Hai-Jung Steffi Shih

New PhD Graduate, University of Southern California


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 and 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 quote / fun fact / role model

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

NOMINATE a woman in STEM

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