IS-MPMI > COMMUNITY > Interactions > Posts > IS-MPMI Joins ASPB and Partners in $2 Million NSF Grant to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Plant Sciences
Sep 16
IS-MPMI Joins ASPB and Partners in $2 Million NSF Grant to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Plant Sciences

Mary Williams and Crispin Taylor
Graphics designed by Siobhan Braybrook
Edited by Dennis Halterman

We are excited to announce that the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), along with partners that include IS-MPMI, has been awarded a five-year grant through the National Science Foundation LEAPS (LEAding cultural change through Professional Societies of biology) program. As the lead organization, ASPB has the privilege of coordinating the development of a Research Coordination Network (RCN) in partnership with other plant science organizations and organizations that serve marginalized scientists. Interactions EIC Dennis Halterman and IS-MPMI President-Elect Roger Innes will represent IS-MPMI on the steering committee for the project.

The project, named ROOT & SHOOT (Rooting Out Oppression Together and SHaring Our Outcomes Transparently), will provide resources, training, opportunities, and structures aimed at seeding and cultivating cultural change toward an inclusive, equitable, scientific future for our discipline. The goal of an NSF LEAPS RCN is to catalyze cultural change, and as such, we aim to include more partners as the project progresses and openly share our ongoing work and all resources we develop.

The LEAPS grant offers an opportunity to create an even more inclusive, welcoming, and supportive community of plant biologists, and it is crucial that IS-MPMI be a part of this. Within this partnership, IS-MPMIConnect will continue its mission to contribute toward the promotion of an inclusive society, celebration of diversity, and recognition of excellent science. I am very much excited to see where IS-MPMIConnect will take us this next year!

Allyson MacLean, ISMPMIConnect Founder

This change work will begin within ASPB and our initial plant science organization partners: the International Society for Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions (IS-MPMI), The American Phytopathological Society (APS), the American Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASPT), the Botanical Society of America (BSA), the Maize Genetics Cooperation (MGC), and the North American Arabidopsis Steering Committee (NAASC). In addition, we have partnerships with Corteva Agriscience and Bayer Crop Science to ensure that the plant science industry benefits as well.

We will also be working with STEM inclusion organizations, including the Society for the Advancement of Chicano/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS); Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS); Out in STEM (oSTEM); and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). We will grow our network of partners in this area as well, ensuring that we are listening to all marginalized communities and working to remove structural and systemic barriers to true inclusion.

Equity and diversity in plant sciences benefits not only minorities, but all members of our community. The success in the LEAPS application provides a fantastic opportunity to make good on bold intentions of driving cultural change to support equity and diversity in plant sciences.

Giles Oldroyd, Chair of IS-MPMI Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee

Collectively, these organizations will develop and propagate tools for cultivating a sustainable sense of shared belonging and removing oppression from individuals with identities that are historically and currently marginalized (based on gender, gender identity, disability status, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or race). Although each RCN participant organization has begun this work, the award will allow the coordination and resources needed to enact meaningful change and to achieve lasting impacts in reshaping the entire plant science community.

As president-elect of IS-MPMI, I am very much looking forward to working with other plant-centric societies on building a more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming scientific enterprise. As MPMI scientists know extremely well, monocultures are not sustainable systems. Recruiting individuals into IS-MPMI with diverse viewpoints and world experiences is critical to the success of our society and, more importantly, to meeting the many challenges facing the world in the coming decades. This RCN will provide an outstanding platform for IS-MPMI to learn from experts, and from other societies, as we all strive to build a more just world.

– Roger Innes, IS-MPMI President-Elect

The ROOT & SHOOT program was collaboratively designed to accomplish three major aims: first, to immediately address known key systemic barriers to full participation within each organization; second, to require the partner organizations to dig deeply into themselves and build more equitable and inclusive structures; and third, to allow the plant science community to identify bold new directions that will continue expanding participation and provide a system of coordination of the required labor and sharing of ideas, practices, and outcomes (community-based working groups). The award also will provide broad training of the plant science communities in equitable practices and operations, including inclusive teamwork, climate and culture assessment, and culturally responsive mentoring.

This is fantastic news! This is an important step forward for IS-MPMI and our partnering societies. Over the past two years, IS-MPMI has been developing new interactive platforms to build a stronger, more inclusive community. We will be able to build upon these activities and establish an inclusive environment by directly addressing the climate and cultural deficiencies in our society and practices. I look forward to collaborating with colleagues on the ROOT & SHOOT project to help develop and implement effective tools to transform the future of IS-MPMI, as well as scientific societies worldwide. I'd also like to extend enormous gratitude to my ASPB colleagues and their partners for developing this vision and to the National Science Foundation for providing the framework and funds to support this transformative work.

– Mary Beth Mudgett, IS-MPMI President

In the fourth quarter, as the award begins, we will begin to ramp up the RCN programs by creating a website for real-time information dissemination and community feedback, identifying experts and trainers to guide our practices and work, forming working groups and training members, and preparing webinars and workshops. More information about opportunities and how you can participate will be provided in the coming months—so stay tuned!​

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