Dr. Suzanne Simard is a Professor in the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences at the University of British Columbia. She received her PhD in Forest Sciences from Oregon State University and she worked as a research scientist at the British Columbia Ministry of Forests before joining the faculty at UBC. Suzanne’s research has been widely featured by media venues, including CBC TV, Black Forests Productions, PBS Nature, NPR, TED-Ed, and the New Yorker. She is also a recipient of the UBC Killam Teaching Award. Suzanne is with us today to tell us all about her journey through life and science.
Suzanne is known for her research on belowground networks of forests, which are characterized by webs of fungi and roots that facilitate communication and interaction between trees and plants of an ecosystem. This hidden communication involves rapid exchange of carbon, water, nutrients and defense signals between trees. Other areas of research include resilience of forests to human and natural disturbances and global change. She is leader of TerreWEB at UBC, a graduate training program dedicated to training graduate students and Post Doctoral Fellows in global change science and its communication.
In her research, Suzanne examines natural forest ecosystems to understand how we can conserve forests and help them be resilient to change. She studies interactions between individual trees and the belowground networks that connect them. Publishing her PhD research was a big success. Part of it was published in the premier journal Nature, and this was a pivotal point in her career. The media caught wind of her work, and her science was translated and made accessible to a wide range of people. This really meant a lot to have her work available for the public to use and enjoy.
A strong connection with the natural world has been with Suzanne her whole life. When she was a little kid, she loved playing in the dirt and examining bugs. Her family on one side were loggers and worked in forestry in the early colonizing days. There is actually a mountain called Simard Mountain named after her family! Suzanne’s life revolves around the forest. When she’s not working out the science of forest ecosystems, you can find her hiking in the forest with her kids or friends, enjoying the beauty of nature.
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