Elena Long, a postdoctoral researcher in UNH’s physics department, made news twice in the final months of 2016. First, the Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility awarded her its Postdoctoral Research Prize. Then, Nature magazine named her to its Nature 10 list of people who mattered, recognizing Long’s pathbreaking efforts to make the field of physics more inclusive of people from sexual and gender minorities. Earlier in the year, Long and colleagues published results of a survey they conducted for the American Physical Society that examined the experiences of physicists who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). The findings were stark — one in five of those surveyed reported having been excluded, intimidated or harassed at work.
Long’s own activism arose back in 2010 from a personal need. “As a young graduate student struggling as a queer/trans person working at a national lab, I was looking for resources for LGBT physicists and couldn’t find any,” she says. Since then, Long has launched a website, lgbtphysicists.org, that spawned a range of initiatives that support LGBT scientists.