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Tobias Tagliaferro

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Bio

In March 2022, I discovered a new species: Trigonulina canaliculata. It is a septibranch, a carnivorous bivalve, that lives in the west Atlantic Ocean at depths of 200+ meters where sunlight cannot reach. This clam is about 3 millimeters long and uses hair-like threads to attach grains of sand to its shell as camouflage. Needless to say, these were incredibly difficult to find. My manuscript about them will be published by the end of this year. It took an incredible amount of work to get to this point. I've faced domestic abuse, homelessness, and the constant instability of depending on abusive parents for college tuition. I'm filing a dependency override for my FAFSA in order to end their financial abuse - at the cost of my financial aid. I am currently a senior at Drexel University and I am determined to finish my degree. I don't like asking for help, but I would appreciate your generosity if you're able to help with my situation.

Education

Drexel University

Bachelor's degree program
2019 - 2024
  • Majors:
    • Geography and Environmental Studies
  • Minors:
    • Marine Sciences
    • Ecology, Evolution, Systematics, and Population Biology

Haverford High School

High School
2015 - 2019

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Environmental/Natural Resources Management and Policy
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Renewables & Environment

    • Dream career goals:

      Field Researcher

    • Science Tutor

      Catapult Learning
      2023 – Present1 year
    • S.T.A.R. Scholars Researcher

      Drexel University Office of Undergraduate Research
      2020 – 2020
    • Co-op Researcher

      Drexel University Department of History
      2020 – 20211 year
    • Curatorial Assistant

      Academy of Natural Sciences, Malacology Department
      2021 – Present3 years

    Sports

    Kickboxing

    Club
    2023 – Present1 year

    No Sports

    Present

    Research

    • Environmental/Natural Resources Management and Policy

      Academy of Natural Sciences, Malacology Department — Curatorial Assistant
      2021 – Present
    • Biomedical/Medical Engineering

      Drexel University College of Biomedical Engineering — Lead Designer
      2020 – 2020
    • Biomedical/Medical Engineering

      Drexel University Implant Research Center — S.T.A.R. Scholars Researcher
      2020 – 2020

    Arts

    • Drexel University, MAYA Club

      Poetry
      The poem "Sappho Ain't Got Nothin' On Me" which won first prize in MAYA's poetry contest
      2020 – 2021

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Academy of Natural Sciences, Outside-In Exhibit — Volunteer
      2016 – 2018

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    I Can Do Anything Scholarship
    My future self will finally be proudly out as transgender and, hopefully, not illegal in 30+ states.
    Pool Family LGBT+ Scholarship
    Ventana Ocean Conservation Scholarship
    The manuscript I'm writing about the new clam species I found, Trigonulina canaliculata, should be published this year. It'll be in the journal Nautilus and the working title is "A new species of Trigonulina (Bivalvia: Verticordiidae) from the Western Atlantic" by Tobias Tagliaferro, Paul Callomon, and Lyle Campbell. I am the first authour. Paul is the malacology collections manager at the Academy of Natural Sciences and Lyle is an evolutionary geologist. Lyle dredged thousands of pounds of sand from a South Carolina bay off of Charleston, then spent 20 years sorting through it in his bathtub before donating his findings to Paul and I. He found organisms from many different kingdoms; it took me six months working full-time just to catalog the mollusk specimens. There were over 30,000 individual shells, including the four Trigonulina canaliculata shells. There were originally five, but one disintegrated when I touched it with a paintbrush. We know these clams are sympatric with another named species in its genus, Trigonulina ornata, and many other septibranchs (carnivorous bivalves) in the genera Cuspidaria and Grippina. Since Paul and I are working with a National Science Foundation research grant, I'm trying to get another one to collect more shells from South Carolina. Trigonulina canaliculata is a marine clam ranging from 2-3 millimeters in length that lives at depths of at least 200 meters. It grows byssi, or hair-like threats, that attach sand to its shell for camouflage. Needless to say, it's shocking that anyone found it in the first place. Barely anything is known about them. A live specimen has never been seen by humans before. As small organisms fragile enough to have their shells shattered by a paintbrush, they are highly susceptible to changes in ocean acidity. They're so small and at such a depth that nobody would notice if they disappeared - except for me. Carbon dioxide management is crucial to preserve this species and reduce the effects of ocean acidification. As both an environmental science student and a malacologist, it frustrates me that more is not being done to understand and combat climate change. My department is severely underfunded, having only 5-7 employees at any given time to manage millions of specimens. The only reason we still exist is because of National Science Foundation grants. The departments with better funding hold the "mascots" of environmentalism: trees, dinosaurs, and polar bears. The majority of organisms that are endangered or extinct due to the current mass extinction are invertebrates and amphibians, things that the general public does not consider "cute" or "cool"; therefore, our projects measuring ocean acidification using shell fossils and bioremediating the Delaware River using freshwater mussels are making little to no progress. As much as I love fieldwork, important research cannot be conducted without bureaucratic advocacy. I aim to use my degree to explore environmental policy and fight for scientists performing crucial research. Political landscapes and donor availability have too strong of an impact on research bodies and these people need someone on the floor to get them what they need. I transferred at the Academy of Natural Sciences from malacology to the Delaware River Basin Commission where I am doing just that. I am aiding Dr. Carol Collier with managing Pennsylvania and New Jersey water use from the Delaware River, including monitoring water quality and endangered species populations. The main focus is legal advocacy for scientific organizations when governments with no scientific knowledge make environmentally-harmful policy decisions; specifically, we are speaking to the New York government as they have taken too much water from the Delaware which is harming species further south from them.
    Walking In Authority International Ministry Scholarship
    Let's review the internationally-recognized 10 stages of genocide. 1. Classification: dividing social groups into "us and them" 2. Symbolization: associating symbols with oppressed groups 3. Discrimination: revoking the civil rights of oppressed groups 4. Dehumanization: comparing oppressed groups to animals or diseases 5. Organization: forming groups to oppress groups of people 6. Polarization: radicalizing people to opposite sides of the political spectrum 7. Preparation: organizing oppression and/or violence against groups of people 8. Persecution: forcing oppressed groups to live apart from the rest of society 9. Extermination: massacring oppressed groups on a large scale 10. Denial: erasing the existence of oppressed groups and any crimes committed against them Now, let's look at how many of these apply to the transgender community in the U.S. right now. Classification: "Othering" transgender people by excluding them from discussions about their own community, the general lack of transgender people in the media and government Discrimination: Banning transgender women from competing in women's sports, preventing transgender people from using bathrooms/changing rooms of their correct gender, proposed legislation targeting drag performers and "male or female impersonators" in a clear attempt to criminalize visibly transgender people, banning gender-affirming healthcare, excluding transgender people from medical research (especially transgender men), banning education about transgender people and identities in schools Dehumanization: Referring to transgender identities as a "mental illness" or "social contagion", accusing transgender people of pedophilia or grooming children*, claiming transgender women are physically and sexually predatory towards cisgender women* *Note: It is currently considered socially acceptable to attack or kill people accused of harming cisgender women and children (pedophiles, rapists, etc.) as if those actions strip away their humanity; therefore, this counts as dehumanization. Organization: Hate groups such as neo-Nazis and the Proud Boys targeting transgender people Polarization: Conservative politicians and news outlets spreading disinformation and fearmongering claims about the transgender community Preparation: Hate groups such as the Proud Boys bringing AR-15s to events where drag performers read books to children, the Club Q mass shooting, the Colorado Springs mass shooting, To be blunt, being a transgender man in the U.S. is hell right now. I am exhausted. My parents kicked me out of the house on 11/24/2022 at 2 AM when, after a late dinner date, my partner corrected them when they called me the wrong name. I spent three months homeless until finally saving enough to rent my own place. As a full-time student working two jobs, I somehow only failed two classes in that time. I'm unsatisfied, but I did my best, all things considered. Surviving is a victory for trans people. Seeing how my community is being attacked, I hope you can understand why our suicide rate is so high. I'm not content with just surviving. I want to live. I want to show people in my community, especially the youth, that they have a place in this world and a future worth looking forward to. I currently study environmental science and study malacology. In March 2022, I discovered a new clam species: Trigonulina canaliculata. I'm finalizing my manuscript for publication now. It's under my name. My REAL name. My success feels doubled when it's affirming my academics and my humanity. I also run a science club at an inner-city public elementary school. It warms my heart to see kids' eyes light up when they discover a type of science they love - and when a kid looks at me and learns something about their identity. I'm also a mandatory reporter who was trained to recognize and report signs of grooming, so I take pride in having the power to protect them.
    Martha Mitchell Truth Scholarship
    Let's review the internationally-recognized 10 stages of genocide. 1. Classification: dividing social groups into "us and them" 2. Symbolization: associating symbols with oppressed groups 3. Discrimination: revoking the civil rights of oppressed groups 4. Dehumanization: comparing oppressed groups to animals or diseases 5. Organization: forming groups to oppress groups of people 6. Polarization: radicalizing people to opposite sides of the political spectrum 7. Preparation: organizing oppression and/or violence against groups of people 8. Persecution: forcing oppressed groups to live apart from the rest of society 9. Extermination: massacring oppressed groups on a large scale 10. Denial: erasing the existence of oppressed groups and any crimes committed against them Now, let's look at how many of these apply to the transgender community in the U.S. right now. Classification: "Othering" transgender people by excluding them from discussions about their own community, the general lack of transgender people in the media and government Discrimination: Banning transgender women from competing in women's sports, preventing transgender people from using bathrooms/changing rooms of their correct gender, proposed legislation targeting drag performers and "male or female impersonators" in a clear attempt to criminalize visibly transgender people, banning gender-affirming healthcare, excluding transgender people from medical research (especially transgender men), banning education about transgender people and identities in schools Dehumanization: Referring to transgender identities as a "mental illness" or "social contagion", accusing transgender people of pedophilia or grooming children*, claiming transgender women are physically and sexually predatory towards cisgender women* *Note: It is currently considered socially acceptable to attack or kill people accused of harming cisgender women and children (pedophiles, rapists, etc.) as if those actions strip away their humanity; therefore, this counts as dehumanization. Organization: Hate groups such as neo-Nazis and the Proud Boys targeting transgender people Polarization: Conservative politicians and news outlets spreading disinformation and fearmongering claims about the transgender community Preparation: Hate groups such as the Proud Boys bringing AR-15s to events where drag performers read books to children, the Club Q mass shooting, the Colorado Springs mass shooting, To be blunt, being a transgender man in the U.S. is hell right now. Surviving is a victory for trans people, but I'm not content with that. I want to live. I want to show people in my community, especially the youth, that they have a place in this world and a future worth looking forward to. I run a science club at an inner-city public elementary school in Philadelphia. The students are mostly low-income and BIPOC. It warms my heart to see kids' eyes light up when they discover a type of science they love - and when a kid looks at me and learns something about their identity. Being visible shows them that people like me are normal. We grow up. We have jobs and families. When kids are targeted so heavily in bigoted legislation, I want to protect them. I want to give them a voice in a government where they have none. Though I'm white, I also want to uplift BIPOC children. Legislative attacks against transgender people often come alongside attacks against BIPOC. Nobody deserves to face that hatred. I strive to give them a space to feel secure and loved. I provide them with materials like school supplies and at-home science experiments. I organize low or no-cost field trips. I ensure their history is represented in lessons. Mae Jemison, Baldomero Olivera, George Washington Carver, Mary Golda Ross. I always bring snacks to make sure food-insecure students don't go hungry. I want to use my privilege to provide equity for these children.
    Maverick Grill and Saloon Scholarship
    Let's review the internationally-recognized 10 stages of genocide. 1. Classification: dividing social groups into "us and them" 2. Symbolization: associating symbols with oppressed groups 3. Discrimination: revoking the civil rights of oppressed groups 4. Dehumanization: comparing oppressed groups to animals or diseases 5. Organization: forming groups to oppress groups of people 6. Polarization: radicalizing people to opposite sides of the political spectrum 7. Preparation: organizing oppression and/or violence against groups of people 8. Persecution: forcing oppressed groups to live apart from the rest of society 9. Extermination: massacring oppressed groups on a large scale 10. Denial: erasing the existence of oppressed groups and any crimes committed against them Now, let's look at how many of these apply to the transgender community in the U.S. right now. Classification: "Othering" transgender people by excluding them from discussions about their own community, the general lack of transgender people in the media and government Discrimination: Banning transgender women from competing in women's sports, preventing transgender people from using bathrooms/changing rooms of their correct gender, proposed legislation targeting drag performers and "male or female impersonators" in a clear attempt to criminalize visibly transgender people, banning gender-affirming healthcare, excluding transgender people from medical research (especially transgender men), banning education about transgender people and identities in schools Dehumanization: Referring to transgender identities as a "mental illness" or "social contagion", accusing transgender people of pedophilia or grooming children*, claiming transgender women are physically and sexually predatory towards cisgender women* *Note: It is currently considered socially acceptable to attack or kill people accused of harming cisgender women and children (pedophiles, rapists, etc.) as if those actions strip away their humanity; therefore, this counts as dehumanization. Organization: Hate groups such as neo-Nazis and the Proud Boys targeting transgender people Polarization: Conservative politicians and news outlets spreading disinformation and fearmongering claims about the transgender community Preparation: Hate groups such as the Proud Boys bringing AR-15s to events where drag performers read books to children, the Club Q mass shooting, the Colorado Springs mass shooting, To be blunt, being a transgender man in the U.S. is hell right now. I am exhausted. My parents kicked me out of the house on 11/24/2022 at 2 AM when, after a late dinner date, my partner corrected them when they called me the wrong name. I spent three months homeless until finally saving enough to rent my own place. As a full-time student working two jobs, I somehow only failed two classes in that time. I'm unsatisfied, but I did my best, all things considered. Surviving is a victory for trans people. Seeing how my community is being attacked, I hope you can understand why our suicide rate is so high. I'm not content with just surviving. I want to live. I want to show people in my community, especially the youth, that they have a place in this world and a future worth looking forward to. I currently study environmental science and study malacology. In March 2022, I discovered a new clam species: Trigonulina canaliculata. I'm finalizing my manuscript for publication now. It's under my name. My REAL name. My success feels doubled when it's affirming my academics and my humanity. I also run a science club at an inner-city public elementary school. It warms my heart to see kids' eyes light up when they discover a type of science they love - and when a kid looks at me and learns something about their identity. I'm also a mandatory reporter who was trained to recognize and report signs of grooming, so I take pride in having the power to protect them.
    Solgaard Scholars: Access Oceanic Studies for LGBTQ+ Students
    N/A For some reason, the website won't let me submit my video unless I type at least 400 words. I'll elaborate a bit on what I said in the video. The manuscript I'm writing about the new clam species I found, Trigonulina canaliculata, should be published this year. It'll be in the journal Nautilus and the working title is "A new species of Trigonulina (Bivalvia: Verticordiidae) from the Western Atlantic" by Tobias Tagliaferro, Paul Callomon, and Lyle Campbell. Paul is the malacology collections manager at the Academy of Natural Sciences and Lyle is an evolutionary geologist. Lyle dredged thousands of pounds of sand from a South Carolina bay, then spent 20 years sorting through it in his bathtub before donating his findings to Paul and I. He found organisms from many different kingdoms; it took me six months working full-time just to catalog the mollusk specimens. There were over 30,000 individual shells, including the four Trigonulina canaliculata shells. There were originally five, but one disintegrated when I touched it with a paintbrush. We know these clams are sympatric with another named species in its genus, Trigonulina ornata, and many other septibranchs (carnivorous bivalves) in the genera Cuspidaria and Grippina. Since Paul and I are working with a National Science Foundation research grant, I'm trying to get another one to collect more shells from South Carolina. Work became a refuge for me while I lived with my parents. For a long time, it was the only place where my identity was respected. Paul referred to himself as my "work uncle" and took on a parental role in my life because his sons are my age. He always sought to understand my transness and appreciated how I took the time to explain it to him, even if his questions were ignorant at times. He always reacted with wonder and fascination. I distinctly remember how, after coming out to him as a transgender man, he responded with "Good!" and offered me an Oreo. When one of his friends who bred endangered freshwater mussels came out as a transgender women, he encouraged me to reach out to her and offer support. My parents haven't so much as acknowledged my identity to this day, so it means a lot to me to have a comforting presence like that in my life. My parents kicked me out many times over the years. The final time was 11/24/2022 at 2 AM. I went to dinner with my partner at the time and he corrected my parents when they misgendered me, so they sat on the couch and waited for me to come home so they could kick me out. I lived with them for several months until I finally saved up enough to rent my own place in February 2023. I work two jobs, one in malacology and one running an after-school science club at a local elementary school, on top of taking classes. I'm still living paycheck to paycheck. I'm exhausted. I always swore to never come out to the extended family on a holiday, but it became unavoidable when I was uninvited to Thanksgiving the day of. My maternal grandpa hasn't spoken to me since then. Neither has my youngest brother. My maternal grandma still claims to be "mourning" despite me feeling more alive than ever. Aunt Tara won't let me around my nine-year-old cousin anymore because she buys into the "groomer" myth. My ex-partner left me because they can't stand my family. My only support right now is in the field of marine biology. I cannot lose this.
    SmartSolar Sustainability Scholarship
    The oil company Exxon, now known as ExxonMobil, deliberately hid the effects of climate change from the U.S. government for at least 11 years (1977 - 1988). They engaged in climate research with a focus on building future climate models and testing the ocean's capacity to absorb atmospheric CO2. Their senior scientist James Black warned the company in 1978 that continued use of fossil fuels would increase the planet's average temperature by 2-3 degrees Celsius, a conclusion that modern researchers have also drawn. The data from this research was not made public. In addition, Exxon funded groups such as the Global Climate Coalition that spread climate misinformation on a large scale. The Global Climate Coalition sowed enough doubt that the 3 nations with the highest net carbon emissions, the U.S., China, and India, did not sign the Kyoto Protocol in 1998; this was an international treaty similar to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement that aimed to reduce global carbon emissions. An investigation by InsideClimate News found a company memo that clearly stated their intent to obfuscate climate science and stall meaningful change. ExxonMobil denies these allegations. The most impactful way to combat climate change is to reduce the power of companies that profit from climate exploitation. This is a daunting task, but identifying the ways companies like ExxonMobil influence climate policy allows for the creation of a plan of action. For the U.S. specifically, lobbying has a massive effect on legislation. Fossil fuel lobbying alone accounted for 17.7% of U.S. climate lobbying efforts from 2000-2016. Electrical utilities made up 26.5%. This totaled at over $2 billion in attempted government influence over the course of 16 years. Similar issues have arisen in U.S. politics such as lobbying from medication companies over the price of insulin and tobacco companies over nicotine restrictions (or cotton farmers over slavery). To combat this, the U.S. government must create boundaries when the "greater good" contradicts the will of wealthy businesses. Legislators should be limited or outright banned from accepting money or expensive gifts from lobbyists as an anti-corruption measure. As an entity that, on paper, is intended to further the will of the American people, they should pass legislation that will keep those people alive long-term. The U.S. should pass federal legislation to reduce carbon emissions and subsidize renewable energy sources as well as the infrastructure required to implement them. Leaving this up to individual states has not worked historically. This will especially be necessary with solar and wind energy as the center of the country is ideal for these methods due to their plains biome, but local residents are reluctant to harvest energy that will be exported to coastal states. The "cap and trade" system used in California is a good start for a federal carbon reduction model. Measures should also be put in place to restrict or prevent polluters from moving their operations internationally. This is a global issue and the same damage will be done no matter where in the world these companies reside. So, what can I do as an individual to set these goals in motion? This could involve a social and political upheaval that hasn't been seen here since the American Revolution. I can start by voting and encouraging others to vote. I can support Election Day being made a federal holiday. I can run for local office and, if people like me, get elected to start proposing this kind of legislation. It will be a long and arduous process, but this action is long overdue. Our survival depends on it. Sources: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/exxon-knew-about-climate-change-almost-40-years-ago/ https://insideclimatenews.org/book/exxon-the-road-not-taken/ https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-018-2241-z#Sec4
    Chuck Swartz and Adam Swartz Memorial Scholarship
    Flooding has become an increasingly dangerous issue in the state of Pennsylvania. According to the 2021 Pennsylvania Climate Impacts Assessment, flooding is the "costliest weather hazard" in the state which has caused $3.181 billion in property damage from 1996-2018 which is a whopping 79% of all weather-related damages in that time frame. Both flash-flooding and long-term flooding have been shown to increase runoff of pollutants and pathogens into larger water sources including lakes, rivers, and sources of human drinking water. Moving water sources have experienced bank erosion which reduces wildlife access to water and lowers water quality. Between 2041-2070, these conditions are expected to worsen significantly. Days with 3+ inches of precipitation are expected to increase by 52% and floodplains are rapidly expanding. Action is needed now. The first step is to identify areas at high risk of flooding and project how those areas will change in the foreseeable future. Locations that are at low elevations, are in close proximity to water sources, have experienced significant soil erosion, or have large amounts of pavement or asphalt are known to be in danger. Once this is complete, flood mitigation strategies can be implemented. Bank erosion around streams and rivers is caused by flooding; as river banks become steeper by soil being removed, fewer plants can grow there and hold soil in place with their roots. Tree roots are especially effective at holding soil in place and reducing the speed of flowing water. Bank erosion can be addressed by bringing soil to affected areas and introducing saplings to hold it in place. Trees that can comfortably tolerate saturated soil would be best to add to these areas. Native trees are preferred, but non-native trees that are not at risk of becoming invasive such as coastal plain willows can also be used. Willows have been recorded removing pollutants including heavy metals and nitrates from water. This restores soil health and, in the case of nitrates, prevents algae blooms that deplete water sources of usable oxygen in a process called eutrophication. Smaller water-tolerant plants like cattails have also been observed removing those pollutants and can be planted to further stabilize soil. As seen in coastal environments like New Jersey's salt marshes, aquatic and water-tolerant terrestrial plants like eelgrass can significantly reduce water speed by acting as a natural "speed bump". Recreating this effect in flood-prone rivers and streams can mitigate damage and encourage biodiversity in local ecosystems.
    Freddie L Brown Sr. Scholarship
    I submitted my poem as a PDF.
    Shawn’s Mental Health Resources Scholarship
    As someone with PTSD, keeping myself calm is a constant chore. The foundation of my mindfulness practices is an exercise called grounding. Just as electrical circuits must be grounded to prevent electrocution, your mind and your perspective must be grounded to keep yourself functioning. This technique is meant to force you to focus on your surroundings in order to interrupt spiraling thoughts or panic attacks. Grounding strategies can include: - Engaging with your senses (sight, touch, hearing, smell, taste) - Breathing exercises - Reducing the stimuli around yourself (stepping outside, moving somewhere quieter) These strategies are effective for stopping a negative pattern of thought or an imminent episode, but long-term management of depressive and anxiety disorders requires something more: confrontation of stressful thoughts. This is handled in professional healthcare settings mainly through cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). The basics of this are recognizing negative thoughts and challenging them rationally; for instance, if someone with anxiety worries about something bad happening if they perform a certain action, they should look through the possibilities and prepare for each one rather than continuing to spiral. This reframes their worries in a way that makes them feel in control of the situation. Instead of "I am afraid X will happen", they train themselves to think "X might happen, so I will do Y to protect myself". If someone with social anxiety is scared to order food at a restaurant, they can look at the menu ahead of time and prepare a script of what to say. Negotiate with your illness. This becomes a bit trickier with depressive thoughts as these tend to be irrational. When your brain tells you that you're a bad person and you don't deserve to eat or get out of bed, it's hard to formulate a logical response other than just saying no. Depression cannot be planned away. In this case, it is effective to start the time-consuming process of questioning these thoughts. Why do you think you are a bad person? What bad things have you done? You might find that you consider normal, healthy activities like prioritizing your own needs or setting boundaries to be "bad". This can open pathways to see yourself in a more positive light by dissecting your own morals and how to realistically adhere to them. As this process of introspection and retraining your brain can be emotionally exhausting, it helps to schedule your self exploration. Being in therapy does this for you as sessions have time limits, but these time frames can be made individually for just a few minutes a day. Plan self-care activities for after these explorations. These can be something as small as taking a hot shower, watching a favourite show, or eating a snack. I manage my own disability by viewing my PTSD like a guard dog. It is trying very hard to protect me and it can sometimes, but most of the time it misinterprets situations under the guise of helping me. I see a crowd and instinctively wonder if my abuser might be in there, but then I remind myself that he moved to another state. I hear my abuser's favourite song or see a movie he liked and have to tell myself that, no, these things will not magically summon him. If I feel overwhelmed, I might have to go for a W-A-L-K. Those negative feelings need to be validated because they're linked to real pain that existed in the past, but your brain has to constantly be reassured that you are safe and in control.
    Bold Bravery Scholarship
    I am in danger every time I leave the house. I am a transgender man. I have been taking testosterone for 2 months now. I cut my hair short. I bind my chest. I wear men's clothes. Though my voice is starting to drop and I have a tiny beard, most people do not know I'm a man unless I tell them. Identifying myself is always a coin flip. Will this person accept me? Will they react violently? Will they be polite to my face and call me slurs behind my back? These are risks I have to take in order to live my daily life. I am fortunate in that I live in Philadelphia; however, I cannot leave. As a swing state, anywhere less urban than big cities puts me at risk. Strangers point from across the street and wrap an arm around their children to pull them away from me, even in the neighbourhood I grew up in. If I go further south, I am likely to be publicly assaulted or murdered. Transgender men especially are at a high risk of sexual assault. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 51% of transgender men have been sexually assaulted at least once compared to 25-33% of cisgender women, depending on the source. Conservative politicians are brutally attacking transgender rights in a way that many activists recognize as the beginnings of a genocide. On 06/07/2022, Ohio passed a bill that requires young girls to have their genitals inspected if they are "accused" of being transgender. Floridian legislators are currently attempting to make transgender healthcare illegal. Texas governor Greg Abbott deemed the existence of transgender children to be "child abuse". They want my people to stop existing, so being public about my identity is a form of protest in itself.
    Bold Great Books Scholarship
    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood depicts a dystopian future that feels all too real. The climate crisis has hit a tipping point. The government has been taken over by large corporations. Humans feel more disconnected than ever, resorting to increasingly dark forms of entertainment just to feel something. A bioengineer named Glenn, nicknamed Crake, snaps and releases a disease to destroy humanity, including himself. His friend Jimmy, a disillusioned alcoholic, is the only known survivor. The book switches between Jimmy's memories and his experiences in the new world as nature erases the Anthropocene. However, he is not alone. Before his death, Glenn created a new subspecies of humans nicknamed the Crakers that were released during his pandemic. They are herbivorous and have the capacity to create no more than a simple fire. They have fixed lifespans and a polyandrous mating ritual to prevent jealousy or overpopulation. The Crakers come in all races and ethnicities with their only common trait being vibrant green eyes, the only trait they share with their creator. Their skin is citrus-scented to repel mosquitos and thicker to resist sunburn. Crakers were designed to inherit the Earth and treat it better than their predecessors did. This deeply resonated with me as an environmental science student. Similarly to her other work, The Handmaid's Tale, Atwood incorporated real biological and environmental science into her writing to create a horrifyingly plausible future. Her sources are cited in the final chapter. This is the worst case scenario. Scientists often have trouble communicating with laypeople in ways they can understand which, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, can have disastrous consequences. A layperson explaining these concepts in a way everyone can understand and act on is exactly what the world needs right now.
    Solgaard Scholars: Access Oceanic Studies for LGBTQ+ Students
    Earlier this year, I recorded two new species of Trigonulina clams in the Atlantic Ocean. There had only been one species in this genus, Trigonulina ornata, previously observed there. The formal report about them is still in progress and will be published by the end of 2022, but the findings so far are incredible. The first new species, tentatively called Trigonulina cavernulata due to the five cavernous valleys on its surface, ranges from 2-3 millimeters in length in its adult form. The exterior is white with mushroom-shaped formations jutting out of its surface and the inside of its shell shimmers with mother of pearl. Its hinge is held together by a "tooth" that resembles a human molar. My lab only has three T. cavernulata shells. We initially had four, but one was shattered when I attempted to remove it from the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) with a small paintbrush. My boss, Paul Callomon, has reached out to several other malacology labs to see if they have any more. The second new species which has not yet been named looks similar to T. cavernulata, but has seven cavernous valleys on its surface. It has the same mushroom-shaped formations and glossy interior. Luckily, my lab has hundreds of these shells to work with. These samples were dredged up from around Charleston, SC between 1984 and 1997 by Lyle Campbell. He initially collected them to see if there was enough scallop diversity to start a fishery, but, when that failed, he spent 20 years sifting through the dredged sand in his bathtub to see what other organisms were present. He delivered them to my malacology lab at the Academy of Natural Sciences in tupperware containers and prescription bottles. I spent six months trying to make sense of them. There were over 30,000 individual specimen, the majority of which were less than one centimeter long. Many of the organisms were classified together as they were attached to one another. Winged Pteria oysters clung to bright orange soft corals. Solitary coral polyps sprouted out of gastropod shells. The most interesting were Xenophora snails which habitually collect and fuse other organisms to their own shells. It is uncertain why they do this, but several new species have only been found thanks to Xenophora. A rather large one from the Campbell collection, about 2.5 centimeters long, had a scallop on its shell that was determined to be alive when it was dredged. As most of the ocean remains unexplored by humans, marine symbiosis is still not well understood outside of fish and coral. I plan to specialize in this area as relationships between species can indicate the health of ecosystems - which will only become more important as the global average temperature increases. My boss and I are currently looking for grants to recreate Lyle Campbell's South Carolina dredge in order to document changes in marine life since 1984. The rich data we have about that microcosm could be used to measure the impact of climate change on the U.S. East Coast as a whole. Unfortunately, my plans of staying involved with this project are at risk. I am a pansexual transgender man. My university and workplace are accepting of my identity as there is a surprisingly large LGBTQ+ population in environmental science; however, my parents are deeply transphobic. I am able to support myself for living needs, but my parents have threatened to stop helping me with college tuition unless I detransition. They compared my HRT to a drug addiction. I need financial aid in order to stay in school and continue this research.
    Bold Mental Health Awareness Scholarship
    Though 20-25% of the adult population in the U.S. has at least one diagnosed mental illness or disorder, treatments for mental illnesses are still hard to access for many people. This disproportionately affects people of colour, the LGBTQ+ community, and people who do not speak English as their first language because most mental health providers are not part of those groups. The Minority Stress Model dictates that people who regularly experience discrimination are more likely to develop depression and anxiety, so increased diversity in the field of mental health is crucial for treating this issue. I cannot speak for the experiences of people of colour or people who are not native English speakers, but I am a transgender man (female to male) and many, many therapists had no idea what to do with me. The most infamous case was my former psychiatrist who falsely believed that transgender people are pedophiles, so he prescribed me the antidepressant Lexapro because its main side effect is sexual dysfunction. Luckily, he was fired due to his actions, but it is unfortunately common for queer and transgender patients to face this kind of mistreatment. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 33% of transgender adults experienced at least one issue with healthcare providers due to their identity including verbal attacks and outright refusal to treat transgender patients. 24% of people who had problems with providers had to educate their doctors about how to treat transgender patients. In addition to increased diversity in the field of mental health, training healthcare providers of all types to care for diverse patients would significantly aid in accessibility for those who need it. At least for transgender patients, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) has already published standards of care that can be used by mental health providers.
    Lo Easton's “Wrong Answers Only” Scholarship
    I know "wrong answers only" is meant to be funny, but I'm choosing to interpret it as being honest about why I'm applying rather than writing flowery essays to make myself seem marketable to donors. 1. I don't. My grades are laughable because I just switched majors and my resume is barren because of the pandemic. On paper, I am a terrible candidate. 2. I hope I can pass my classes and find a job with a living wage. 3. My parents kicked me out and cut me off for being transgender, so I've been desperately applying for scholarships in hopes that I can somehow stay in college. It's a miracle that I got out of bed this morning.
    Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship
    Movies and television portray people with PTSD as muscular, white men who use their "tragic backstories" to justify further violence - like The Punisher who seeks bloody revenge after his time in the armed forces; however, contrary to popular belief, PTSD is rarely caused by being in the military. The most common cause is sexual assault. The second most common? Car accidents. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 51% of transgender men (female to male) have been sexually assaulted at least once in their lives. This is nearly double the rate of cisgender women being sexually assaulted which, depending on the source, ranges from 25-33%. That same survey as well as a 2018 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that 50.8% of transgender men have also attempted suicide compared to only 17.6% of cisgender women. This is not to downplay the struggles of cisgender women as their plight is important and very public, but, as a transgender man myself, I am painfully aware of both the issues my community faces and the lack of attention they get. Most people don't even know that transgender men exist. I have PTSD which, as you may have guessed, is from sexual assault. The experiences were traumatic enough on their own, but it was doubly dehumanizing by the fact that my attackers mistook me for a cisgender woman. I had trouble finding reproductive healthcare because every doctor that provided the services I needed worked in a "women's clinic". When I tried to find resources after the assaults, they were labelled as "women's empowerment groups". I naively attended one of the support groups my university recommended and, as the only man there, was met with a crowd complaining about how much they hated men. Some of them tried to be polite and said "I hate men - oh, but not you, Toby." I smiled and nodded and wondered if they even saw me as a man in the first place. I left with a pit in my stomach. It is true that cisgender, heterosexual men are more likely to assault people, but I am not one of them and, more importantly, the group didn't bother to make that distinction. It felt like I was being blamed for my own trauma because they saw men as inherently bad. I will spend the rest of my life, all of my time and money, fighting to be seen as a man. What's the point of doing that if the end result is being seen as a monster? After that experience, I sought individual therapy. It took five attempts to find a therapist who was both willing to work with and was educated about transgender people. One of them notably believed that transgender people were pedophiles and, as a result, prescribed me Lexapro, an antidepressant which causes sexual dysfunction. Luckily, he was fired after I spoke to the firm about his actions. After finding a better psychiatrist, I started taking an antidepressant that actually worked. Unfortunately, there are no existing medications that exclusively treat PTSD, so that was the best I could do. I came to terms with my gender dysphoria, a condition some transgender people have where being perceived as the wrong gender causes symptoms of depression and anxiety. This is the main reason why transgender people are more likely to feel suicidal and treatments such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and gender-affirming surgeries significantly reduce suicidal thoughts. I started hormone replacement therapy on 04/02/2022. I spoke with a social worker and an endocrinologist from my local Planned Parenthood because that was the only safe place I could access transgender healthcare. They asked if I lived with anyone who might tamper with or steal my hormones. They asked if I was in a romantic relationship and if there was any risk of my partner reacting violently to my transition. My testosterone came in the form of an alcohol-based gel similar to hand sanitizer that absorbed into my skin. The instructions warned not to make physical contact with anyone young or pregnant to prevent any accidental contamination. I felt more sure about starting testosterone than I'd felt about anything before in my life. For the first time, I felt at home in my body. My grades improved. I started exercising consistently and eating healthier. These hormones had a stronger effect on my mood than antidepressants ever did. My parents do not "believe in" psychology. This is confusing, to say the least, because my father has a master's degree in school psychology and works as a high school counselor. I briefly accessed therapy in high school and was formally diagnosed with depression, but my parents would not allow me to continue after the therapist proposed their parenting may be worsening my condition. Upon restarting therapy in college, my parents did not believe that I was diagnosed with PTSD despite nearly 10 psychologists and psychiatrists verifying that label over the years. Given their history, I did not expect them to support my transgender identity or my decision to improve my mental health by starting testosterone. I was correct. Luckily, I am living on my own, but my parents have been helping me to pay college tuition and they threatened to cut me off if I did not stop HRT. I cannot afford to pay for college on my own. They falsely compared it to a drug addiction and repeatedly told me it was "too soon", but could not answer when would be an appropriate time to start my prescription. They stole my testosterone. Though this was illegal, I could not go to the police because they would not support my transgender identity. My university has no financial aid options for students in my position. All I could do was hope my prescription could be refilled and hope my parents paid their bill. On 05/31/2022, my parents said they would not helps me anymore unless I changed my name. I refused. My health is more important than their discomfort.
    Cat Zingano Overcoming Loss Scholarship
    Though my parents are still alive, I have already lost them. I am a transgender man (female to male). It took me years to get to a point where I could be this open about myself. As I grew up in a Catholic suburb, my parents quashed any signs of nonconformity I showed. No loose clothing, no hair shorter than shoulder length, no leaving the house without putting on foundation. I learned to stop protesting after a few years. I would slap on my lipstick, tie my hair into a ponytail, and smile to convince everyone else that we were happy, normal people. It gradually became harder to keep up this act. My body started changing. Though my elementary school separated the "boys" and "girls" to give each of us talks about puberty, I didn't pay attention. I thought I didn't have to. They put me in the wrong class. As middle school started, I would stare at myself in the mirror and inspect my figure, horrified by each new change. My mother didn't understand. When I was 13, she told me: "Wow, your hips are getting so wide! It'll be so easy for you to give birth. It'll just slip right out." I still don't have the words to describe the visceral disgust I felt in that moment. My parents didn't want to hear it. Every complaint about growing pains or period cramps was met with a speech about how I should "suck it up" because "you'll always be a woman". It got worse when boys started paying attention to me. I didn't understand that they didn't see me as "one of the guys" anymore. Though I felt attracted to them, I couldn't verbalize why it felt wrong for them to like me the way I was. I entered into fleeting relationships with people I only considered friends because I wanted just once to feel normal. Things significantly worsened after several sexual assaults from said fleeting relationships. Of course, there are the obvious reasons for why this would be traumatic, but it hurt twice as much because my abusers saw me as a woman. Transgender men are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted as cisgender women. I couldn't handle it anymore. I was depressed. I was suicidal. I started therapy and got a formal diagnosis for depression, but was quickly pulled out when the therapist suggested my parents were part of the problem. I slogged my way through high school until finally making it to college, the light at the end of the tunnel. Moving out opened so many doors for me. I started therapy again and was diagnosed with PTSD with a significant amount of that trauma stemming from my parents. I was able to experiment with my presentation, buying new clothes and changing my hairstyle. Leaving the small town my parents raised me in also allowed me to meet other people like me. Unfortunately, most people don't know that transgender men exist. Before moving out, I was aware of transgender women, but I didn't know it went both ways until college. That newfound education led me to finally put into words what I had felt for so long. Then, the pandemic hit. My campus closed. I shoved my things into my old room at my parents' house. I had to go back into hiding. I spent nearly two years in a room the size of a closet which, considering my situation, was fitting. My parents and I viciously argued which led to them trying to kick me out at least once a week. When I finally left again, I hit the ground running. I cut my hair short. I wore a binder to flatten my chest. I was prescribed testosterone as hormone replacement therapy. I was finally content with myself. I'd come out to my parents before moving out again, but they didn't believe me and drove themselves further and further into denial. My mother subscribed to InfoWars and delved into unhinged, far-right conspiracy theories. My father outright refused to speak to me. Finding out about my testosterone was the final nail in the coffin. They threatened to stop helping me with college tuition unless I stopped taking my prescription, comparing it to a drug addiction. I gave them my medication under duress and they paid their part of the bill. A week later on May 11, 2022, their payment bounced and they made the same threat, this time telling me to change my name or else. My parents are alive, but they're dead to me. I shouldn't have to choose between living my life authentically and having an academic future. I will never stop fighting for my right to exist, even if it means losing them.
    Pride in Diversity Scholarship
    Mary P. Perlea Scholarship Fund
    According to a 2015 G.L.A.A.D. study, only 16% of cisgender Americans have knowingly met a transgender person. This has become painfully obvious as Republican legislators across the country started enacting anti-transgender bills and laws. Transgender children are losing their right to access life-saving medical treatments and, in states like Florida, the right to even talk about their identities. Texas governor Greg Abbott ordered the parents of transgender children to undergo federal investigations for child abuse despite CPS employees themselves having transgender children. Mississippi is targeting transgender adults next by attempting to ban them from legally changing their gender on birth certificates. Though I live in Philadelphia where transgender people are quietly tolerated, I feel as if I am watching the beginnings of a genocide. I am a transgender man. Like many others, I came to terms with my identity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Quarantine certainly had its downsides, but I enjoyed the freedom from being perceived as it allowed me to realize how I wanted to be seen. I cut my hair. I bought a binder. As long as I stood at an angle and kept my mouth shut, I was perceived correctly. I live on a college campus in a gentrified area of the city, so I knew it was safe to be myself there. The problem came when I had to leave. My parents live in a white, rich suburb. Lawns are littered with Trump signs and "Blue Lives Matter" banners, even the occasional Confederate flag. It's the kind of place where people stare if they see an interracial couple or someone with dyed hair on the street. Though I am white, my blatant gender nonconformity put a target on my back. Neighbors who once asked me to babysit wrapped an arm around their children to shield them from me. My parents questioned me endlessly about the changes to my appearance, throwing around labels they barely know the meaning of. I couldn't help but chuckle when my mother asked me, "Are you cisgender or are you normal?" I told them that I am a man and my name is Tobias. My mother bawled. My father screamed. "You're confused! You're been tricked! You're in a cult! It's just menstrual hormones!" I can still feel my father's hand wrapped around my arm as he dragged me across the floor and flung me out of the house. I told him to sink or swim and he chose to sink. My parents chose to help me with college tuition as long as I take care of my living expenses. It's safer when I don't live with them. Still, I live in constant fear that, one day, they will leave me to fend for myself. I can barely afford rent and groceries. A degree will be impossible at that rate. According to a 2018 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 51% of transgender boys ages 11-19 have attempted suicide at least once. Most of the transgender people murdered in 2021 were in their early 20s. The youngest was 16 years old. I am so grateful to have lived this long and I cannot waste the opportunities I have. As an environmental science student, my goal is to leave the Earth better than I found it. This is especially important to me as a transgender person who many argue should not be in this world at all. It is easier to live if there is a world worth living in and I want to create that, especially for transgender children growing up with both hateful politicians and a climate crisis. They deserve better.