Transforming Agriculture, Perennially


Alexandra Griffin

Research Resident

Alexandra Griffin came to The Land Institute first as an intern in the summer of 2018 and then as research resident in 2019. She graduated with a degree in biology at Williams College in Massachusetts in January 2019, where she studied ecology, evolutionary genetics, and environmental and labor history. At The Land Institute, she works as a research resident in the perennial oilseeds and crop protection ecology programs. Her projects investigate silphium’s interactions with its beneficial root fungi and the diversity of its wild populations.


What drew you to work at TLI?
I wanted to work with scientists and educators who embrace difficult questions, love land and place, and have a bold vision for developing an agriculture that builds both soil and community health.

What would people never guess that you do as part of your role at TLI?
I cross-pollinate silphium plants by dusting pollen from one flower onto the stigmas of another with colorful pipe cleaners. The process reminds me of brushing or braiding someone’s hair because of the tenderness it requires.

What is your motto / favorite quote?
The character Takver, from Ursula Le Guin’s “The Dispossessed,” is very special to me. She’s described here: “Her concern with landscapes and living creatures was passionate… There are souls, he thought, whose umbilicus has never been cut. They never got weaned from the universe. They do not understand death as an enemy; they look forward to rotting and turning into humus. It was strange to see Takver take a leaf into her hand, or even a rock. She became an extension of it, it of her. ”


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