Marles, Robin J(ames) 1955-

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MARLES, Robin J(ames) 1955-


Born September 5, 1955, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; son of J. Watson (an antique and book dealer) and Poppy (a homemaker) Marles; married Jung Hee Lee, January 4, 1986; children: Thomas, James. Ethnicity: "Euro-Canadian." Education: University of Victoria, B.Sc., 1977; University of Saskatchewan, M.Sc., 1984; University of Illinois—Chicago Circle, Ph.D., 1988. Hobbies and other interests: Hiking, camping, fishing, reading, photography.


Home—2319 Princess Ave., Brandon, Manitoba R7B 0J1, Canada. Office—Department of Botany, Brandon University, Brandon, Manitoba R7A 6A9, Canada; fax: 204-728-7346. E-mail—[email protected].


University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, postdoctoral fellow in biology, 1988-92; Brandon University, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, assistant professor, 1992-95, associate professor of botany, 1995—, department chair, 1999-02. University of Saskatchewan, adjunct professor, 1994—; University of London, King's College, visiting scientist, 1999; University of Manitoba, adjunct professor and member of academic committee for Natural Resources Institute, 2001—; public speaker; guest on media programs. Volunteer nature interpreter at parks in Saanich, British Columbia, Canada, summers, 1970-73; British Columbia Fish and Wildlife Service, wildlife assistant in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, summer, 1974; Canadian Forestry Association, forestry assistant in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, summers, 1985-86, nature interpreter at John McInnis Environmental Education Centre, summer, 1978, forestry technician at Pacific Forest Research Centre, 1979; MacMillan-Bloedel Co., wildlife biologist with Land Use Planning Advisory Team, summer, 1979; conducted field research in subarctic, boreal, temperate, and tropical habitats. Wheat Belt Community Futures Development Corp., member of Alternate Crops Committee, 1992-99; Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, member of professional advisory board, 1997-99; Species Survival Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and World Conservation Union, member of Medicinal Plant Specialist Group, 2001—; consultant to Canadian Institutes of Health Research, New England Technology Group, Fundy Model Forest, Vita Health Co., and Virtual Learning, Inc. B. J. Hales Museum of Natural History, chair of board of trustees, 1994-98, member of board of trustees, 1999—; judge of science fairs.


International Society for Ethnopharmacology, Phytochemical Society of North America, Canadian Herb Society, Society of Ethnobotanists (fellow), Society for the Advancement of Native Studies (member of board of directors, 1993—), Society for Economic Botany, Society for Ethnobiology, American Society of Pharmacognosy, American Botanical Council, American Herb Association, Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Association of Manitoba (member of board of directors, 1997—), Manitoba Association of Plant Biologists, Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan.


Fellow, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, 1988-90; travel grants from Canadian Ethnology Society and American Society of Pharmacognosy, 1988, and Phytochemical Society of North America, 1990; fellow, Health and Welfare Canada, 1990-92; major grants from Canadian Forest Service, University of Illinois—Chicago Circle, Manitoba Agriculture and Food, Manitoba Industry, Trade, and Tourism, and National Museums of Canada.


(Editor, with Christina Clavelle, Leslie Monteleone, and others, and contributor) Aboriginal Plant Use in Canada's North-West Boreal Forest, University of British Columbia Press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2000.

Contributor to books, including Economic and Medicinal Plant Research, edited by H. Wagner and N. R. Farnsworth, Academic Press (London, England), 1994; and Voice of the Drum: Indigenous Education and Culture, edited by Roger Neil, Kingfisher Publications (Brandon, Manitoba, Canada), 2000. Contributor of articles and reviews to scientific journals, including Phytomedicine, Photochemistry and Photobiology, Journal of Natural Products, Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology, Sachets, Pharmacist News, and Pharmacology and Toxicology. Associate editor, Pharmaceutical Biology, 1992-2001; member of editorial board, Archives of Pharmacal Research, 1997-99.


Research on ethnobotany and the production of high-quality herbal medicines.


Robin J. Marles told CA: "Having been interested in nature from my earliest memories of childhood, it was only natural that I should become a scientist studying nature for my career. In addition to the love and support of my parents, sibling, wife, and children, credit for my motivation and success as a researcher and writer must be given for the mentoring of Mr. Freeman Foard King, 'Skipper' to hundreds of children. Mr. King was a park nature interpreter, scout leader, and journalist who led people of all ages and backgrounds on hikes through the parks of southern Vancouver Island, and who wrote about nature rambles in the newspaper (later these were compiled into a book). He was able to explain the complex relationships between plants and animals in terms simple enough for all to understand, despite having no academic training in science.

"Many of the children Skipper taught went on to become biologists and ecologists, including Dr. Nancy Turner of the University of Victoria, who introduced me to the field of ethnobotany, the study of the dynamic relationships between people of a particular culture and their botanical environment. For more than twenty years now, I have had the privilege of learning about traditional uses of plants from native elders belonging to cultures of northern Canada's forests and the Amazonian jungle of eastern Ecuador. By hiring, training, and working alongside native researchers, we have been documenting through interviews and participant research those aspects of traditional knowledge that the elders want preserved and shared with other people. Native communities have asked us to do this work in order to preserve the botanical aspects of their traditional knowledge, prepare teaching materials that are culturally, geographically, and ecologically relevant so that this knowledge can be passed on to their children and grandchildren by incorporation into school curricula, and to identify plant products such as traditional foods, medicine, or handicrafts which they might be able to develop economically to provide local employment and income. We only publish what the elders have given us permission to share, in order to protect their sacred knowledge from inappropriate use and abuse.

"Many of the novel uses for plants provided by the native elders stimulate the curiosity of scientists like myself, so in addition to trying to understand the cultural basis for the plant's use, we like to investigate the plant's physical, chemical, and pharmacological properties, to try to understand the scientific basis for how it works as a health-maintaining food or healing herb. This research often provides completely new insights into how plants and animals function and interact among themselves and with their physical environment, driving the amazing adaptations that they have evolved to survive and succeed.

"Through my scientific writings, I try to share some of the wonder and fascination that I experience as I begin to see how different fields of science and human culture can be brought together to describe the natural world around us."

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Marles, Robin J(ames) 1955-

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