Fall 2018

The science of inclusivity

Photography by RICHARD G. ANDERSON

James Cox is passionate about making science more inclusive. A senior studying chemistry, he is president of oSTEM (Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), a group on campus that helps members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community feel welcome in STEM fields.

Why is inclusivity so important?

Science needs the voices of everyone to thrive. It’s damaging to the discipline when people feel uncomfortable participating in science solely based on their identity. What ideas could those people have contributed if they felt more welcome? 

What are your priorities as oSTEM president?

Freshmen often come to the U without a queer support network and occasionally without the support of their family, so I’m trying to connect with them as soon as they arrive on campus. The sooner they’re able to join oSTEM, the more they’ll get out of their experience and the stronger our group will be.

You’ve received a number of scholarships. What has this support meant to you?

It has given me the freedom to fully pursue my studies and responsibilities in oSTEM, and made me a more confident undergraduate researcher. That confidence has helped me persevere through the times when nothing seems to be working.