Indigenous Ecology Lab

Indigenous Ecology Lab

Vanessa Jones

Vanessa Jones

PhD Student Forestry Student
Started January 2023

During my time as an undergraduate student, I learned that my love of plants and the outdoors could become my career. The more I learned about the unique ecosystems and invasive plant dynamics here in BC, the more I wanted to keep learning. This led me to pursue an MSc at UBC studying an invasive plant species, knotweed, and its management and plant-soil microbial interactions. Now, I get to apply what I have learned as I begin my PhD project studying these things in the context of Indigenous forest gardens.

My previous connection with Dr. Grenz through my MSc allowed me to get to know the exciting and meaningful research projects and objectives the lab was working on. Knowing that the Indigenous Ecology Lab commits to working entirely in service to Indigenous communities aligns with my personal goals to participate in scientific research that directly benefits and engages people, rather than doing research for research’s sake.

Undergraduate Degree:

MSc in Plant Science, UBC Land and Food Systems, 2022
BSc (Honours) in Biology with Emphasis in Ecology, Trinity Western University, 2019

Research Interests:

Indigenous food systems reclamation, indigenous ecology, soil microbial ecology, plant-soil interactions, invasive plan dynamics

General Interests:

Anything outdoors – hiking, swimming, camping


Changing Colonial Stories of Soils: Understanding the impacts of invasive plant species on the soil microbial ecology of culturally important plant-soil relationships to inform ecological and food systems reconciliation

My PhD project aims to characterize the soil microbial community of Indigenous forest gardens, which are resilient, previously human-shaped ecosystems that have been left untended since colonization but remain as residual gardens. As Indigenous communities work to reclaim the prominence of forest gardens in their food systems, interest is growing to better understand how their management builds benefits including food security, soil health, and biodiversity. Like other food systems, forest gardens can also be invaded by non-native plant species, whose soil microbial communities are also important to understand in order to manage them. This research involves plant surveying, mapping, and collecting soil samples for microbial analysis in partnership with communities from a wide geographic range across BC, including Metlakatla First Nation, Kitselas First Nation, Sts’ailes Nation, and Cowichan Tribes.


Jones, VL and Grenz J (2023). A review of the impacts and management of invasive plants in forestry. CABI Reviews.

Clements DR, and Jones VL (2021). Ten Ways That Weed Evolution Defies Human Management Efforts Amidst a Changing Climate. Agronomy. 11(2):284.

Clements DR and Jones VL (2021). Rapid Evolution of Invasive Weeds Under Climate Change: Present Evidence and Future Research Needs. Frontiers in Agronomy. 3:664034.