June is Gay Pride Month and we're taking a look at some of the most impactful contributions to science and engineering from the LGBTQ community. All month, we’ll be featuring LGBTQ scientists and engineers on our social media channels to help tell their stories and remind the world that genius is universal.
Let’s start with the accomplishments of a mathematician, a computer scientist, and a botanist.
John Burnside (1916-2008), mathematician
Aside from being an outspoken gay rights activist later in life, John Burnside was a mathematician. He created the teleidoscope, which served as a precursor to the optics for every kaleidoscope.
Lynn Conway, (1938 – present), computer scientist
Lynn Conway is a great example of a woman who overcame adversity. A brilliant computer scientist and electrical engineer, she was fired from IBM in 1968 when she began to transition to a female gender role. She bounced back — eventually taking on key positions at Xerox and DARPA — and pioneered the design of microchips. Like John Burnside, she also became an activist for the trans community and is highly regarded for her accomplishments to raise awareness about the challenges that trans people face.
George Washington Carver, (1860s – 1943), botanist
Called the “Black Leonardo” in his time, George Washington Carver was a botanist who revolutionized agriculture. Known mostly for his work with peanuts, the inventions and techniques he developed were so universal that he received praise from both the black and white communities. While closeted in his lifetime, he is widely believed to have been bisexual due to a relationship he pursued with a fellow scientist later in life.
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