Mark Plotkin

World-Renowned Explorer and Spell-Binding Storyteller; Time Magazine "Hero for the Planet"; Star of the Academy Award Nominated IMAX Documentary "Amazon"

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World-renowned explorer and spell-binding storyteller, Mark Plotkin is a Time magazine “Hero for the Planet,” and star of the Academy Award nominated IMAX documentary, Amazon. Respected and revered for his work in the » Read Full Bio

World-renowned explorer and spell-binding storyteller, Mark Plotkin is a Time magazine “Hero for the Planet,” and star of the Academy Award nominated IMAX documentary, Amazon. Respected and revered for his work in the Amazon Rainforests, Dr. Plotkin’s fascinating adventures inspire audiences to dream big, take risks, overcome adversity, and look beyond the obvious or expected, pushing the limits of commonly accepted concepts.

Over the course of his 30 year journey deep in the jungles, Dr. Plotkin has endured some of the most bizarre encounters with nature. Whether sleeping in a tiny thatched hut, suffering from vampire-bat bites, eating delicacies like boiled rat, or nearly being electrocuted by a giant eel, he continues to race against time in saving the rainforest, the ancient knowledge of its shamans and its enchanted and endangered existence.

An unforgettable orator, Dr. Plotkin's work has been featured in a PBS Nova documentary, in an Emmy-Winning Fox TV documentary, on the NBC Nightly News and Today Show, and on CBSs 48 Hours. Dr. Plotkin has also been the subject of several articles in Life, Newsweek, Smithsonian, Elle, and People, and on National Public Radio.

For over 30 years, Dr. Mark J. Plotkin has worked with and learned from the ancient shamans in the rainforests of Central and South America, providing him with incomparable knowledge of healing plants and shaman traditions. Dr. Plotkin was educated at Harvard, Yale and Tufts. He formerly served as Research Associate in Ethnobotanical Conservation as the Botanical Museum of Harvard University, Director of Plant Conservation at the World Wildlife Fund and Vice President of Conservation International in Washington, D.C.

Mark Plotkin currently serves as President of the Amazon Conservation Team, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting biological and cultural diversity of the tropical rain forest. Dr. Plotkin and his group have been working with 32 Amazonian tribes and Google Earth to protect 75 million acres of South American rainforest.

Dr. Plotkin was recently named by Smithsonian magazine as one of “35 Who Made a Difference,” along with other luminaries such as Bill Gates, Wynton Marsalis, and Steven Spielberg. In 2008, Dr. Plotkin was hailed one of the “Social Entrepreneurs of the Year” by the prestigious Skoll Foundation.The author of numerous scientific papers and reports, Dr. Plotkin received the 1994 San Diego Zoo Gold Medal for Conservation, one of the top awards in the environmental field (previous winners include Jane Goodall, Sir David Attenborough, and His Royal Highness Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh).

Dr. Plotkin's book, Tales of a Shamans Apprentice (Viking-Penguin) is currently in the THIRTIETH printing and has also been published in Dutch, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. A childrens version, entitled The Shamans Apprentice - A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest co-written and illustrated by acclaimed author Lynne Cherry (The Great Kapok Tree), was published by Harcourt-Brace in the summer of 1997. Smithsonian magazine hailed it as “the outstanding environmental and natural history title of the year.”

Dr. Plotkin's critically acclaimed book, Medicine Quest: In Search of Natures Healing Secrets, addresses the battle between rapidly evolving bacteria and the doctors struggling to outwit them.

In 2000, Dr. Plotkin's work hit the IMAX screen in the film Amazon, which was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Documentary.

In 2010, Dr. Plotkin was granted an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Lewis and Clark College in recognition of his pioneering conservation activities in the Amazon rainforest.

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Media files by Mark Plotkin

  • TEDtalk
  • The Skoll Foundation
  • Commencement Speech
  • Shaman Medicine & Undocumented Tribes Keynote
  • Mark's Amazon Conservation Team

Speaker Programs (Click on each program to view the description)

Living Longer & Better - 30 Years of Lessons from the Rainforest
Western medicine represents the most successful and sophisticated system of healing ever devised. Antibiotics, surgery, CAT scans, the list of medicines and technologies that treat and cure conditions and diseases once considered incurable is long and impressive. That being said, western medicine does not have all the answers. On the one hand, we are threatened by diseases like increasingly drug-resistant bacteria that are killing tens of thousands of Americans each year. At the same time, we are menaced by "new" diseases -like AIDS or bird flu that continue to arise. Meanwhile, we continue to suffer from what have been called "the diseases of industrial society," like acid reflux, insomnia, and other forms of stress that western medicine has never been able to cure. Mark Plotkin, Ph.D. has spent much of the past three decades studying some of the most ancient and powerful shamans (medicine men and women) of the Amazon rainforest. This experience has given him unique insights into the healing powers and plants of these tribal healers and why they don't suffer many of the chronic diseases that plague our industrialized society. On the one hand, these cultures rely on plants and animals and the powerful chemicals they contain pharmaceutical classes like beta blockers, statins, and ACE inhibitors are based on products of natural origin. At the same time, there are lessons to be learned from both practices and lifestyle from these so-called "primitive" peoples that can be of direct benefit to us here at home. In this lecture, Dr. Plotkin, a spellbinding speaker and intrepid explorer, shares many of those lessons learned from which we can all benefit.
The Power of Social Entrepreneurs to Change the World
Dr. Plotkin understands some of the unprecedented economic, environmental, social and cultural challenges that we are facing in the world today, and that the most efficient and effective way to turn these challenges into opportunities is to open the door to innovative thinkers with a social cause. In this speech, Dr. Plotkin outlines his inspiring journey and addresses the key goals that every social entrepreneur should follow in order to create a successful path for change. Audiences leave his presentations with renewed focus and energy to become true change agents in societies around the world.
Mitigating Climate Change - A Proven Approach
In the age of killer hurricanes like Katrina and Sandy, melting polar ice caps, and increasingly weird weather patterns - it may seem as if the scope and scale of the climate change issue is so daunting that nothing can be done. However, when rainforests are burned, the carbon released into the atmosphere is the world's second largest source of greenhouse gases. If we wish to mitigate global warming, the most efficient and effective way to do so is protecting tropical rainforests than the more intractable problem of reducing global fossil fuel consumption. In other words, if you are in a boat which is leaking, you should plug the leak in addition to bailing water. Mark Plotkin, Ph.D. has been working in the Amazon for over 30 years and has developed a uniquely effective and efficient method of protecting rainforests and mitigating global warming. This enthralling lecture documents the trails and travails of this extraordinary adventure.
Mark Plotkin's Spellbinding TED Talk
In an energetic and insightful talk, Mark Plotkin brings us into the world of the forest's indigenous tribes and the incredible medicinal plants that their Shamans use to heal. He outlines the challenges and perils that are endangering them - as well as their wisdom- and urges us to protect this irreplaceable repository of knowledge.

Topics

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  • Adventure
  • Adventurers/Explorers
  • Green/Environment Speakers
  • Health & Wellness
  • Innovation/Creativity
  • Inspiration
  • Keynote (Business)
  • Sustainability/Social Responsibility

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