Author and NOAA biologist Skylar Bayer. Photo courtesy of NOAA

A new book by NOAA research biologist Skylar Bayer, of the Alaska Regional Office in the Habitat Conservation Division in Juneau, celebrates scientists with disabilities or chronic conditions who have faced challenges in their careers because of health issues. The book will be published later this year.

Bayer’s book, “Uncharted,” is a collection of first-person stories by current and former scientists.

The Alaska Region of NOAA is highlighting the work of Bayer and other scientists in honor of July being National Disability Pride Month.

The author said she was inspired to write the book because while she was in graduate school, she learned she could no longer scuba dive in her research lab, after a diagnosis of a heart condition that required insertion of an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. A friend suggested that she create a book filled with contributors with disabilities and chronic medical conditions involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in order to help others learn that people can succeed regardless of such challenges. 

Collaborating with Gabi Serrato Marks, the two women edited stories from over 30 contributors to the book: “Uncharted: How Scientists Navigate Their Own Health, Research, and Experiences of Bias.”

For her, Bayer said, Disability Pride Month is a chance to celebrate disability in our world and not view disability as something to overcome.


“Too often we think of disability as only a barrier to living instead of a different way of being in the world,” Bayer said. “Disability is a form of diversity, and diversity helps us problem solve better and create a world that strives to be inclusive and accessible to all. I think it’s also a month to acknowledge that disability comes in many forms and is more common than we often acknowledge.”