< Speakers

Monica Gagliano

Research Associate Professor

“Is it possible to maintain a respectful attitude towards the plants and the psychedelic (healing) experience they facilitate, while utilising them for our own benefit?”

May 23, 2022 9:15 am

Monica Gagliano PhD is an internationally award-winning research scientist, selected by Biohabitats as one of the 24 most Inspiring Women of Ecology, together with Jane Goodall, Rachel Carson, Sylvia Earl, and Terry Tempest Williams. She has been an invited lecturer at the most prestigious universities, including UC Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, Dartmouth and Georgetown. Monica’s pioneering work has been widely featured by prominent media, such as The New York Times, Forbes, The New Yorker, The Guardian, National Geographic, and many others.

Monica is a Research Associate Professor of evolutionary ecology currently based at Southern Cross University where she directs the Biological Intelligence (BI) Lab as part of the Diverse Intelligences Initiative of the Templeton World Charity Foundation. Monica has pioneered the brand-new research field of plant bioacoustics, which for the first time, experimentally demonstrates that plants emit voices and detect and respond to the sounds of their environments. Her work has extended the concept of cognition in plants. By demonstrating experimentally that learning and memory are not the exclusive province of animals, Monica has reignited the discourse of plant subjectivity, as well as ethical and legal standing. Inspired by encounters with nature and indigenous elders from around the world, Monica applies an innovative and holistic approach to science.one that is progressive because it is comfortable engaging at the interface between areas as diverse as ecology, physics, law, anthropology, philosophy, literature, music, the arts, and spirituality. By re-kindling a sense of wonder for the beautiful place we call home, she is helping to create a new ecology of mind that inspires the emergence of revolutionary solutions toward human interactions with the world we co-inhabit. Monica’s studies have led her to author numerous ground-breaking scientific articles and books, including Thus Spoke the Plant (2018) and The Mind of Plants (2021). Her latest project is Resonant Earth, a new research initiative for acoustically-assisted planetary regeneration through the direct engagement with, and listening to, all sources of wisdom derived from humans, plants, and the land.


Medicine for the Future: if we listen, plants will teach us

From the ayahuasca tourism in South America and the rapid mushrooming of luxury plant medicine retreats in the US and Europe to the new gamut of psychedelic-assisted therapists, self-styled shamanic facilitators and psychedelic integration coaches, the plants known as “plant medicines” are big business for many. And while science corroborates the immense benefits of these ancestral medicines and particularly in treating debilitating mental illnesses such as depression, the potential of these medicines to topple a $15 billion-dollar global anti-depressant market has not gone unnoticed by investors focused on capitalizing on this psychedelic boom. For all its “newness”, this is a timeworn story of the old wolf in sheep’s clothing: appropriation and commodification of both the plants and the psychedelic experience. Is it possible to maintain a respectful attitude towards the plants and the psychedelic (healing) experience they facilitate, while utilising them for our own benefit? Can we learn to respect the presence, the voice and wishes of these vegetal others? And what if we listened and plants could teach us the medicine for our shared future?