Stories of Pride: Giel Muller

Meet Giel Muller, a PhD candidate in Physical Chemistry from the University of Melbourne and an SPIE Student Member.
17 June 2020
Pride Month: Stories from the SPIE Community
Pride Month: Stories from the SPIE Community

In celebration of Pride Month, SPIE spoke with members of our community about their experiences as LGBTQ+ scientists in optics and photonics as well as within the greater STEM community.

Meet SPIE Student Member Giel Muller, who received his Master’s Degree in Physical Chemistry from the University of San Francisco and then moved to Australia to pursue a PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Melbourne. He has been active in the SPIE Student Chapter at the University of Melbourne, serving as both Treasurer and President.


Giel Muller
Giel Muller

Is there an LGBTQ+ person in your life who has inspired you?

I am inspired every day by several LGBTQ+ people in my life who are (unapologetically) their authentic selves. They've shown me that it starts with self-love, acceptance, forgiveness, and willingness to improve. Having spent my formative years in the "deep South" USA, I recognize the allure of conformity. It's comfortable to feel like you belong. Nowadays, I understand that no two people are identical. It's our human experience which binds us and our uniqueness that makes us great.

How can allies actively support LGBTQ+ scientists and engineers?

Because we are all unique, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to supporting LGBTQ+ persons. The best way to support someone is to empower them, to give them a voice. We all have a lot to learn from each other, and we may be in different stages of understanding and acceptance — so we need to be vulnerable, ask questions, and be receptive to what comes our way. Equality committees and LGBTQ+ social groups are often great platforms for LGBTQ+ persons to help cultivate a safe and respectful environment. Observing the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), International Transgender Day of Visibility (ITDV), LGBT history month, etc., may be very important to some and would send the message that LGBTQ+ persons matter.

What is one piece of advice you can offer the LGBTQ+ scientists and engineers of the future?

One piece of advice I gave myself years ago, and it's been my mantra ever since, is that time is finite — and you have control over who you want to spend it on. Spend time on yourself and on fostering relationships with people who are willing to understand you. Boldly and bravely be yourself... science is tedious without passion, and you can't have passion if you're busy being someone you're not.

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