An interview with Kevin Burgio

Name: Kevin R. Burgio, PhDKevinBurgio

Current Job: Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut

Scientific Discipline/Field: Macroecology, Conservation Ecology, Community Ecology

Country: United States

Pick some letters: B

Website: www.kevinburgio.com

Twitter or other social media handle: @KRBurgio

What does your job involve?

Generally, I study broad scale processes, such as extinction and biodiversity patterns, in order to better inform modern conservation efforts. I mostly work with birds, especially parrots, but I have also study parasites and mammals. Currently, I am also working on a Science Communications study that evaluates how well science communication training prepares graduate students in STEM to engage with the public and journalists.

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

After high school, I spent six years in the military and a few in a public health clinic before I went to college. I started as an undergrad with the goal of going to dental school to continue working in public health, but developed a neurological disorder of my hands, which causes them to shake all of the time. I had to revisit my life goals, as I doubted anyone wants to go to a dentist with shaky hands. I ended up taking an ornithology course that semester and found my real passion. From there, I received my BA and went straight into a PhD program, which I finished this past year.

Do you feel being LGBT has affected your career decisions?

I have been out since I was 20, back in 1997 when I was in the military during DADT. Honestly, I have never really considered my sexuality when deciding on my career path.

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

Since I have entered academia, I have likely been extremely lucky to be supported by my colleagues and mentors. I have also been lucky to have found a number of LGBTQ collaborators within my field, which has led some wonderful friendships and great science. I realize that many other LGBTQ people in STEM have not had it as good as I have thus far, which is why I have become increasingly active in LGBTQ activism within my field and major societies.

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

I grew up in a very poor family and was only the second in my family to graduate high school. I never considered academia or science as a path for me until I was in my very late 20s, when forced to confront my neurological condition. I had no real role models growing up though I wish I did. As a kid, when I played street hockey I liked to pretend I was Pavel Bure, but I think that is because I had a huge crush on him.

What are your plans for the future?

I hope to get another postdoc position next year, continuing my work with extinction and climate change in order to help confront the oncoming extinction crisis. One day, I hope to either get a faculty position where I can mentor students and do research or work for a conservation agency.

 

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