I am gay and I am a membrane protein biochemist/biophysicist.//
I remember the day I learned about cells. It was during one of our weekly science lessons in elementary school. Ever since, I knew I wanted to be a scientist. I grew up in Harrogate, TN, deep in rural Appalachia and the bible belt. Not having the most confidence or grasp of who I was, I had a timid demeanor about myself, but was always excited to put myself out there, talk to people, and learn. I majored in Biology at Maryville College and had a rough go at it. However, things got better after I came out, which happened while I was taking biochemistry. I found solace from the confusion and stress of coming out by studying protein structure and memorizing glycolysis. I also started doing research with a mentor that challenged, supported, and believed in me. After all of this, I made an A in biochemistry, my first A in a college-level science course. Realizing how crucial supportive mentorship was for underrepresented students, I was motivated to apply for PhD programs in biochemistry. Now, I’m a second year PhD student studying membrane protein biophysics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.