Researchers at the Boyce Thompson Institute named a newly discovered species of green alga Gormaniella terricola after Amanda Gorman, the poet for President Joe Biden’s inauguration in 2021. File Pool Photo by Patrick Semansky/UPI | License Photo
June 9 (UPI) — A group of researchers named a new species of alga after Amanda Gorman, the poet for President Joe Biden‘s inauguration in 2021.
The researchers at the Boyce Thompson Institute discovered the green alga — Gormaniella terricola — from central New York in 2020 and were experiencing a “dark time” amid a year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol as they sought to come up with the name, researcher Fay-Wei Li said in a press release.
Li, an adjunct assistant professor at the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University, said the group then found inspiration when Gorman, delivered her poem, “The Hill We Climb” during Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, ultimately deciding to name the genus after her.
“At a point when it was sometimes difficult to find meaning in our research, Amanda Gorman gifted us with this incredibly uplifting poem that gave us a renewed sense of hope in the lab,” he said.
Gorman became the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history at age 22 when she delivered the poem that carried on the theme of unity at the center of the inauguration.
“And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We’ve closed the divide because we know to put our future first we must first put our differences aside,” she read.
Li said Tanner Robinson, a graduate student working in the lab, was responsible for deciding to name the alga after Gorman.
“It wasn’t a political thing, it was just a really great poem,” Robinson said. “It was about rising above challenges, and we had had a very challenging year.”
The researchers said they discovered Gormaniella terricola by accident, with Jessica Nelson, a former researcher at Li’s lab, saying the green alga turned up in her petri dishes while collecting hornwort plants in Potato Hill State Forest.
“We discovered a new species by accident, basically by just paying attention to what we were looking at,” Robinson said. “I think we could learn a lot more things by just paying more attention.”