Medicinal plants and healing rituals recontextualized in shifting social, ecological, and economic landscapes.
PhD Dissertation work at the University of California, Berkeley in the Society & Environment Division of the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
The rise in popularity of ayahuasca tourism in and around Pucallpa, Peru hinges upon the ritualized consumption of both medicinal rainforest plants and indigenous Shipibo healing tradition. Shipibo healing practices link social, ecological, and bodily health, with the healer acting as administrator through the performance of songs, learned from plant teachers themselves. In this way, healing events bridge communication across species lines through the personification of plants. However, as evidenced by spiritual tourism, deforestation with accompanying loss of forest access, and the commoditization of healing rituals and plants, the social, ecological, and economic contexts in which these ceremonies take place are changing dramatically. Taking a multi-species ethnography approach, I view Shipibo healing traditions and approaches to trans-species communication as a lens through which to explore ideas of narrative, voice, healing, modernity, nature, indigeneity, agency, spirit and bodies. I explore how healing practices, knowledge production, and the relationships among humans and plant spirits are adapting to these changing contexts.
Timing is important: The seasonality of precipitation can influence how ecosystems respond to grazing
Masters Thesis Research at Colorado State University in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology
My masters work investigated interactions between changing precipitation patterns and grazing on plant community dynamics in semi-arid grasslands.
The field component of my research examined how climate shifts with increased winter snowfall and drier, warmer summers interacted with yak grazing to influence plant traits in grasslands on the Tibetan Plateau. I used an existing experiment with treatments including warming chambers, snow additions, and yak grazing to investigate changes in plant traits associated with grazing resistance or tolerance.
My research also involved a modeling component, in which I conducted a global meta-analysis of grazing exclusion experiments to understand how plant communities in biomes with differing seasonal precipitation patterns and other climatic variables respond to grazing exclusion.