Shane Coffield


I am queer and I am a terrestrial ecosystem ecologist.//


I’m a PhD Candidate in Earth System Science at UC Irvine, studying climate change impacts on wildfires and California ecosystems. I’m especially interested in using tools like remote sensing and machine learning to advance our understanding of environmental interactions.

Growing up in a small town in southwestern Pennsylvania, I knew zero openly LGBTQ+ people and certainly no LGBTQ+ scientists. Even through college at The University of Chicago and grad school at UC Irvine, I had no openly LGBTQ+ STEM professors. Luckily, I knew that I wanted to be a scientist long before I understood my sexual orientation. That, along with my privileges of being cis, white, and economically secure, meant that I was not completely discouraged from pursuing my scientific goals. Still, the lack of LGBTQ+ representation I perceived was a consistent source of doubt and anxiety.

Being queer has made me a better scientist – it’s taught me the importance of community and has made me particularly passionate about improving representation, workplace culture, and working toward equity for all underrepresented groups.