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Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer Named 2022 MacArthur Fellow

Written by SUNY ESF Communications staff:

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), the most distinguished institution in the nation that focuses on the study of the environment, is proud to announce that Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer has been named a 2022 MacArthur Fellow. Kimmerer is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology and is the Founder and Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at ESF.

Awarded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Fellowship is presented to talented individuals in a variety of fields who have shown exceptional originality in and dedication to their creative pursuits. Fellows receive $800,000 stipends that are bestowed with no conditions; recipients may use the money as they see fit.

“I’m deeply honored by this recognition as a MacArthur Fellow,” said Dr. Kimmerer. “I’m so grateful for the privilege of doing work that I love and for the people who have supported me along the way. This feels like an affirmation of the important contributions of generations of indigenous knowledge holders to how we care for the Earth.”

She continued, “I think of the award as both a gift and a responsibility. I plan to continue my writing and teaching on behalf of land justice. The award will give me the time and creative space to finish writing a book that has been impatiently waiting for me and to deepen my commitment to the urgent work of climate activism.”

“Dr. Kimmerer’s writings – in Gathering Moss and Braiding Sweetgrass – have inspired people worldwide to rethink how they interact with nature and reconnect not only with the world around them but also with themselves,” said ESF President Joanie Mahoney. “Robin’s use of storytelling to connect Traditional Ecological Knowledge and western science brings more people to the understanding of how we are all connected. This fellowship is well deserved and we are proud to have Dr. Kimmerer at ESF.”

The MacArthur Fellows Program is intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations. In keeping with this purpose, the Foundation awards fellowships directly to individuals rather than through institutions.

Kimmerer brings to her scientific research and writing her lived experience as a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and the principles of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). Her research interests include the role of traditional ecological knowledge in ecological restoration and the ecology of mosses.

In collaboration with tribal partners, Kimmerer and her students have an active research program in the ecology and restoration of plants of cultural significance to Native people. She is active in efforts to broaden access to environmental science education for Native students and to create new models for the integration of indigenous philosophy and scientific tools on behalf of land and culture. She is engaged in programs that introduce the benefits of traditional ecological knowledge to the scientific community, in a way that respects and protects indigenous knowledge.

Kimmerer holds a Master’s and Ph.D. in botany from the University of Wisconsin and a bachelor’s in botany from ESF and. She is the author of numerous scientific papers on plant ecology, bryophyte ecology, traditional knowledge, and restoration ecology.

Kimmerer’s book “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants” has been a fixture on The New York Times Paperback Nonfiction Best Sellers list since February 2020. The book is a collection of essays weaving traditional ecological knowledge with scientific knowledge to examine the relationship people have and can have, with the living environment.

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