I am queer and I am a professor of cognitive science.//
I’m an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Merced. It’s my dream job. I get to mentor the next generation of scientists. And I have near-total freedom to pursue my research, which I like to describe as “tracing the limits of human imagination.” I study how people make sense of the complex or abstract — things like time-travel, infinity, jazz. It’s really fun.
But my journey here was long and winding. Growing up in a homogeneous Canadian suburb, I didn’t know any scientists or LGBTQ folks… and definitely no LGBTQ scientists! On top of that, my life revolved around sports, where it was even more difficult to find queer heroes. But sport was also my ticket to escape and discover myself: I got a wrestling scholarship to university, competed around the world, and was an alternate for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Toward the end of college I realized two things. First, I was gay. (My teammates were super supportive!) And second, my true passion was science. I was worried this realization had come too late. But guided by amazing scientific mentors and supported by newfound queer family, I finished a PhD and I’m now an out, proud queer professor.