AIHP Awards $2,000 PhD Research Support Grant

The Institute is pleased to announce that a $2,000 AIHP PhD Research Support Grant has been awarded to Taylor Dysart, a doctoral candidate in the Department of History and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.

The grant will support Ms. Dysart’s research for her dissertation, currently titled “The Scientist and the Jaguar: Enchanting Plants and the Politics of Knowledge in the Northwestern Amazon, 1849-2000.”

The AIHP PhD Research Support Grant Program is designed to provide financial support for doctoral students pursuing academic research related to the broadly defined history of pharmacy and pharmaceuticals. The Program offers grants up to $2,000 to cover research expenses not normally covered by the student’s university. Recipients of the grant must provide a report to AIHP on the research within one year after receiving the grant money. Grant recipients must also agree to submit a paper based on their thesis project or dissertation for consideration for publication in AIHP’s journal, History of Pharmacy and Pharmaceuticals, within two years of receiving the grant.

Ms. Dysart’s dissertation explores the history of scientific investigation and understanding of ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic brew made from the leaves of the Psychotria viridis shrub and the stalks of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine. The drink was used for spiritual, healing and other purposes by ancient Amazonian tribes and is still used as a sacred beverage by some religious and Indigenous communities in the Amazon and elsewhere.

The dissertation aims to explain how ayahuasca played a central role in the development of modern notions of the “psychedelic,” the class of hallucinogenic drugs whose primary effect is to trigger non-ordinary states of consciousness. The dissertation also examines how local and Indigenous knowledges, practices, and cosmologies shaped scientific knowledge of ayahuasca. In addition, the dissertation investigates, among other things, the efforts in recent decades to produce “pharmahuasca,” a pharmaceutical replication of the ayahuasca brew. She situates this transnational story within regional histories of post-colonialism, nationalism, and development.

Ms. Dysart plans to use the grant to fund a two-week research trip to the city of Manaus in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, where she plans to conduct archival work and oral histories.

AIHP has awarded more than 65 PhD research support grants since 1985. Information about the AIHP PhD Research Support Grant Program and past recipients of the grant are available on the Institute’s webpage.

Posted: April 18, 2022

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AIHP COVID-19 ProjectThe American Institute of the History of Pharmacy is documenting and preserving pharmacy stories and experiences during the COVID-19 global pandemic for the benefit of future historians and scholars. We seek to record the effects of this public health emergency on all types of pharmacy experiences. We invite you to share your pharmacy stories, photos, videos, artifacts, and other documentation of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

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May 9-12, 2024: Annual Meeting of the American Association of the History of Medicine, Kansas City, Missouri.
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