Zachary Sperstad


I am gay and I am an ichthyologist/evolutionary biologist. //

I started college at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) as a German education major. During my sophomore year, I apprehensively enrolled in a required introductory biology course (I had always been told I was “bad” at science). Despite my reservations, I found myself insatiably craving more information and desiring to see how life works. My instructor showed me the beauty of science and that I had the potential to be a great scientist. After taking this course, I changed my major to pursue a career studying what I loved most about biology: evolution. I just earned my master’s degree from UNI. My research has been focused on the evolution of freshwater suckers (Catostomidae) and their tetraploid genomes. I will be starting my PhD (EEB) at the University of Minnesota this fall (2018), and am really excited to not only continue studying the evolution of fishes, but to also be a representative of the LGBT community in the fields of ichthyology and evolutionary biology.