Could you introduce yourself and tell me a bit about your background?

My name is Tatiana Zhuravleva, and I’m an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology specializing in motor behavior. My primary research focus revolves around understanding how behavior modification can impact our motor performance or just performance in general. I earned my undergraduate degree in health and coaching in Russia. Then, I relocated to the United States, where I attained another undergraduate degree in international relations and PR and a master’s degree in management and leadership from the University of Indianapolis, Indiana. Then, I further advanced my expertise and pursued my second master’s in kinesiology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Then, I got my PhD in kinesiology, specializing in motor behavior, from New Mexico State University.

Why did you want to become a Kinesiology professor?

My passion has always been health and human performance. Throughout my professional journey and, having experienced competitive sports at both the professional and collegiate levels has helped me understand the human body, the mind, and specific methods that can optimize our performance, which led me to pursue a master’s degree in kinesiology. When I learned those advanced strategies about what can help enhance athletic capabilities, I wanted to take those strategies and apply them to my training and the athletes I coached. When I found those strategies worked, I wanted to learn more, so I got my PhD. I was always curious about learning and critical thinking, which led me to become a professor. I am also passionate about mental and physical health and how to use exercise as a medicine. That’s what we teach in our department here: exercise is a medicine.

How did you hear about Southwestern, and why did you want to work here?

When I saw the job posting, it immediately caught my attention because what SU was looking for was very clearly defined. When I came to the University, I was impressed by the state-of-the-art facilities and equipment and the impactful research they do with the students. Southwestern offers a unique experience that might not be available at other institutions. For me specifically, I enjoy teaching hands-on classes and engaging with students, and I also have the unwavering support of my department here. I am very privileged to be a part of such a collaborative and encouraging academic environment.

What classes do you teach?

I teach a variety of courses, but my primary focus is motor learning and control or motor behavior. Additionally, I instruct human function and structure. I also teach structural kinesiology, an anatomy lab where students learn about the bones and the muscles, how the body works, and what muscles we use during specific exercises and movements. In the future, I plan to develop a new course that will focus on applying strength and conditioning for coaches and practitioners.

Are you currently working on any research projects, and if so, what?

Currently, I’m in the process of submitting several studies that investigate attentional focus cues during different tasks. Attentional focus refers to where we direct our attention while performing a specific task. For instance, if I throw a basketball, is the focus on my elbow, or do I focus on my arm? We looked at the ones where we analyzed the vertical jump, and we looked at attentional focus and behavioral and biomechanical outcome measures. The main goal is to understand what kind of attention benefits performance. Additionally, this summer, I will be working on a SCOPE project. This project explores similar attentional focus aspects but during different tasks such as rowing. We will look at biomechanical, behavioral, and physiological outcome measures to identify the best cues, what’s more effective, and what can help us enhance people’s performance.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I love exercising. I enjoy biking, running, hiking, strength training, and playing volleyball with my friends. My husband and I started mountain biking in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and continued this when we moved here six months ago. There are also many fantastic food places around here, so our goal is to explore the best barbecue places.

What is something students would be surprised to learn about you?

Some might know that I competed for the Russian national team in track and field in the discus throw, but I also competed for the Russian national team in rugby.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like people to know about you?

I might give off the vibe of being strict, but it’s just a cultural thing. Because in my culture, it’s not common for people to smile. Secondly, my accent might make me sound a little bit mean, but then the students quickly learn and adjust to the accent. Overall, I’m a pretty shy person, but I’m friendly. Shy but approachable.

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