Mark Plotkin, Ph.D.

Position: 
President

Dr. Plotkin has led ACT and guided its vision since 1996, when he co-founded the organization with his fellow conservationist, Liliana Madrigal. He is a renowned ethnobotanist who has spent almost three decades studying traditional plant use with traditional healers of tropical America.

Dr. Plotkin has previously 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.

Among his many influential writings, Dr. Plotkin may be best known for his popular work Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice (1994), which has been printed continuously and has been published in multiple languages. Other works include the critically acclaimed children's book The Shaman's Apprentice - A Tale of the Amazon Rainforest, illustrated by Lynne Cherry, and Medicine Quest: In Search of Nature's Healing Secrets. His most recent book, The Killers Within: The Deadly Rise of Drug-Resistant Bacteria, coauthored with Michael Shnayerson, was selected as a Discover Magazine book of the year.

In 1998, he played a leading role in the Academy Award-nominated IMAX film Amazon. Dr. Plotkin's work also has been featured in a PBS Nova documentary, in an Emmy-winning Fox TV documentary, on the NBC Nightly News and Today Show, CBS' 48 Hours and in Life, Newsweek, Smithsonian, Elle, People, The New York Times, along with appearances on National Public Radio. Time magazine called him an "Environmental Hero for the Planet" (2001) and Smithsonian magazine hailed him as one of "35 Who Made a Difference" (2005), along with Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, and fellow New Orleanian Wynton Marsalis.

Dr. Plotkin has received the San Diego Zoo Gold Medal for Conservation; the Roy Chapman Andrews Distinguished Explorer Award; an International Conservation Leadership award from the Jane Goodall Institute; and, with Liliana Madrigal, the Skoll Foundation’s Award for Social Entrepreneurship. In 2010, he received the honorary degree of "Doctor of Humane Letters" from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Plotkin was educated at Harvard, Yale and Tufts University.