The PLANTS program has been supporting underrepresented undergraduates attending the annual Botany conference since 2011 and is the successor to the UMEB (Undergraduate Minorities in Evolutionary Biology) program. There are now over 150 alums of the PLANTS program, with most of them continuing to work with plants, the botanical and environmental sciences in academia, government, K-12 schools, nonprofits and private industry.

Heather Cacanindin

Heather Cacanindin (she/her)

Heather is the Executive Director of the Botanical Society of America, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri at the Missouri Botanical Garden and the current Principal Investigator of the Botany and Beyond: PLANTS III grant. She attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Washington University in St. Louis and has pursued a career in association and nonprofit management for 25 years. She loves meeting new people, working with the diverse membership of an international scientific society, and Botany folks who she finds just terrific in general! She finds the PLANTS program to be one of the most rewarding activities managed by the BSA.

Maria Morrow

Maria Morrow (she/her)
PLANTS Program Coordinator

Maria is a professor of Botany and Environmental Ccience at College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California. She grew up in the wonderfully damp city of Seattle and somehow managed to learn nothing about fungi until she moved to California in 2012 and took a forest pathology course. Since then, she has been digging in the duff, looking at logs, and even prodding at poop to get a better understanding of this mysterious kingdom of life. She studied fungal genetics and forest pathology at U.C. Berkeley and is currently working with the Humboldt Bay Mycological Society to survey the macrofungi of Redwood National Park. She loves dogs, D&D, flowers, and stew.

Ann Sakai

Ann Sakai (she/her)
PLANTS Program Advisor

I am a Professor Emerita at the U. Calif., Irvine. I grew up as a very visible minority in Lincoln, Nebraska. During high school, I moved to Hawaii, where I attended a multicultural public high school and was amazed I could be invisible. Weekends were spent hiking with friends who introduced me to Hawaiian plants. After Oberlin College (A.B.) and the U.of Michigan (Ph.D), I began study of breeding systems of the Hawaiian genus Schiedea (Caryophyllaceae). When field work became limited because of kids in school, Steve Weller and I began more lab/greenhouse studies of inbreeding depression, selfing rates, and pollination biology of Schiedea. We now collaborate using genomics for phylogenetic work to better understand breeding system evolution in this group. We are committed to conservation/restoration of these rare species, collaborating with HI state and federal agencies, and the National Tropical Botanical Garden.