People with disabilities are underrepresented in STEM fields, and all too often, they face isolation and ableism in academia. Uncharted: How Scientists Navigate Their Own Health, Research, and Experiences of Bias (Columbia UP, 2023) is a collection of powerful first-person stories by current and former scientists with disabilities or chronic conditions who have faced changes in their careers, including both successes and challenges, because of their health. It gives voice to common experiences that are frequently overlooked or left unspoken. These deeply personal accounts describe not only health challenges but also the joys, sorrows, humor, and wonder of science and scientists.
With a breadth of perspectives on being disabled or chronically ill, these stories highlight the intersectionality of minoritized identities with the disability community. Uncharted features essays by contributors who are d/Deaf, blind, neurodivergent, wheelchair users, have experienced traumatic brain injuries, have blood sugar disorders, have rare medical diagnoses, or have received psychiatric diagnoses, among many others. In many cases, the scientific field is not fully accessible to them, and they frankly describe struggling as well as thriving alongside their conditions.
Skylar Bayer is a marine ecologist and science communicator. Currently a marine habitat resource specialist in the NOAA Fisheries Alaska Regional Office, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences for research on the sex lives of scallops and is a producer for the Story Collider.
Gabi Serrato Marks is a geochemist turned writer. She received her PhD in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography and is now a partner at the scientist-focused PR firm Stellate Communications. Her work has been published in Scientific American and Audubon and on the PBS Eons YouTube Channel