Researchers delve into the importance of queer visibility in academia

Jack Forman, a PhD candidate in media arts and sciences at MIT, emphasizes the harmonious coexistence of his scientific and gay identities: “My identity as a scientist and my identity as a gay man are not contradictory, but complimentary.” Forman is also a co-lead of LGBT Grad, a student organization that caters to LGBTQ+ grad students and postdocs at MIT.

Working alongside Miranda Dawson and Tunahan Aytas ’23, Forman embarked on a project to interview queer MIT faculty members. This initiative, titled “Scientific InQueery,” aims to shed light on the experiences of LGBTQ+ academics and underscores the significance of visibility in the academic realm, serving as a source of inspiration for young LGBTQ+ individuals pursuing academic careers.

Nergis Mavalvala, the Curtis and Kathleen Marble Professor of Astrophysics and dean of the MIT School of Science, emphasizes the importance of fostering environments where researchers can freely engage in discussions about their scientific endeavors while embracing their queer identities. Mavalvala highlights the significance of creating spaces that cultivate a sense of safety, enabling individuals to succeed professionally while remaining true to their LGBTQ+ identities.

Miranda Dawson, a PhD student in MIT’s Department of Biological Engineering, underscores the challenges faced by queer graduate students in finding role models as they progress through academia. Promoting visibility of queer faculty members plays a crucial role in fostering a sense of community and support for younger LGBTQ+ academics navigating their academic journeys at MIT.

Dawson expresses the hope that the video will resonate with young queer individuals aspiring to pursue education and research at institutions like MIT, inspiring them to embrace their identities and seek belonging in academic environments.

Aside from Forman, Dawson, Aytas, and Mavalvala, the video features insights from Sebastian Lourido, a biology associate professor; Lorna Gibson, a materials science and engineering professor; and Bryan Bryson, a biological engineering associate professor.