Dr. Tanisha Williams Botanist, ecologist, and founder of #BlackBotanistsWeek
Tashina Williams was born and raised in Washington DC where she learned all about plants and the wonders of nature from her Great Grandmother. Her Great Grandmother grew African Violets that would bloom year-round, and when Tanisha got her house, the first thing she purchased was the African Violet to remind her of her grandmother’s love and her wisdom about plants. She attributes the Girl Scouts with first exposing her to nature through hiking and camping. She was also fascinated by science and history and she loved to read. Her love of learning and her passion for botany led her to travel the world studying plants, and eventually receive a PhD in conserving biodiversity.
Tanisha studies how plants respond to climate change. One of the ways she does this is to use herbarium records, which are dried plant collections. She discovered that the South African plant Pelargonium has responded to the increase in global temperatures by flowering a week early.
In addition to her research, Tanisha founded the #BlackBotanistsWeek. This online campaign is
intended to promote and highlight Black botanists and to give Black plant lovers a safe space to be heard. #BlackBotanistsWeek was created after an incident in Central Park in New York where a white woman called the police on a Black man who was bird watching. The #BlackBotanistsWeek has become an annual event with a team of 12 committee members from all over the world who work to honor and celebrate black plant lovers with the hopes of increasing black representation in botany.