Leader of The Mother Tree Project and Professor of Forest Ecology
About Suzanne Simard
Suzanne Simard is the world’s leading forest ecologist. A Professor of Forest Ecology at the University of British Columbia, she currently leads The Mother Tree Project, a field-based research project dedicated to investigating forest renewal practices that will protect biodiversity, carbon storage and forest regeneration as the climate changes. She has presented her work on three TED talks and several other TED Experiences, garnering over 10 million views worldwide. In her talks on the importance of caring for the natural world, Dr. Simard explains how trees communicate with each other, the necessity of protecting our forests against climate disaster, and what we can do as individuals and organizations to preserve our planet’s most crucial forms of life.
Dr. Simard’s book, Finding the Mother Tree (May 2021), brings us into the intimate world of trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates incredible truths—revealing that trees and forests are complicated, social, interdependent creatures connected through underground networks that communicate strength and vulnerabilities. She shows just how fascinating trees are, in the ways they learn and adapt their behaviors, remember the past, have agency about the future, and even compete and cooperate with a sophistication typically ascribed to humans. Dr. Simard demonstrates to readers and live audiences alike why her research on these vital networks of biodiversity is a cornerstone in understanding our relationship with the natural world and how these bonds enable our survival.
Dr. Simard’s work has been published widely, with over 170 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Nature, Ecology, and Global Biology, and she is the co-author of the book Climate Change and Variability. Her research has been communicated broadly through TED Talks and TED Experiences, as well as articles and interviews in The New Yorker, National Geographic, The Globe and Mail, NPR, CNN, CBC, and many more.
Finding the Mother Tree
Suzanne Simard is changing how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest. In this illuminating and accessible talk, Simard helps audiences understand just how vital trees are—to each other and to humans. Based on her incredible book and her research at The Mother Tree Project, Simard shares her moving and deeply personal journey of discovering the interconnectedness of trees, explaining how they behave in many ways with characteristics ascribed to human intelligence and civil societies. In understanding these complex ecosystems, Simard emphasizes the critical need to rethink our relationship with our natural world so we can begin to heal our climate.
Changing Our Future with Women in STEM
Suzanne Simard’s journey to becoming the world’s leading forest ecologist included many ups and down. Her passion for science started early, when she was raised into a logging world in the rainforests of British Columbia, with days as a child spent cataloging the trees from the forest. After embarking on a journey of discovery and struggle to become a lead researcher and advocate for our natural world, Simard hopes for other women to follow in her footsteps. With deep passion, she speaks to women and girls everywhere about the great rewards of a career in STEM industries. Simard encourages women to be actively curious about science, positing that scientific inquiry can exist beyond data and technology, and that STEM careers have the remarkable ability to can help us understand who we are and our place in the world.
Lessons of Environmental Cooperation for the Workplace
Suzanne Simard posits that, “In ecosystems, there is no bigotry. There is only reciprocity, only mutual respect.” Through her experience studying trees and understanding their behaviors, she argues that we have much to learn from the ways natural life interacts and coexists. In a lecture aimed toward corporate audiences, Simard draws powerful connections between the coordination and competition present in natural ecosystems and the ways we cooperate and compete at work. She helps organizations come to a better understanding of what it means to foster a network of trust, collaboration, and engagement, to the mutual benefit of members across the entire organization.
Praise for Suzanne Simard
Praise for Finding the Mother Tree
For anyone who simply enjoys a walk in the woods and wonders what makes the forest work.— Thomas R. Horton, professor of mycology, Department of Environmental and Forest Biology, State University of New York, Syracuse
The interplay of personal narrative, scientific insights, and the amazing revelations about the life of the forest make a compelling story. These are stories that the world needs to hear.— Robin Wall Kimmerer, professor of environmental and forest biology, State University of New York
Suzanne Simard’s research into the secret, communicative life of North American forests is utterly compelling.— Charlotte Gill, professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia
It completely overturned my view of nature.— Kristin Ohlson, New York Times bestselling author
I can think of no one better suited to bring humanity into the process of science.— J. C. Cahill, professor of plant ecology at the University of Alberta
What Simard is revealing here has implications and potential on the scale of mapping the human genome. Simard is one of this planet’s most insightful and eloquent translators.— John Vaillant, bestselling author of The Tiger, Jaguar’s Children, and The Golden Spruce
The stories Simard tells, and the insights she draws from them, will inspire readers and change the way they think about the world around them.— Catherine Gehring, professor of biology at Northern Arizona University
This book will have profound implications for our human relationships with the natural world. The insights presented by Dr. Simard point toward a complete paradigm shift in the ways we humans interact with forests, trees, and other species.— Nancy Jean Turner, professor of ethnobotany at the University of Victoria, author of The Earth’s Blanket
Simard tells the fascinating story that led Richard Powers to base a character on her in his Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Overstory . . . intimate . . . absorbing . . . engaging . . . the science is solid, and the author’s overarching theme of stewardship is clear, understandable, and necessary.— Kirkus
Simard artfully blends science with memoir in her eye-opening debut on the ‘startling secrets’ of trees . . . As moving as it is educational, this groundbreaking work entrances.— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Galvanizing . . . As Simard elucidates her revolutionary experiments, replete with
gorgeous descriptions and moments of fear and wonder, a vision of the forest as an ‘intelligent, perceptive and responsive,’ comes into focus . . . Simard's dedication to unveiling nature's complexity is rendered poignant in light of her candidly shared struggles against misogyny and cancer. Having proven scientifically what indigenous cultures have always known about nature's glorious mutualism, Simard calls for the protection of all ecosystems so that all of life will endure. A masterwork of planetary significance.— Booklist
[Simard] shares the wisdom of a life of listening to the forest . . . a scientific memoir as gripping as any HBO drama series.— The Observer
Simard tells the story of her pioneering research on trees’ use of fungal networks to nourish and communicate with one another . . . smoothly written . . . Simard’s science fascinates, and so too does her life. This is an engaging memoir of scientific discovery.— Library Journal (starred review)
Suzanne Simard has spent decades with her hands in the soil, designing experiments and piecing together the remarkable mysteries of forest ecology . . . Her argument is elegantly detailed here alongside a deeply personal memoir, with her story and that of the forest tightly interwoven . . . A testament to Simard’s skill as a science communicator. Her research is clearly defined, the steps of her experiments articulated, her astonishing results explained and the implications laid bare: We ignore the complexity of forests at our peril . . . For Simard, revitalizing synergies in the forest while meeting the needs of humans is more than a job. It is a calling as grand as the subjects of her book: to be a Mother Tree herself.— The New York Times
Simard’s memoir describes the intersecting webs of her career and private life that brought her to rewrite not only the forestry canon but our understanding of nature itself. She is an intellectual force whose powerful ideas overshadow her name . . . To an astonishing extent, her memoir reveals how closely her research calibrates with changing passages in her life . . . Like Charles Darwin’s findings, Simard’s results are so revolutionary and controversial that they have quickly worked their way into social theory, urban planning, culture and art. Simard’s work knocked 19th-century notions of inevitable competition off their pedestals. If a forest is a commons where the fate of the weakest is tied to that of the strongest, then we have a lot of rethinking to do.— The Washington Post
Simard creates her own complex network in this memoir, by weaving the story of [her] discoveries with vignettes from her past. The themes of her research—cooperation, the legacies that one generation leaves for the next, the ways in which organisms react to and recover from stress and disease—are also themes in her own life. The network of friends, family and colleagues who support Simard, as a scientist and as a woman, is visible throughout: as central to the story as a forest’s web of fungal filaments and delicate rootlets . . . It feels like a privilege to be let into her life.— Emma Marris, Nature
Vivid and inspiring . . . For Simard, personal experience leads to revelation, and scientific revelation leads to personal insight . . . Finding the Mother Tree helps make sense of a forest of mysteries. It might even persuade you that organisms other than ourselves—even fungi—have agency.— Eugenia Bone, The Wall Street Journal
Books by Suzanne Simard
Media About Suzanne Simard
- 212 572-2013
- Suzanne Simard travels from British Columbia, Canada
Finding the Mother Tree
“This book promises to change our understanding about what is really going on in the forest, and other pressing mysteries about the real world.” –Michael Pollan