Harvard in the Amazon Rainforest with Dr.  Mark Plotkin ABE '79.

Mark J. Plotkin, an ethnobotanist and plant explorer in the Neotropics, is an expert on rainforest ecosystems and an advocate for tropical rainforest conservation. He is the author of a new book: Saving the Amazon-What-Everyone-Needs-To-Know 

The most significant major medical development in the past few y ears involving tropical organisms is the mainstreaming of hallucinogens into Western medicine. These mind-altering remedies have been clinically shown to produce promising therapeutic effects in some cases of addiction, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and end-of-life anxiety in terminal cancer patients. Further formal studies are likely to take place for the treatment of anorexia, early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, insomnia, intractable pain and PTSD. 


One of the pioneers of this movement was the late Richard Schultes '37, the so-called "Father of Ethnobotany," and the former Director of the Harvard Botanical Museum. Schultes conducted seminal field research on peyote (in Oklahoma), magic mushrooms (Mexico), and marijuana (Afghanistan) but is best known for the first scientific documentation of ayahuasca in the Amazon.


This lecture by Dr. Mark Plotkin - one of Schultes' last students - details Schultes research on these mind-altering plants and fungi as well as his impact on the protection of Amazonian rainforest and indigenous cultures. The presentation will also cover two other Harvard pioneers in Amazonia: biologist Louis Agassiz (founder of the Museum of Comparative Zoology) and geographer Alexander Hamilton Rice.

(https://harvardmagazine.com/2013/03/vita-alexander-hamilton-rice ).

Dr. Mark Plotkin is a graduate of Harvard Extension (ABE '79), Yale School of Forestry and Tufts. He has taught in Harvard Extension and Harvard Summer School, been a Research Associate at the Harvard Botanical Museum, and won the Shinagel Award for Public Service in 2018. He most recent book is "The Amazon - What Everyone Needs to Know" (Oxford Press - 2020) and he is the host of the podcast, "Plants of the Gods - Hallucinogens, Healing, Culture and Conservation." He serves as President of the Amazon Conservation Team. (www.amazonteam.org). 


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Date: Wednesday, April 21, 2021 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

FREE for Harvard Club Members;

$15. for Nonmembers