Queer Science

What unique experiences or challenges do queer people encounter in STEM disciplines? How have ecological sciences discussed queerness in nature, or variously sought to write it out? What might it mean for scientists to ‘queer’ our research practices?

These are the questions asked by the Queer Science Reading Group, a multidisciplinary group of researchers that are seeking to examine the ways in which sciences and queerness intersect. As researchers interested in equity and justice, the group aims to make science a safer space for queer people, while challenging assumptions about heterosexuality embedded in scientific practices. In doing so, we aim to develop a science that promotes queer ethics within our technologies and methods. We also have a living queer science reading list,  available here.

A first example of a ‘queer technology’ used for monitoring marine plastic pollution. This modified sieve was developed from a former pipette tip container and could be used when counting plastics in beach surveys. A central tenet of queer theory is that people and things are constantly changing in the context of their relations. How might our science change if instead of reporting numbers of ‘isolated’ plastics, we reported them as concentration of plastics/ number of organisms or type of shoreline material (e.g. Thinking of possibilities towards measuring risks for contaminant absorption or towards place in science)? To do so, this sieve doubles as a container to hold organic materials for later analysis while plastics float to the top. Flower tape included for purposes of camp.

The Queer Science Reading Group began in September 2017 and operates out of Civic Lab for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), a feminist and anti-colonial marine science lab in the Department of Geography at Memorial University. The group includes undergraduate students, staff, and faculty, and is open to people of all disciplines and institutions. Current members include those with backgrounds in biology, medicine, Science and Technology Studies, urban planning, philosophy and more.  If you are interested in joining the Queer Science Listserv, please contact Alex Zahara at ardz76@mun.ca.  All genders and sexualities are welcome.

Check out our interview in Lady Science, featuring group member Elise Earles and I, here

Fall 2017 Reading list:

Winter 2018 Reading list: