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Alumni Spotlight - Aaron Slusher

A man standing next to a tree [View Image]Aaron Slusher is a May 2018 graduate of the Rehabilitation and Movement Sciences - Exercise Physiology program in the College of Humanities and Sciences.  We asked Dr. Slusher about his journey through graduate school and his current career path.

Describe your career path and current occupation.

Prior to graduate school, I worked as a men's soccer and strength and conditioning coach in Southwest Florida. However, after two years I wanted more education to better understand the physiology behind exercise and physical activity. I was fortunate to obtain a graduate assistantship and enrolled in the Exercise Science and Health Promotion M.S. degree program at Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton, FL). This experience was vital to initiating my current passion for research and led me to VCU to pursue my Ph.D. from 2014-2018. Currently, I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Michigan where I study telomere biology at the fulcrum of aging and cancer.

How did you become interested in this field?

I found a passion for research and science that had previously not been ignited.

What do you like best about the type of work you do?

Science provides you an opportunity to learn and develop as a thinker every day. I am extremely privileged to have this opportunity and to say that I learn from and collaborate with highly educated, passionate, and hardworking scientists from all around the world further highlights this privilege.

What was most memorable about your experiences in your VCU graduate program?

As a graduate student, you work long hours in the laboratory. During my time at VCU, I was able to work with a great team of students at the undergraduate and graduate level - EVERY DAY. Over the course of four years, as one can imagine, you spend a lot of time together and develop a unique friendship that not many outside of these experiences are able to understand. In all of the up and downs of my Ph.D., the memories that last are those focused on the people who I shared the experiences. I will always be grateful for these memories and for those individuals.

What advice would you give current and prospective students about pursuing a graduate degree at VCU?

Richmond is a great place to live and VCU serves as a focal point of the community. Take time to get away from the laboratory and behind the desk to enjoy the city and the natural surrounding that exist within the diverse urban environment. From an academic perspective, seek out opportunities to learn from other scientists across campus. I would not have been able to conduct my research or obtain my current postdoc position without the help and assistance of other laboratory groups.

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