Thomas Webber (he/him)
PhD, Chemical Engineering
Thomas Webber is a fifth-year chemical engineering PhD student at UCSB. He graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Webber, who is gay, is co-advised at UCSB by chemical engineering professors Songi Han and Rachel Segalman. The focus of Webber’s research is to understand the behavior of water at the surface of polymer membranes. He applies advanced magnetic resonance tools, such as dynamic nuclear polarization, to investigate molecular-scale structure and dynamics of water and its impact on membrane design. Webber plans to pursue a career as a research scientist in industry after completing his PhD, saying, “I am driven by my passion for materials discovery and design and hope to work on products that make a positive impact on people’s lives.” Webber lives in Goleta with his husband, Alex, and two cats Aristotle and Dante.
College of Engineering (COE): What does Pride Month mean to you as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and does it feel more important to observe and recognize it given all of the anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation being introduced across the nation?
Thomas Webber (TW): Pride month is a time to look to the past to remember the legacy and sacrifices of the early gay liberation movement, while also looking to the future as we fight for equality for all people and families and empower the next generation. I believe one of the best ways to combat homophobia and transphobia is to listen to and honor the experiences of queer and trans people.
COE: Why did you agree to share your story and participate in this project that celebrates Pride Month within the College of Engineering?
TW: I strongly believe in the importance of visibility and representation in the LGBTQIA+ community. I have experienced communities where there is less awareness and appreciation for queer experiences, and it can be terribly isolating. I am grateful that the UCSB College of Engineering offers a platform for diverse voices!
COE: What do you want people to learn or gain from reading the profiles on this page?
TW: I want people to know that there are LGBTQIA+ people among every race, nation, religion, and age group! It is important to find a community and to connect with others.
COE: How welcoming and inclusive have you found UCSB, the College of Engineering, and your department communities to be as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community?
TW: I have found UCSB and the Chemical Engineering Department to be very inclusive. I appreciate the representation from the student to the faculty level (although there could always be more!)