Teresa Ryan, PhD




Teresa (Sm’hayetsk) Ryan, PhD, (Tsimshian) is a Postdoctoral Teaching and Research Fellow, Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, Canada supervised by Professor Suzanne Simard. Teresa’s research is motivated by her Aboriginal Tsimshian heritage and the guidance provided by her Grandfather to become a fisheries scientist. For her dissertation Dr. Ryan examined colonial dispossession of Aboriginal lands and trade. The ecologic and social harmony enjoyed by Aboriginal peoples was dismantled, with enormous costs to them, to the natural resources, and colonial society. This Aboriginal view is likely to prompt inquiry across disciplines into how Aboriginal cultures and economy are understood. For her argument she used a framework to explore Ancestral ecological-social institution linkages in terms that better portray an Aboriginal viewpoint and the connection of these complex adaptive systems to heterogeneous mosaic landscapes. She demonstrated how thousands of years of sustainable use based on the synergistic Aboriginal knowledge of cyclic resource production and variability was an intuitive component of Aboriginal stewardship.

Dr. Ryan seeks to conduct research that shows how things are connected at the aquatic-terrestrial interface and species inter-dependencies in complex adaptive systems. Her current research investigates Aboriginal salmon fishing technology and strategies that were used to increase abundance and maintain salmon biological diversity while contributing marine-derived nitrogen to coastal forests. The synchronicity of salmon and forests are so intertwined that changes to the rhythmic cycles of either may affect the other. Marine-derived nitrogen is transported into the forest by salmon predators and made available along mycorrhizal networks below ground among the trees providing a vital nutrient for forest health.

Dr. Ryan has contributed Aboriginal perspectives at several domestic and international levels. She is currently appointed as Scientist – Pacific Salmon Commission Joint Chinook Technical Committee (Canada), Member of the Circle of Experts for the Assembly of First Nations Advisory Committee on Climate Action and the Environment (ACCAE); and Member of the (Vancouver Fraser Port Authority) Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observations (ECHO) Technical Working Group. She has previously served as Vice Chair – BC Pacific Salmon Forum; Director - BC Aquatic Foods Resources Society; and has participated in Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat committees. She is a photographer and cedar basket weaver attending art markets and shows such as the Heard Museum (AZ) and SW Indian Art Market in Santa Fe (NM).