How is it that I simultaneously reached the pinnacle of my academic career and hit rock bottom in my personal life?

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In the world of academia, Professor Lisa Pruitt had it all, being recognized with numerous awards for research, teaching, and mentoring over decades of educational pursuit. As her career rose, Lisa painstakingly created an academic façade to lock away what lie within: an insecure little girl who believed the wrong daughter survived after her baby sister’s sudden death.

At the peak of her career, a life-threatening horse accident became the catalyst for the collapse of her armor. Hitting rock bottom, Pruitt had to face what she’d kept hidden for nearly three decades: an eating disorder and alcohol addiction. Deeply ashamed by her inner struggles, Pruitt refused to ask for help within her academic circles, yet traditional recovery paths failed to work. Instead, Lisa’s beloved thoroughbred stepped up and served as her light in the midst of her darkest moments. Serving as healer and companion, JJ guided her through the hills and valleys of her recovery, enabling Lisa to rediscover her worthiness that had been there all along.

Soul of a Professor is a remarkable story of resilience, perseverance, and—above all else—love.

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About the Author

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Lisa Pruitt received her PhD from Brown University and joined the faculty of Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley in 1993. She has authored more than three hundred publications in her research field of failure analysis, biomaterials, and medical devices. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, her research has been recognized with a Congressional citation, a National Science Foundation CAREER award, an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, and she was elected to the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.

Professor Pruitt has also been honored for her commitment to excellence in mentoring, teaching, and outreach. She has received the American Association of Advancement of Sciences Mentoring Award; the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring; the UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award, as well as the A. Richard Newton Educator Award. Professor Pruitt has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Mechanical Behavior of Engineering Materials, Failure Analysis, Polymer Engineering, Medical Device Design, Personal Leadership, and Equine-Guided Leadership.

Pruitt has authored three books, including Mechanics of Biomaterials: Fundamentals for Implant Design (textbook, Cambridge University Press, 2011); Horse of Fire: The Story of an Extraordinary and Knowing Horse as told by JJ Luck (novel, Authorhouse, 2008; Amazon, 2019); as well as Savanna and the Magic Boots (children’s book, Authorhouse, 2011).

Speaking and Book Clubs

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Lisa is available to speak to your organization virtually or in person. Topics include mental health, work-life balance, the academic life, healing with horses, and other subjects related to self-care and self-acceptance. Additionally, Lisa would love to visit your book club either via video conferencing or in person. To schedule Lisa for an upcoming event, please use the form below.

Contact Lisa

Have a question or comment for Lisa? Please submit the form below and she will respond within two business days. Thanks!