Shoots & Roots Bitters is a team of three female scientists that promote biodiversity through research, teaching and the creation of science-based craft bitters that draw from ecology, cultural practices and flavors around the world.
ASHLEY DUVAL, MESC, PARTNER
Ashley DuVal is a scientific consultant working on the breeding and genetics of cacao and is pursuing a PhD in horticulture and breeding of tropic perennial crops at the University of Florida. Ashley’s research on the ethnobotany and domestication of trees has spanned from 18th century Japanese wood blocks to the açaí palm to ancient pollard beeches in the Pyrenees.
RACHEL MEYER, PHD, PARTNER
Rachel Meyer is director of the University of California Conservation Genomics Consortium and her research is on crop evolution and the interplay between humans and the environment. She specializes in the evolution of food, particularly eggplants in Asia and African rice. Rachel works to show you every plant with an adaptation that leads to flavorful or medicinal properties, and explains how it came about in the first place.
SELENA AHMED, PHD, PARTNER
Selena Ahmed is an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Food Systems at Montana State University where she leads the Food and Health Lab examining the ecological, cultural, and health aspects of food systems. She focuses on how environmental and management factors impact the medicinal and sensory quality of botanicals with implications for human health. Selena co-authored a book on the Tea Horse Road and enjoys extracting plants traded along this ancient trade route.
As field and lab scientists, we often encounter plants with fascinating cultural history whose aromas and tastes captivate and engage us. It is these tastes and aromas that are far more elusive to capture through scientific means such as publications. We feel that these diverse place-based experiences are as important as the scientific data we collect in expressing the importance of biological and cultural diversity.
We met during graduate studies through the New York Botanical Garden. All of us share a passion for research and education on culturally important plants. Our collaboration was a natural fit.
We started working on research projects together. From examining the genetic diversity of wild tea trees that grow deep in the forests of SW China to a literature review on processes of crop domestication. This grew into educational outreach about our research. It was important to us for our educational efforts to be engaging - we began to incorporate botanical tastings of the plants we study from around the world and the rich sensory experiences from our fieldwork.
Our botanical tastings evolved to applying our phytochemical lab training (and equipment) towards making high quality botanical infusions that optimally bring out flavor and medicinal compounds.
This is how Shoots and Roots Bitters was born. Our mission is to promote botany education and biodiversity in exciting bitters for your soda water, cocktails and other drinks. We are scientists celebrating science. Join us on our sensory journey to explore the world’s remarkable botanical diversity.