Sarah Roelker

Assistant Professor of Kinesiology, University of Massachusetts Amherst

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The world needs you and your unique set of skills and talents to solve the challenges of today in order to create a better tomorrow for ourselves and future generations.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

In my research, I study the effects of aging and neurological disorders on muscle function and motor control during locomotion with the ultimate goal of improving mobility in these populations. I also teach students about how we apply principles from physics to understand human movement.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?

The spark was ignited the day I discovered biomechanics as a high school student when I had the opportunity to participate in a research study on high-school female soccer players (which I happened to be at the time). I was able to return to the same lab later in high school for a job shadowing day and then interned in the lab the summer after my first year in college. In my sophomore year of undergraduate I joined a research lab on campus and essentially never looked back. The opportunity to complete a research project as an undergraduate helped me solidified my passion for a field that in which I could apply my love of math and science to my enjoyment of movement as a recreational athlete.

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

Every achievement (big or small) is a stepping stone to where I am today. I am thrilled at where I have landed, and looking back the path that guided me here is easy to see. However, as I prepared to jump from one stone to the next, I think it is fair to say that there was some doubt about whether I would make it to the next stone. I would tell my younger self (and should continue to tell myself) to have the courage to take the leap and have faith you will land on the right next stepping stone for your journey.

WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?

My favorite part about working in a STEM career is knowing that the problems I am working to solve will ultimately benefit the life of other people. It's problem solving with a purpose.

BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?

The world needs you and your unique set of skills and talents to solve the challenges of today in order to create a better tomorrow for ourselves and future generations.

INSPO / FUN FACT

"The credit belongs to the [wo]man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if [s]he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that h[er] place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - adaption of "The Man in the Arena" by Theodore Roosevelt

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