Whilst growing up, Austin’s curiosity for the animals of the ocean persevered and eventually turned into a passion that he wanted to live his life by. During his studies, Austin became more and more fascinated by one particular animal: “the most misunderstood creature on the planet – the shark”. Austin subsequently attended Loyola University in Maryland to study biology and animal behavior and then went on to attend Boston’s Northeastern University for a master’s degree in marine ecology. The more he was learning about the ocean and its predators, the more he discovered about the threats that are currently facing the ocean realm. In addition to his research, Austin began creating content in the form of documentaries and photos and publish stories that could be shared with others. During an expedition in French Polynesia, he and a couple of his friends started thinking about ways that could make their experiences and findings universal. The result was the creation of a unique storytelling platform, and an engaging and exciting science communication event. In 2009, Austin thus founded the “Beneath the Waves Film Festival”; a yearly series of global events held to educate the public about marine science and conservation issues through a series of short films made by researchers, amateurs, and professionals worldwide. “Communicating science is critically important to me. There is a reason why people pay to sit down in a movie theatre and watch a film for a couple of hours. They want an experience, they want to escape. I want to give people that experience but with a twist.” Austin’s desire to spread the word about ocean conservation has since lead him to work in the most beautiful environments of the world, study thousands of sharks, and successfully co-direct his festival four years in a row in 12 locations around the world.
Today, Austin is enrolled at the University of Miami where he is finishing his PhD. He spends his days immersed in the pages of his childhood books; the ocean has become Austin’s classroom, the shark his best friend.