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Becoming Disabled in Grad School

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

Hi, I’m Krystal (she/her)! I am currently a PhD candidate studying atmospheric chemistry. I’m extremely excited to be participating in this week’s Grad Chat guest where I’ll be talking about my experience with regards to becoming disabled in grad school.

Even though I have a genetic condition (and so based on my very limited knowledge of genetics, I likely had it my whole life), my health really took a turn for the worst around my third year of grad school.

While grad school is certainly no cakewalk for anyone regardless of their disability status, academia truly sets up disabled students to fail because of the ableist structures that have been in place since its creation.

The stark difference between my experiences after I began identifying as disabled forced me to begin advocating for increased accessibility in academia (especially within the STEM disciplines) and the inclusion of disabled voices in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives (which we’re often left out of).

As a part of these efforts, I run the blog Chronically Invisible which works to highlight all the disabled scientists you never learned about in your textbooks and I co-founded the Caltech Disability Coalition, which is the university’s first disability-related organization.


Krystal will be taking over the PhD Balance Instagram account tomorrow (10/09) and will also join Susanna and Fay on this week's Grad Chat episode on Saturday - link here!

You can also now listen to all our Grad Chat episodes as a podcast, which is hosted on Anchor FM and available on all major streaming services!


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