Beronda MontgomeryBeronda Montgomery, Ph.D. has recently been appointed as interim vice president in the Office of Research & Innovation at MSU and has also received a seat on the Science Gallery International board. Beronda Montgomery is a MSU Foundation Professor working in the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, holding appointments in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. From 2016-2020 she served as an associate provost for faculty development focusing on research, scholarship, and creative ideas using her unique talents within the Academic Advancement Network (AAN). Formal leadership was not an intentional career choice for Dr. Montgomery, but finding ways to exercise her voice and her passions always have been, so it is a natural evolution to see her accepting new leadership challenges at a time when MSU needs “groundskeeping” leaders at all levels. 

Beronda has filled an important and unique place within AAN since its conceptualization about four years ago. In her role as Node Leader for Research, she’s interacted with many faculty colleagues and institutional leaders, and many programs, colleges, and units across campus. She’s interacted regularly with the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation (OVPRI) and with the Council of Research Deans (CORD). She’s worked with individuals and groups interested in advancing research ideas and collaborations and those wanting to explore interdisciplinary connections.

“What I most value about Beronda is her ability to listen and connect with others — by asking questions, offering perspectives, and sharing some of her own experiences — in ways that open paths for their own commitments and ideas to emerge,” said academic advancement node leader with AAN and Assistant Provost for Faculty Development-Academic Career Paths, Ann Austin. “As she engages in her campus work, her disciplinary expertise as a plant biologist is never left behind. Beronda has shown us how plants provide inspiring examples of how to grow, interact, and lead — and how to deal productively with those inevitable challenges that arise in organizational life. We’re all so fortunate to have Beronda continue within MSU as our highly valued colleague, and we’ll be eager to see the impact of her contributions in her new role.”

A highly-regarded leader in her field and a sought-after lecturer, Beronda was recently named one of Cell Press CrossTalk’s 100 Inspiring Black Scientists. In 2018 she was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology and her research on photosynthesis and how organisms adapt to changes in their environment has appeared in extensive publications. Her scholarly work extends into mentoring and fostering conversations on equity and inclusion. 

“Beronda is a transformative leader and colleague. I am certainly a different and better faculty member, leader, and human being having worked closely with Beronda. She has challenged me to think more creatively, to consider new perspectives, and often to completely flip my frame of reference in order to support individuals where they are. I am consistently taking my lessons from plants.” reflected Associate Provost for Teaching, Learning, and Technology, Jeff Grabill, who is also the director of the Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology, which was the incubator that housed the Science Gallery Detroit. 

As an exceptional educator, mentor, and leader, Beronda has been inspiring and encouraging researchers and educators for many years. The next steps for her will certainly reflect the care and passion she has for both her work and the relationships she develops with colleagues along the way. She will continue to co-lead the Leadership Learning Community for women full professors, Tending the Path Forward, as another means through which she will continue to influence and support important campus conversations.