Growing Up in Academia with Rosanne Rademaker
What is it to be a scientist? How does one become a scientist? Growing Up in Academia is a conversation series with academics at different levels of their career focusing on the sometimes short, sometimes long and winding roads behind the “official CV”.
Each event features an open conversation (interview) with a different faculty member, representing the broad spectrum of academic life. We will cover topics such as dealing with expectations (your own and others’), the role of luck/coincidence in scientific discovery, impostor syndrome, procrastination, and conflicts with advisors. Join us for a conversation about the human factors that universally inform the profession, but that too often remain unspoken. These events will be hosted and presented by Lucia Melloni (Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics).
On Monday, April 19, 2021, Growing Up in Academia features Rosanne Rademaker, Marie Curie fellow University California, San Diego (USCD),
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour and soon-to-be Max Planck group leader.
The online application for this event is Zoom Webinar. You can register for the event by using this link.
The official CV
Rosanne Rademaker will be starting as a Max Planck Group Leader at the Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) in Frankfurt, Germany. After completing her graduate training in cognitive neuroscience at both Vanderbilt and Maastricht Universities (USA and the Netherlands, respectively), Dr. Rademaker continued her post-doctoral training at the University of California San Diego using neuroimaging and computational approaches to study the mechanisms of visual working memory. In San Diego she soon transitioned to her own three-year Marie Curie Individual Fellowship funding, for which she also spent time at the Donders Institute (the Netherlands). Her lab at the ESI will focus on the neural basis of sensation and cognition using fMRI, MEG, and computational tools, while providing a fun and collaborative environment for her team.
The unofficial CV
During high school in Texel, the Netherlands, Rosanne Rademaker made an art of combining baggy clothes with messy hair (to hide the Walkman she was listening to during class), and negotiating her grades with her teachers (to narrowly pass classes with minimum effort). Her mother’s mantra was “You must finish high school, but after that you can go work at McDonalds for all I care.” Rademaker met this bar by working odd restaurant jobs for a year before considering vocational training in a “city of convenience,” in this case, Groningen. She then unexpectedly fell for Groningen’s ancient academic buildings and the allure of wisdom being passed down through the ages. Late to the college tour of the Law and Literature Departments, she joined some cool looking folks in the Psychology building. During the four years that followed, she ended up focusing on Biological Psychology, but also had a little side hustle in fashion that took her all over the world and taught her how to sell ideas. Feeling on top of the world, she started a Research Master’s in Neuropsychology at Maastricht University, until the following summer, when after her father’s death she went to the United States for an internship at Vanderbilt University with Frank Tong. All of a sudden, everyone around her had double her smarts and triple her skills, and she was out of her depth there in Nashville, Tennessee. The postdocs at Vanderbilt instilled in her their wisdom: “Staying in academia is primarily about sticking with it.” So she stuck with it and eventually moved back to Maastricht for her PhD.
During these years Dr. Rademaker sought out many collaborations, feeling the necessity of input and affirmation from more senior and knowledgeable colleagues. She worked with one of the wise postdocs, Dr. Janneke Jeehee, who was now a PI at the Donders Institute, during her entire pregnancy, which involved standing with her swaying, whale-sized belly in a crowded, hot train twice a week from Maastricht to Nijmegen and back. The project failed miserably; her daughter was born; and in a post-partum haze she sat through lab meetings wondering why others even cared about studying the brain. It took a summer school in Germany for things to snap back into place (or perhaps it just took some sleep). After finishing the PhD, she abandoned home again and moved her family across an ocean and a continent for a postdoc with John Serences at the University of California San Diego. Unable to afford childcare in the United States, her partner stayed home while she worked on new projects by day and wrapped up old projects by night. She then stupidly let the relationship collapse, and in lieu of support for childcare had to drastically dial back her working hours. She stumbled onto the job market just as a too-soon little sister started incubating. Riddled with failure on an average day, the academic job market is the pinnacle of all the failure-prone endeavors in science. By rush-writing applications from a coffee shop with a two-week-old on her boob, she invited 30 or so rejections before flying back to Europe four separate times for interviews in the span of a couple months. Back at work in California for about a week, flirting with Google, the pandemic hit. Schools closed, the nanny quit, relationships were strained. Dreading a second wave, Rademaker moved back to the Netherlands over the summer with her two girls, and then moved to Frankfurt half a year later. She is now coasting on her previous hard work, the minds of her great collaborators, and luck.