Torsten Wiedemann and Darklight

Torsten Wiedemann and Darklight

Torsten Wiedemann and Darklight

Ethnobotanical Research 101- starting from scratch

The best research projects start with a "Why?" It's something anyone can ask and answer. In the last 25 years, the citizen science movement has shown that ordinary people can make extraordinary contributions to academic knowledge. The proliferation of serious scientific study of medical plants such as cannabis and caapi would not have happened in the western scientific tradition without the sustained interest and systemic documentation by diligent civilian scientists- many of these have followed their passion to a dedicated academic pathway in the field. Research projects can be as simple as a dedicated growlog for your favourite species in your current location- or as complex as developing a set of genetic markers for a critically endangered population.  Whether it's a simple question or a complex one- a thorough breakdown and documentation of methods and outcomes contributes positively to the public dialogue. Along your path and regardless of your starting state- beginner or academic- you will learn much and grow your skillset, meet lots of interesting people and learn the sheer joy of discovery. For your first project ( or even your 100th ), it can be hard to know where to start. There's always something missing. It's a process, but it's inherently navigable. In this round table session, we will be sharing our research experiences. For your own projects we can help you determine your output and audience, prioritise, fund, schedule, network, workaround, document, deal with your data and any legacy information and intellectual property. Source obscure equipment cheaply, find yourself an expert to complement your skillset. Dealing with dead ends. Bring your questions, your experiences and your plans. This will be an informal session, a fair whack of yarning, a bit of banter and a few questions and ideas thrown around. We hope you leave inspired and renewed.

Torsten Wiedemann runs Shaman-Australis Botanicals ( SAB ) plant nursery and is the owner of the SAB online forums, now the longest running ethnobotanical forum in the world. He also runs the Koda Phytorium webstore. He has an extensive collection of viable germplasm and enjoys drinking quality spirits. Darklight plays with cells in a small room off to one side and swears a lot. Things grow, sometimes not the things we were hoping for. Together we've set up and run many ethnobotanically focused scientific research projects which have variously succeeded, failed, frankly died in the arse or were forgotten when something more interesting came along. We started 20 years ago with Mitragyna speciosa, and we're still going today. We've seen many of our friends and colleagues traverse the J-curve of scientific passion, professional and amateur alike. We've watched a few amateurs turn pro, and a few professionals dissolve into a screaming heap and take up a career in hairdressing. We're both passionate about quality scientific research, and understand the value and experience that diligent laypeople are bringing to scientific projects worldwide.