Anna Perry: Physicist and Activist

Anna Perry identifies as non-binary and breaks boundaries in the male-dominated field of physics (Photo Mary Frasier/The Gettysburgian).

Anna Perry identifies as non-binary and breaks boundaries in the male-dominated field of physics (Photo Mary Frasier/The Gettysburgian)

By Gauri Mangala, News Editor

With a male-dominated field like physics, it is unsurprising that Anna Perry, who identifies as non-binary and passes for female, would feel uncomfortable in their major at Gettysburg College. In high school, Perry took AP Physics and faced severe harassment for being a woman in the class. Now at Gettysburg, Perry is the only non-binary physics student, with only two women majors in the Class of 2021.

Perry is known on campus as an activist for marginalized groups like the queer community and the many conversation groups on campus.

“I’ve been listening to the perspective of racial minorities on this campus since my first week here,” explained Perry.

In listening to conversations in safe spaces, Perry has come to realize how important discussions of identity are in all facets of life.

The physics department holds diversity talks once a month regards identity in physics, led by Professor Kurt Andresen, associate professor of physics.

“His practices meant so much to me, because then I was able to really open up to him,” stated Perry. “Faculty and staff need to constantly be in conversation with the way identity affects academia. Identity is fundamental to every field because behind every field is people.”

Perry currently works with Professor Sharon Stephenson with Gettysburg’s proton accelerator.

“I want to prove people wrong. They don’t see a physicist when they look at me,” said Perry.

Perry has only read of one non-binary physicist in the world and wants to prove that they can be more than they have been told in high school.

“We reserve the term ‘genius’ for cis straight white males,” they said. “I’ve learned to not be intimidated by those types of people.”

Additional coverage: Perry was interviewed for an episode of “On Target,” The Gettysburgian’s weekly podcast, on October 22, 2018. Listen here.

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Author: Gauri Mangala

Gauri Mangala '21 currently serves as the News Editor for the Gettysburgian, a position she has held since May of 2018. Gauri is originally from Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Aside from her work with the Gettysburgian, Gauri is the treasurer for the Owl and Nightingale Players. She hopes to study International Affairs and Anthropology during her time at Gettysburg.

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