From the Amazon to the Laboratory

The Amazonian Rainforest in South America is the largest and most biodiverse rainforest in the world. An estimated 438,000 plant species of economic and social value have been recorded in the region, with many more yet to be discovered. 6000 miles away in Glasgow, researchers at the University of Strathclyde are working in the exciting field of drug discovery based on rainforest products.

AIG photo

Who are you and what do you do?

We’re Professor Sandy Gray and Dr Ann Simpson from SIBS at the University of Strathclyde.

Sandy teaches pharmacy-related subjects and does research with folk around the world in order to discover what plants contain that makes them useful medicines/foods to keep us healthy.

Ann is a teaching fellow with research interests in traditional indigenous methods of conservation of the Amazon rainforest, traditional indigenous medicine and herbal medicine.

What brings you to Glasgow Science Festival this year?

We’ll be presenting a family event based on 25 years of interdisciplinary research working with the indigenous wisepeople of the Amazon forest, Colombia, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador.

Join us for a virtual visit to the Amazon forest to find out about wise people’s knowledge of survival in the forest, from daily life to health care and forest science.

With the Commonwealth Games just around the corner, Glasgow is gearing up to welcome the world. What’s your top tip for visitors?

Ignore the weather and enjoy some of Glasgow’s hidden treasures such as the ancient forest (made in the tropics ca. 450million yrs ago!) in Fossil Grove Museum, Victoria Park.

Favourite Scottish food and drink?

Scones, granny’s homemade pancakes…… also haggis, neeps & tatties with a splash of good Whisky to add moisture to the haggis!!

Impress us with your favourite science fact. Or joke.

The root of the Yuca (Manihot esculenta) plant forms a staple part of the diet of the Uitoto and other indigenous tribes in the Amazon forest. Some varieties of yuca have an extremely poisonous content which has to be removed by a special process or the community can be poisoned.

Did you know that chocolate comes from a tree that originated in the Amazon Rainforest?

Join Sandy, Ann and friends for the Strathclyde Science Special and embark on your own rainforest adventure this weekend from 10:00-16:00 at the John Arbuthnott Building, Cathedral Street. All events are free and drop-in.


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