Scientific Discipline/Field: Evolutionary biology
Pick some letters (L,G,B,T,Q etc.): G (but I also fancy the combination D, N, and A)
What does your job involve?
I recently finished my PhD studies on speciation in birds, in which I tried to shed some light on the speciation process, especially in cases where sister taxa occur sympatrically on oceanic islands. I did this by combining ecological data with traditional and “next generation” (not so “next” by now) sequencing of DNA and RNA. This way, I could both try to understand the birds’ evolutionary history, for example detecting events of hybridization, and search for genomic regions underlying phenotypic trait variation such as bill size. Until now, I have thus combined field work on remote islands with lots of time in the lab. I am presently doing a short-term postdoc focused on characterizing immune genes in wild songbirds, while I have submitted proposals for funding of a longer postdoc at the University of Oregon for work on the development and evolution of the highly derived snouts of syngnathid fishes.
How did you get to this job (education etc.)?
So far, I have followed the standard academic track.
Do you feel being LGBT has affected your career decisions?
Yes and no. So far, it has not had any large impact on my long-term trajectory. However, I have previously been teaching quite a lot (five visits, ranging between a couple of weeks and a couple of months) within a MSc program in conservation biology in Nigeria. While homosexuality certainly has been a taboo also previously, new legislation (commonly referred to as the “jail the gays bill”) was introduced in 2014. This states imprisonment for up to 14 years for involvement in a gay marriage or civil union. I don’t think I would be targeted as being legally married to my husband in Sweden, however, there is another part of the legislation incriminating persons having knowledge of homosexual individuals but not reporting them to the police. I simply don’t want to put my Nigerian friends at risk of this happening, and has refrained from returning to teach since then. Also, having a husband and a child, legislation is a factor to take into consideration for future postdoc and tenure track positions.
Have you had any reactions from colleagues about being LGBT, either good or bad?
Very few open reactions, except for surprise. However, I have discussed the atmosphere with an outspoken professor who prides himself for being open and inclusive, and who had not reflected upon why the (until then) only LGBT faculty he knew of had only come out when she quit…
Did you have any role models growing up (LGBT, STEM, totally unrelated…)?
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to land a fat postdoc fellowship, do awesome research [probably repeat the previous two steps X times], and then get a nice tenure track position.