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Austen was born in Rochester, New York, and grew up in the nearby small town of Kendall. In 1999 he moved to Sydney, Australia, where he became a citizen in 2003. He returned to Rochester for high school and his undergraduate degree, studying at Brighton High School and the University or Rochester.
At UR, Austen obtained a BSc in Physics, as well as BScs in Mathematics, and Enviornmental Science, with a Certificate in Biophysics and Clusters in Philosophy, Political Science, and Chemistry. He was also a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity, several honors societies (Sigma Pi Sigma, Sigma Gamma Epsilon, and the Order of Omega), and rowed crew for several years. Following the completion of his degrees, Austen stayed on an extra year as a part of the University's 'Take 5' program to study Environmental Economics and Political Science, graduating in 2011. In 2012, he obtained a MSc in Applied Mathematics, and moved back to Sydney, where he is currently pursuing a PhD in Applied Mathematics from the University of New South Wales part-time.
His past research has ranged from geophysics - performing paleomagnetic research on meteorite samples, to biomathematics - where he developed a model of the human eye, and is currently pursuing his thesis studying early-stage HIV infection. In various capacities he has also taught mathematics, physics, environmental science, economics, and persuasion and leadership skills at a university level.
He is also a frequent public speaker, giving talks to academic and business audiences on topics ranging from political communication to effective altruism. He has MC'd several weddings, and even given a sermon on one occasion.
He lives with his partner Sarah, and their dog Charlie, and enjoys hiking and reading whenever he gets the chance.
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Austen Erickson Optimization Nexus
Austen is a freelance consultant who provides a wide range of services. While he started out in data science and analytics, his practice has expanded to included management consulting, persuasion and life coaching, business systems optimization, and political advocacy.
His clients range from private business, to non-profits, to universities. Currently he is engaged by a think tank to assist in several policy campaigns, a university where he gives a seminar on the science of persuasion, and a tech start-up company to help redesign their payment systems.
In addition to his consulting practice, Austen is a commissioned officer in the Australian Army Reserve, where he serves in the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
I would acknowledge that my career path is fairly atypical for someone with my formal training, but that my background in physics and mathematics have been invaluable in helping me achieve what I have been able to accomplish.
The critical thinking and quantitative skills I gained from my physics degree have proven their worth time and time again. Similarly, an understanding experimental design and how to analyze the resulting data has been exceptionally useful in settings far removed from the typical laboratory.
Having a degree in physics will set you apart from others in any field. A skill that is vital to add to that training is the ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing - practice speaking publicly, and learn how to explain difficult technical concepts to non-experts, and you will be wildly competitive in whatever endeavor you choose to pursue.