Unique Scientist: Sam Athey

Time to meet Sam Athey (She/her)! Sam is a PhD student at the University of Toronto in Canada studying microplastics and their associated chemical contaminants.

What kind of scientist are you?
I’m a PhD student studying microplastics and their associated chemical contaminants.

What made you want to become a scientist?
I grew up in southwest Florida where I spent almost everyday outside exploring the pine-lands and coastal habitats of the South. I was fascinated by the nature of local ecosystems and always asking questions and wanting to learn more about the abiotic processes that shaped them and the wildlife that lived there. It wasn’t until elementary school that I learned this process that I loved of always asking questions and pursuing answers was science and thus my goal of being a career scientist was born!

“I was fascinated by the nature of local ecosystems and always asking questions and wanting to learn more about the abiotic processes that shaped them and the wildlife that lived there.”

Sam Athey

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I’m a bisexual woman and have ADHD. I’m open about being a scientist with these superpowers since it helps to show young students that you can be a scientist no matter what you look like or identify as. Struggling with ADHD as a student myself, I know that it can discourage some from pursuing their interests in math or science (especially if you don’t necessarily get high grades). It helps to know that there are plenty of people who have succeeded and thrive in science with ADHD.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I love being in bookstores and spend a lot of time reading in parks, coffee shops, etc. I love reading historical fiction!

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I want to feel like I can own every unique aspect of my identity openly and proudly and not feel the need to constantly justify why I’m in the room.

“[My grandparents] have supported me the most in my life and love everything that makes me unique.”

Sam Athey

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
My grandparents are my biggest inspiration (though many others have inspired me along the way!). I owe my love of reading and learning to them. They also have supported me the most in my life and love everything that makes me unique.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I’ll be joining thousands in Toronto for the Global Climate Strike on Friday to demand action to address the climate crisis!


#WomenInSTEM, #QueerInSTEM, #ADHD, #BiInSci

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