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This magical moment when only you know the findings, before you share it with others

Kaja Kastelic, assistant researcher at the InnoRenew CoE; main areas of research: physical activity epidemiology, ergonomics

  • Where were you living in childhood and where do you live now?

I grew up in Murska Sobota, in a house with a backyard that bordered on a beautiful park with a castle, a pond and a century-old oak. Currently, I am living with my family in Kranj.

  • What have you studied and what were the motives for your decision?

I studied architecture and kinesiology. At 19 years of age, I was interested in too many fields, and architecture sounded a good match for me. However, soon I found that I will not be a passionate architect — and I had a strong desire to be passionate about my job. So, I took a deep insight, and I found my passion in human movement science (i.e., kinesiology). I guess my motives are rooted in my own enjoyment when engaging in physical activity. Also, daily physical activity was engineered out of our everyday life in the past decades, and I feel we need to bring back movement to the people — for the good of the people and the planet.

  • How would you describe your work to someone outside your field?

I am researching about how people’s daily movement behaviours and the body postures that they adopt influence their mental and physical well-being. Also, I am working towards designing the solutions that would facilitate, especially sedentary workers, to be more physically active while doing productive work.

  • What does your typical working day look like?

I wake up at 6 am, make a coffee and work for an hour. Then I take my daughter to kindergarten and walk our dog. When continuing my work, I respond to emails, and then I most commonly do a mixture of: data processing, preparing datasets, analysing data, reading and writing, commenting on different texts and having Zoom meetings.

  • What makes you excited about your work?

I found it most exciting when running the analysis and the results appeared — this magical moment when only you know the findings, before you share it with others.

  • And what is the biggest challenge at your work?

Prioritising the work to be done and not being a perfectionist (finding a balance between the quality and quantity of work done).

  • Which scientist or scientific achievement are you fascinated by and why?

Within the field of physical activity epidemiology, I am fascinated about the recent paradigm shift in the field. There was one young researcher from Croatia (Željko Pedišić) who came out with the ideas that changed the perspective of how the whole field conceptualizes time spent in physical activity for the past 50+ years. Now it feels just unbelievable how researchers did not find this out before.

  • Tell us about the work of art (books, music, movies, theatre, dance, visual arts) that has a special place in your life.

Music, since it can have an important impact on mental/emotional experience, and also it can move your feet.

  • What have you read, listened to, or watched lately?

I listened to a song (piano and oboe) that my supervisor composed — it was impressive to me that an excellent researcher can also be an excellent musician.

  • Which place on the Slovene coast do you like the most?

Izola, beach at the lighthouse.

  • What makes you enthusiastic?

Revealing new perspectives and deeper understandings that open new avenues.

  • Characterize your life’s guidance or an important realization (or epiphany) you have experienced.

Give your best and hope for the best! This quote is engraved on the tile under the tree along the Path of Remembrance and Comradeship (in Ljubljana, near Technology Park). I saw it for the first time when I started my PhD — I felt it as a message addressing me at the right time.

  • What does the charm of wood mean to you?

A bond of a modern man to nature.