Bulletin News

Casey Austin ’14 Running After His Goals


Casey Austin ’14 was thinking back to his SUNY Cortland cross country career before his big presentation at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Mid-Atlantic conference in Harrisburg, Pa., earlier this month.

Austin, a graduate student studying his undergraduate major of exercise science, saw himself in competition with the other four presenters. He wanted to be first across the finish line.

That was exactly what happened. Austin’s presentation, ““Elevated Temperature Inside a Lower Body Positive Pressure Treadmill During Exercise: A Possible Environmental Constraint,” tied for first with an entry from the University of Delaware. It was the first time a SUNY Cortland student won a student research award at an ACSM conference.

“The lead-up to the presentation feels really similar to the lead-up of a race,” Austin said. “The nerves are similar and you get focused and get in the zone. I think all of those experiences have made me a better presenter.”

Working with SUNY Cortland’s AlterG Anti-Gravity treadmill, Austin heard a common complaint from users. The treadmill works by placing runners in a chamber that extends up to their waist. An air chamber then inflates to lighten the user’s body weight.

“We found that a lot of the participants who were running on it made the same observation almost every time,” Austin said. “It gets really hot in there and they sweat a lot. We decided to put a temperature probe in there and see what we got. It turns out that it gets close to 100 degrees within the chamber in the course of 20 minutes of use.”

Casey Austin mugshotAustin first presented his data at “Transformations: A Student Research and Creativity Conference” in April. He and Associate Professor Jim Hokanson worked further on the data before the ACSM conference in November.

As a senior in 2014, Austin had presented at “Transformations” on the links between caffeine and the level of performance in athletes. That experience led Austin to realize his passion for research and shifted his career goals from physical therapy to academia. He is currently working on his master’s thesis and is considering pursuing a doctorate and then further research possibilities as a professor.

It was that first experience of explaining his undergraduate research in 2014 that had Austin hooked.   

“I was a theatre guy in high school so I don’t mind speaking in front of groups of people but I had never spoken about science in front of a group of people,” Austin said. “It’s a little different. ‘Transformations’ was huge.”

Austin ran cross country and track and field for the Red Dragons for four seasons as an undergraduate. He placed fourth overall at the 2013 SUNYAC championships as a senior, earning All-SUNYAC and All-Region accolades.

For now, studying physiology and finishing his master’s are Austin’s main passions. He’s glad to have his running experiences in the back of his mind motivating him to strive for his personal best in the classroom.

“That was a huge part of making me who I am today and learning what it means to work hard. Running is really cool in that you tend to get out of it what you put into it. Some sports, it’s a toss-up. There is the luck of it. But with running, generally the correlation is there. If you’re working hard you’re going to see good things.”