Mark Plotkin: Ethnobotonist and Social Entrepreneur


Mark Plotkin

Document Type

Metadata Only




Diehn Center for the Performing Arts

Lecture Series

President's Lecture Series; Lytton J. Musselman Natural History Speaker


Educated at Harvard, Yale and Tufts University, the Louisiana native has spent decades immersed in South America's tropical jungles learning from shamans about traditional plant use. In 1996, he co-founded the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) and has since worked with 32 tribes to map, manage and protect 70 million acres of ancestral rain forest.

Beyond conservation, Plotkin's work has the potential to significantly impact millions of people in Hampton Roads and around the world. He believes lessons learned from indigenous plant use could be instrumental in overcoming drug-resistant bacteria and treating diseases such as diabetes, where Western medicine has fallen short.

Plotkin's efforts have garnered international acclaim, numerous national media appearances and even an Academy Award nomination for the IMAX film "Amazon," in which he played a leading role. Time magazine hailed him as an "Environmental Hero for the Planet" and Smithsonian magazine placed him in company with Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg and Wynton Marsalis as one of "35 Who Made a Difference." Other accolades include being the first environmentalist to win the "Social Entrepreneur" designation from the Skoll Foundation and an award for "International Conservation Leadership" from celebrated primate researcher Jane Goodall.


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