LGBTSTEM Day

LGBTSTEM Day

Image of LGBTSTEM Day logo with rainbow background

Diverse problems need diverse people and here in FutureNeuro, we've got both! Research shows that LGBTQ+ people in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) continue to struggle to openly be themselves. We want to be part of the generation that changes that. July 5th is the International Day of LGBTQ+ People in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths. It was decided to celebrate this date in 2018 & 2019 as it can be written as ‘507’ which is (in nanometres) the wavelength of the colourgreen featured in the rainbow flag and is representative of nature. If you’re in the US, then it’s ‘705’ which is the wavelength of the color red, representing life.

We are very proud to have researchers and staff from all over the world with different backgrounds and experiences. Today, we are highlighting 2 of our LGBTQ+ colleagues who are brilliant STEM role models.

Gary Brennan

Image of Gary Brennan

Gary is a StAR Research Lecturer in RCSI. He has recently set up his own lab and currently supervises 3 PhD students.

Name: Gary Brennan
Current Job: Research Lecturer
Scientific Discipline/Field: Neuroscience, epilepsy research
Country: Ireland
Pick some letters (L,G,B,T,Q etc.): G

What does your job involve?

My job is a combination of teaching neuroscience to both undergraduate Medical and Pharmacy students and running a burgeoning research lab. Day to day I could be doing anything from planning experiments with my PhD students and being super proud of them, to peer reviewing journal articles, writing grants or preparing for lectures.
How did you get this job? I originally did my PhD here at RCSI in David Henshall’s lab and after a stint in the US I returned home and here I am.

Do you feel being LGBT has affected your career decisions?

I’m not sure if it has affected it really, but maybe at a subconscious level I shied away from subjects in school which are associated with masculinity such as woodwork. When choosing a postdoctoral position in the States I was careful to avoid labs which were mostly male and instead chose to join the lab of a PI who I felt shared similar views as myself on issues like equality and inclusion.

Have you had any reactions from colleagues about being LGBT, either good or bad?

I have been lucky enough to have worked with some of the most accepting and open-minded people and have never felt any negativity towards me because of my sexuality. But it is definitely out there and for that reason the LGBTQ+ community is still very underrepresented in STEM. But it’s great to see that representation seems to be growing.
Did you have any role models growing up? When I first learned of Ben Barres he instantly became both my science and life hero. The bravery it takes to live your true life the way he did is inspirational. Unfortunately there is still a dearth of role models for young LGBTQ+ people but the tide is changing. Of course Katya Zamolodchikova 

What are your future plans?

I hope to continue to grow my research lab and evolve as a teacher and science communicator. Also a holiday would be nice.

Kelvin Lau E How

Image of Kelvin E How Lau

Kelvin is a PhD student in RCSI. He is researching ADAR miRNA editing in epilepsy.

Name: Kelvin Lau E-How
Current Job: 
PhD Student
Scientific Discipline/Field: 
Neuroscience
Country: 
Malaysia
Pick some letters (L,G,B,T,Q etc.):
G

What does your job involve?

Going into the laboratory every morning, and looking for ways to understand epilepsy better.

How did you get this job?

It was recommended by my ex-PI back in UCD, did an interview, and now I am here.

Do you feel being LGBT has affected your career decisions?

As per current situation, not really. But, I wouldn’t know for sure in the future.

Have you had any reactions from colleagues about being LGBT, either good or bad?

My colleagues are very accepting, in fact I feel at home here!

Did you have any role models growing up?

Serena Williams. She’s more than just a tennis player, she reminds me not to give up easily, and fight against all odds!

What are your future plans?

I'm thinking about doing an industrial post doc, where I still can get industrial experience, and publish articles at the same time. It’s like the best of both worlds.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Always be yourself. It’s corny but that holds a lot of truth if you want to be genuinely happy as a person.

Check out the LGBTSTEM Day website for more resources and information.

 

The questions used in these interviews mirror those used in https://lgbtstem.wordpress.com where you can find more interviews.