Jessica's Story (she/her)
I am a Black, Mexican, lesbian woman and proud of all the things that make me myself. I am a badass particle physicist because of—not in spite of—these identities. The way I approach particle physics problems, the way I think, and the way I communicate is unique, and this's what makes me good at my job in STEMM.
I’m queering STEMM everyday by re-envisioning what it means to be a physicist. To me, a physicist recognizes the impact their work can have on society, believes engaging with the community is paramount to their work, communicates their science effectively to broad audiences, and works toward the equity and justice of marginalized people in STEMM, not because “Diversity leads to Innovation (read capitalism),” but because it is our moral duty. I’ve carved out this definition of a physicist; I’ve actively rejected the idea of only focusing on the science and ignoring the humanity of the scientists.
My journey to becoming a physicist wasn’t easy. I didn’t fit the mold of what a scientist looked like, or who could be a scientist. Most of the time I have been the only (or one of a few) in these physics spaces, and the realization of the fact that these laboratories, these physics classrooms, these halls weren’t built with me in mind hit me like a ton of bricks. It took a lot of time and a lot of people in my corner for me to finally realize that if I don’t fit the mold, I need to break the mold—so, I’ve been working to chip away at this archaic mold that is still trying to hold steadfast to the homogeneity of the past.
But I’m tougher, I’m resilient, and because I’m an afrolatinx lesbian and have survived many instances of racism, sexism, and homophobia, I know how this story will end: with a just and equitable physics community focused on curbing the status quo. I’m also among an elite group of phenomenal Black Women physicists who have literally shattered glass ceilings, becoming the firsts: the first physics undergraduate-, Masters-, and PhD-earners at universities; the first postdocs, professors, and scientists at laboratories and physics departments. We are a group of about a hundred strong, of history makers, of barrier breakers, of change-agents. #ThisIsWhatAScientistLooksLike, and don’t forget it.