June 9, 2016
Kinesiology grad student lands job as research scientist with Adidas
Graduate student Hendrik Enders applied the same passion to his studies as he did to soccer, an approach that helped his team climb to second division in Calgary’s soccer league.
Team coach and manager Francisco Alaniz Uribe, assistant professor in the Faculty of Environmental Design, describes Enders as someone who won’t settle for a mediocre result.
“He was always pushing for the best,” says Uribe, adding that Enders put in the extra effort to quickly become one of the team’s top players. “At the same time, he was a strong team member and motivated others to succeed."
From grad student to Adidas research scientist
That same drive has also paid off for Enders in his scholastic endeavours. He arrived at the University of Calgary from Germany in 2011 armed with a bachelor of science in sports engineering, knowing he wanted to be part of the world-renowned Human Performance Lab (HPL) in the Faculty of Kinesiology.
Five years later, he’s graduating with a PhD in biomechanics and has already joined Adidas back in Germany as a research scientist.
“It’s very different to the university, but it’s also super interesting since it focuses on real problems that need to be addressed,” says Enders. “I would not have this job if I had not been part of the HPL research group.”
Time at the human performance lab made impact on his career trajectory
Enders’ supervisor Benno Nigg, a biomechanics professor and pioneer in peak athletic performance, founded the famous university lab 30 years ago.
“When I first met Hendrik, he said to me, ‘I would like to be challenged just once’,” says Nigg. “I said to him, ‘I can do that’.”
Enders completed a six-month internship before entering the PhD program and Nigg was impressed by his personal qualities and research skills.
“It was unbelievable the skills he mastered in that time,” Nigg says, noting that Enders is a master at explaining research in simple terms. “He’s probably the best I’ve ever seen."
On his part, Enders says he cannot remember a time when the learning curve was so steep, or when he was in an environment that put such an emphasis on the development of young people.
“It had a big impact on who I am today as a person and on my career trajectory,” he says. In typical fashion, he also found time to take on the role of president of the Kinesiology Graduate Student Association despite his heavy time commitments.
Seeking to understand body's complicated biological and biomechanical process
Enders’ research focused on trying to understand the brain’s role in how people initiate and control walking, or other motions, as part of a larger effort by his team to understand human movement. He describes it as one puzzle piece in the bigger picture of a complicated biological and biomechanical process, one that most people take for granted.
He has won seven awards for this work including a prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship and a and Killam Pre-Doctoral Scholarship. He's also received a Young Investigators Award from the European College of Sport Science.
Now, with his career taking off, Enders says he‘s excited to be returning to Calgary for his convocation.
“The PhD was such a big time commitment — it’s good to officially mark the end,” he says.