Research Projects
Ethnographic study on meditation and nature therapies in Asia

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☒ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Objective and Significance:

The aim of this project is to develop an understanding of the variety and the social, cultural, and historical dynamics of meditation and nature therapies in Asia, including Shinrin Yoku, ecotherapy, ethnic tourism, psychedelic plant medicine, and meditating in nature.

Research Plan and Methodology:

This project involves a medical anthropology approach of ethnography and qualitative mixed-methods such as surveys, focus groups, and semi-structured interviews.

Professor AD Gearin, Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit

Professor Alex K. Gearin, Ph.D., is an Australian medical anthropologist with a background researching psychedelic substance using communities in Peru, China, and Australia. Graduating from the University of Queensland in 2015, he has published ethnographic research on indigenous medicine in modern society, the intercultural ethics of medical tourism, spirituality and individualism among psychedelic healing groups, and sensory and ontological aspects of shamanism. His work is published or forthcoming in Current Anthropology, Social Science and Medicine, The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and MIT Press book volumes, and he is co-editor of The World Ayahuasca Diaspora: Controversies and Reinventions (Routledge). He is finishing a book manuscript on the medicinal use of ayahuasca, the Amazonian psychoactive substance, in varied global contexts. He is currently leading two research projects on the cultural dimensions of meditation practice in (1) natural environments and (2) social virtual reality. Alex is a passionate teacher and has delivered courses and workshops on cross-cultural health, bias and social justice in medicine, gift economies and personhood, happiness and well-being, and indigenous health in the modern world.

HKU Scholars Hub


For more information or to express interest for this project, please email the supervisor or the specified contact point in the project description.  Interested candidates are advised to enclose with your email:

  1. your CV,
  2. a brief description of your research interest and experience, and
  3. two reference letters (not required for HKUMed UG students seeking MRes[Med]/URIS projects).

Information on the research programme, funding support and admission documentations could be referenced online at the Research Postgraduate Admissions website. General admission enquiries should be directed to

HKUMed MBBS students interested in the Master of Research in Medicine (MRes[Med]) programme may visit the programme website for more information.  

HKUMed UG students interested in the Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme (URIS) may visit the scheme’s website for more information.