Unique Scientist: Dr. Rich Boden

Credit: School of Biological Sciences Staff; School of Biomedical & Healthcare Sciences Staff

Time to meet Dr. Rich Boden (He/Him)! Dr. Boden is a physiologist, chemist, and taxonomist, who runs his own lab in the UK at The University of Plymouth.

What kind of scientist are you?
I’m a physiologist, chemist, and taxonomist mostly concerned with the Bacteria and Archaea – especially those involved in sulfur and metal biogeochemical cycling. I mostly have education in undergraduate biochemistry, microbiology and biotechnology modules. I’m also Editor-In-Chief of FEMS Microbiology Letters, a journal that was founded in 1977.

What made you want to become a scientist?
I’ve loved chemistry from as young as I can remember and also biology too. I learned the word “biochemist” when I was 7 without knowing what it meant but that idea of biology and chemistry together was appealing. I was reading undergraduate-level chemistry textbooks by the time I was 12 – such a nerd! I call myself a “physiologist and chemist” after the old B.Sc (Hons) Chemistry with Physiology that people used to do before microbiology degrees got invented as that best describes what I actually do and my ethos.

“I had no family role models in science or really in any jobs other than factories when growing up, but I knew that wasn’t what I needed to do, from a very early age.”

Dr. Rich Boden

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I’m LGBT+ and heavily physically disabled. I don’t especially look like a scientist “should” either, I guess. I’m from a very poor upbringing and from a solidly working-class family. – I had no family role models in science or really in any jobs other than factories when growing up, but I knew that wasn’t what I needed to do, from a very early age.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I’m a watercolour and mixed media artist, cellist, violist, gambist, avid cook, and even more avid reader.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
To get rid of the inequalities. Not just the ones around diversity and inclusivity but also the way staff at top universities are treated versus the rest of us by e.g. research funding bodies, rather than on our merits.

“I learned the word “biochemist” when I was 7 without knowing what it meant but that idea of biology and chemistry together was appealing”

Dr. Rich Boden

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
My undergraduate project supervisor Dr. Ann P. Wood (formerly of King’s College London), and later collaborator of mine, and her husband Prof. Donovan P. Kelly (Professor Emeritus, University of Warwick), a mentor and friend. Both are lessons in survival when trouble is brewing and of good, old fashioned grit! I DON’T credit my science teacher at school who told me “you’re not clever, you just like reading”.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
It’s only Monday! I’ve done an interview with a US radiostation, I’m speaking to someone tomorrow about a TV series, I’ve just done all my marking for the year, AND I’ve written 7 pages of a manuscript today.


#DisabledInSTEM, #LGBTInSTEM, #WorkingClassInSTEM

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