Unrooted: Botany, Motherhood, and the Fight to Save an Old Science (Hardcover)

Unrooted: Botany, Motherhood, and the Fight to Save an Old Science By Erin Zimmerman Cover Image

Unrooted: Botany, Motherhood, and the Fight to Save an Old Science (Hardcover)

$28.99


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"Evolutionary botanist Zimmerman discusses her passion for plants and inveighs against sexism in the sciences in her marvelous debut memoir...Throughout, Zimmerman’s enthusiasm and expertise make the science accessible even to those without a background in the subject. The results are as edifying as they are galvanizing." - Publishers Weekly STARRED Review

"Erin Zimmerman has exposed a rooted gender failure in science. Her book is important not for this alone. Her work is essential for understanding the future resilience of all flora on this planet." -Diana Beresford-Kroeger, author of To Speak for the Trees

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 8 original illustrations for the book.
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.
Product Details ISBN: 9781685890704
ISBN-10: 1685890709
Publisher: Melville House
Publication Date: April 16th, 2024
Pages: 272
Language: English
"Evolutionary botanist Zimmerman discusses her passion for plants and inveighs against sexism in the sciences in her marvelous debut memoir...Throughout, Zimmerman’s enthusiasm and expertise make the science accessible even to those without a background in the subject. The results are as edifying as they are galvanizing." - Publishers Weekly STARRED Review

"From verdant jungles to hushed herbariums and the burgeoning field of “citizen scientists,” Unrooted explores botanical wonders, conflicting realities, and boundaries that are meant to be challenged." - Foreword Reviews STARRED Review

"Unrooted is part natural history, part personal history, and part testament to the enduring importance of botany. It is the story of Erin Zimmerman’s lifelong love affair with plants, and of her attempts, as a woman and a mother, to reconcile professional dreams with personal costs. That the ivory tower didn’t make room for someone as brilliant and passionate as Zimmerman is a huge loss for science. But it is a big win for readers of her beautiful, questing, many-branched book. —Kate Harris, author of Lands of Lost Borders

"Erin Zimmerman has exposed a rooted gender failure in science. Her book is important not for this alone. Her work is essential for understanding the future resilience of all flora on this planet." —Diana Beresford-Kroeger, author of To Speak for the Trees

"Zimmerman candidly and brilliantly defines her juggling of a botany career with parenthood as death by a thousand cuts. Her stories are riveting, and I highly recommend this book." —Margaret Lowman, author of Life in the Treetops: Adventures of a Woman in Field Biology

"Unrooted is an insightful, passionate, and necessary look at the complex relationships between women and science. It deftly pulls back the romantic curtain of the ivory tower, exposing what it takes to navigate a world built for men. Merging gorgeous memoir with science, history, and adventure, Zimmerman celebrates the ways that women find their own pathways to authentic success." —Juli Berwald, author of Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone

"In Unrooted, Erin Zimmerman turns her attention towards the dying science of botany, and the enduring misogyny in the world of scientific research that has excluded women—and, in particular, mothers—for centuries. This is a call to ... make space for motherhood within the realms of scientific research and academia."  —Jessica Moore, author of The Whole Singing Ocean

"In Unrooted, Erin Zimmerman masterfully interweaves her journey through science with the story of the science she loves—botany—a vital and threatened discipline. Unrooted speaks to the child in each of us who swam in the wonder of nature, the parents struggling to be our full selves, the humans fearing for how we've threatened the future of the Earth. This is a tender, insightful, and vitally important book." —Jaime Green, author of The Possibility of Life

“Erin Zimmerman reminds us that working as a scientist means remaining open to new outcomes. In clear, unflinching prose, Unrooted explores the extraordinary dedication it takes to rise in the field of botany, and the bravery required to choose a different path. I loved this memoir of accepting transformation and refusing to be overlooked.” —Amanda Lewis, author of Tracking Giants: Big Trees, Tiny Triumphs, and Misadventures in the Forest

"Erin Zimmerman offers readers that rare gift: a prismatic view of the world through both art and science. Unrooted is a gorgeous yet frank exploration of botany, motherhood, and the realities of being female in research." —Caroline Van Hemert, author of The Sun is a Compass

"Unrooted tells a moving story about botany, women, and children, showing how modern science is driving out mothers like Zimmerman at a time when we need their expertise and love of nature the most. Beautifully written, profound, and funny." —Susanne Wedlich, author of Slime