Alumni Spotlight: Leslie Austin

LeslieIf anyone is a life-long learner, it’s LSU Physics alumna Leslie Austin. Leslie is from Baton Rouge and always wanted to be a Tiger. After earning her B.S. in Physics in 2000, she worked for a year as a research associate for the Department of Physics & Astronomy, traveling to Antarctica as part of the Advanced Thin Ionization Calorimeter (ATIC) project. She later went to law school at the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center, and then began a career in human resources (HR) with a focus on labor and employment law compliance. “I thought about obtaining an MBA, but chose law school because I was always interested in the legal system, I minored in English, and I thought patent law might be a good fit with science backgrounds.” Today, she is Chief Operating Officer for HR Solutions. In her spare time, she enjoys indoor and outdoor rock climbing, to boot! Talk about multi-talented!

Leslie: “I don’t do science regularly anymore, but I try to read about and support science on some level as often as I can. I am also married to a full-time scientist (herpetologist) and love hearing and learning about his research. I was super excited in the last few years to read about LSU’s involvement in the discovery of gravitational waves. I was also really excited that my husband (Chris Austin), an LSU scientist, discovered the world’s smallest vertebrate.” (Read more about Chris Austin’s discovery at

What does your typical day look like? Leslie
Leslie: “I run an HR business now and there is no typical day, which I love.”

What advice do you have for students following your career path?
Leslie: “For anyone studying physics, buckle down and study hard. It is very rewarding, but doesn’t get ‘easier.’ I would also highly recommend getting involved in a research program and working in a lab. The experience is fantastic on a number of levels.”

Who is your science role model?
Leslie: “There are way too many amazing scientists for me to pick just one, so I am calling ‘unfair question’ on this one. For a more local response though, I really admire LSU physics professors Jon Wefel and Greg Guzik, whom I worked for. They provided a lot of experience on a great research project to undergraduates and were patient and nurtured our scientific minds. Great dudes!”

What advice would you give new college graduates when entering the job market?

Leslie1Leslie:  “Research the job and understand what the day-to-day entails, talk to people who actually do the job, investigate available salary ranges, and know the necessary education and credentials the employer requires. Apply for lots of jobs, because it is very rare to land the first job you interview for.”

“Also research interview questions and rehearse your responses. Role play the interview with a friend. Don’t ask, but be prepared to address salary and benefit requirements. Locate the place you are interviewing beforehand and don’t be late. Send a follow up thank you note after the interview.”

“Above all, don’t get discouraged, work hard, keep an open mind and take on new responsibilities.”

To learn more about Leslie, read the Executive Spotlight in the Baton Rouge Business Report