Black History Month
Acknowledging and celebrating Black ecologists.
We are excited to announce a month-long blog series, from our journals, which aims to promote and profile the work of Black ecologists and ecological practitioners. Like our series back in 2020, these blogs are for you to showcase your ecology and connect with other ecologists/collaborators or even potential employers! We want this to be an opportunity that opens doors across our international community.
We want to provide more of a platform for Black ecologists, not just during Black History Month, but as part of our ongoing commitment to promote Black voices in our community. Thank you to all of our past and ongoing contributors, and, if you would like to participate yourself, please get in touch!
This year, the autumn issue of our membership magazine, The Niche, was taken over by the REED Network. BES members can access the issue in the members’ area.
“Black History Month is a time to celebrate black history, heritage and culture, and the iconic figures that have contributed so much, but this year, let’s make it about so much more. If you’re serious about allyship, it’s Time for Change: Action Not Words.” – Catherine Ross, Black History Month Editor.
Be sure to check back throughout October – we will be publishing more posts every week.
Perpetra Akite: Undertaking ecology in a pandemic situation
“The lesson from COVID-19 is that early action can enable transformational change to accelerate the transition to a greener economy; the health of people and the planet are one and the same, and both can thrive in equal measure.”
Diego Anjos: The journey of an early career researcher from the global south during the COVID-19 pandemic
“Looking back on this challenging period, I have both taught and learned a lot. I hope I am on the right track and, when I get there, I want to strive to ensure that other young black people also have the same opportunities that I have had.”
Gideon Deme Gywa: The story of a black ecologist growing up in an environment with limited interest in ecology
“With fun memories of growing up with my grandparents in a community that is rich in biodiversity, I became more interested in understanding the important role the environment plays in shaping adaptation of species at different geographical gradients over time and space.”
Nasiphi Bitani: The ecology behind saving birds
“There is certainly a need for diversity and inclusion in ecology and STEM fields at large. If there is anything we can learn from the ecological systems we study, it is the fact that the importance of diversity in the functionality of systems is critical.”
Thobeka Gumede: A girl who made it against all odds
“My interest was just in general science and in high school I was told that because I am a black woman – and good at science – it would be easier for me to get a job if I chose a science-specific subject to study. Therefore, because my dream was to improve my family’s lives, I thought doing science would be our ticket (me and my family) to a better living.”
Estelle Raveloaritiana: Scaling-up good practices for people and nature
“Whether in research or other aspects of life that concern us, we all need to take action, not just words, in order to make change possible.”
Londiwe Mokoena: A grass tussock in a savanna: My journey in occupying space in the world of ecology
“Although I did not see a lot of black ecologists when I started my journey in ecology, I am however at ease with knowing a lot of my peers are entering this field that are doing amazing work! With this new generation of black scientists, I hope that there will be more visible representation for aspiring young black researchers.”
Mthokozisi Moyo: Accidental Ecologist to Seasonality “expert”
“The thing I enjoy most about my work is that it enables me to contribute to our understanding of African ecosystems. My work is enjoyable because I get to travel to places that I would never be able to travel to outside of an ecological remit.”
Damilola Olanipon: Navigating through the odds – the experience of a female early career researcher in Nigeria
“In this journey, I have faced a lot of hurdles as a female researcher in a developing country due to high article publication charges, journal rejections, and unsuccessful applications for jobs and further studies. I made up my mind a long time ago that it is not enough to just accept a negative outcome—you must take a step forward and keep trying because with determination you can make it.”
Sandra Klemet-N’Guessan: How to cultivate a more equitable and diverse landscape in ecology and academia
“It’s not just about diversity based on the colour of our skin, but also cultural, linguistic, gender, and even experiential diversity. I think keeping our eyes open to things outside of our immediate perspective is important.
“We must be asking questions and seeking recommendations from a wide array of people and groups. We must move and travel to places unfamiliar to us to see what’s happening out there.”
Listen now on Spotify or SoundCloud, or read the full transcript below.
Zabentungwa Hlongwane: Creepy crawlers that can save humanity
“For my Ph.D., I wanted to do research that translated into meaningful knowledge that could be applied to address social needs, and provide recommendations on how to fight food and nutrition insecurity in South Africa.”
Jeanelle Brisbane: Building on-island capacity as the foundation for conservation success
“Working as an ecologist allows you to imagine the world through the eyes of many different species and takes you to places that most people do not have the opportunity to experience. Ecology is to witness life in its purest form, and, as an ecologist, we have the honour of translating that beauty for others to appreciate and protect.”
Nyeema Harris: The reward of choosing passion over precedent
“I focused on building a broad knowledge base with a diverse skill set, embracing the failures that only helped to sharpen me. I entered my vocation working to sustain myself in an environment where I seemed critically endangered, now I focus on maximizing my services to ecosystem engineer!”
Piata Marques: It is time for efficient diversity actions in academia
“We desperately need to fight systemic racism in academia. As scientists, we are already equipped with the critical reasoning necessary for designing effective actions for that. The only remaining question is: Will you join us in promoting REAL change?”
César Marín: building a flourishing career in soil ecology amidst Colombia’s political conflict
“I’d like to turn my attention to systematic racism in academia. Sadly, racial discrimination, inside and outside Academia, is something that happens to me almost every week. I would like pursue methods to combat this dreadfully common and widespread experience, specifically in the Global South”.
BHM panel discussion with The Root Of The Science podcast
“In this podcast, we discuss the journeys of our guests, talk through the challenges that black ecologists (and scientists) face, and look at actions that can be taken to foster a more diverse and inclusive academic landscape.”
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