Susan Smythe

Geography Faculty Susan Smythe

BSc (Simon Fraser); MSc (Simon Fraser) Physical Geography, Biogeography

Office: N3419D (New Westminster), B3166 (David Lam)

Phone: (604) 527-5807, (604) 777-6161 (David Lam)

Fax: (604) 527-5316 


I鈥檝e been interested in the physical environment for as long as I can remember. Childhood summers spent running through waves on the beach, skipping rocks in lakes, walking with family in the forest, and later hiking in the mountains with friends all contributed to a curiosity about the natural world. Until I encountered Geography 12 in high school, I wanted to be the world鈥檚 first great woman undersea explorer. But a wonderful Grade 12 teacher made me aware of what could be explored within physical geography. I was a convert.

I started my undergraduate education in the arts before discovering that I could complete a B.Sc. in geography. I hadn鈥檛 excelled in math in high school, but to my surprise, began to realize that I was actually a very able math and physics student at university. Who knew?! I went on to do graduate work in biogeography, researching intertidal marsh plants of west coast estuaries. I continue to collect data on these amazing plants that withstand daily changes in temperature, oxygen availability and salinity as tides rise and fall.

I鈥檝e been teaching at 香港六盒宝典开奖结果 since 1989 and still love working with adult students and figuring out ways to bring theoretical concepts to life. In recent years I鈥檝e had the privilege of teaching in two 香港六盒宝典开奖结果 field schools. I鈥檝e twice taught in the Wales Field School, have co-developed and, as of Summer 2017, will have taught in three Scotland Field Schools. As part of developing the latter program I started taking Scottish G脿idhlig language classes, which has returned me full circle to being an undergraduate student. I can now read and write relatively well in G脿idhlig, and can hold reasonable conversations, although there are still so many words, and especially idioms, to learn! G脿idhlig is an ancient language - it split off from Irish Gaelic about a thousand years ago. It鈥檚 filled with words that show how deeply connected to their physical environment ancient peoples had to be. It鈥檚 amazing to see the physical geography within it.

Taking these language classes has reminded me about student life. Whenever I see someone with English as an Additional Language in my class I sympathize with how much processing that person is doing, figuring out technical language on top of the peculiarities of the English language. I know how much energy that takes and have so much respect for students鈥 efforts! If you take a class with me (and I hope you will!) you will have to work hard, but I think that you will have some fun doing that. I will do my best to give you a solid foundation of learning that goes beyond the classroom and continues to help you years later in your life. We will work with our hands and go into the field as we connect theoretical concepts to real world experience. And I hope that you will look at the landscape with interested, more informed eyes when we鈥檙e finished.