Austin was born and raised in the small town of Abingdon in Southwest Virginia. This is where he developed a passion for many things outdoors. He spends a lot of time outdoors hunting, fishing, kayaking, and camping. After graduating high school, he attended Virginia Highlands Community College. While in community college, he worked as a Research Assistant studying three species of salamanders in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee. His focus during this time was a long-term study of how climate change influences Four-Toed (Hemidactylium scutatum) salamander populations.
After graduating with his Associate’s degree, Austin transferred to Virginia Tech and is majoring in Wildlife Conservation with a minor in Forestry. Since arriving at VT, he’s worked on many projects, including ongoing undergraduate research to identify Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis) populations in Montgomery and surrounding counties. Additionally, he is currently working on a project researching potential environmental vectors of chronic wasting disease in Virginia. He also works as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant teaching dendrology lab in the VT Department of Forestry. Austin began volunteering in the Hopkins lab to assist with video analysis in the spring of 2021, which led to him becoming a part-time research technician. In the summer of 2022, Austin became the lead field crew technician for the lab, where he helped organize and lead the field team.