Dr Mark J. PlotkinPresident of the Amazon Conservation Team, USA
After attending Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, Mark Plotkin was a college dropout working at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology when he joined an expedition searching for an elusive crocodilian species in 1978 and was galvanized into returning to education.
He completed his bachelor’s degree at the Harvard University, his master’s degree in forestry at Yale University and his PhD at Tufts University, during which he completed a handbook for the Tirio people of Suriname detailing their own medicinal plants. The only other book printed in Tirio language was the Bible. He is an acclaimed author, writing books such as Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice and The Shaman’s Apprentice, (a children’s book with Lynne Cherry).
In 1995, Dr Plotkin and prominent Costa Rican conservationist Liliana Madrigal formed the Amazon Conservation Team to protect Amazonian rainforest in partnership with local indigenous peoples. ACT has now worked with 32 tribes throughout Amazonia. Dr Plotkin continues to work with the Tirio people of Suriname.
Plotkin received the San Diego Zoo Gold Medal for Conservation (1993) and the Roy Chapman Andrews Distinguished Explorer Award (2004). 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). In 2008, Plotkin and Madrigal were among those chosen as “Social Entrepreneurs of the Year” by the Skoll Foundation.
In May 2010, Dr Plotkin received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. In October 2010 renowned primatologist Jane Goodall presented him with an award for “International Conservation Leadership”.