Taproot S5E1: Finding Strength in Diverse Scientific Communities

This week’s Taproot podcast episode is a conversation with Dr. Tanisha Williams A plant researcher, she was inspired this summer by the simultaneous rise of the pandemic and the civil uprising against police brutality to draw Black botanists together for a social media event called #BlackBotanistsWeek. Tanisha is an impressively accomplished early career researcher whose work has ranged from population genomics to the use of herbarium specimens to track climate-induced changes in flowering phenology, all with a central thread of preserving plant diversity. She received her PhD from the University of Connecticut Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and now she is the David Burpee Postdoctoral Fellow in the Conservation, Genetics, and Ecology & Evolution of Plant Reproduction Group at Bucknell University. Currently, Tanisha works with Dr. Chris Martine on rare Pennsylvanian plant conservation, Australian Solanum taxonomy, and the way the Martu people of Australia interact with plants. 

Tanisha takes us on an inspiring journey through her research projects. She has persevered despite numerous setbacks, including those we are all familiar with like the pandemic, and those that are more specific to her experiences, such as the dangers of spending time in nature while black and the lack of BIPOC representation in academia. Her social media campaign to provide black plant-lovers with a space to connect and share experiences quickly went viral when it first launched in July and has since expanded into a free virtual lecture series to highlight the work of black botanists. The series is called “Growing Black Roots: The Black Botanical Legacy,” and is hosted virtually by the Holden Arboretum every second Wednesday until September 2021.

How to listen, download and subscribe to The Taproot podcast

Read Episode Transcript



Tanisha’s website: https://naturesplasticity.weebly.com/research.html

Tanisha’s Instagram and Twitter handle @t_marie_wms


Beronda’s website and blog: http://www.berondamontgomery.com/reflect/my-black-botanical-legacy/

Beronda’s Twitter handle @BerondaM


Link to Holden Arboretum Black Botanists Lecture Series https://holdenarb.org/visit/events-lectures/scientist-lecture/


Join the Black Botanist’s Week community:




A story on Dr. Tiffany Knight’s work: https://source.wustl.edu/2013/02/walking-in-the-footsteps-of-19th-and-20thcentury-naturalists-scientists-find-battered-plantpollinator-network/


Burkle, L.A., Marlin, J.C. and T.M. Knight.  2013.  Plant-Pollinator Interactions over 120 Years: Loss of Species, Co-Occurrence and Function. Science 339: 1611-1615.


Twitter Handles 

Liz Haswell Twitter @ehaswell

Ivan Baxter Twitter @baxtertwi

Taproot Podcast Twitter @taprootpodcast


The Taproot is the podcast that digs beneath the surface to understand how scientific publications in plant biology are created. In each episode, co-hosts Liz Haswell and Ivan Baxter take a paper from the literature and talk about the story behind the science with one of its authors.

Subscribe to The Taproot podcast on iTunes , Stitcher, or Spotify.

Questions, feedback, suggestions?  Contact us at taproot@plantae.org.


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