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June 2024

iTHRIV Under the Microscope

Dustin Eshelman 

What is your current role?
I recently joined the Fralin Biomedical Research Center at Virginia Tech in Roanoke, VA as the Coordinator of Experiential Learning. In this role, I work with both our Principal Investigators at the
Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and undergraduate students at Virginia Tech to coordinate lab placements and assist with relevant student programming. Within iTHRIV, I am part of the iTHRIV Scholars Program leadership team, helping to plan weekly programming and support participating early career faculty. I am also the coordinator for the Internal Advisory Committee which includes institutional leaders from all iTHRIV partner and collaborator sites who help shape the direction for iTHRIV to support clinical and translational research across our different institutions.

What led you to your current position in iTHRIV?
Though my background is rooted in education and leadership, I have arrived in my current role with Virginia Tech via a circuitous route. As a child who grew up building forts and managing its members, it makes sense that I would later go on to found and operate my own small business – a local coffee shop that is now in its 10th year of operation and boasts the largest daily volume in Roanoke. While things are running smoothly and I should


probably rest and weed the garden, I found myself growing restless and searched for the next thing to sink my teeth into. So when the world stopped and went into hibernation during the pandemic, I took on the role of Operations Director for a large outdoor adventure camp and conference center as it struggled to survive and reinvent itself. In time and via another serendipitous transition, it is with great pleasure that I now find myself working with both the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech and the incredibly inspiring faculty, investigators, and scholars involved in iTHRIV. Needless to say, I love a good vision, building structure and flow, and curating relationships with the special people I work and interact with.

What is something people may not know about you?

I love to problem solve and create with purpose and beauty! My mom is an artist so she is definitely my inspiration. However, I’m not as drawn to creating visual art as I am to creating structural or functional pieces like laying a beautiful brick walkway, refinishing a wall or screen porch, or wiring outdoor lighting, etc. This may sound like contract work, but to me, it feels more like art and problem solving combined.


What do you like to do outside of work?

Outside of work, I am often socializing and adventuring together with my family and our amazing group of life-long friends. We camp together, beach together, make meals together, raise our families together, and lift each other up when things turn rough. In between being social and work, I enjoy diving into a good book – usually non-fiction – and taking long walks in the woods with my dogs.

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