(Interview & write-up by Kyle Rogers)
Theresa Mason Fisher is a graduate student with Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. Tessa, her nickname, has always been interested in science. She describes her mother, an Olympic level equestrian, as “a huge nerd” that bestowed that same nerd gene to her. Her father, an equal opportunity lawyer that has passed away, and mother often took Tessa to museums like the Smithsonian when she was younger. As “probably the world’s only trans lesbian astrobiologist”, Tessa has had a unique experience but says she has never really had to deal with implicit assumption or even being treated in a different way. However, she says she has experienced women being “talked over” during her academic career and has observed that men tend to group together. Tessa does feel like things are trending in the right direction, as far as women in STEM fields are concerned. When asked about the position of women in STEM, she said, “Visibility is really important. A better image and a better architype [would help] when people think of scientists.”
Tessa earned her undergraduate degree from University of Virginia, double-majoring in astronomy and biology, and went on to earn her masters in biology from Washington State. She is currently working on her PhD and is interested in the relationship between the biosphere and the atmosphere of planets.