Treat it as a full time job

Despite the unpredictable weather, I was lucky enough to arrange a meeting with a very busy lecturer. Professor Tina Forster has been at City for over 10 years. Her BettinaForstermain research over the last years has focused on ‘body perception’ and how that affects processing of information. One of her the main successes at City is the development of the Cognitive Neuroscience Research Unit, which has allowed students and fellow researchers to expand on their knowledge of the brain. Tina and her fellow colleagues also established an EEG (electroencephalogram) lab at City which allows them to record changes in brain activity over time.

On describing the success of this unit, Tina reflects on the inspiring work of her students. “Our PhD students have arranged Brain Awareness Weeks. They’ve organised a series of lectures and events to celebrate that week. “ These events enables students to understand that the brain isn’t just a ‘black box’ and how the brain has special functions.

Being the successful professor and researcher Tina is today wasn’t all fun and games. When I asked her about any challenges she had to overcome, she mentioned how long it takes to reach her position. She described being in education for a very long time, but was very lucky that her education was mostly free. Working to make a living alongside studying was something very obvious to her, and she admires that students are doing both to pay for their VERY expensive tuition fees. However, Tina enjoyed the journey of education and research and made her story positive; turning the hardships into lessons.

“To gain experience you will need to work with different people, like you would do in an apprenticeship. For me it was a nice opportunity but others might see that as an obstacle. Every experiment is a challenge. You never know what you’re going to get.”

The question I am always intrigued to ask lecturers at our university is why they like City. With all the top Universities and Research Institutes in London, picking one institution isn’t an easy option. Just like it was difficult for most of us to choose a University. Tina enjoys teaching and is passionate about sharing her expertise with others. She describes her job as having “3 hats on” as her varied role includes a bit of Teaching, Admin and Research.

City is a very nice vibrant community.”

Placements are something that would be ideal to assist me in reaching the career that I want to pursue. It is often difficult to choose one path to stick to, and Tina agrees that your first job is not always your last. She explains that University gives us the theoretical basis, but it is up to us to expand on our own horizons. Getting that extra experience is important for obtaining different approaches from people of all backgrounds. Tina also had job experiences that she didn’t enjoy however, she managed to change her profession. From her answers, I admire her passion and resilience to the challenges she has faced.

“Sometimes you do enjoy it in the end, but you just need some time to get through it.”

Tina’s advice to students:

“Treat studying as a full time job. It is a full time job. I know you probably all have other jobs on the side. Keep up with managing your time, your lectures, and what you need to do. Get experience outside in some way, relevant to what you want to go into as a career.”

If you could be any historical figure, who would it be? I would rather go forward to see the future. But I admire a lot of people in the past such as Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga (who’s still alive), who have done fundamental work in psychology. Or I’d love to be the first person who walked on the moon.

If the world was going to end, what would you do? Mindfulness practice – reflect and be in the moment.

What fact amazes you every time you think of it? Humans have the capability of looking forward and backward. We are time travelers.

Written by Sandra Ku

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