Alex Thornton is the founder of Pride in Polar Research (PiPR), a global, volunteer-run group that supports, uplifts, and creates community for those with minority LGBTQIA+ identities in polar science. As an openly queer, intersex, and disabled marine scientist and educator from an international, multicultural family, he is deeply committed to creating access and equity for underrepresented communities in STEM, particularly for those at the intersectionality of marginalization. Alex emphasizes the need to actively create and hold space for diverse minds in order to reduce harm as opposed to expecting minority populations to conform to life in chronically inaccessible institutions. 

Alex currently works as the Summer Course Coordinator & Lecturer for the MAS MBC and PIER programs at UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Alex is an alum of the MAS MBC class of 2014 and spent the last decade in Alaska, where he received a graduate certificate in Science Teaching & Outreach from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He has since shared his passion for marine conservation and SciComm with professionals, grad researchers, undergrads, and K-12 students around the world. 

Alex has a life-long fascination with penguins and is especially interested in how life thrives in extreme environments—from the poles to the deep sea. He has conducted interdisciplinary research on marine mammal and seabird biology, fisheries management, animal welfare, environmental tourism, conservation ethics, and ocean law. In this work and beyond, Alex leans on his diverse professional experiences and strives to collaboratively and ethically link findings from western science with Indigenous knowledge. 

You can reach Alex with any questions or collaboration ideas at