Monica Gagliano’s research is controversial even within the scientific community. The northern Italian native studies plants, more specifically, their sentient ability to communicate and even speak in their fashion. 

At the University of Sydney, Gagliano researches whether plants can learn behaviors and communicate with one another about survival skills, such as accessing water and fending off predators. In one study, she noted that the mimosa pudica, a plant which contracts when touched, stopped responding after being repeatedly exposed to non-harmful foam. The plant altered its behavior not because it was tiring, but because it had learned not to fear the foam. Other plant scholars, such as Michael Pollan, have praised her work, acknowledging that there is much we still do not know about the flora around us. Critics, however, have warned against upsetting their understanding that consciousness and intelligence require the nexus of a brain.

Gagliano continues to study the complex nature of plants through experimentation, work with plant shamans in South America, and even her own intimate experiences communicating with plant life.

The source article is an in-depth feature on this innovative and unconventional researcher in the New York Times, so be wary of your NYT article limits if you are pushing up against them.