klimasmith ’20 presents at conservation conference

This past week, I traveled to Chicago for the New Horizons in Conservation Conference. This conference brings together researchers, environmental advocates from NGOs, and undergraduate and graduate students to discuss environmental justice and collaborate on new approaches to make environmental work more equitable. I met a wide variety of environmental activists, from community leaders fighting for clean air and green space to researchers studying invasive species. On the final day of the conference, I also got to present a pilot study about gender diversity in science education.

As a transgender man studying biology, I have experienced different degrees of marginalization and inclusion as I have moved from female presenting to visibly trans, to passing as a cisgender (that is, assigned male at birth) man. I decided to research gender diversity in STEM education because there is very little research about gender diversity in STEM beyond binary gender. I wanted to begin developing a way to asses gender diversity, analyze how gender identity influences the experience of students, and use the preliminary data I collected to explore potential avenues for increasing gender diversity in STEM. Presenting at New Horizons was an exciting opportunity to share my work, but also to get feedback on how to make this research stronger.

I was invited to this conference through the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program. I participated in DDCSP at the University of Michigan in the summers of 2017 and 2018. If other students are interested in becoming connected with this amazing program, they can apply here.