The talk, scheduled for 4 p.m. in Dana Auditorium, is one of several activities during her visit and is open to students, faculty, staff and the public at no charge on a seats-available basis. Also, she is expected to participate in a nature walk and class conversation.
Robin is a plant ecologist, educator and writer and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, a federally recognized tribe of Potawatomi people located in Oklahoma. In 2022 she was named a MacArthur Fellow.
She says, “I’m a Potawatomi scientist and a storyteller, working to create a respectful symbiosis between Indigenous and western ecological knowledges for care of lands and cultures. Biodiversity loss and the climate crisis make it clear that it’s not only the land that is broken, but our relationship to land. Both are in need of healing.”
In "Braiding Sweetgrass" (2013), Robin employs the metaphor of braiding wiingaashk, a sacred plant in Native cultures, to express the intertwined relationship between three types of knowledge: traditional ecological knowledge, the Western scientific tradition, and the lessons plants have to offer. The book was adapted for young adults by Monique Gray Smith in 2022.
Her first book, Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses, was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing, and her other work has appeared in Orion, Whole Terrain and numerous scientific journals.
Robin is Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology and Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF).
She is the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, whose mission is to create programs which draw on the wisdom of both indigenous and scientific knowledge for our shared goals of sustainability.
In 2015, Robin addressed the United Nations General Assembly on the topic of “Healing Our Relationship with Nature.”
She earned a B.S. in Botany from SUNY ESF and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Wisconsin. She is the author of numerous scientific papers on plant ecology, bryophyte ecology, traditional knowledge and restoration ecology.
Robin lives on an old farm in upstate New York, tending gardens both cultivated and wild.