Camille Defrenne


When looking at this tangle of roots, many questions may come to the mind of anyone curious about the environment that surrounds us. Why this strange architecture? What happens in the soil amongst the roots of trees? It has always been fascinating for me to study something that everybody sees daily but may not pay attention to. One then realizes how complex and well-designed ecosystems are but also how fragile they will be in the context of global change.

I am a PhD candidate under the direction of Dr. Suzanne Simard, and my research will mainly focus on root system behaviour along an altitudinal gradient. My objective is to study root morphological plasticity and interactions in interior Douglas-fir forests of British Columbia to get insights on the implications of predicted climate change on root system architecture and development and hence on forest dynamics.

I completed my engineering degree in agronomy in France, with a speciality in forestry in Belgium. My research experience began in Switzerland where I was interested in the effect of climate change on mountain pastures. The project aimed to simulate climate change by using an altitudinal gradient and to make a carbon budget of the ecosystem in order to understand the response of these valuable pastures to climate change. Studying ecosystems and the way they work brought me to UBC where I led a 6 month project focusing on the effect of past disturbances on carbon dynamics in forest ecosystems.