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Ethnobotanist Dr. Mark Plotkin to Give Lecture on Amazon and New Orleans

October 06, 2021 12:45 PM
Riley Moran

The following story was published as a Tulane Today article, written by Jack Leslie. 

"The Tulane Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology is honored to host Dr. Mark Plotkin as the speaker for the Fall 2021 Marcia Monroe Conery Lectureship Series on Friday, Oct. 8, at 4 p.m. CT in the Qatar Ballroom (Room 212) in the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life. Plotkin will be giving a talk called “Rum, Pirates and Medicinal Plants from New Orleans to the Amazon.”

Plotkin is a New Orleans native, a renowned ethnobotanist and the author of several books.  

A catered reception follows the lecture in Pocket Park at 5 p.m. The lecture and the reception are both open to the public; no registration is required.

Plotkin examines how and why societies have come to use plants for different purposes. He has studied traditional indigenous plant use with elder shamans (traditional healers) of Central and South America over the past 30 years. He has worked from Mexico to Brazil, but the majority of his research is with the Trio Indians in the Amazon of southern Suriname.

Plotkin authored ethnobotany classics Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice and Medicine Quest. Last year he published The Amazon: What Everyone Needs to Know and began hosting the podcast “Plants of the Gods: Hallucinogens, Healing, Culture and Conservation.” He has also given a TED Talk titled “What the people of the Amazon know that you don’t,” which has amassed over 1.5 million views.

Plotkin has a long history of work with other organizations to promote conservation and awareness of our natural world: he has served as research associate in Ethnobotanical Conservation at the Botanical Museum of Harvard University; director of Plant Conservation at the World Wildlife Fund; vice president of Conservation International; and research associate at the Department of Botany of the Smithsonian Institution. Plotkin is now president and board member of the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT), a nonprofit organization he co-founded with his fellow conservationist and wife, Liliana Madrigal. For over 25 years ACT has been dedicated to protecting the biological and cultural diversity of the Amazon. ACT has been a member of the United Nations Environment Programme’s “Global 500 Roll of Honour” since 2002 and was recognized as using “Best Practices Using Indigenous Knowledge” by UNESCO, the United Nation’s cultural organization."