Professor Merlin did his undergraduate study in History at UCSB and UCLA with a special emphasis of Ecology and the Environment. He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in the Geography Department. His master’s thesis, Man and Marijuana: Some Aspects of their Ancient Relationships (1972), and his doctoral dissertation, On the Trail of Ancient Opium Poppy (1984) were both published as books by university presses. In 1992, his co-authored book, Kava: The Pacific Drug was published by Yale University Press, and in 2013, his co-authored book, Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany, was published by the University of California Press. All these book length studies of historically important psychoactive drug plants received critical acclaim, including the book on Cannabis being the co-winner of the prestigious Mary Klinger award from the Society for Economic Botany (SEB) as the Best Ethnobotany Book of the Year (2014). More recently, as its lead and main author, Plants and People of the Marshall Islands was also awarded the Klinger award from SEB as the Best Ethnobotany Book of the Year (2021). Professor Merlin is recognized as an authority on archaeological record and cultural biogeography of mind-altering drug plants, and highly regarded for his research and publications focused on traditional environmental knowledge of the societies in Remote Oceania.