Each month we shine a spotlight on a member of our Jacobs Network to help you meet each other virtually and inspire you with the outstanding people that are part of our network. This month we feature Joanne C. Gerstner, a sports science writer fellow, professor, and author, located in Detroit, Michigan, U.S.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am an award-winning multi-platform sports journalist and author, faculty member in the Michigan State University School of Journalism, and global speaker/expert on the neurological impacts of sports on athletes of all ages and ability. My work and commentary regularly appears in The New York Times, NPR, the BBC and ESPN. My 2016 book, “Back in the Game: Why Concussion Doesn’t Have to End Your Athletic Career” (Oxford University Press), was named as best non-fiction by the Association of Women in Communications. My time and research as a Jacobs fellow is reflected in the book. I balance my journalistic work with being a full-time professor, developing and leading Michigan State’s Sports Journalism program. I’m not the average sportswriter, and I love delving into tough subjects, such as concussions, and helping unpack them.

How do you think you can benefit from the Talent Network?

I live in the unique intersection of science, medicine, sports and culture, so having access to the amazing wealth of impressive experts in the Jacobs Network makes me a stronger journalist. Sourcing is everything, research is everything, and getting things right is everything to me as a journalist and author. The Jacobs Network is also reflexive, as I am honored to meet those who need my assistance or thoughts for their projects.

What makes sports and neuroscience a good fit for public discussion?

Athletics is a global common bond, from kids playing soccer in front of their houses to all of us soon watching the 2018 Winter Olympics. Brain development is definitely amplified – if not sometimes damaged – by athletics during childhood. I am in the unique intersection of helping translate what neuroscientists, athletes and trainers are discovering, hopefully making the science and sport understandable for the public. The sports world, neuroscience and medicine fields, and the public frequently do not communicate well with each other, leaving important outcomes needing to be brought forward by journalists. There’s always something new to discuss, and I am happy to engage with anybody at joanneg@msu.edu.


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