Scholar Spotlight: Cassie Hilditch

Cassie Hilditch is a Visiting Scholar from Australia in the Department of Psychology at SJSU. Read on to learn more about Cassie!

What is your role here at SJSU? What do you hope to accomplish during your time here?

I am a Senior Research Associate in the Fatigue Countermeasures Laboratory based at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View. My research aims are to improve the sleep, alertness, and performance of aviators and astronauts. My goals are to meaningfully contribute to the research missions of my lab and to learn as much as possible from the amazing and diverse scientists at NASA. (And to go to the moon… one day!)

What do you enjoy most about SJSU or your time here in the U.S.?

I love living in the Bay Area and having access to so many awesome outdoor spaces to hike and camp. The only thing keeping me sane during this pandemic are long hikes along the coast, through redwoods, and up mountains – getting as far away from people as possible. 

Before the pandemic I loved having access to all the concerts from bands that rarely tour in Australia. 

What is something you want others to know about your hometown, home country, or culture?

I’m from Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. Despite having a population of over 1 million people, Adelaide is known as the “big country town” and gets overshadowed by its big brother, Melbourne. But I love the big country town vibe – it means you can always bump into friends at the pub, events are never sold out, you can go swimming at the beach or hiking in the hills within a 15-min drive from the city, and you can get a meal from any cuisine in the whole world thanks to our diverse migrant population.

What do you wish you would have known sooner about life in the U.S. or SJSU?

I’d been a tourist in the US for several years before moving here, and I’ve lived here for 5 years, so I can’t really remember what it was like to be naive to American culture. That said, I still constantly find out about words or phrases that don’t translate from Australian to American that I’ve been using the whole time (e.g., “I don’t mind”). I’ve known my husband, an American, for 4 years and even today he only understands about one-third of what I say. 

Oh and taxes. I wish I had known a *competent* accountant sooner.

What message do you have for our Global Spartan community?

I hope that everyone is keeping safe and healthy during the pandemic! With everything shut down since March 2020 I’ve had a lot more free time and decided to volunteer at a local wildlife rescue center. What started as 2 hours per week cleaning poop out of cages has become my whole life – raising orphaned squirrels, releasing rehabilitated opossums,  becoming a team coordinator, and -yes- still cleaning poop out of cages. Point being: look into volunteering in your community, it can be a super rewarding experience and it supports the community that is supporting you!

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