Front and Center Celebrates and Connects Black, Indigenous, and Latine Plant Scientists

I often joke that one of the best things about working as a plant scientist is getting to be alone with my plants in the lab. In practice, I get a lot of my joy from working with other plant biologists: learning from them, mentoring folks, and discovering and celebrating all the wonderful things that plants have to teach us. Fostering strong connections with other plant scientists from different communities is essential to our success at every stage of our careers, and for the strength of the work we produce.

Fostering connections among Black, Indigenous, and Latine plant scientists helps us navigate institutions that were not designed with us in mind, and yet finding folks to connect with can be especially difficult due to a history of exclusion that often sees us as “the only one” in our labs, departments, or even institutions. To this end, Dr. Imani Madison and Dr. Edith Pierre Jerome created Front and Center, a network that celebrates and connects Black, Latine, and Indigenous plant scientists. Today, Dr. Kevin Cox and I, Dr. Román Ramos Báez, direct Front and Center with support from ASPB and NAASC. 

Front and Center Features is a social media project directed by Dr. Román Ramos Báez. Every week, we feature a self-nominated plant scientist through LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and/or Threads. Submitting a feature is a great way to share your story, invite the broader community to get to know you and celebrate you, as well as help you to connect to folks with similar interests and experiences. It can also help you inspire others to pursue plant science, learn about different career paths, and make yourself visible to plant biology newcomers. Follow us on our socials to populate your social media feeds with amazing Black, Latine, and Indigenous plant scientists. You can submit a profile to be featured here.

Adventitious Roots is a Slack and Discord channel directed by Dr. Kevin Cox. It allows folks to organize with and speak directly to other members that choose to be a part of it. Consider joining our Safe Space Discord Server to seek advice, support, or a listening ear. This is also for those who have navigated these institutions and have a wealth of experience, advice, and knowledge to share with newcomers. Lastly, this is a place to vent frustrations without retribution. At the beginning of my scientific career, I saw and valued my independence as my ability to problem solve on my own. Today, I understand independence as my ability to figure out who to ask and when to ask for guidance. Adventitious Roots is yet another great resource to ask for and deliver support. You can submit to join our Slack channel here!

We are currently recruiting a new social media manager and director. Feel free to reach out to us directly at frontandcenterps [at] gmail [dot] com if you’d like to learn more about Front and Center, how you can contribute, and how we can help you connect with Black, Indigenous, and Black plant biologists.