Outside the lab: Joseph T. Rodgers, stem cell scientist and amateur acrobat

Joseph T. Rodgers performing an acrobatic feat (Photo courtesy of Joseph T. Rodgers)
(Photo courtesy of Joseph T. Rodgers)

Inside the laboratory, Joseph T. Rodgers, assistant professor of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, uncovers the signals that instruct stem cells to build and repair tissue. Outside the laboratory, he builds his own muscle tissue through aerial and acroyoga.

Perfect for yogis with ambitions of running away with the circus, aerial and acroyoga require going above and beyond the traditional mat. Aerial yogis suspend themselves from “hammocks,” or silk slings hanging from the ceiling. Acroyogis balance themselves atop other people. Both approaches suit Rodgers just fine.

“I’m also known for doing handstands and other minor acrobatic feats,” he said. “I have many, many photos of me doing handstands in front of landmarks.”

The Hollywood sign, Yosemite’s Half Dome, Mount Rushmore and the Golden Gate Bridge have all inspired such inversions.

Rodgers’ acrobatic grace also serves him well when he participates in Tough Mudders, Ironman triathlons and marathons.

“I ran the Boston Marathon a couple years ago,” he said, “the year after the bombing. There were thousands and thousands of people lining the race course from start to finish. It was 26.2 miles of deafeningly loud cheering. That experience is one of the highlights of my life.”