Professor Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky

Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of South Australia
Adelaide South Australia
Science and Engineering

Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky is a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of South Australia. Ina was born in Germany before moving to Tasmania with her mother when she was just 7 years of age. While her father remained in Germany the two stayed close, enjoying regular visits and travelling through the Asia Pacific region together. Through her formative years Ina was able to experience many cultures and languages, and believes this prompted an early curiosity in the way language works and has subsequently shaped her career.

Ina returned to Germany to study an undergraduate degree in Linguistics at the University of Potsdam – while starting out with computational linguistics, Ina soon realised her interests were better aligned with general linguistics, looking at language from a neuroscience and psychological perspective.  Ina did her PhD immediately after completing her undergraduate degree and went on to the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences.

Ina established a research team at the Max Planck Institute at 25 – just three years post PhD. While she had already supervised students, she was now also supervising postdoctoral students and managing the group.

Ina then moved to the University of Marburg as a Professor of Neurolinguistics in 2009. During this time Ina married a fellow academic and when they started to plan a move back to Australia it presented a challenge to find roles for both in the same place and field. 

Ina was thrilled when both were offered roles at UniSA, excited to join a young and dynamic university with a specialisation in cognitive neuroscience.

In addition to being bilingual (English and German) Ina has developed strong communication skills by necessity, as her field of cognitive neuroscience bridges the two very different worlds of science and humanities.  She has found it necessary to adapt her communication style and messaging to suit her audience.

Ina is an experienced mentor, having mentored 15 PhD students to completion, with many others still underway. She was involved in the Max Planck Society Mentoring Network for Women where she mentored PhD students for other institutes.  

Her approach to mentoring is to empower people to understand where they want to go and how they might get there, to give them confidence in their own decision making and to offer alternate perspectives.