By Ros Gleadow, President of The Global Plant Council
We are in the middle of a pandemic, but the experience is different for everyone. This was expressed beautifully in an original tweet by Damian Barr, later expanded by another author into a poem.
“We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some are on super-yachts. Some have just the one oar.”Damian Barr
Even on the scale of Board members of the GPC, the impact varies widely.
As scientists, some of us have been able to continue with our research or use the lockdowns to write papers. Others are so overwhelmed with carer responsibilities or depression that they have been unable to deliver anything much. Women especially have borne the brunt of the homeschooling, and there is some evidence for a massive drop off in their productivity.
I encourage you to remember this in 5 or 10 years when conducting job interviews – it won’t be just publications from 2020 that will be affected, but citations, and other metrics that are reliant on continuous productivity. Whether or not we should use such measures is a different debate.
In many countries, there has been a renewed appreciation of parks and gardens, nature, and botanic gardens. There’s even been a boom in indoor plant sales!
This is a chance for us, as plant scientists, to make the world aware of the importance of plants and plant science. I summed up some of these thoughts in a blog a few months ago. And also in the talk, I addressed at the ISCRAES conference in Dublin (virtually of course). It seems absurd that we need to remind people that we all need plants and nature, but there are so many competing demands for money and attention, we need to remain vigilant.
One upside from this year has been the discovery, for me anyway, that apart from lab work, I can do pretty much everything from my desk. I don’t think we will ever go back to flying around the world for business meetings alone. Virtual conferences work, although I miss the personal contacts and experiencing different cultures – something that is important for people like me from Australia, which is so far away.
In closing, I would just like to thank the Board for their work this year, especially treasurer Deena Errampalli, the new chair Francisca Blanco and Past-President Bill Davies who continues to give sage advice. I’d also like to give a big shout-out to Chief Communications Officer Isabel Mendoza who does an amazing job, writing stories and papers for dissemination, maintaining the website, organizing meetings, liaising with members and sponsors, and so on. Thank you!