An Interview with Robert Williamson

robertCurrent Job: PhD Student

Scientific Discipline/Field: Population Genetics

Country: I’m from the US but live/work in Canada

Pick some letters (L,G,B,T,Q etc.): G and Q I suppose. I’m also fond of Å, because who doesn’t like tiny circles?

Website? www.genomicconflict.com

What does your job involve?

I do primarily computational research, analyzing genomic sequences and simulating fake populations. I spend a lot of time in front of my computer programming in Python and reading Reddit.

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

I e-mailed my advisor to see if he needed a grad student, then the magic happened.

Do you feel being LGBT has affected your career decisions?

Not really, I’ve always wondered if my interests in genetic conflicts and mating system evolution are related to it though.

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

Not particularly, evolution and biology in general is a pretty accepting field.

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

Probably my mother. She was a single mom who ran her own business and was very active in our community, trying her best to make things better. She also has many gay friends who were around as I was growing up, that certainly made coming out easier.

What are your plans for the future?

I’ll be finishing up my PhD soon (fingers crossed) and move on to a post-doc somewhere for a couple years. I’m not ready to move back to the States yet, partially because of the atmosphere towards LGBTQ people. However, I really love teaching and want to be at a university where that is a major part of my job, so I feel that I’ll likely end up back in the States somewhere for that.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Did you know that giraffes use their necks like giant maces to compete for mates? It’s awesome to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzQDJY-oaGY