A question for Plant Scientists: “So, why is what you do important?”

A post on Plantae.org by Alyssa Preiser examines this question:

“So, why is what you do important?”

Telling others that what we do matters.

Every holiday season, at least one relative may ask you the question “What do you do?”. Your response – “I study plants” –  is immediately followed by an awkward pause and either an unsure nod, as if they immediately understand all the intricacies of your work, or the follow-up: “Why?”. There are several answers that quickly rise to the surface. We could dig into the significance and innovations detailed in our recently submitted proposal, but that won’t help much when talking to Grandma. We could explain why we enjoy our work, but with this answer we are missing a bigger opportunity to engage those around us. As scientists we have an opportunity and obligation to help others understand the importance of what we do. It can be extremely difficult as your accountant uncle, store clerk friend, and scientific self all speak very different languages. So, in order to help explain why we get excited about studying plants, here’s an infographic that walks through the highlights of plant research applications. Next time you’re asked why you study plants, you will be ready to say, “because you need me to.”