Time to meet educator Sam Long (He/him)! Sam is a high school biology and chemistry teacher in Colorado, USA (with roots in Canada)!
What kind of scientist are you?
I’m a high school biology and chemistry teacher. I show students that real biology exists on a spectrum rather than within a gender binary, and that science has room enough for all diverse identities. I’m also an aspiring astronaut – you can support by voting for me to receive spaceflight training through the Out Astronaut contest by voting for me below!
What made you want to become a scientist?
I am a third-generation scientist. My mom is a cell biology researcher and her mom was a soil scientist. Though I loved science as a child, what made me not want to become a scientist were the challenges related to coming out as transgender in my family and at my high school.
“Now I get to tell hundreds of young people every year that I am a proud transgender scientist, and they can be scientists too.”Sam Long
What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I’m a transgender man. When I came out as trans in high school, I was kind of shut out from engaging in science by my parents and my school staff, both of whom were unsupportive. But I eventually continued to study science in college, and I became a high school teacher. Now I get to tell hundreds of young people every year that I am a proud transgender scientist, and they can be scientists too.
What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I play guitar, bass, and percussion in a rock band and a wind band!
If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I wish that people would understand biology better. Real biology does not support the idea of a pre-determined gender binary, which transphobic rhetoric often references. Real biology is complex and full of spectrums, not binaries. Real biology does nothing but affirm and elaborate on the diversity that we see in human gender and sexuality. I have been working to make this wish a reality, by developing lesson plans and resources to share with other science teachers who want to make their curriculum more LGBTQ-inclusive.
“Real biology does nothing but affirm and elaborate on the diversity that we see in human gender and sexuality.”Sam Long
Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
Ben Barres, the late neurobiologist and trans man, inspires me. He spoke about transitioning in the lab, sexism in academia, and trans visibility in the 90’s when nobody was talking about it. I reached out to him for advice while in college, and his words of care and encouragement made me feel confident that science was the place for me.
Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I’ve already received 900 votes this week in the Out Astronaut contest! But I will need many more to be a finalist! Vote!