Mentoring is an Intellectual Pillar of Ethnobiology

Keywords: Mentoring; Writing; Support; Education


Ethnobiology relies on community partnerships and relationships between elders or other knowledge keepers and students. Our Society of Ethnobiology, like all academic organizations, has its own issues with discrimination and abuses of power. But more than other academic disciplines, contemporary ethnobiology is practiced with and strengthened by close, respectful working relationships. As such, we offer our thoughts on the lessons ethnobiology brings to mentorship and accountability while outlining some of the specific steps we are taking as an academic and practicing community.

Author Biographies

Andrew Flachs, Purdue University, West Lafayette

Andrew Flachs is an environmental anthropologist who studies food, agriculture, and ecological knowledge in the American Midwest, South India, and Bosnia.

Elizabeth A. Olson, Department of History, Sociology, and Anthropology, Southern Utah University, Cedar City

Elizabeth A. Olson is a medical and environmental anthropologist with interests in ethnobotany, community-based conservation, Indigenous peoples of Mexico, and public health.

John M. Marston, Department of Anthropology, Boston University, Boston

John M. Marston is an environmental archaeologist who studies agriculture, resilience, climate-change adaptation, and the environmental implications of empire in the ancient eastern Mediterranean and western Asia.

Andrew Gillreath-Brown, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University, Pullman

Andrew Gillreath-Brown is a research assistant and PhD student in the Department of Anthropology, Washington State University. His research focuses on prehistoric agriculture and paleoclimatic reconstruction, mostly in the American Southwest. His research has also integrated environmental and GIS modeling to study the evolutionary ecology of subsistence prior to regional abandonment. Andrew also currently serves as an Executive Board Member for the Tennessee Council for Professional Archaeology and an Editorial Assistant for Ethnobiology Letters.


Anderson, N. 2018. Academia’s #MeToo Moment: Women Accuse Professors of Sexual Misconduct. Washington Post, May 10, 2018, sec. Education. Available at: Accessed on December 1, 2019.

Bonta, M., R. Gosford, D. Eussen, N. Ferguson, E. Loveless, and M. Witwer. 2017. Intentional Fire-Spreading by “Firehawk” Raptors in Northern Australia. Journal of Ethnobiology 37:700–718. DOI:10.2993/0278-0771-37.4.700.

Clancy, K. B. H., R. G. Nelson, J. N. Rutherford, and K. Hinde. 2014. Survey of Academic Field Experiences (SAFE): Trainees Report Harassment and Assault. PLOS ONE 9:e102172. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0102172.

Conradi, P. 2019. Alessandro Strumia: The Data Doesn’t Lie—Women Don’t like Physics. The Sunday Times, March 24, 2019, sec. News Review. Available at: Accessed on December 1, 2019.

Fowler, C. T., and S. Herron. 2018. The Long Program for Ethics in Ethnobiology. Ethnobiology Letters 9:1–3. DOI:10.14237/ebl.9.1.2018.1356.

Guthman, J. 2008. Bringing Good Food to Others: Investigating the Subjects of Alternative Food Practice. Cultural Geographies 15:431–47. DOI:10.1177/1474474008094315.

Kimmerer, R. W. 2015. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis, MN.

Libarkin, J. 2019. Academic Sexual Misconduct Database. Academic Sexual Misconduct Database [web page]. Available at: Accessed on December 1, 2019.

Medinaceli, A. 2018. Taking an Early Step in Ethnobiological Research: A Proposal for Obtaining Prior and Informed Consent from Indigenous Peoples. Ethnobiology Letters 9:76–85. DOI:10.14237/ebl.9.1.2018.1054.

National Center for Faculty Diversity and Development. 2019. Faculty Diversity [web page]. Available at: Accessed on December 1, 2019.

Nelson, R. G., J. N. Rutherford, K. Hinde, and K. B. H. Clancy. 2017. Signaling Safety: Characterizing Fieldwork Experiences and Their Implications for Career Trajectories. American Anthropologist 119:710–22. DOI:10.1111/aman.12929.

Randrianandrasana, M., and M. R. Berenbaum. 2015. Edible Non-Crustacean Arthropods in Rural Communities of Madagascar. Journal of Ethnobiology 35:354–83. DOI:10.2993/etbi-35-02-354-383.1.

Silvia, P. J. 2019. How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing. Second Edition. APA LifeTools, Washington, DC.

Society for Economic Botany. 2018. Code of Conduct [web page]. Available at: Accessed on December 1, 2019.

SOLAE Ethics Committee, Armando Medinaceli, Eréndira J. Cano, Arturo Argueta, and Olga Lucia Sanabria. 2018. Latin American Society of Ethnobiology’s Code of Ethics. Ethnobiology Letters 9:86–89. DOI:10.14237/ebl.9.1.2018.1121.

Wade, L. 2019. #MeToo Controversy Erupts at Archaeology Meeting. Science, April 15, 2019. DOI:10.1126/science.aax7037.

Wadman, M. 2018. Salk Institute Settles Last of Three Gender Discrimination Lawsuits. Science, November 21, 2018. DOI:10.1126/science.aaw1383.

Wolverton, S. 2013. Ethnobiology 5: Interdisciplinarity in an Era of Rapid Environmental Change. Ethnobiology Letters 4:21–25. DOI:10.14237/ebl.4.2013.11.

How to Cite
Flachs, A., Olson, E. A., Marston, J. M., & Gillreath-Brown, A. (2019). Mentoring is an Intellectual Pillar of Ethnobiology. Ethnobiology Letters, 10(1), 104-108.