Monthly Archives: May 2016

Out on Campus: Interview with Natalie Turrin

maxresdefaultNatalie Turrin hails from Toronto, Canada, and is a Ph.D. student in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department at Emory. Natalie has worked for the past year as the Graduate Fellow in the Center for Women, and will be working in the Office of LGBT Life this summer. Aby Parsons, Co-Chair of GALA, interviewed Natalie about her research on the relationship between genetics and feminism, her experiences as a queer international student at Emory, and her not-so-secret life as a roller derby superstar with the Atlanta Rollergirls.

Aby: You’re originally from Canada. What brought you to the U.S.?

Natalie: Emory brought me to the U.S.! After I finished my Master’s degree, a mentor who had completed her PhD in the South recommended that I take a look at what Emory’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program could offer. I visited her office one day because I wasn’t sure what my next move would be and she turned to me and said, “I think you should apply to Emory.” So I did and I was accepted. That was six years ago.

A: You’ve had an interesting academic journey from a BA in genetics to a PhD in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Can you tell us about how you merge these two fields in your current research?

N: Towards the end of my undergraduate career, I had figured out that I didn’t actually want to be a scientist but I was really interested in thinking critically about science, if that makes sense. My research considers how science shapes what we know about gender and sexuality, that is, how science makes sense of difference. At Emory I found my mentor, Dr. Deboleena Roy, who was also originally trained in the sciences. Emory’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program offered me a place where I could ask different questions about science and genetics.

My research project investigates what epigenetics, a branch of science that maps gene-environment interactions, can offer theories and knowledge about human health and difference. My dissertation examines how epigenetic research on nurture and the fetal environment can inform feminist theories of the body. I examine primary scientific research to consider how genetic science has re-conceptualized the relationship between nature and culture, and I trace the effects of this paradigm shift for race, gender, and human health.

A: You’ve spent the past year as the Graduate Fellow in the Center for Women at Emory. What have been some of your highlights from working in the Center?

N: Working at the Center has been a wonderful experience! The staff with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working have provided vital mentoring, and I have really enjoyed working as part of a team. Being able to get up and go to work with an amazing group of women, staff, and students has been the highlight of the fellowship and my time at Emory. I am also very proud to have played a role in planning programs, from the Women of Excellence awards to our annual lecture honoring the legacy of Mary Lynn Morgan, an alum of the Atlanta-Southern Dental College, which became the Emory University School of Dentistry in 1943.

A: One of the coolest things about you is probably that you have a super awesome alter-ego – Nattie Long Legs! How did you get involved in roller derby, and, most importantly, how did you get your derby name?

N: I began playing roller derby shortly before I moved to the South, but I really didn’t get serious about it until I joined the Atlanta Rollergirls. I train almost every day, on or off skates, and derby is my entire world outside of Emory, including my social life, fitness regime, and community. I currently skate for Atlanta’s all-star team, which is ranked in the top 15 internationally, so training takes up a large part of my time. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of an incredible group of athletes. I skate under the name Nattie Long Legs because I stand at nearly six feet tall!

A: Roller derby has a reputation for being a queer-friendly sport. Why do you think that is?

N: Roller derby was revived by communities that many would have considered to be “alternative,” and in the early stages of the revival it was a mix of spectacle and sport, which I think has played a role in why it has been an important place for queer community-building. Most of us found roller derby as adults, which I also think has something to do with the kinds of conversations about identity and inclusivity that members of roller derby communities, big and small, have been able to create. We were adults and so no one was going to tell us how we were supposed to look, dress, act, or how to present ourselves to our audiences. The motto of our governing body, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association ( is “by the skaters, for the skaters,” and so policies and practices around inclusivity have been shaped by the people who make up the derby community.

A: How has your experience at Emory been both as a queer student and an international student?

N: Emory has been a very welcoming place to me and I have been fortunate to find wonderful friends, colleagues, and mentors through my home department, the Center for Women, and within the wider community in the Center for Diversity and Inclusion. Working in the administrative arm of the campus community has helped me appreciate all of the efforts to build inclusive and safe communities and spaces on campus for students from all walks of life.

A: What do you miss most about Canada?

N: I miss a lot about Canada! I miss public transit because I grew up in a city with a comparatively functional transit system. While I love the people who I have met here, and the differences between Canadians and Americans are subtle, sometimes I miss just being around other Canadians! I also miss being close to my family, though I travel home often. That being said, I don’t miss the cold, and I cherish the southern hospitality and people whom I would call family in Atlanta.

A: Tell us about your plans for the remainder of your time at Emory and after graduation.

N: My plans are to complete my doctorate while continuing to explore the administrative side of the university at Emory.



Pink Ink & News

Nowee Shehab 16C

Nowee Shehab 16C

Nowmee Shehab 16C was honored as the 2016 Marion Luther Brittain Award recipient. The Marion Luther Brittain Award is presented each year to a graduating student from any academic division of the University who is considered to have performed the most significant, meritorious, and devoted service to Emory University. The Brittain Award is generally acknowledged to be the highest honor given to a student by Emory University. Click here to read the full article.

Brian Tolleson, Owner of Bark Bark Media, was honored with the Champion for Equality Award by Georgia Equality. Brian was the first person in the Film & Television Industry to speak out against HB 757 and has made numerous media appearances, attended lobby days and wrote guest editorials on behalf of Georgia Equality.

Lynne Huffer, Emory’s Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, was honored as the 2016 recipient of the George P. Cuttino Award for Excellence in Mentoring. Click here to read the full article.

Danielle Steele, formerly Interim Director of the Office of LGBT Life & Center for Women at Emory, has accepted the permanent position as Director of Belonging and Communities of Justice and the Office of LGBT Life.

GALA’s Annual Theater Outing Was A Hilarious Success

La_VivandereOn Sunday, April 10th, 22 GALA alumni and guests attended a matinee performance by the Le Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo at the Ferst Center for the Arts.  The Trocks are an all-male ballet troupe that performs comedic interpretations of classic ballets…IN DRAG!

Our GALA group enjoyed a wine and cheese reception in Georgia Tech’s Smithgall atrium prior to the hilarious and engaging performances of Swan Lake, Esmeralda, and Don Quixote.  The Trocks were flawless and breathtaking in their execution, while still garnering plenty of laughs from the crowd with their parodies of ballet favorites.  This was the first ballet experience for many of our GALA members, and the fun and colorful performances by the Trocks certainly made ballet fun and accessible to the first-timers.

Now in its fourth year, GALA’s annual spring theater outing is a wonderful way for current students and alumni to connect while enjoying a shared love of the arts.

Coming up on July 15th, GALA joins with Emory’s Young Alumni and other affinity groups for a visit to the High Museum of Art for Friday Jazz in the Atrium.  Featured will be the swing sounds of trumpeter and vocalist Joe Gransden.  Drinks, music and art are the perfect way to begin a weekend, so invite your friends and come join the party.  Admission is free for the first 100 attendees, and only $8 thereafter. Registration information soon to follow!

Update from Office of LGBT Life

Dear GALA Steering Committee & Membership:

April proved to be a busy month at the Office of LGBT Life as we prepared to wrap up the semester. The Office engaged with Emory community members in multiple events, particularly networking and visibility events.


The month began with the commemoration of Trans Day of Visibility, which was on March 31. On the day of TDOV, the Office set up a table in the DUC’s Coke Commons and offered free Coke floats. The table included information about recent anti-transgender bathroom laws across the nation, including a guide to contacting legislators about anti-trans legislation. It also included resource handouts for both trans and non-trans people, pro-trans buttons, and a “support board” on which participants were encouraged to write positive messages to the trans community at Emory. This event was followed by a film screening of Gunhill Road on April 4, which was sponsored by the Student Programming Council for Dooley’s Week.

On March 31, the Office also hosted its annual event Out in Law. The event provided networking opportunities to the LGBT community associated with the Law School. Out in Law was cosponsored by OUTLaw and the Stonewall Association this year.


The Office wrapped up the semester by hosting its second annual Out @ Emory event on April 22. The event took place in the Office, where participants were provided with free food and drink. We included a map of Emory and encouraged participants to place a colored star sticker on the map indicating where they work, study or live. We also continued to hand out Out @ Emory t-shirts left over from last year’s Out @ Emory event.

The semester has proved to be eventful and successful, and we look forward to planning for the next semester this summer!

Danielle M. Steele

Letter from Co-Chair – Spring 2016

In addition to sponsoring social events, networking opportunities, and community service projects, GALA has continued to advocate for LGBTQ communities both at Emory and throughout Georgia. Recently, GALA has been working to ensure that the Office of LGBT Life receives adequate staffing, space, and resources as Emory’s Campus Life undergoes a reorganization (you can read more about this reorganization at Our advocacy efforts included a Declaration of Support for the Office of LGBT Life that was sent to Ajay Nair, Senior Vice President and Dean for Campus Life. We were concerned that Campus Life administrators did not reach out to many stakeholders, including GALA, as they created an initial vision for the new Campus Life structure. We will continue to work with Campus Life administrators to make sure that Emory’s LGBTQ students are supported by an Office of LGBT Life that has dedicated space, sufficient staff, and adequate resources.

We have also been working to increase student participation in GALA activities, thereby creating a smoother transition from Emory student to active GALA alum. In order to increase student involvement, we strive to make GALA events affordable for students. When registering for GALA events, many of our alumni generously donate money to help offset costs for students. These donations are greatly appreciated, and any funds for student participation that remain after an event are saved to reduce student costs at future events.

We have one social event planned for this upcoming July, and we would love to see you there! We are partnering with the Emory Young Alumni group and other affinity groups to visit the High Museum of Art on Friday, July 15, 2016. In addition to visiting the art collections, you can also enjoy a live jazz concert as part of the High Museum’s Friday Jazz series. This event will be free for the first 100 registered attendees, and the registration link will be sent out soon.

We would also love to see you at one of our upcoming Steering Committee meetings. You are welcome to attend these meetings even if you have never participated in GALA before. The meetings take place on the second Tuesday of each month at the Miller Ward Alumni House (a free dinner is served at 6pm and the meetings start at 6:30pm). The next two meetings are on June 14 and July 12.

In pride,

Scot S







Scot Seitz, 09C
Co-Chair, GALA: Emory LGBT Alumni