Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez


Associate Professor

Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR

Built Environment Queer Project

"There is an overwhelming amount of information out there. Focus on those efforts you want to dedicate your time, and discard the rest."

Q&A with Participant:

  1. Describe your current position.
  2. My main responsibility is to advise a group of superb student researchers with the vision of making electricity infrastructure sustainable for the planet and safe for all humans.

  3. What is your educational background?
  4. All my degrees are in Electrical Engineering. I got my Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics from the University of Vermont. Besides the traditional EE background, I'm very interested in other intersections of science and engineering and worked towards a graduate certificate in Complex Systems.

  5. What do you love about your career?
  6. The flexibility of researching and teaching new topics, always being in sync with societal needs. Currently, I believe the structures of oppression in academia need a lot of active discussion, action, and advancement of our professions in light of the new generation of scientists and engineers.

  7. Do you incorporate your queer identity in your career? How?
  8. Yes, I believe as a role model for my students, and a collegial thing to do in the academic community, the right thing to do is to have my identity present in every aspect of my position description. In research, in teaching, and in service; transforming the activities I engage with, but without tokenizing or adding invisible/uncredited work to folks that already do a lot.

  9. Have you ever had a negative experience in a professional environment that was related to your queer identity? How did you deal with it?
  10. Several, perhaps every week. While some of them could be seen as micro-agressions, there was one particular incident that was especially painful. I indirectly learned that a senior colleague had suggested I could go to conversion therapy. I did not deal with it at the time, and my lesson learned is that if I can spare one colleague from that experience, all my efforts are put to a good end.

  11. What role has mentorship played in your career? Do you have a queer mentor?
  12. I believe in having a trusted mentoring network. Mine doesn't have a very definite hierarchical structure but that's good, my queer mentors are at all levels, from senior colleagues to my own students, and many more in between.

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