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Wade Davis, Ph.D. HON ‘87


As an ethnographer, writer, photographer, and filmmaker, Wade Davis is a passionate defender of life’s diversity. His work has taken him to some of the most remote regions of Human habitat, including the Amazon, Tibet, Mongolia, Polynesia and New Guinea. Living for extended periods among indigenous communities, he has learned and recorded their complex rituals and customs, including their use of plants as food, medicine and psychotropic agent.

Davis is the author of 13 books including The Serpent and the Rainbow (1986), One River (1996), The Clouded Leopard (1999), Light at the Edge of the World (2001), and The Lost Amazon (2004).  In 2009 he delivered the CBC Massey Lectures, Canada’s most prestigious intellectual forum, which were published as his latest book, The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World (2009). His many film credits include Light at the Edge of the World, an eight-hour documentary series produced for the National Geographic Channel.

Davis earned degrees in anthropology, biology, and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany from Harvard University. He is one of twenty Honorary Members of The Explorers Club, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and an Honorary Member and Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. In 2009 Davis received the Gold Medal from the RCGS for his contributions to the fields of anthropology and ethnobotany, and for drawing public attention to the emerging crisis of endangered cultures.

Dr. Davis is currently Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and has been named by the NGS as one of the Explorers for the Millennium.

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Background image photography courtesy of members Christoph Baumer, Neil Laughton, Matt Harris and Don Walsh's image of the Bathyscape Trieste