ABOUT ME

Hi new friends! My name is Heather Caslin in my professional life, add Findley in my personal life. I have two cats, too many unread books on my shelf, I enjoy yoga and running, and I have a deep love for science.

Looking back I always seemed to enjoy or have a knack for science. Plus, my mom and grandma were both nurses, and my dad has been both a high school math teacher and tutor, so I guess it's no surprise that I like health, science, and education. But when I entered college, I chose to pursue exercise exercise just because I enjoyed running track and dancing. I spent my senior seasons injured and thought that I wanted to be a physical therapist to help other injured athletes.

I was pretty lucky to have been invited to a regional scientific conference during undergrad, which was the first thing that really made me consider a career as a scientist. That conference was the first time I envisioned science as a book waiting to be written versus one that held all of the answers. I got a view into the life of an academic researcher- full of thinking, and talking about, and working to understand grand ideas about how our bodies work. That conference greatly expanded my view of science and what the field could mean for me.

It completed my BS and MS degrees in exercise physiology at Virginia Commonwealth University where I fell in love with health, nutrition, and exercise, but had a lot of questions about they intersect with our immune system. That interest led me to complete a PhD in Integrative Life Sciences where I studied immunology. My dissertation work allowed me to bridge my interests between immunology and exercise physiology as I studied how lactic acid is a negative regulator of inflammation in sepsis and allergic disease. The project really prompted my interest in how metabolism and immunology intersect- which I am still studying today, and plan to throughout my career.

I’m now a postdoctoral researcher at Vanderbilt University studying how the immune system contributes to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Specifically, I am interested in how weight loss and weight fluctuations influence that relationship in macrophages. The work I am doing now will help me to develop questions I can ask in my own lab in 2-3 years.

During my PhD training, I also gained experience in teaching, mentoring, and community outreach. I witnessed firsthand how diversity in background (i.e. nationality, race, gender, age), knowledge, skills, and interests help shape great science. And I learned that critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication culminate in exciting scientific discoveries. These skills are not only important for research, but for success in many different careers and for accurate interpretations of popular scientific topics like climate change and vaccination. 


In my career and in the online space, I want share my excitement and appreciation for the scientific process and and I want to pass forward all of the incredible support and mentoring that I've received. Everyone can and should learn the scientific skills that help you to distinguish between the BS on the internet and real evidence-based science and you should be able to use skills like critical thinking to get you closer to your own goals. Because science is really really cool and understanding science can help improve all of our lives.

 

EDUCATION

PHD, INTEGRATIVE LIFE SCIENE

Virginia Commonwealth University
2014-2018

MS, HEALTH AND MOVEMENT SCIENCE

Virginia Commonwealth University
2012-2014

BS, HEALTH, PHYSICAL EDUCATION, AND EXERCISE SCIENCE

University Honors, Minor Psychology
Virginia Commonwealth University
2008-2012

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ACADEMIC CV

A full list of academic positions, grant funding, research publications, and conference presentations, as well as teaching, mentorship, and service experiences. Updated April 2020.

FAILURE CV

Because a career in academia requires persistence. Grants aren't usually funded and manuscripts sometimes get rejected. So here's some evidence that it happens to us all.

 
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