I’m gay and I’m a chemical engineer. //
I’m starting my 5th year as a PhD student at UCLA in the CBE department. My research focus is engineering natural product biosynthesis. Specifically, I modify yeast metabolism using CRISPR in order to produce iridoids, the precursor to thousands of molecules. Our long-term goal is to develop alternative production routes to clinically essential medicines, increasing sustainability and accessibility. Growing up as an LGBT engineer was a challenge and accomplishment. I quickly noted that STEM is dominated by hegemonic masculinity, was taught creationism in school, and had no queer STEM role models. I often felt ostracized based on the unique ways in which I expressed intellectual creativity. Yet I’ve walked through life with a great deal of privilege, along with teachers and cohorts who inspire me every day! As we push forward, we must commit to an intersectional, inclusive approach to science. We will stand on shoulders of giants and lift up those with unique, invaluable perspectives.