Jeff White


I’m gay and I’m an avian ecologist and physiologist.//

I grew up roaming the hills north Mississippi looking for birds and other wildlife. I remember waiting each year for my grandparents to drive me around the rice fields to see the snow geese during migration. While working towards my BS at Middle Tennessee State University, I was fortunate enough become involved in undergraduate research in a wetland ecology lab. It was this experience that completely made me rethink how I wanted to be involved in STEM and I decided that I wanted to continue on to graduate school. After graduation I spent time in the field at various short-term volunteer positions and interned at the Nashville Zoo. While working with the Proyecto Macá Tobiano/Hooded Grebe Project in Argentina, I took a side trip to a penguin colony that sparked my passion for seabirds. I completed my MS from Marshall University while working with the Tawaki Project studying foraging ecology in Fiordland penguins/tawaki in Milford Sound, New Zealand. Currently, I am a PhD student at the University of Miami where I continue to work with the Tawaki Project as well as study anhingas and double-crested cormorants in South Florida. My research interests lie primarily in seabirds, stable isotope ecology, and diving physiology.

I used to be uncertain about how I would be accepted in biology, particularly field biology, as a gay man. However, I’ve found STEM to be an overall welcoming place. I am proud to be gay in STEM and hope to encourage other LGBTQ+ first gen students, particularly from rural regions, to be true to themselves and follow their passions in science and life.