Scientific QUEERies: Seminar series highlights experiences of LGBTQ2S+ people in STEM

Graduate student-organized seminar series addresses lack of visibility of LGBTQ2S+ people in science.

Katie Willis - 18 November 2020

A new seminar series organized by University of Alberta graduate students is shining light on the experiences of LGBTQ2S+ people in science. The series, titled Scientific QUEERies, highlights the work and experiences of people in the LGBTQ2S+ community who work in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. 

“Our goal is to increase the visibility of LGBTQ2S+ professionals in STEM, and inspire students and early-career researchers by showing them that we belong in all disciplines,” explained Kyle Shanebeck (he/they), PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences and co-organizer of Scientific QUEERies. “Personally I have thought about, for a long time, how isolating it is to be an invisible minority in life, especially in professional spaces. It's hard sometimes not to feel alone—it's not like we wear name-tags!” 

Shanebeck launched the seminar series this fall with co-organizer Scott Cocker, PhD student in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

This series was really inspired by the simple lack of something like this in many academic and professional institutions,” added Cocker (he/him). “We want to make sure that our message of inclusivity trickles down through all levels of our community and helps to inspire fellow queer individuals that they do have a place in STEM.”

The importance of equity, diversity, and inclusivity in STEM is an idea with which any student of science should be familiar, added Shanebeck. 

“I hope that any scientist would understand the importance of diversity in systems,” he said. “But especially in terms of scientific thought; as it is dangerous when we get caught in echo chambers of opinion and don't include people who will help us see things in unique and diverse ways and challenge our scientific assumptions.” 

And beyond its value in research, equity, diversity, and inclusivity are a crucial part of moving forward together and developing a future that is vibrant and equitable. 

“Recognising privilege, equity, inclusivity and diversity is exceptionally key to start the ball rolling on making a genuine change to how we interact and respect one another” said Cocker. “Making the next move is the hurdle most of us fall on and we hope that series such as ours helps to bridge that gap and further our movement towards a more inclusive society.”

Every second Tuesday/Thursday, Scientific QUEERies hosts a researcher, scientist, or professional online for a public talk on their research and/or experiences as a LGBTQ2S+ person in STEM. The speakers come from across North America, including the University of California, L'Université de Sherbrooke, University of Toronto, and of course, UAlberta. The talks are attended by students, faculty members, and postdoctoral fellows from across Canada. 

Interested in learning more or want to participate as a speaker? Follow Scientific QUEERies on Twitter or join the mailing list by connecting via email

Learn more about the state of diversity in the Faculty of Science. Discover the University of Alberta’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusivity.