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Rainbow Science Network

Welcome to the Rainbow Science Network

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About the Rainbow Science Network

LGBTQ+ people experience unique challenges in life–in college and at work–and there are additional challenges that come from being a scientist. The Eberly College of Science recognizes the value that diversity brings to the research enterprise, and talented scientists are to be found among the LGBTQ+ community. The RSN is designed to support and facilitate research training for LGBTQ+ undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and research staff.


The concept is simple: The RSN is a list of research faculty who have undergone two Penn State–provided training courses designed to increase the understanding of issues facing LGBTQ+ people and are committed to maintaining a welcoming and inclusive research group:

The RSN list can be used to help students, postdoctoral scholars, and research staff identify a group where they can bring their whole self to the research environment; however, there is no requirement to be ‘out’. Trainees can find additional details about research-active faculty and how to apply for research opportunities on departmental websites or through the programs listed below.


Please note: In all of these programs, consideration for admission does not involve being part of the LGBTQ+ community. You are under no obligation to disclose your status.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities in the Sciences

Most research opportunities do not require you to obtain a fellowship, but there are specific opportunities that allow you to travel for research purposes, or to conduct paid research over the summer.



RSN Member Research Groups

Name Department Research area
Jane Charlton Astronomy and Astrophysics Quasars and galaxy evolution; Astronomy teaching through video games
Fabien Grise Astronomy and Astrophysics Specializes in space-borne spectrographs for high-energy astrophysical observations
Randall McEntaffer Astronomy and Astrophysics Specializes in space-borne spectrographs for high-energy astrophysical observations
James Tutt Astronomy and Astrophysics Specializes in space-borne spectrographs for high-energy astrophysical observations
Jason Wright Astronomy and Astrophysics Exoplanets, stellar astrophysics, search for life in the universe
Melissa Rolls Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Neuronal cell biology
Charles Anderson Biology Studies the dynamics of plant cell walls in the context of sustainability
Emily Davenport Biology Host - microbiome interactions
Janine Kwapis Biology Studies the neurobiology of learning and memory
Elizabeth McGraw Biology Studies mosquito:virus:symbiont interactions with potential applications in vector-borne disease control
Moriah Szpara Biology Utilizes comparative genomics in combination with clinical & lab-based studies, to investigate how viral genetic diversity impacts the outcomes of chronic infection
Claire Thomas Biology Cell and Developmental Biology: The role of the actin cytoskeleton in epithelial polarity
David Boehr Chemistry Studies the biochemistry and biophysics of enzymes important for bacteria and viruses
Chris Keating Chemistry Colloid and interface science
Eric Nacsa Chemistry Organic chemistry
Scott Showalter Chemistry Structural biology applied to eukaryotic gene regulation
Zhen Bi Physics Theoretical condensed matter physics
Neil Hatfield Statistics Studies how people think about and develop their understandings of foundational ideas in statistics and mathematic (Statistics/Mathematics Education)

Additional Resources

While a commitment to maintain an inclusive environment has been made by RSN members, there is no guarantee that disputes and bias events will not happen. However, through the training that RSN faculty members receive, they should have a deeper understanding of bias incidents that might occur and be in a good position to mediate a solution. RSN membership does not absolve research group members of their mandated reporter obligations. The RSN Resources page contains information on Penn State anti-discrimination policies, in addition to resources to report wrongdoing and information on the Eberly College of Science ombuds program where you can seek independent informal advice.