Unique Scientist: Rob Ulrich

Meet Rob Ulrich (He/Him/Them/They)! Rob is part of the University of California, Los Angeles (@UCLA) in the USA!

What kind of scientist are you?
I’m a biogeochemist and biomineralogist! My research looks at how different living things make their hard parts (e.g., shells and skeletons).

What made you want to become a scientist?
Spite. Just kidding. I wanted to become a scientist to have the freedom to satiate my own curiosities and answer questions that people didn’t even know they had.

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I am queer, I am biracial, I am an activist, I have crippling anxiety (that I’ve recently learned how to better manage ), I go to therapy, I lift weights, I am a writing consultant, and I make YouTube videos. I used to be the only visibly queer person in my department and that was extremely isolating. I get varied feedback from my peers and mentors about how I spend my time and energy, but I don’t see these things as options. While I am biracial and queer, I have to acknowledge that I am white-presenting, and it is my responsibility to take and create space for those in our underrepresented communities who do not benefit from those privileges.

“I am queer, I am biracial, I am an activist, I have crippling anxiety (that I’ve recently learned how to better manage ), I go to therapy, I lift weights, I am a writing consultant, and I make YouTube videos. I used to be the only visibly queer person in my department and that was extremely isolating.”

Rob Ulrich

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I make YouTube videos! I’m trying to compile footage of STEMists to create a series of “A Day/Week in the Life of a ____” vlogs. I think it will be a great way to show the diversity that is in STEM: the people, the work, and the lives. If anyone wants to be a part of this, let me know!

“I make YouTube videos! I’m trying to compile footage of STEMists to create a series of ‘A Day/Week in the Life of a ____’ vlogs.”

Rob Ulrich

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I would remove homophobic, transphobic, sexist, and racist culture, and the systemic barriers that pervade STEM.

“While I am biracial and queer, I have to acknowledge that I am white-presenting, and it is my responsibility to take and create space for those in our underrepresented communities who do not benefit from those privileges.”

Rob Ulrich

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
My supervisor (Dr. Aradhna Tripati) and our community. It is so inspiring to see that people who are active in advocacy and SciComm can also be successful in their career path of choice.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I let myself have some fun this weekend! Everyone who knows me knows that I tend to be a workaholic, but I got myself to go out for a nice dinner, as well as drinks with friends.

#QueerInSTEM

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