Cassandra Quave, an ethnobotanist at Emory University, searches for plants that may be used to treat life-threatening illnesses. Her lab has discovered compounds—found in chestnuts, blackberries, and a host of other plants—that can help treat antimicrobial resistance by stopping bacteria from communicating with each other, adhering to our tissues, or producing toxins. In her new memoir, The Plant Hunter, Quave discusses how a childhood staph infection and its lifelong complications motivated her deeply personal fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In her quest for new treatments, she has explored the rainforests of the Amazon, the mountains of Italy, Albania, and Kosovo, and the swamps of Florida. Quave joins us on the podcast to talk about how she discovered why and how plant-based folk medicines work.
Go beyond the episode:
- Cassandra Quave’s The Plant Hunter: A Scientist’s Quest for Nature’s Next Medicines
- Tune into her Foodie Pharmacology podcast
- Explore (or volunteer with!) the Emory University Herbarium, which Quave curates
- Read Ellen Wayland-Smith’s essay from our Spring 2021 Issue, “Natural Magic,” on modern medicine’s roots in alchemy, astronomy, and the apothecary shop
- You may have noticed that Smarty Pants has a predilection for plants: some of our other favorite nature-centric episodes include an interview with plant psychology evangelist Lucy Jones, forestry legend Suzanne Simard, rewilding queen Isabella Tree, plant messiah Carlos Magdalena, and cherry blossom enthusiast Naoko Abe
Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek. Follow us on Twitter @TheAmScho or on Facebook.
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