Cultivating Connections: Ecological Medicine Meets Psychedelic Therapies


8:00 am Breakfast

8:30 am Screening of “Patterns of Nature” by Louie Schwartzberg

9:00 am Welcome Helena Hansen, MD, PhD -Initiative Director, Interim Chair of Psychiatry, Interim Director of Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA.

Charlie Grob, MD – Founder and Clinical Director, UCLA Psychedelic Studies Initiative

9:10 am Keynote Louie Schwartzberg – American filmmaker, director of the 2019 film “Fantastic Fungi”

9:40 am Panel Discussion on Implications of Ecological Medicine for Psychedelics Therapies

Jan Edl Stein, MFT – Eco-psychologist and teacher of healing through nature experiences, Director of Holos Institute.

Sam Gandy, PhD – Ecological scientist and collaborator with the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London, with focus on nature connectedness.

Celina De Leon, M.Div – Program Director of Posada Natura Retreat Center in Costa Rica, with expertise in traditional and ritual use of psychedelic plant medicines. Co-founder of Natura Care Programs, a nature-based psychedelic addiction recovery program. Adjunct faculty at the Graduate Theological Union.

David E Presti, PhD – Professor of neurobiology , psychology and cognitive science at UC Berkeley. Author of “A Brain-Mind Odyssey,” and “Mind Beyond Brain.”

Michael Makhinson, MD, PhD (Moderator) – Interim Chair and Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at Harbor-UCLA.

11:10 am Video and discussion with musician East Forest, featured in the 2024 film “Music for Mushrooms”

11:40 am Lunch

12:30-2:00 pm Breakout sessions

1.    Community Partners and Community Locatedness (B-Level Deck) – promoting relationality, healing in community respecting the sacred as well as social and health justice in human-environment interaction

Stephanie Stewart, MD – Psychiatrist, Founder of Worldwide Wellness and advocate for equity in holistic care. Afro-Indigenous and of Native American descent.

Kim Haxton – Indigenous rights activist, First Nations ceremonialist, art therapist, and Co-Founder of Indigeneyez, an organization that uses wilderness and arts therapy with First Nations Organizations across Turtle Island. Potowatomi from Wasauksing First Nation reserve in Ontario.

Gogo Ekhaya Esima – Indigenous Healer, writer, mental health specialist, and Co-Founder of the Makhosi Foundation, an African Indigenous healing foundation dedicated to preserving Indigenous cultural knowledge and conscious spiritual traditions involving plant medicines and entheogens.

Anika Nawar Ullah – National Geographic Society Explorer documentary filmmaker, socially-engaged artist-activist, community-driven researcher of psychoactive plant medicines in the Asia-Pacific region, UCLA Tang Integrative Psychiatry Fellow, and Founder of Intersectional Health Project.

Denese Shervington, MD, MPH (Moderator) – Chair of Psychiatry and Professor at Charles R. Drew University. Holds Clinical Professorships in the Departments of Psychiatry at Columbia University and Tulane University.

2.    Designing Green Spaces in Clinical Settings – design of ecological medicine lab/outdoor journey room in comparison with non-medical outdoor plant medicine retreats

Kelley O’Donnell, MD, PhD – Psychiatrist at the NYU School of Medicine, where she is the Director of Clinical Training at the NYU Langone Center for Psychedelic Medicine.

Howard Frumkin, DrPH, MPH, MD, AB – Senior Vice President with the Trust for Public Land and Professor Emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington School of Public Health.

Jennifer Wolch, PhD – Professor of Urban Planning, Geography and former dean of the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design.

Wendy Slusser, MD, MS (Moderator) – Associate Vice Provost for the Semel Healthy Campus Initiative Center at UCLA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics in the UCLA Schools of Medicine and Public Health, and Co-Founder and Academic Director of the UCLA Fit for Healthy Weight Program.

2:00-3:30 pm Breakout Sessions

3.       Nature-Inclusive Governance: Relationships and Responsibilities with Sacred Plants

Henrique Antunes, PhD – Anthropologist specialized in the regulation of the religious use of psychedelics and Coordinator of the Ayahuasca Community Committee of the Chacruna Institute of Psychedelic Plant Medicines.

Pooja Sharma, JD – Attorney with Earth Law Center, co-leading the Nature Governance team, where she focuses on Nature conscious governance within organisations. Also develops legal advocacy initiatives to protect culturally significant species through the Keystone Species Alliance.

Ariel Clark, JD – Attorney with Calyx Law and Co-Founder of The Psychedelic Bar Association. Focuses on regulatory challenges and ethical guidelines in psychedelic law reform.

Taimie Bryant, PhD, JD (Moderator) – Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law; Affiliated Faculty, UCLA Health Law & Policy Program; Director of the UCLA Animal Law and Policy Small Grants Program.

4.       Ecological Medicine Practice and Research (B-Level Deck) – how to study nature prescriptions and eco therapy

Deena Metzger, MA, PhD – Poet, novelist, storyteller, teacher, healer and medicine woman who has taught and counseled for over forty years and has developed healing therapies.

Miles Holmes, PhD – Director of NatureFix, which develops green prescriptions and associated software for health professionals in Australia and South Africa.

Matt Zylstra, PhD – Research Director of NatureFix, integral ecologist, field lecturer and process facilitator focusing on human-nature connectedness.

Daphne Miller, MD – Clinical Professor at UCSF, and Research Scientist at the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health. Advisory board member for the Center for Health and Nature at Oakland Children’s Hospital.

Marc Weigensberg, MD (Moderator) – Director of Pediatric Endocrinology at Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center. Utilizes narrative, the arts, indigenous practices to treat and prevent metabolic disease.

3:30-4:00 pm Tea and Yoga Break

4:00 pm Reconnecting and Next Steps

Reports on themes from each breakout session, cross-talk among session leaders and then across the audience with structured questions. Brainstorming and then prioritization and assignment of leads for projects emerging from discussion

5:30 pm Networking Reception

Helena Hansen, MD, PhD – Initiative Director
Landon Pollack – Executive Director


Vincent Acebo – Senior Administrator –


Semel Institute for Neuroscience
Semel Auditorium (Room C8-183)
740 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90024