Beronda Montgomery

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Beronda Montgomery
Alma materWashington University in St. Louis
University of Central Arkansas
University of California, Davis (2001)
AwardsNSF CAREER Award
Scientific career
FieldsMolecular biology, microbiology, plant biology, mentoring, leadership
InstitutionsGrinnell College
Michigan State University
Indiana University
ThesisRegulation of distinct aspects of photomorphogenesis in transgenic plants (2001)
WebsiteResearch website Personal website

Beronda Montgomery is a writer, science communicator, and researcher. She recently moved to Grinnell College as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college.[1] Prior to Grinnell, Dr. Montgomery served as Michigan State University Foundation Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics. She was also a member of the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory. Her research group investigates how photosynthetic organisms adapt to changes in their environment.[2] Her scholarship extends beyond biology and into studying mentorship and faculty development to develop evidence-based strategies to foster equity and inclusion in academia.[3] Together with Tanisha Williams and other members of the Black Botanists Week organizing committee, Montgomery co-founded and co-organizes Black Botanists Week.[4]

Education and early career[edit]

Montgomery received her bachelor's degree in biology from Washington University in St. Louis and her master's degree in biology from University of Central Arkansas. She then went on to complete her PhD in Plant Biology in 2001 at the University of California, Davis.[5] She later became a postdoctoral fellow in Microbial Biology at Indiana University with the support of a National Science Foundation (NSF) award.[6] In 2004, she joined the faculty at Michigan State University where she remained through spring semester of 2022.

Academic leadership[edit]

Montgomery served as assistant provost for faculty development from 2016 to 2020 at MSU with responsibility for supporting all faculty and academic staff in the areas of research, scholarship, and creative activities. Since fall of 2020, she was appointed as interim assistant vice president for research and innovation at MSU in 2020.[7][8] From 2021 - 2022, she served as assistant vice president for research and innovation. As of April 2022, Dr. Montgomery was named associate vice president for strategic initiatives and operations at MSU and served in that capacity until her departure from MSU at the end of the spring semester in 2022.

Since July 1, 2022, Dr. Montgomery serves as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College at Grinnell College in Iowa.


Montgomery's research centers on the dynamic molecular mechanisms that allow photosynthetic organisms—from cyanobacteria to plant species—to adapt and respond to changes in their photoenvironment. These organisms must respond to changes in light sources in order to continue photosynthesis, so they've developed finely tuned growth and developmental responses. Montgomery's lab studies a number of molecules that play an important role in this process, including light-absorbing pigments and light-sensing receptors, or phytochromes.[9][10] In particular, her group works to better understand how these molecules regulate cell morphology and physiology in response to different environments and stressors, focusing their attention on Arabadopsis organ systems and cyanobacteria as model organisms.[11][12][13]

As of July 2022, Dr. Montgomery is Professor of Biology and Dean of the College at Grinnell College. Until June of 2022, Montgomery held the title of MSU Foundation Professor in recognition of her scholarly accomplishments, disciplinary development, commitment to creativity, and teaching excellence.[14] Her research contributions have been recognized by the American Academy of Microbiology when she was elected as a fellow in 2018,[15][16] the American Association for the Advancement of Science when she was elected as a fellow in 2020,[17] the American Society of Plant Biologists when she was elected as a fellow in 2021,[18] and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology when she was elected as fellow in 2022.[19]


Montgomery also conducts scholarship and training initiatives on mentoring, particularly around issues relating to mentoring and retaining students and junior scientists from underrepresented backgrounds. She has published extensively on evidence-based strategies to nurture and retain talent in academia, developing strategies for effective mentorship that center on the individual and their specific needs and goals.[20][21][22] Montgomery has also worked with her colleagues to create sustainable opportunities for career development and enhancement. For instance, she has worked with the American Society for Microbiology to connect research scientists with students in the classroom, with the support of the National Science Foundation.[23] With that funding, Montgomery and her collaborators have established the ASM-NSF Leaders Inspiring Networks and Knowledge (LINK) program, to build "links" between research investigators, students, and educators.[24] She also served six years as Chair of the ASM Watkins Graduate Research Fellowship, which is aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented groups completing their doctoral degrees in microbiology.[25] Montgomery's efforts have also focused on faculty development to ensure that mentees grow into effective mentors for the next generation and continue attracting and promoting underrepresented students through STEM careers.[26][27]

As an expert in effective and evidence-based mentorship, Montgomery serves on a number of leadership boards and as a consultant to universities working towards greater diversity, equity, and inclusion within their research and education programs. She was formerly an advisory board member of 500 Women Scientists, lending her expertise in mentorship and faculty development to support their mission of making science open, inclusive, and accessible.[28]


Her book, Lessons from Plants, Harvard University Press, April 2021[29] draws analogies between plant biology and daily life experiences.[30]

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ "Grinnell College Appoints Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College". Retrieved 2022-07-04.
  2. ^ Montgomery, Beronda. "Beronda Montgomery MSU Foundation Professor". Archived from the original on 2015-08-10.
  3. ^ Edwards, Mélise; Johnson, Michael D.L.; Fernandez, Robert W.; Montgomery, Beronda L.; Adelaja, Adewunmi; Akingbade, Tomi (October 2020). "Mentoring to Foster a Diverse Future". Cell. 183 (3): 561–563. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2020.10.010. PMID 33125880. S2CID 225982960.
  4. ^ "#BLACKBOTANISTSWEEK". Retrieved 2020-07-26.
  5. ^ Montgomery BL (2001). Regulation of Distinct Aspects of Photomorphogenesis in Transgenic Plants (Ph.D. thesis). University of California, Davis.
  6. ^ "NSF Award Search: Award#0102084 - Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Microbial Biology for FY2001". Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  7. ^ "Beronda Montgomery named MSU Office of Research & Innovation interim assistant vice president". Archived from the original on 2020-10-21. Retrieved 2021-04-12.
  8. ^ "Beronda Montgomery Takes Academic Advancement to the Next Level". Archived from the original on 2020-12-02. Retrieved 2021-09-21.
  9. ^ Oh S, Montgomery BL (2014). "Phytochrome-dependent coordinate control of distinct aspects of nuclear and plastid gene expression during anterograde signaling and photomorphogenesis". Frontiers in Plant Science. 5: 171. doi:10.3389/fpls.2014.00171. PMC 4012200. PMID 24817873.
  10. ^ Oh S, Montgomery BL (December 2013). "Phytochrome-induced SIG2 expression contributes to photoregulation of phytochrome signalling and photomorphogenesis in Arabidopsis thaliana". Journal of Experimental Botany. 64 (18): 5457–72. doi:10.1093/jxb/ert308. PMC 3871806. PMID 24078666.
  11. ^ Agostoni M, Logan-Jackson AR, Heinz ER, Severin GB, Bruger EL, Waters CM, Montgomery BL (2018). "Homeostasis of Second Messenger Cyclic-di-AMP Is Critical for Cyanobacterial Fitness and Acclimation to Abiotic Stress". Frontiers in Microbiology. 9: 1121. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2018.01121. PMC 5986932. PMID 29896182.
  12. ^ Agostoni M, Waters CM, Montgomery BL (February 2016). "Regulation of biofilm formation and cellular buoyancy through modulating intracellular cyclic di-GMP levels in engineered cyanobacteria". Biotechnology and Bioengineering. 113 (2): 311–9. doi:10.1002/bit.25712. PMID 26192200. S2CID 205505141.
  13. ^ Busch AW, Montgomery BL (2015). "The Tryptophan-Rich Sensory Protein (TSPO) is Involved in Stress-Related and Light-Dependent Processes in the Cyanobacterium Fremyella diplosiphon". Frontiers in Microbiology. 6: 1393. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2015.01393. PMC 4677103. PMID 26696996.
  14. ^ a b Richard A. "Michigan State University Foundation – MSU Foundation Professorships". Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  15. ^ University, Michigan State. "MSU professors elected fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology". MSUToday. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  16. ^ a b Communications, ASM. "96 Fellows Elected into the American Academy of Microbiology". Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  17. ^ "Beronda Montgomery Awarded Prestigious AAAS Fellowship". Retrieved 2021-01-27.
  18. ^ a b "MSU Biologist Beronda Montgomery Named ASPB Fellow". Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  19. ^ "Beronda Montgomery Named an ASBMB Fellow". Retrieved 2021-07-06.
  20. ^ Montgomery B (2016). "Evidence-based Training and Mentoring Practices: Practical Implications for Improving Diversity in STEM Education and Training".
  21. ^ Montgomery BL (April 2017). "Mapping a Mentoring Roadmap and Developing a Supportive Network for Strategic Career Advancement". SAGE Open. 7 (2): 215824401771028. doi:10.1177/2158244017710288.
  22. ^ Whittaker JA, Montgomery BL (2012). "Cultivating Diversity and Competency in STEM: Challenges and Remedies for Removing Virtual Barriers to Constructing Diverse Higher Education Communities of Success". Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education. 11 (1): A44-51. PMC 3592737. PMID 23493445.
  23. ^ "NSF Award Search: Award#1241970 - ASM-NSF Leaders Inspiring Networks and Knowledge (LINK): a Program to Build Bridges, Communities, and Career Competencies". Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  24. ^ "About the LINK Program". Archived from the original on 2018-07-17. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  25. ^ a b Dempsey A. "Beronda L. Montgomery". Archived from the original on 2018-07-17. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  26. ^ Montgomery B (Summer 2017). "Three Sisters and Integrative Faculty Development". Plant Science Bulletin. Vol. 63, no. 2. Botanical Society of America. pp. 78–85. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  27. ^ Whittaker JA, Montgomery BL, Martinez Acosta VG (2015-07-07). "Retention of Underrepresented Minority Faculty: Strategic Initiatives for Institutional Value Proposition Based on Perspectives from a Range of Academic Institutions". Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education. 13 (3): A136-45. PMC 4521729. PMID 26240521.
  28. ^ "Who We Are". 500 Women Scientists. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  29. ^ "Lessons from Plants — Beronda L. Montgomery". Harvard University Press. Retrieved 2021-01-27.
  30. ^ Montgomery, Beronda L. (2021-04-15). "My most memorable mentors? Plants". Nature. 592 (7854): 327. doi:10.1038/d41586-021-00961-9. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 33850317. S2CID 233234499.
  31. ^ "NSF Award Search: Award#0643516 - CAREER: Molecular Genetic and Biochemical Analysis of Biliprotein-Regulated Photomorphogenesis in Cyanobacteria". Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  32. ^ "John Wiley Jones Distinguished Speaker: Dr. Beronda Montgomery". Democrat and Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2020-02-17.
  33. ^ Hinton, Antentor O. Jr. "100 inspiring black scientists in America". Retrieved 2020-02-17.
  34. ^ "Announcing the 2020 UCS Science Defenders". Retrieved 2020-12-10.
  35. ^ "AAAS Announces Leading Scientists Elected as 2020 Fellows". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
  36. ^ "Seminars and Events".
  37. ^ "NSF BIO Distinguished Lecture Series".
  38. ^ "Charles Edwin Bessey Teaching Award". Retrieved 2021-07-20.
  39. ^ "GardenComm Honors". Retrieved 2021-09-07.
  40. ^ "Beronda Montgomery to Present Mentoring Keynote". Retrieved 2021-12-17.
  41. ^ "2022 ASBMB fellows named". American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Retrieved 2022-04-27.
  42. ^ "2022 ASM Award & Prize Recipients". Retrieved 2022-04-27.
  43. ^ "Congratulations to ASPB's 2022 Award Recipients". Retrieved 2022-04-27.