Unique Scientist: Carolyn Dundes

Today we are introducing Carolyn Dundes (They/Them)! Carolyn works at Stanford University in the USA!

What kind of scientist are you?
I study Stem Cell and Developmental Biology!

What made you want to become a scientist?
The first time I learned about science was through the amazing volunteers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I was so excited to discover that peoples spent their lives studying the ocean. My curiosity was fostered by a series of amazing educators who went out of their way to help me learn and grow.

“Embracing my identity [as gender non-binary] has expanded my creativity, allowing me to think outside of normative influences, even in my scientific work”

Carolyn Dundes

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I’m a #UniqueScientist because my identity as gender non-binary is deeply connected to my identity as a scientist. Embracing my identity has expanded my creativity, allowing me to think outside of normative influences, even in my scientific work. Self-discovery shares many characteristics with scientific discovery; sometimes new knowledge is uncovered instantly, but more often than not, revelations and progress occur after years of hard work and reflection.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?  
When I’m not in lab, you can find me hanging out with dogs! I don’t currently have any pups of my own, but I help families in the community by taking care of their dogs while they are away. In 2018, I spent more nights dog-sitting than at my actual apartment!

“I’m a #UniqueScientist because my identity as gender non-binary is deeply connected to my identity as a scientist.”

Carolyn Dundes

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?: 
I would change the status quo so that funding decisions would include criteria on student and faculty diversity (as well as requirements for clear policies on harassment) in order for an institution or graduate program to receive money.

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
 My biggest inspiration in my daily life is my best friend and mentor Allie. During my undergraduate summer research, she showed me the ins and outs of life in lab. She has taught me the true meanings of generosity, perseverance, and friendship. As I look to the future, I’m also consistently in awe of the work of Professor Ben Barres. While I never got to meet him in person, he exemplifies how trans* people can be wildly successful in academic science.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I’m currently preparing for my qualifying exam this summer, and I’m really proud of the progress that I’ve made in putting together my proposal while also taking care of myself by spending time outside with friends and cooking fun meals. It can be really hard for me to strike this balance, but I think I did a good job this week!

 #QueerInSTEM

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