Published: 28-04-2021 15:26 | Updated: 29-04-2021 08:04

Meet the new professors in physiotherapy

Be resilient, work hard – and have fun! In a conversation about their journey to becoming professors, Erika Franzén and Maria Hagströmer gave good advice to junior researchers.

Anna Pettersson och Erika Franzén, Division of Physiotherapy, NVS. Photo: Maria Hagströmer.

Anna Pettersson, programme director for the Physioterapy Pogramme at KI hosted the webinar conversation with the two newest professors at the Division of Physiotherapy. “The journey to become a professor” was presented through a series of themes with many shared experiences. Drive, mentors, significant events, parallel career paths, leadership, and future research were among the issues discussed.

The focus of Erika Franzén’s research has mainly been about balance and exercise for elderly persons with neurological diseases, primarily Parkinson’s disease, while Maria Hagströmer’s research has focused on measuring physical activity and the effects of physical activity for health.

The webinar studio, outside of Aula Medica. Photo: Maria Hagströmer.

Erika and Maria both have curious minds, as well as a driving desire for knowledge and a strong will to challenge and be challenged. They both came back to their respective periods as PhD students as a defining moment in their early careers, where they had opportunities to learn about the academic world and to start building networks, both nationally and internationally.

Among many important personal mentors mentioned, they emphasized their own friendship, both personal and professional. Although competitors in many instances, they have managed to see themselves and physiotherapy in a broader perspective, being able to seize opportunities and share experiences.

Apart from their common path of research within physiotherapy, Erika has a parallel career track with an interest in organizational matters and structures, as well as union involvement. Maria’s career outside of research has included leadership and a strong commitment to teaching and pedagogical issues.

Erika Franzén and Maria Hagströmer, professors at the Divsion of Physiotherapy, NVS. Foto: n/a

Answering the question of what they are most proud of in their careers, Maria mentioned her work with improving methods for measuring physical activity, and to understand and evaluate the connection between physical activity and health. Erika pointed to her resilience and her contribution to develop methods “from lab to intervention”, creating challenging exercise programs for persons with Parkinson’s disease – where the effects can be measured.

In conclusion, Malin Nygren-Bonnier, head of the Division of Physiotherapy, congratulated them both to their academic success and especially to their outstanding leadership and ability to share knowledge.

Maria Ankarcrona, head of department NVS, mentioned the competence, wisdom and drive they both have, and also pointed out their important roles at NVS as professors with combined clinical positions; Erika with the Karolinska University Hospital and Maria with Region Stockholm/Akademiskt primärvårdscentrum.