In the summer of 2015, a group of faculty and students gathered at the Ecological Society of America conference in Baltimore to highlight issues affecting black ecologists. Here we use the term “black” in an inclusive manner and define as minorities of different origins and nationalities including African Americans, Africans, Caribbeans, Latinos, and Native Americans. Non-black nationals with interest in furthering the goals of the association have specific roles. We must ensure a “safe space” for many members to address some of the challenges that Black ecologists face in academia. In an effort to address these issues, we decided to establish an international association of professionals that can provide academic, social, and cultural support for Black ecologists. Specifically, Drs. Nyeema Harris (UM EEB Assistant Professor, Jasmine Crumsey (UM EEB PhD alumna, currently University of Georgia) and Senay Yitberak (UM EEB PhD alumnus, currently UC Berkeley Postdoc) are the founders of the Black Ecologist Section that was formally established in August 2016 within the Ecological Society of America (ESA).
Our section aims are to:
1) promote the professional well-being of black ecologists within the international scientific community and within the society at-large.
2) assist in the recruitment, retention, and advancement of black ecologists in both academic and non-academic career opportunities.
3) create and support efforts to increase opportunities for black ecologists and visibility of their scientific work.
4) develop activities and programs that highlight and enhance the benefits of the scientific contributions that black ecologists provide for the society.
5) raise the knowledge and appreciation of ecology in the black community.
6) facilitate and encourage collaborations among members and non-black nationals through symposia, organized oral sessions, and advisory boards.
7)build and strengthen community among black ecologists through event planning, virtual platforms, and working groups.