Episode 9

Diversity in the Plant Sciences

August 31, 2020

#BlackBotanistsWeek, a campaign first organized in July 2020 to "promote, encourage, create a safe space for, and find more Black people (and BIPOC) who love plants!," sparked a nation-wide dialogue on the vital and ongoing need to make the plant sciences more inclusive, accessible and diverse. Black people (and BIPOC) have faced systemic racism in related professions, in addition to plaguing discrimination that haunts people of color outdoors and in the field - such as the incident that happened to Audubon Board Member Christian Cooper in New York's Central Park.

On this episode of Forever California, we hand the mic to Naomi Fraga, PhD, Director of Conservation Programs at California Botanic Garden, as she stewards a panel discussion on diversity in the plant sciences. Joining Naomi are scientists, activists, professors and community leaders who share their experiences discovering botany and moving the needle forward for inclusion in the field.

Panelists include:

  • Tanisha Williams, PhD: one of the founders of #BlackBotanistsWeek and a Postdoctoral Researcher Bucknell University
  • Ann Sakai, PhD: Professor, University of California, Irvine
  • Muriel Poston, PhD: Professor of Environmental Analysis, Pitzer College
  • Joel Abraham, PhD: Associate Professor, California State University Fullerton

Panelists speak about their careers and experiences in the plant sciences, sharing inspiration and pathways to elevate others interested in plants and the larger natural world.

California Botanic Garden sincerely thanks everyone involved in the production of this episode; both for their generosity in sharing their stories, as well as for making the plant sciences a better community for all through lifetimes of commitment, courage and compassion.

Here are some additional links to programs created to diversify and advance plant sciences and related STEM or museum fields: