Unique Scientist: Dakota Holmes

Say hi to our first paleoclimatologist, Dakota Holmes (He/him)! Dakota is a climate scientist & PhD candidate in Physical Geography at the National University of Ireland Galway in Ireland!

What kind of scientist are you?
I’m a Ph.D. Candidate & climate scientist in Physical Geography at the National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland , where I research past abrupt climate events using deep-sea climate archives to better constrain future climate predictions in a warming world. I’m also interested in science communication and outreach as a means to inspire tomorrow’s leaders today; including increasing general accessibility to scientific research.

What made you want to become a scientist?
While growing up, I found that whenever I would walk into a room that people wouldn’t see me for my accomplishments, the contribution I may bring to the proposed conversation, or who I am in entirety. Instead they just recognised me as ‘the gay kid.’ Knowing this, I felt the need to prove my intelligence and abilities, I started to look to science to full-fill this need. Over time my reasons have changed. Thankfully, science became and continues to be a field that inspires me and is what has developed the principles I live my life to uphold.

“I am incredibly motivated to contribute to what is a conspicuous absence of queer voices within the academic environment.”

Dakota Holmes

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
As a climate scientist and member of an often-forgotten minority poorly represented in STEM careers, I am incredibly motivated to contribute to what is a conspicuous absence of queer voices within the academic environment. I also suffer from mental health issues, both anxiety and depression, and have recently been diagnosed with epilepsy. That being said, I am fully aware of the struggles students have during their academic career. Being a natural scientist who also focuses on science communication – I am constantly defining a new path; whether this is bridging the gap between science and community, pursuing a career in a predominantly cis-white male field, or simply reminding myself that sometimes simply brushing my teeth is ‘enough’ somedays.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
Full disclosure, I work a-lot, but in my down time I enjoy anime, hiking mountains, & watching movies (especially at the movie theatre). When able, I also love to be adventurous and explore the world including: snorkeling coral reefs, jet skiing and cave exploring! I also love to get tattoos, especially in the various countries I visit.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
Increasing the level of accessibility that the global population has to academic research and other outputs. How do we expect people to make informed decisions as a global-citizen if they cannot access the information which their money has partly gone to fund?

“My mentors push me to be a better scientist, but more importantly a better person.”

Dakota Holmes

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
I am lucky to have met inspiring mentors throughout my academic journey; most notably Liam Carr and Audrey Morley. Liam has guided me through the in’s and out’s of academia; provided various roles from advisor-teacher-friend; and always created an environment where I can fully be ‘Dakota’. He has believed in me even when I haven’t believed in myself. As for Audrey, she came into my life a few years after I met Liam, acting first as my M.Sc. advisor and now currently as my Ph.D. advisor. Upon hearing her research goals and objectives, I knew immediately I wanted to work with and support her. Audrey continues to achieve tremendous academic feats even while her academic responsibilities increase, all while never sacrificing family time and ceasing to stray from her core principles. The first time I met her, Audrey stated, ‘you work hard for me and I work hard for you.’ A simple sentence, yet became the opportunity I had long awaited to hear and a statement that has held true to this day. To be able to learn from her professionally and personally is something I cherish, her friendship (something not required on her part) a relationship which I hold dear. My mentors push me to be a better scientist, but more importantly a better person. Both Liam and Audrey took a chance on a queer science student with big dreams and goals – I never looked back and I’m sure they haven’t either.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I got to see past Secretary of State, John Kerry, present a keynote address at Our Oceans Wealth Summit, Cork, Ireland. Hearing him speak was a highlight of my week and something that has been on my bucket list for awhile.


#QueerInSTEM

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