Action Plan for Improving Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within IPMB2022


Richard D. Vierstra, IPMB President
Josh Mylne, IPMB2022 Chair, Local Organising Committee
IPMB Advisory Board


5 February 2022

IPMB (International Plant Molecular Biology) is an international collection of plant biologists devoted to understanding plants at a molecular level. Our responsibility is to engage the global plant science community to address the grand challenges in our discipline that are vital to sustainable agricultural productivity. We are sorry and offer our sincere apologies for failing to adequately include the under-represented BIPOC (Black/Indigenous/People of Color) scientific community or provide balanced geographical representation in our programming for the 2022 Congress.

We thank the plant biology community for making this discrimination starkly evident on social media during this past week. Furthermore, we are deeply sorry for our initial and poorly conceived responses from leadership. We apologise to both the plant science community as a whole and those personally impacted by our actions. We pledge to do better with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion at IPMB2022.

Following are the first of a series of concrete steps that IPMB2022 is implementing to remedy these mistakes at the Cairns meeting and future IPMB Congresses. 

Structural change

  • We will prepare and enact an IPMB code of conduct that condemns discrimination based on race, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, country of origin, and disability, and promotes inclusion and access.
  • We will reach out to the broader plant biology community to ensure the promotion of greater diversity and representation.
  • Media management protocols will be developed and implemented.
  • We will commit future meetings being held in underrepresented countries.

Conference Program

The IPMB Advisory Board will appropriately revise the program to ensure diverse representation and inclusion. Actions will include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Additional plenary lectures, sessions and chairs will be included. A specific emphasis will be placed toward early and mid-career researchers (EMCRs) and First Nation knowledges and their science.
  • 75% of the speakers are yet to be invited. The chairs will proactively include speakers from among underrepresented groups, ensuring a more accurate representation of the global community in their sessions. Each session will also include junior scientists selected by invitation or from abstracts.
  • Some chairs have volunteered to step aside and will offer their support and mentoring as needed.

Access and Support

The IPMB Advisory Board and session chairs will both re-allocate funds and seek to raise new funds to boost support for participant equity from under-represented scientists.

  • Additional funds will be made available to support the attendance of under-represented groups and early career researchers whose financial resources are limited. This will include donations and reallocation of funds from our Chairs and Speakers budget.
  • We will work with our respective organisations, partners, and the broader community to raise additional scholarships to provide better access for those in need.
  • We will investigate possible ways to implement online access to the Congress.
  • We will also seek financial support for an EMCR-focused satellite meeting to enhance early career researcher communication and engagement.

We are grateful for those in the plant science community who spoke up for necessary positive change. We commit to promote diversity, inclusion, and easy access for this and all future IPMB Congresses.

We look forward to hearing about the exciting and transformative science originating from all persons from across the globe at IPMB2022. This experience has been a wakeup call and we have listened. We will continue to consult and communicate as we refine and implement this plan to not only improve access to IPMB2022 but also to be a driver for positive change within the international plant science community.