An interview with Nick Barts

Name: Nick BartsNickBarts

Current Job: Graduate Teaching Assistant

Scientific Discipline/Field: Biology, Comparative Physiology

Country: USA

Pick some letters: G, Q

Website: nickrbarts.weebly.com

Twitter: @Nickthyologist

What does your job involve?

My research investigates the biochemical and physiological mechanisms that allow organisms to inhabit freshwater hydrogen sulfide-rich environments. To do this, I study how metabolism at all biological levels of organization vary among sulfidic and non-sulfidic populations a small freshwater fish, the Atlantic Molly, both in the lab and in the field (Southern Mexico). I also teach undergraduate labs, including organismic biology and ichthyology.

How did you get this job?

After my undergraduate experiences, I decided I would like to pursue a PhD in biology and ended up here at Kansas State!

Do you feel being LGBT has affected your career decisions?

When I decided to switch to a biology major in my undergrad, I had some reservations because I was worried about what my peers would think of me as a queer student. I had never had any LGBT role models in STEM because they were never explicitly discussed, and I think that played a big role in my reservations. To remove the stigma of being out in the sciences, I’ve made it my goal to be much more open about my sexuality so that other queer students can feel comfortable knowing that other LGBT individuals are out and accepted in the community.

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

I’ve been lucky enough to have amazing colleagues and mentors who accepted me without question.

Did you have any role models growing up?

I mentioned before that I never really found myself in any famous scientists, but I always had mad respect for Jane Goodall. Her ability to immerse herself in her work in a field dominated by men really inspired me.

What are your future plans?

I absolutely love research and teaching, so I’m thinking of sticking around in an academic setting, just not sure what type of position I’m interested in.

Anything else you’d like to add?

There is a distinct lack of diversity in STEM, and I often find myself asking why that might be. I’m working on communicating with under-represented minorities both in and out of STEM at various levels of education to see what social factors may be influencing this. I’m really interested in interacting with anyone, in or out of STEM, who may have some opinions about this!

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