Growing up in Academia with Karen Zentgraf
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, September 21, 2020, 5 p.m. Growing Up in Academia features Karen Zentgraf, Professor for Movement and Exercise Science at Goethe University, Frankfurt.
The online application for this event is Zoom Webinar.
The Official CV
Karen Zentgraf is Professor of Movement and Exercise Science at Goethe University Frankfurt, where she directs the Neuromotor Performance Laboratory. She serves as Deputy Dean of Studies Sport Sciences and as Chairperson of the Board of the GRADE Center for Sports Sciences at Goethe University Frankfurt, and is a member of both the Interdisciplinary Center for Neuroscience Frankfurt (ICNF) and the PotAS Commission for Competitive Sports of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI, Germany). Prof. Zentgraf studied Biology at Indiana University (USA), Medicine and Sports Science at the University of Tübingen, and obtained her PhD from the University of Giessen in 2005, with a dissertation on the intersection of sport psychology and movement science. After postdoctoral positions in Gießen and Bern, she took a professorship for Human Performance and Training in Sports at the University of Münster, before returning to Hesse in 2017, when she began her current position at Goethe University Frankfurt. The research in Prof. Zentgraf's lab focuses on expert human performance in sports and neuromotor behavior.
The Unofficial CV
Karen Zentgraf grew up in Stuttgart, Germany. Her mother was a secretary and her father a training manager in the printing industry as well as a track and field coach; and athletics was a major focus for the whole family. Karen excelled in school, mainly to keep her parents happy so she could keep doing sports as much as possible. At 17, Zentgraf accepted a track and field scholarship at Indiana University in the United States and decided to study Pre-Med Biology. Several injuries and various struggles with the US college athletics system later, she returned to Germany to study medicine in Tübingen, eventually enrolling in Sports Science as a second major. She became less and less interested in pursuing a career as a physician and more and more interested in science and research. Confronted with so many opinions and myths, predominantly in sports, she started to combine her experience with her expanding scientific knowledge, questioning various commonplaces and long-held beliefs. She also began to develop a deep interest in the role of the brain in motor control and learning, which at that time was an underresearched area of study. While pursuing her doctoral degree, Zentgraf became increasingly involved with the Bender Institute of Neuroimaging (BION) in Gießen and began applying neuroscience research questions to her own field, Sports Science. This was an extremely fruitful time for her research, with many weekends and evenings spent in the lab, but she began to worry about her work load and how to reconcile it with the needs of her family. Together with her husband, she decided to accept a Senior Lecturer position at the University of Bern, in Switzerland. Not having the opportunity to pursue her own research, however, turned out to be unsatisfying. After six valuable but tough years working full-time in academia while raising a family, Prof. Zentgraf came to Goethe University in Frankfurt. Here she has become increasingly interested in topics about women in science, academia, and sports, and is increasingly appreciative of the mixed and diverse community of colleagues, the spirit of open-mindedness and mutual support, and the ambitious work ethic that define her working life in Frankfurt.
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