Mentoring Profile: Antonia Zaferiou, PhD, Rush Medical College

The Rush Women Mentoring Program fosters professional development and a sense of community and collaboration among women faculty at Rush University. In this series, we highlight program mentors and mentees and learn more about how mentoring has impacted them.

Antonia Zaferiou, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and director of motion analysis for the Division of Sports Medicine, Rush Medical College, joined Rush in 2016.

Tell us about your background.

I joined Rush University Medical Center as an instructor and the director of motion analysis for the Division of Sports Medicine in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery. My research uses mechanical principles to study human control and dynamics used during the activities of daily living and athletic maneuvers. I am interested in understanding human motion in order to develop technology and interventions that improve movement mechanics and reduce the risk of injury.

What inspired you to get into your field?

As an undergraduate mechanical engineering student and life-long dancer, I found out about the field of biomechanics as a freshman. Biomechanics fused my drive to find out how things work with my fascination with how bodies move.

What excited you about your work at Rush?

I was excited to expand upon my work to date, which had primarily focused on turning, sports biomechanics and lower extremity control, in order to focus more on clinical applications and shoulder movement mechanics.

What is your opinion of mentoring and sponsorship?

Mentorship is crucial for the success of students and new faculty. I am extremely grateful to have had truly amazing mentors throughout my academic career. Specifically, the advice and leadership from my PhD advisor, Jill McNitt-Gray, and my postdoctoral advisor, Noel Perkins, were fundamental to both developing my technical background and growing my professional experience and networks. Dr. McNitt-Gray and Dr. Perkins are extremely dedicated to helping all of their students strategically carve their own career pathways. I also think that it is good to have a network of mentors, each of whom is happy to help in different areas of academics/career growth and life, in general. Effective mentorship requires teamwork between the mentee and mentor. Mentors are not people who simply serve a mentee; they are people who are happy to help a mentee if that mentee is exhibiting actions and drive to help him/herself.

Do you have tips or advice you would recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

Biomechanics is a very expansive field of study. I think it’s exciting that it seems to merge people from different academic backgrounds (i.e., physical therapy and engineering). Doing research within this mixture of scholars lends itself to natural collaboration that can enable holistic research approaches. I think it’s important to reach out and actively network, starting at the beginning of the PhD studentship.

What are your hobbies? How do you like to spend your free time?

I like to dance, sing and travel. When I have free time, I like to visit family and friends in Los Angeles and New York. In addition I have recently started training in Capoeira.