Kate Fessler


I am queer and I am a horticulturalist.//


I always knew that I loved plants. I grew up on a small Michigan farm with an unusually liberal, loving family. Even though they were supportive, I struggled with feeling different and realized I was gay in middle school. Unfortunately, I have a lot of vivid memories of being called homophobic slurs at school from then on. I took comfort in my love of nature and majored in Biology and Sustainable Foods at Smith College in Massachusetts. At Smith I finally found other queer scientists and really came into my own as a queer woman in STEM.

Once I graduated, I got to move to Finland for a Fulbright Fellowship in wildlife conservation. Afterwards, I worked for a year as a floriculturist at a conservatory. Now I’m working on my Master’s in Horticulture at the University of Minnesota. I feel really lucky to have an open-hearted scientific community and the support of other queer scientists and my fantastic advisors. When I’m not in the greenhouse or on my plot, you can find me knitting, hiking, reading, camping, and trying to convince my partner that we need just one more houseplant.