Brittany Sutherland


I am a lesbian and I am an evolutionary biologist. //

I’m a postdoc at the University of Arizona, working to develop computational methods to identify genome duplications. My research focuses on how polyploidy—when organisms have more than two copies of their genome—affects evolution and development. My interests encompass a wide range of topics, from reproductive isolation to how polyploidy affects some human cancers. Growing up in rural central Kentucky, scientific and queer role models where in short supply, and my path as both a scientist and a gay person was a circuitous one. Before I pursued my doctorate, I taught science in a small, conservative high school—where being outed would’ve meant my job. Although not ideal, teaching from the closet taught me two things: First, I have a passion for science education. Second, I owe it to my students not to hide or apologize for being a gay woman in science. As a graduate student and now as a postdoc, I have tried to be the kind of role model I could’ve used when I was younger.