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‘I don’t think I’ve ever met a professor who’s as human’: Chemistry Prof. Stephanie Knezz champions inclusivity in STEM teaching

April 9, 2023

Whenever chemistry Prof. Stephanie Knezz notices a chemical reaction is named after a white man, she usually makes a joke out of it in class. 

“These guys were just doing the bare minimum and then naming things after themselves,” Knezz said.

Knezz said she aims to make a difference in her organic chemistry classes by talking about identity in her lectures. Science has a history of privileging white men, she said, which has caused structural problems in fields ranging from medicine to engineering. 

Being open about her identity as a queer woman is one way Knezz encourages students who are underrepresented in science to continue pursuing STEM. Although she said that her visibility helps a little, Knezz acknowledged that there was more work to be done within these fields.

“The fact that you have an identity that’s not well represented actually means that it’s even more important that you continue in whatever field you are pursuing,” Knezz said. “We need the demographics of these fields to change in order to progress past a lot of the problems that we have.” 

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