My Driving Question
How can a greater understanding of human connections to the natural world help us exit the Anthropocene?
Dr. Logan’s work as a Nova Fellow explores the ways in which natural environments, and certain elements within those environments, from aromatic chemicals to unseen microbes, provide value to human health and quality of life. Central to this study is an emphasis on the psychological construct of nature relatedness—our individual connection to the natural world—and the ways in which it is connected to well-being, healthy lifestyles, and pro-environmental behaviors.
Despite significant growth in the understanding of human connections to the natural world, the historical and emerging research remains scattered and siloed in various disciplines. The isolation of such research compromises its saliency and prevents the collective push required for translation and use by diverse professionals and policymakers. With an emphasis on integration, Dr. Logan seeks to break down discipline-based barriers and raise awareness of the human connection to the natural world as a personal health asset with public and planetary health implications.
In particular, the examination of human connections to the natural world is viewed in a way that considers equity and marginalization. If nature relatedness is a basic psychological need, what can we do to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to develop a deep and meaningful connection to nature? How can we correct the marginalization that interferes with a potential health asset? Dr. Logan views the human connection to nature through the lens of justice—including, but not limited to, the realms of social, environmental, and criminal justice.
Alan Logan, ND, is an award-winning author and historian of health sciences with nearly 100 publications in diverse scientific and medical journals. His work, which has more than 6,500 citations, explores the ways in which natural environments provide value to and impact human health and quality of life. Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, he was educated there through the peak of the Troubles. He obtained his undergraduate degree at the State University of New York at Purchase and his doctorate from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, where he graduated as valedictorian. From 2005-2015, he was invited faculty at Harvard Medical School’s Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine. There, he presented on nutrition, mental health, and natural environments. He contributed to the Natural Environments Initiative at Harvard School of Public Health and is a co-author within the Oxford Textbook of Nature and Public Health (2018, Oxford University Press).
Dr. Logan has been published in more than two dozen diverse scientific and medical journals, ranging from Aquatic Biosystems and Biopsychosocial Medicine to Beneficial Microbes and Lancet Psychiatry. He has published extensively on the history of science and medicine, twice winning the Japanese Society of Physiological Anthropology’s Research Award for Excellence. He is the co-author of Your Brain on Nature (Harper Collins, 2012) and The Secret Life of Your Microbiome (New Society, 2017).
Almost 20 years ago, in the pages of Medical Hypotheses, Dr. Logan and his colleagues drew on historical records and emerging research on systemic inflammation and vagus nerve-to-limbic communication to propose that targeting the human gut microbiome may improve mental health and cognitive function. Considered outlandish at the time, the idea of using probiotics and other microbial interventions to improve mental well-being is now widely considered to be one of the most exciting areas of neuropsychiatric research.
Education and Training
- ND, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine
- BA, State University of New York at Purchase
Finalist, Feathered Quill Awards, Best Book in the Historical Category: Self-Styled: Chasing Dr. Robert Vernon Spears (Glass Spider, 2019)
First Place, Independent Books Publishers Award, Best Book in the Health Category: The Secret Life of Your Microbiome (New Society, 2017)
Japanese Society of Physiological Anthropology’s Research Award for Excellence, Presented June, 2018
Japanese Society of Physiological Anthropology’s Research Award for Excellence, Presented May, 2015
Valedictorian, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, Class of 2001
- Exiting the Anthropocene: Achieving personal and planetary health in the 21st century. Allergy, 2022
- Earth Dreams: Reimagining ARPA for Health of People, Places and Planet. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2021
- Golden Age of Medicine 2.0: Lifestyle Medicine and Planetary Health Prioritized. Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 2019
- Planetary Health: From the Wellspring of Holistic Medicine to Personal and Public Health Imperative. Explore, 2019
- The importance of the exposome and allostatic load in the planetary health paradigm. Journal of Physiological Anthropology, 2018
- Dysbiotic drift and biopsychosocial medicine: how the microbiome links personal, public and planetary health. BioPsychoSocial Medicine, 2018
- Each meal matters in the exposome: Biological and community considerations in fast-food-socioeconomic associations. Economics and Human Biology, 2017
- Quo Vadis, Probiotics? Human Research Supports Further Study of Beneficial Microbes in Mental Health. EBioMedicine, 2017
- An exposome perspective: Early-life events and immune development in a changing world. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2017
- Transforming Life: A Broad View of the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease Concept from an Ecological Justice Perspective. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2016
- Nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry. Lancet Psychiatry, 2015
- Major depressive disorder: probiotics may be an adjuvant therapy. Medical Hypotheses, 2005