By Scott May
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Postdoc preferred route to faculty position
Postdoctoral fellow Jasna Junuzovic is focusing her research on the physiology of blood flow to peripheral nerves as a member of Kevin Shoemaker's Neurovascular Research Group.
Postdoctoral Fellow Jasna Junuzovic’s academic career appears to be moving as fast as the data transmitted in the neurons serving as the focus of much of her research.
Information in some nerve cells travels at more than 431 km/h so you can see the similarities when you understand Junuzovic started her post-secondary education at the University of Guelph at age 16, completing her PhD by age of 25. 
Further evidence of her lightning fast trip through the education system becomes apparent when you understand  upon arriving in Canada, with her family from the former Yugoslavia, she was already working on math and science problems several years in advance of her Grade 6 classmates.
As a member of Kevin Shoemaker’s Neurovascular Research Group, Junuzovic contributes through her extensive knowledge of the physiology of blood flow to peripheral nerves.
When she completed her PhD at Guelph, Junuzovic was pretty certain a postdoctoral fellow role would be an important next step in her journey.  While in graduate school she spent a significant amount of her time in the lab and was regularly involved in surgical procedures.
During this time she also had an opportunity to teach, something she found equally as enjoyable.
“Pretty much the only career that lets you do both research and teaching is that of a faculty and the postdoc route is the preferred way to gain further experience towards this goal,” says Junuzovic.
Shoemaker’s lab was one of three postdoctoral positions Junuzovic considered after completing her PhD. 
“This opportunity at Western offered me what I wanted – a large lab and new ways of thinking. It was perfect. It was a clear choice for me because when I first met Kevin it was very apparent that he cared about what I needed to be successful and was interested in assisting me achieve my goals,” says Junuzovic.
Shoemaker is equally enthused about Junuzovic’s contributions to his team’s research efforts. 
“Dr. Junuzovic has expertise in the physiological control of blood flow in the very small blood vessels of skeletal muscle.  This expertise has allowed our group to launch a new methodological approach to study the physiologic basis of vascular mechanical properties in rodents. Her contributions help our team towards a common research aim which is to detect early markers of vascular change during disease or disease interventions.”
Junuzovic had a couple of key things she was interested in achieving during her postdoctoral placement at Western.
“One of my main goals was to expand my personal research tool kit so I had a lot more research knowledge at my disposal.”
And despite her breakneck academic pace her postdoc placement at Western is important  for another reason – balance.
“I’m using this time to evaluate what is most important to me and my future,” says Junuzovic. “I find myself observing how faculty members work to balance all aspects of their life including research and teaching along with their personal life and ask myself - can it be done?”
Junuzovic points out her upbringing stressed the importance of helping people in some way.  In this regard any potential future career will need to honour this personal sense of commitment in tangible ways.
“One of the key differences in moving from a PhD to a postdoc position is the level of self direction required in the postdoc role,” says Junuzovic. “This shift has been important for me to even more clearly understand career expectations in an academic role.”
Besides feeling well supported in her research, the move to Western and the London community has been a positive one for Junuzovic.
“I’m a city girl at heart and London offers a lot of diversity and places to go like concerts and theatre but still has managed to maintain its small town feel. It is a great place to be.”
Because most of her university life has gone by very quickly, Junuzovic is relishing her postdoc role at Western. It not only supports her strong commitment to research but she as suggests, “I can step back and really take time to think about where I would like to be and then make that known.”

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