Plantae Presents: Navigating a STEM Career as a Member of the LGBTQ+ Community

Plantae Presents: Navigating a STEM Career as a Member of the LGBTQ+ Community

Featuring Sterling Field, Tim Mak, Michel Geovanni Santiago-Martínez, Kelly Gómez-Campo, Isabel Martinez Rugerio

When: Wednesday, June 21, 2023, at
08:00 AM PDT | 11:00 AM EDT | 3:00 PM GMT |
11:00 PM Beijing

About this Webinar

The goal of this webinar is to promote inclusivity in science by exploring the challenges that members of the LGBTQ+ community encounter in STEM. A diverse group of scientists who prioritize human rights and equality from around the world will come together to discuss the current state of LGBTQ+ representation in STEM professions and the obstacles they confront. In addition, the dialogue aims to offer guidance for young scientists who are just starting their careers in STEM, with the goal of fostering their self-assurance and optimism in embracing their identities.

This webinar is hosted by the 2023 Plantae Fellows.



Sterling Field

Sterling is a postdoctoral research in the Rhee lab at the Carnegie Institution for Science, at Stanford, researching how plants survive stress at the cellular level, particularly through altered regulation of phase separated membrane-less organelles. He finished his PhD in Biochemistry & Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Tennessee, and his masters at East Carolina University, in North Carolina. He earned his bachelors at the Ohio State University, where he majored in Plant Cellular and Molecular Biology. Outside of the lab he leads the LGBTQ+ Plant Scientist Network, advocates for LGBTQ+ visibility and support in STEM, and enjoys hiking, gardening, and reading science fiction. Twitter: @Sterling_Field


Tim Mak

Tim is a seasoned professional in the biotech/pharma industry, focusing on R&D innovation. In addition to his current role, he is a co-founder of a startup centered around the human microbiome. Tim holds a Ph.D. from the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, Germany, and has gained valuable experience through postdoctoral positions at the University of Cambridge, UK, and Aarhus University, Denmark. Prior to his current endeavors, he served as a Senior Scientist at a prominent pharmaceutical company, J&J. Tim is also actively involved in supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts as a member of the Rainbow network.



Michel Geovanni Santiago-Martínez

Geo (he/him/his) is a microbiologist interested in the regulation of cellular processes in methane-producing archaea and how energy status influences their ability to survive in environmental stress conditions. His research goal is to understand the role of archaea in biogeochemical cycling and host-associated microbiomes. He is also interested in bringing up-to-date archaeal knowledge into classrooms and outreach activities, as well as promoting more inclusive science through mentoring and service initiatives. Twitter: @GeoSantiagoM




Kelly Gómez-Campo

As a research scientist, Kelly aims to understand acclimatory and adaptive processes in photo-symbioses, such us, the symbiotic relationship between zooxanthellae and reef-building corals, fascinating due to its intricate and mutually beneficial nature. By combining photobiology, functional genomics, and ecology she investigates how these organisms respond to changes in light conditions, and how these responses modulate their energetic resources to grow/reef growth and perform under stress. In her free time, she likes hiking and traveling with her wife and dog. She engages in science communication activities, creating safe spaces and equal opportunities. “I stand today as a scientist empowered by the many women and queer folk before me that paved the way for equal opportunities”. Twitter: @kellogs82


Isabel Martinez Rugerio

Isabel is a doctoral student in The Pennsylvania State University. She studies photobiology of coral reefs. Her research interests are in understanding the molecular and biophysical mechanisms by which photoreceptor proteins operate, how they influence coral’s physiological processes, and how they evolved in the context of endosymbiosis. 





Laura Turchi

Laura (she/her) is a passionate plant biologist and researcher specializing in plant bioinformatics. Currently nearing the completion of her Ph.D., her research focuses on modeling transcriptional regulation in Arabidopsis thaliana with machine-learning algorithms. 

In addition to her research, Laura enjoys organizing events for Ph.D. students, fostering a sense of community in the lab and facilitating valuable networking opportunities. When she is not in the lab, Laura likes to climb and indulge in the captivating world of comic books. Twitter: @turchi_l



Kumanan N Govaichelvan

Kumanan is conducting research to develop a multi-omics gene prioritization framework using machine learning. His focus is on identifying stress response genes for food crop development. To maintain his sanity amidst the scientific pursuit, he immerses himself in literature and philosophy. Currently, he is reading works by Tash Aw, Kazuo Ishiguro and Milan Kundera. Twitter: @NGKumanan