President’s Letter—The Power of Engagement

Katie DeheshThe past year and a half has been an unprecedented time for all of us, and it has brought unforeseeable changes to our lives. I recognize that you have many competing priorities in your life as you struggle with the consequences of the pandemic. Research, classes, family and social commitments, and sound mental health are only some of the priorities to which you must attend; it is easy to see how your time and energy can be eaten up quickly. Nonetheless, you have chosen to be a part of ASPB (thank you!), and your engagement is vital to the organization’s success.

Fundamentally, ASPB exists to serve its members. That means that ASPB is here to make your life easier by providing quick and easy access to opportunities and resources crucial for your career development. The little engagement that we request from you in return goes a long way toward helping us make sure that ASPB serves you in the best ways possible. Indeed, we want to hear from you about how we are doing and what ideas you have about how we can serve you better.

Among the main benefits ASPB provides for its members are the following:

  • networking and career opportunities, including our mentoring center on Plantae and the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program.
  • advocacy on behalf of plant scientists and plant science research
  • access to conferences, organized and attended by scientists from around the world who are working at the cutting edge of plant biology research, and travel awards to enable early career scientists to attend those conferences
  • direct access to groundbreaking scientific research published in our three journals
  • early access to webinars on Plantae, ASPB’s online home for the global plant science community
  • reduced fees for publications and conference attendance.

In short, ASPB is a hub for communication and information relevant to members.

If we are to optimize your experiences as an ASPB member—to expand the opportunities listed above, to highlight research topics that suit your interests, or something else entirely—we need to know what you think. We invite you to participate in and share your feedback on the following activities:

  • Read the ASPB News: The newsletter contains the latest Society news, including members’ achievements in research and community outreach, conference information, and fellowship opportunities. The newsletter, which will be published only once a quarter starting in 2022, contains essential information on how you can get involved in the Society in a way that could influence the trajectory of your career. (By the way, if you’re currently receiving the print edition of the ASPB News, please make it available to others in your labs and workplaces so they can learn more about ASPB and what it does.)
  • Subscribe to our weekly email newsletter The Signal: For more frequent updates and information about goings on at ASPB and elsewhere, including job listings and plant science conferences, be sure that you are receiving this weekly email. If you are not, sign up to receive it at
  • Be sure that ASPB’s email addresses are whitelisted in your own email system: To be sure you are receiving regular email communications from ASPB, please visit your member profile and make sure you have not unsubscribed from this service.
  • Read Plant Science Today, ASPB’s blog: Another way to stay up to date is via the ASPB and Plantae blogs, available at and
  • Vote in elections: As an ASPB member, you are eligible to vote each year for ASPB’s president and other members of the Board of Directors. They are the leaders who determine the direction of the organization, and your vote matters. In the new year, members will select a new president-elect and secretary-elect. Please keep an eye out for an email message that will be sent to ASPB members on January 3, 2022.
    • The president is the face and voice of ASPB, provides strategic leadership, and has the authority to form ad hoc committees. Your choice of president determines who best represents your interests within the Society.
    • The president-elect, assisted by the Nominations Committee, has the authority to identify individuals to serve on governance committees. The committees address important topics within our community and organization. For example, the Education Committee promotes public awareness of plant biology as a constantly evolving science; the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee enhances inclusion in ASPB activities across the board and promotes the careers and professional development of marginalized plant biologists in society as well as the profession; and the Women in Plant Biology Committee addresses women-specific challenges in the workplace. The president-elect also has the authority to choose the topic and speakers for the President’s Symposium at the annual Plant Biology conference.
    • The Secretary’s roles include serving on the ASPB Board of Directors and on the Program Committee, which determines the location and scientific content of the annual Plant Biology meetings.
    • The Board of Directors is the Society’s decision-making body with authority to act on all matters of the Society as a whole, including devising strategic plans to advance the organization’s missions.
    • Respond to surveys: Our surveys request important information, including input on conference content, format, and location; how and when to communicate with you; and how helpful the resources we provide are. Surveys are among your best options for giving feedback to current leaders on how they can serve you more effectively.

The ASPB Forward team can help you engage with the community and communicate your comments and ideas for how ASPB can best serve you ( Please contact the ASPB Forward team by email (, via Twitter (, or using the Google Docs form

Your engagement directly influences the objectives of ASPB and their execution, and in return, ASPB can provide concrete benefits for the development of your scientific career. My long professional experience has convinced me of the power of my engagement in carving the path forward and achieving my goals. If you’re not convinced, please take some time to read the biographies of our Pioneer Members ( These biographies highlight how engagement with ASPB influenced the career trajectories of many of the most successful plant biologists in the world.

We appreciate your time and request that you raise the power of your input. We need to hear from you! Please amplify your voice by any media you prefer and direct us to the gaps within this 100-year-old establishment, advising us on how to fill them with new ideas and content for today’s needs. We need your active participation in electing the leaders whom you deem optimal for the tasks at hand. We require your input on how the scientific content, networking venues, and location of conferences can be improved. I am certain your engagement will morph the Society into a more powerful ASPB.

Stay safe, and tune in for more in upcoming issues of the ASPB News! 

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