Monica Gagliano

"In all his spiciness, it was the chili pepper who posed the zesty question to me - how would you learn of what is presently unknown about our vegetal ways of communicating if you are not looking for it and do not even realize that it may exist? Generously, he had also provided the answer - exclude the known to allow yourself to see what unexpected things might happen. And the unexpected is exactly what happened." - Monica Gagliano, Thus Spoke the Plant: A Remarkable Journey of Groundbreaking Scientific Discoveries and Personal Encounters with Plants

Imagining the New World: Science and the Mind of Plants

Monica Gagliano - Imagining the New World: Science and the Mind of Plants

Synopsis: From ancient myths and legends to enchanting tales and modern blockbuster movies, humanity has recounted thousands of stories where an apparently aloof and motionless vegetal world promptly comes to life to voice opinions, foretell the future, whisper words of comfort, sing and at times, even scream. What if these stories were more than the fruit of our vivid imagination? By attuning its ears to vegetal ‘voices’, contemporary science has finally started lifting the veil of human plant-blindness to provide us with significant means of reimagining and rethinking plants as people. By reconceiving the connections between plants and humanity, and revitalising our relationship with the soul of Nature, this new imaginative science restores a more intimate way of perceiving the world, an expanded perspective where the solutions to our current eco-cultural predicament become available.

Bio: Monica is a research associate professor in evolutionary ecology and a former fellow of the Australian Research Council. She is now based at the University of Sydney as a Research Affiliate at the Sydney Environment Institute and a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Life and Environmental Sciences. In the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, she has established the brand new BI Lab–Biological Intelligence Lab as part of the Diverse Intelligences Initiative of the Templeton World Charity Foundation. Though she began her career by studying animal behaviour, she quickly turned her attention to plant behaviour and cognition.

Over the last decade, she has blazed the trail for a brand new field called plant bioacoustics, showing that plants do make sounds; and by demonstrating experimentally that learning is not the exclusive province of animals, she has re-ignited the discourse on plant subjectivity and ethical and legal standing. Her studies have led her to author numerous groundbreaking scientific articles and to co-edit The Green Thread: Dialogues with the Vegetal World (Lexington Books, 2015), The Language of Plants: Science, Philosophy and Literature (Minnesota University Press, 2017) and Memory and Learning in Plants (Springer, 2018). Her research transcends the view of plants as the objects of scientific materialism and encourages us to rethink plants as people–beings with subjectivity, consciousness, and volition, and hence having the capacity for their own perspectives and voices.

In her latest book, Thus Spoke the Plant: A Remarkable Journey of Groundbreaking Scientific Discoveries and Personal Encounters with Plants (North Atlantic Books, 2018), which she calls a “phytobiography”, she describes her experiments that opened the space to begin to understand how to make contact with this other-than-human intelligence. More info:

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Universe Within Podcast Ep 35 - Monica Gagliano - Scientist, Author & On Plant Intelligence

Hey everybody! Episode 35 of the show is out. In this episode, I spoke with Monica Gagliano. Monica is a scientist and the author of the very good book, Thus Spoke the Plant. Monica’s scientific research has focused on plant intelligence, communication through sound, and cognition. She has a really interesting story and has not only experienced plants and life through her scientific work, but also with her own direct experience of plants through ceremonial practices. I think Monica really embodies the true spirit of a scientist, someone who is willing to question the world, even in the face of adversity, and to come to conclusions that help to illuminate and deepen our understanding of the world we live in and our relationship to it. I think she is doing very important work and I imagine her work will only continue to grow and expand as it becomes more accepted. It was a pleasure speaking with her and I think you all will gain a lot out of it. To view bonus material and extended conversations, check out my Patreon page below. Enjoy!

“My main research is broadly focusing on key aspects of the ecological processes by which organisms are able to gather information on the variable conditions of their surrounding environment in order to thrive.

In collaboration with various disciplines across the Sciences and the Humanities, my research aims at expanding our perception of animals, plants and more generally Nature. In the process of learning how to do this, I have pioneered the brand-new research field of plant bioacoustics and extended the concept of cognition to plants, re-igniting the discourse on plant subjectivity, sentience and ethical standing.

I am a Research Associate Professor in Evolutionary Ecology at the Biological Intelligence (BI) Lab, Southern Cross University, a Research Associate Professor (Adjunct) at the University of Western Australia Research Affiliate at the Sydney Environment Institute, University of Sydney.”

Can Trees Talk, Think and Heal?

Pioneering scientists Brian Pickles and Monica Gagliano explore the fascinating hidden world of tree communication, plant cognition and the healing powers of forest bathing. Gagliano’s research has uncovered ‘thinking plants’ while Pickles’ work surrounding mycelium communication networks, dubbed the ‘Wood Wide Web’, has exposed a world where plants and trees share, trade, care for family, display altruism and even wage war.