree, from an overseas institution (from Taiwan where I was born and raised to the US) was something I never imagined was possible. Talking to famous scholars in the field that I have only previously seen on paper in their publications was also amazing.

WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?

I love interacting with intelligent, kind, and inspiring individuals on a daily basis. I love working with students and learning from them. In the bigger picture, I like that science can help solve real-life problems, and I am contributing to a part of it.

BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?

Be couragious! You never know until you try.

INSPO / FUN FACT

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams" - Eleanor Roosevelt