Will McClatchey‎ > ‎

Consultant

I have worked in several areas of consulting and have been fairly picky about the projects I accept. However, I am open to considering many different sorts of work if there will be something interesting to learn. Photos from some recent consultancy projects may be found within the photo section of my Google+ pages.

As a general principle I feel strongly that there is need for ethical and honest research of plants with the open objective of developing for-profit markets. I have advocated for this position within the Society for Economic Botany and other scientific organizations seeking to develop and conserve uses of plants and plant environments.

Herbal products

In the 1990s I was a pharmacist trained in natural product chemistry. This was a time of rapid expansion of herbal products and it was really the wild west. I was hired by a wide range of companies as a consultant, mostly evaluating product ideas, but assisting with training about processing, validation, and using plant materials. For several years I was invited to participate in a team working with start-up companies where my role was to assess the science (mostly pharmacology) behind products being proposed by various herbalists, and to dig up any ethnobotanical information that could support or hurt the release of the product. We worked through thousands of formulations and hundreds of plants. I loved this work, but over time the companies either simply began to copy other companies marketed formulas, brought the evaluation process in-house with their own staff, or simply discontinued development of anything new.

Non-disclosure agreements and long-term relationships with some companies prevent me from sharing much more. However, references can be provided who can speak to my expertise and contributions to product development.

More than a decade ago I was invited to evaluate one plant product that companies were seeking to import from the Pacific Islands. I was asked by multiple European companies to help with the process of their application in the EU, and eventually the work I did was to become part of the public record. I do not know if this process has become public, but I was not bound by non-disclosure agreements and was then able to use some of the information learned to produce two publications about the plant, Morinda citrifolia, or noni

Plant products and community development

One of the more fun sorts of consultancy has been to develop and deliver workshops on useful plants, how to identify plants, and plant pharmacology for non-scientists or members of a particular community. An early, sticky part of these discussions is often the issue of intellectual property, traditional knowledge, and biopiracy. As a contributor to on-going discussions of scientific ethics and long-time participant on a human subjects committee that evaluated social and biological research proposals, I am keen on holding these discussions and using them to frame the important resulting research that people are concerned about (either with positive or negative perspectives).

Plant products are THE basis of just about every serious effort to develop a sustainable economy that does not simply erode natural resource assets. Therefore, planning to identify, deploy, and wisely manage plants is pretty important for many modern development projects.

In the Pacific Islands I have worked several times for Nations and non-government organizations interested in identification of plant diversity that should either be protected, commercialized, or eradicated. See for example work for the Rongelap Atoll Local Government. These projects have typically involved diverse teams of scientists and our shared roles have been to explore and provide sufficient interpretation about how the outside world would see the resources so that local decision-makers can act effectively in managing what they have.

Conservation blended with development is a hallmark of many projects I have worked on. Examples are listed here.

Sustainable orchard and vineyard management

Since 2005 I have been drawn into a growing number of projects largely centered on development of cider apple orchards, but also on vineyards and the wider matter of sustainable agriculture. Within these projects I have contributed information, experiments, and expertise on how to develop integrated systems that over time should become more and more self-sufficient through a process of continuous improvement and planning.

General concepts for sustainable vineyards have been well-developed for California and a few other regions (e.g., Chile) but careful examination reveals underpinning assumptions (e.g., water limitations) that are often not applicable elsewhere or are potentially destructive if these systems are adopted without consideration of local economies, ecologies, and societies. My role has been to work with land owners to develop appropriate targets and plans for long-term management that are maximized for THEIR particular situations. It is not at all surprising to see two orchards/vineyards in the same region that need different strategies because of different strengths and weaknesses.

Fermentation

A wide range of fermented products are found around the world. Many of these are not consumed as alcoholic beverages but as foods. Fermentation increases the quality of some food-stocks and may act in preservation of others. From a scientific perspective much of the life on earth is "fermentable" but is not being used for such purposes. This will likely change as we move out of the fossil-fuel era and into a recycled carbon fuel era. Through consultancies with several companies and government agencies we have tested the potential of many different plants for Biochar, Ethanol, Biogas, or other Biofuels and processes. Most of this work has been practical with non-disclosure. However, I am also interested in development of overarching theories about carbon cycling in the biosphere and how we can be more effective for generation of sustainable human power needs.


Training to support consultancy projects

Because projects often require more than the ability to do internet searches, type on a computer, speak to people, and take photos, I have developed additional skills beyond what was formally learned in anthropology, pharmacy, and botany.

  • Advanced SCUBA certification (+ Navigation, Night Diving, First Aid)
  • International Drivers License with experience in a range of vehicles on left or right-side, stick or automatic transmissions
  • Industrial Climbing and Rigging Safety Certification
  • Laboratory Health and Safety Training/Hazardous Waste Training
  • Wilderness Survival Training