About Us

Spectrum is an employee resource group (ERG) dedicated to building awareness and providing resources for those in the laboratory community who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, agender, or allies to their LGBTQIA+ peers. Spectrum also recognizes and encourages the incredible diversity of gender identities and sexual orientations, including those which may not be accurately portrayed in some of these terms. Spectrum is dedicated to fostering an environment of understanding, acceptance, and equality for all within the laboratory community.

Spectrum’s mission is to:

  • Provide leadership and resources at Argonne to promote equity at all levels
  • Advise the laboratory on employee issues
  • Advance LGBTQIA+ friendly policies and benefits
  • Provide employees with cultural awareness, educational and networking opportunities
  • Promote a welcoming and inclusive workplace environment
  • Participate in outreach and talent recruitment activities

Participation is open to all employees and retirees of Argonne National Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy, The University of Chicago, and Argonne Credit Union and all persons associated with or assigned to the work of the laboratory. Final determination of eligibility rests with the committee.

Spectrum Celebrates Pride – What does Pride mean to you?

Pride is a celebration of visibility, autonomy, equality, and self-determination. It is an assertion that we are here, despite ongoing efforts to erase us.

In the half century since the first pride parades, pride months have become ever more inclusive, extending their celebration to all who feel their gender identity or sexual orientation falls outside the mainstream. This includes all those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA), or any of the myriad combinations of these traits that create a vast array of personal identities commonly grouped together under the term sexual and gender minorities (SGM).

To celebrate Pride, we asked our membership to share their thoughts which are reproduced below:

I view pride as a chance to reflect on relevant issues, to remember, and to look to the future. It’s so important to keep making progress. And to me, progress looks like a place where people don’t fear each other because of their differences, but live and let live.
– Anonymous 

It’s easy to get distracted by “rainbow capitalism”, but at its heart, Pride Month is still so important. The fact that Pride has gone from a memorial of milestone riots for queer liberation in June 1969 to a celebration of queer people in American society in only a few decades is nothing short of remarkable.
It is important for us to remember and honor those who struggled and died (and continue to struggle and die) because of their gender or sexual identity, but it’s also important for us to celebrate the progress we have made.
I’m personally grateful for the fight and progress of my queer ancestors this year, as I just last month adopted a baby girl with my husband – something nearly unthinkable in 1969.
– Matt Menickelly (they/them/theirs), MCS

Pride to me is the feeling when a young queer person feels seen by me, or sees themselves in me – and the way these moments validate their identities and shows them they can be an openly queer person and/or scientist.
– Anonymous 

Pride month has changed for me recently, it’s always been focused on celebrating and recognizing the historical impact of LGBTQIA+ individuals and showing that I am a proud member of that community. But after having my son and with the recent increase in attacks on rights around LGBTQIA+ individuals and families, it’s become even more about showing that my family is “normal.” It’s changed from being more reflective around elements of the past to much more present, in the now, and looking to the future.
This year, I am making it a point to show my son that there are so many definitions of family and that all are “normal” and beautiful…including his…which happens to have two Moms.
– Jennifer Fortner, IS-PMO

PRIDE to me is a symbol of hope, growth, equality, forgiveness, and a movement of voice. Being raised in a small town in the deep South, I was taught to fear the very parts of myself that make me who I am. Moving to the Midwest I remember the first Pride I stumbled upon in Chicago (perfect happenstance as I didn’t really understand what it was then) and felt a great sense of “these are my people”, that was in 2012 and from that moment I realized that I would be “okay”, there was nothing “wrong” with me, and I am free to be my authentic self. Personally, Pride is a symbol of hope and a reminder to be kind. Hope that the future for all humans to be celebrated as their authentic selves in their personal and professional lives will become the norm. Hope that equality above all else is achieved and if nothing else, be kind to each other.
One thing that I wish other people to know about Pride is that aside from the historical aspects (which are equally important), Pride is different for every person in their journey and meaningful in a multitude of ways-my experience may not be someone else’s and that is a beautiful reminder that we are all in different walks of life collectively trying to move forward every day.
– Nathan Rogers, PSC

These are a couple of reasons why for me this year Pride feels more like a rallying cry to continue the fight rather than a celebration.  We have come a long way, but we have oh so far to go before I can casually mention I am queer and not feeling like I’m inviting people to be inappropriate or like I have to defend my non-traditional choices.  We have a long way to go before I won’t worry when my queer friends take trips around the US or around the World.
– Anonymous

Spectrum thanks all those that participated for sharing their thoughts, and wishes them and the entire Laboratory a happy and safe #Pride2022

Transgender Day of Visibility

Transgender Day of Visibility (TGDoV) is celebrated on March 31st and is dedicated to celebrating the transgender community as well as raising awareness of the discrimination faced by transgender people every day. Spectrum celebrates the achievements of transgender scientists and engineers whose contributions have brought us semiconductor integration (Lynn Conway), understanding of the effects of climate change on corals (Shayle Matsuda), a better understanding of the human brain (Benn Barres), email attachments (Mary Ann Horton), and at Argonne, the next generation network infrastructure for high-performance computing (Carissa Holohan – ALCF) to name just a few.

The reality is that transgender and LGBTQ+ people have existed in science – and all spaces – since the beginning. Spectrum encourages you to read further on the impact the trans community has made, as well as read about the history and issues of the trans community and how to support transgender individuals.

Members of the Argonne Leadership Institute, the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Council, and Employee Resource Group Council, worked to collect messages of support from the Argonne community for Transgender Day of Visibility (GIF below). Spectrum would like to thank all of those who participated!


Unfortunately, we must also acknowledge the sustained attacks on members of our community happening right now in our country. In the last several months, dozens of anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation has been proposed and in many cases, passed into law, including in Utah,  Texas and Florida. While we attempt to be optimistic that these policies will be reversed through the legal process, we must also recognize the immediate and profound impact these cruel policies inflict on transgender families and their allies, and the entire LGBTQ+ community. No person deserves to live in fear of their neighbors and government because of their gender identity and for following established medical guidance. This a continuing, troubling trend of legislation targeting vulnerable and marginalized groups, and denying them agency in asserting their very existence.

Transgender Day of Visibility highlights the importance of awareness of the Transgender community in countering the spread of harmful misconceptions, ignorance, and blatant misinformation and preventing the oppression of marginalized groups from being protected and encouraged by the laws of our nation.

In alignment with our core values of Impact, Safety, Respect, Integrity, and Teamwork, it is our responsibility to learn about the transgender community and ensure we are continuously creating a Laboratory environment where we can all live authentically and contribute our best work.

Spectrum also encourages supporting organizations which work to provide resources for Transgender people in the community. (Pete Friedman, co-chair of Spectrum notes: “I support the Brave Space Alliance which is a Black and Trans-led LGBTQ+ center located on Chicago’s south side but there are many other local and national organizations doing great work”)


Argonne and Spectrum Remember Lives Lost in the LGBTQI+ Community during Transgender day of Remembrance

November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance. Transgender Day of Remembrance honors the memory of transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. We encourage everyone to observe this remembrance by taking a moment of silence on November 20 to honor all those transgender people whose lives were lost to anti-transgender violence this year, and by learning about the violence and issues that affect the transgender community and how to be a good ally.

We also recommend reviewing HRC Foundation’s “Dismantling a Culture of Violence” report which “demonstrates how anti-transgender stigma, denial of opportunity and increased risk factors compound to create a culture of violence — and provides clear ways that each of us can directly make an impact to make our society a safer place for transgender and gender non-conforming people.”

Spectrum honors the memories of those that have lost their lives due to anti-transgender violence in 2021 including: