Unrooted: Botany, Motherhood, and the Fight to Save an Old Science (Hardcover)
An exploration of science, motherhood, and academia, and a stirring account of a woman at a personal and professional crossroads.
Growing up in rural Ontario, Erin Zimmerman became fascinated with plants—an obsession that led to a life in academia as a professional botanist. But as her career choices narrowed in the face of failing institutions and subtle, but ubiquitous, sexism, Zimmerman began to doubt herself.
Unrooted: Botany, Motherhood, and the Fight to Save an Old Science is a scientist’s memoir, a glimpse into the ordinary life of someone in a fascinating field. This is a memoir about plants, about looking at the world with wonder, and about what it means to be a woman in academia—an environment that pushes out mothers and those with any outside responsibilities. Zimmerman delves into her experiences as a new mom, her decision to leave her position in post-graduate research, and how she found a new way to stay in the field she loves.
She also explores botany as a “dying science” worth fighting for. While still an undergrad, Zimmerman’s university started the process of closing the Botany Department, a sign of waning funding for her beloved science. Still, she argues for its continuation, not only because we have at least 100,000 plant species yet to be discovered, but because an understanding of botany is crucial in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.
Zimmerman is also a botanical illustrator and will provide 12 original illustrations for the book.
About the Author
Erin Zimmerman is an evolutionary biologist turned science writer and essayist. She has a bachelor’s degree in plant biology and physics from the University of Guelph and postgraduate studies in fungal genetics and molecular systematics from the Université de Montréal’s biodiversity institute. For her doctoral research, she traveled to South America to collect plant specimens, and worked at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Zimmerman has published 9 academic papers, as well as numerous essays that have appeared in publications like Smithsonian Magazine, Los Angeles Review of Books, Undark, and Narratively.