2023 Tillman Scholar

Patrick Nienaber

California Institute of Integral Studies
Ph.D, Psychology

“I’ve been in the trenches of the deepest existential despair. Through my doctorate research, I will explore psychedelics as a viable solution for suffering veterans.”

September 11, 2001, sparked in Patrick a duty to serve, where he subsequently spent sixteen consecutive months in theater supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Patrick recognized that friendship, brotherhood, and comradery with his fellow troops and getting those relationships “home” was the only thing sustaining him in the experience. War exposed him to a visceral fear only presented when your life is truly on the line. Once stateside, Patrick moved forward as if his service had no effect. He followed his passions—which always had a core foundation in a healthy mind and body—with education and entrepreneurial work culminating in creating a Cincinnati-based holistic health community. 

During that time, Patrick faced his greatest blessing and challenge of an unexpected child—which he was unable to handle mentally or emotionally. Acknowledging that truth, combined with a deep love for his child, Patrick recognized that he would not be a foundation for her if he didn’t figure out the root of his dysfunction. A hero’s journey commenced: Patrick’s path of formal education in healing. 

Armed with dual master’s degrees in complementary and alternative medicine and herbal medicine, Patrick heard about the potential benefits psychedelics could have on the mind. Through revelations with plant medicine, he began to understand the true cost of war on both himself and the entire military family. Through doctoral-level psychedelic research, Patrick has set out to investigate the ideal approach and highest potential impact microdosing LSD could have on veterans suffering from PTSD.