Alan Rockefeller is a citizen mycologist based in Oakland, California. The son of two science teachers, Rockefeller started studying mushrooms in 2001 and has since traveled around the world to find and classify them. Since 2007, he has made annual visits to Mexico and has photographed more than 1,000 fungi species that grow there.
Rockefeller studies and teaches microscopy and fungal analysis techniques at Counter Culture Labs, an open-science, community laboratory in Oakland. He analyzes his regional mushroom collections at the lab using DNA extraction and polymerase chain reaction.
Rockefeller discovered and named Psilocybe allenii, a psychoactive mushroom (magic mushroom) from the West Coast of the United States. He recently co-authored a 2020 publication characterizing five Psilocybe species. Mycological associations and psychedelic organizations around the country have invited Rockefeller to present his research. Recordings of many of his talks can be found on YouTube, including from the Illinois Mycological Association, the Aware Project, Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz, and the San Francisco Psychedelic Society. He is also esteemed in online communities including the Shroomery, Mushroom Observer, and iNaturalist, where he helps to identify fungi.
He was featured in episode four of the first season of Hamilton Morris‘s show Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Dallas Observer, the Mushroom Hour podcast, and Learn Your Land. VICE interviewed Rockefeller after his appearance on Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia. When asked about the legal trajectory of psilocybin, Rockefeller stated, “Certainly it does have real medical applications, and for a lot of people the difference is quick and dramatic, as far as OCD or depression or alcoholism or various other mental illnesses. But also the effects of psilocybin are highly unpredictable….it makes people more suspicious of them. So I don’t see it happening as a legalization thing like it did with weed. I think if it does happen, it will be more of a general trend to decriminalize drug use, and treat it more like a medical issue than a criminal one.”
More on Rockefeller’s contributions can be found on his ResearchGate profile.