The Amazonian Travels of Richard Evans Schultes


Wednesday, February 20, 2019, 6:00pm


Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street

Mary Plotkin, Co-Founder & President, The Amazon Conservation Team
Brian Hettler, GIS & New Technologies Manager, The Amazon Conservation Team

Richard Evans Schultes—ethnobotanist, taxonomist, writer, photographer, and Harvard professor—is regarded as one of the most important plant explorers of the twentieth century. In 1941, Schultes traveled to the Amazon rainforest on a mission to study how Indigenous peoples used plants for medicinal, ritual, and practical purposes. A new interactive online map, produced by the Amazon Conservation Team, traces the landscapes and cultures that Schultes explored in the Colombian Amazon. Plotkin and Hettler will share this map and discuss the relevance of Schultes’ travels and collections for science, conservation, and education in the twenty-first century.

Mark Plotkin is an ethnobotanist and conservationist who has focused on the plants and peoples of the Amazon since the late 1970s. A former student of the renowned ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes, Plotkin is well known for his bestselling book, Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice and the Academy Award-nominated IMAX film Amazon. Plotkin is President and a board member of the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT). He previously served as a vice president of Conservation International and as U.S. Director of Plant Conservation at the World Wildlife Fund. Previously, he was a research associate in ethnobotanical conservation at the Harvard University Herbaria. He received his education at Harvard, Yale, and Tufts universities.

Brian Hettler is a cartographer with the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) who works with Indigenous communities in South America on participatory mapping initiatives that support Indigenous land rights and rainforest conservation. For the past six years, Brian has been leading ACT’s efforts to map and monitor isolated Indigenous tribes in the Amazon rainforest—and the many threats facing these vulnerable communities—using high-resolution satellite imagery provided by DigitalGlobe. When not in the field, Brian partakes in a range of projects including monitoring forest covering using remote-sensing techniques, designing maps in both static and interactive digital formats, and supporting ACT’s field staff and Indigenous partners in the innovative use of spatial data collection and monitoring tools.

Lecture. Free and open to the public.
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street. Free event parking available at 52 Oxford Street Garage.
Presented in collaboration with Harvard Museum of Natural History, the Amazon Conservation Team and the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. Reception supported by the Harvard Chapter of Sigma Xi.