Name: Austin Carriere
Website / Twitter Handle / Instagram: www.austheshooter.com / @austheshooter / @_bigaus
Where do you go to school? What is your position (undergrad, grad student, etc)?: The University of Oklahoma. Undergraduate researcher (Junior)
What are your interests (research, career, or hobbies)?: Herpetological Field Research (preferably snakes) and Photography (wildlife, sports, portraits).
Are you working on any research projects, and if not, would you like to?: I am not currently working on an research project, but I am interested in starting a new project with the right guidance. I have previous experience with research project, as I was a student researcher during a NSF-funded research expedition in the Philippines, studying the native genus of burrowing skinks, Brachymeles. I also got the opportunity to participate in a REU, sponsored by the Organization of Tropical Studies, in which I conducted my own research project, studying intersexual differences of behavior and activity in the water anole, Anolis aquaticus. With all of that experience, I believe science communication is a field that I am interested in looking into for new projects.
Was there any particular hardship that you had to overcome in academics or in research? I am actually going through my particular hardship right now. My hardship is actually personal. I am currently in a stage of deciding what I plan on doing for the rest of my life. As grad school looms, I have to decide if that is my next step in life, if I can incorporate my love of photography into my research, or if photography will become my sole priority. There are many decisions we have to make as scientists, especially when it comes to future plans. Whether its deciding on a new project or which graduate school to attend, it’s important to make the decision that is best for you and not to please anyone else.
What advice do you give other students interested in joining a lab? What advice might you have for someone from an underrepresented group who is interested in entering your field?: For students joining a lab, I highly suggest doing your research and finding a lab but also a mentor that you can connect with and would help continue to fuel your passion of research. Find a lab that doesn’t just “look good” but a lab that has successful projects that YOU find interesting. Coming from an underrepresented group, you will always be behind, you will always have a disadvantage, but I recommend you work so hard that others can’t ignore your work and your work ethic. Focus on bettering yourself and don’t compare yourself to the people around you. I think we, as members from underrepresented groups, often find ourselves trying to match the members of the majority. I feel that it is more important to make our own names especially in a field like this, where successful minorities in this field become influential and an inspiration to other minorities.
Have you ever attended a professional conference? What did you enjoy about the experience and what was challenging? What advice would you offer to other students about your experience?: I have! I attended the 2018 SACNAS Conference in San Antonio, Texas. I presented a poster presentation and was a full participant at all the events. It was an amazing experience as it was my first biological conference but it was challenging as it was a little overwhelming because as a young student, you begin to question your future, since your eyes are opened to so many possible future opportunities. To any students seeking advice I say, connect with as many people as possible and absorb all the information possible. You have the opportunity to interact with great people and you never know, you could come in contact with your future advisor/employer.
What are your future goals (career or otherwise)?: As I look toward my future, I am hoping to one day combine my two passions (photography and herpetology) and become a traveling photographer that highlights my own and others’ herpetological field research.
What’s your favorite herp?: Easily Atheris squamigera, the Bush Viper is one of most visually appealing but still scary animals on the planet.
Is there anything else you would like to add?: I am at the University of Oklahoma, but I am originally from New Orleans, LA (the best city in the world) and as a sports photographer and big sports fan, just want to give a shoutout to the home teams as important games are coming up! Geaux Saints! Geaux Pelicans! Geaux Tigers! Boomer Sooner!
Is there a good caption for your attached photograph?: During an REU in Costa Rica, I researched the behavior of my now favorite lizard species Anolis aquaticus, the water anole. My first individual research project!