• Stuart J. Warden, PT, PhD, FACSM

    • Mar 06, 2018

    Name and credentials:
    Stuart J. Warden, PT, PhD, FACSM

    Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Physical Therapy
    School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
    Indiana University
    Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

    Your preferred contact information:


    1) What does a typical day look like in your job?

    • 6:00                      Wake-up, get ready for work, dress kids and prepare lunches
    • 7:00                      Leave for work
    • 8:00-10:00           Teach class (musculoskeletal rehabilitation to 40 doctor of physical therapy students)
    • 10:00-11:00         Meet with research team or check animal colony
    • 11:00-12:00         School-level meeting (either Dean’s staff meeting, department faculty meeting, or school leadership meeting)
    • 12:00-13:00         Lunch and attend journal club or seminar
    • 13:00-14:00         University-level meeting (Council for Associate Deans for Research, Athletic Affairs, Research Affairs committee)
    • 14:00-16:00         Research time (test subjects, process data, run stats, etc.)
    • 16:00                    Leave work and pick up kids
    • 17:00-20:00         Family and personal time (kids homework, dinner, workout)
    • 20:30                    Kids in bed
    • 21:00-23:00         Catch up on emails, review article/s, invite manuscript reviewers, etc.
    • 23:00                    Bed


    2) What is your favorite aspect of your job?

    The freedom to choose my own path and to collaborate with people I really enjoy working with. Working in academia may not be as fiscally lucrative as working in the private sector; however, there is more to life than money and I appreciate the liberty academia affords in terms of being able to generate and address my own research questions. There is nothing better than generating a hypothesis and obtaining data that exceeds all expectations, and then sharing the data with your collaborators and the broader scientific and lay communities.


    3) What is the most challenging aspect?

    Beyond the usual challenge of obtaining funding for research projects, finding enough time in the day is the toughest aspect. Trying to balance teaching, service and research activities is a constant challenge, particularly while juggling roles as both an administrator and researcher. My administrative role involves monitoring, promoting and assisting research activities within our school, which requires a level of unselfishness particularly when facilitating the careers of more junior faculty. I also maintain an active research agenda which includes work utilizing animal models and human subjects and the use of genetic modified material and ionizing radiation. The net result is a relatively large compliance burden, with a need for both Institutional Animal Care and Use and Committee and Institutional Biosafety Committee approval for animal-based work and Institutional Review Board and Radiation Safety Committee approval for human-based studies.

    4) What led you to this career choice?

    Growing up in the sporting capital of the world (Melbourne, Australia) and being an avid junior sportsman, I wanted to intertwine my love of sports with my career. I was fortunate to be accepted into a physiotherapy/physical therapy program, with my long-term plan being to work with sporting teams and athletes. However, during the last year of the program I chose to complete a research elective and realized I could make a larger and broader impact by pursuing a career in research. At the completion of my physical therapy training, I subsequently enrolled in a PhD program under the guidance of Dr. Kim Bennell and the rest, as they say, is history. My PhD thesis was examined by the late Dr. Charles Turner who subsequently invited me to Indiana University (IU) to complete a post-doctorate in skeletal mechanoadaptation. Given the wealth of knowledge, resources and mentors at IU, it was the logical place remain to climb the academic ladder. This decision has recently been vindicated with the arrival of Dr. Lynda Bonewald who, as the Executive Director of the Indiana Center for Musculoskeletal Health, is rapidly expanding the breadth and depth of work being performed within the IU musculoskeletal community.


    5) What do you know now that you wish you knew as an early-stage investigator?

    How to say no so as to stay on focus. As an early-stage investigator and faculty member, we are often taught to say “yes” to almost all requests. However, it is important to take the time to fully consider whether saying “yes” is mutually beneficial. It is OK to be a little selfish and ask yourself what benefit you will get from saying ‘yes’…beyond simply determining whether something may look good on your CV for promotion and tenure. Ask yourself whether saying “yes” will: 1) provide you with new experiences and skills that you and your mentor/s can see will benefit you in the future, and; 2) enable you to provide a significant contribution beyond simply providing some of your most precise commodity, i.e., time.  

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