An Interview with Adam J Ramsey

Current Job: PhD Student/Teaching Assistant, University of Memphis100_3516b

Scientific Discipline/Field: Botany – Plant Genetics

Country: USA

Pick some letters (L,G,B,T,Q etc.): G

What does your job involve?

My lab studies carrot mitochondrial genetics and transmission. My PhD research is determining the fitness effects of plants being heteroplasmic (i.e. having more than one mitochondrial genome). What that really means is that I get to grow up hundreds of carrot plants and play in the dirt!

How did you get to this job (education etc.)?

I earned my BS in Plant Biology from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in December 2013, interviewed with my advisor in January 2014 and began that following August.

Do you feel being LGBT has affected your career decisions?

The short answer would be yes, albeit in an indirect way. I grew up in a South Baptist church that said everyone had a choice whether to sin or not. On that long list of sins was homosexuality. I knew from an early age that I had never chosen to be who I am, so I began to question whether my church was correct. As I grew up I continued to question. I questioned my teachings at church, my education at school, and my assumptions about life. Questioning had become part of who I am, and the best way to answer questions is to become a scientist.

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

Most of my colleagues know my sexuality, but few of them mention it. When it is mentioned it is in a good way. But mostly, I think the lack of discussion is a positive. It’s just me and everyone knows that.

Did you have any role models growing up (LGBT, STEM, totally unrelated…)?

I never liked this question. I had people that I “looked up” to, but not a single role model. If I had to choose an individual who most personifies a role model it would be my paternal grandfather. He had a hard childhood but grew up, got married and retired to a good life surrounded by family – my ideas of succeeding in life.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m planning on finishing my PhD within a few years, adopt some children with my husband, buy a house and have a long, happy career.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Sir David Attenborough is my hero.

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