I am an ethnobotanist and artist interested in social-ecological systems from both economic and cognitive points of view. My research explores the human relationship with the natural world with a particular focus on the use and perception of plants and the power of narrative to alter perspective. Paradigms drive behaviour and experience and I am interested in exploring past and present paradigms to invite a more inspired, rooted, and sustainable future for humans and everyone else on the planet. My academic research is well-informed by my background in hands-on work as a labourer and chef; counselling psychology; the creative and martial arts; and years of travel and living among many cultures. 



PhD Ethnobotany (UBC, 2017-present)

MSc Ethnobotany (UBC, 2017)

BA Writing and Literature (Naropa University, 2000)

Arts and Sciences, McGill University (1997)

Certificate in Narrative Nonfiction (SFU, 2010)

Selected Publications


Wolsak, Saskia, David Wingate and Quentin Cronk. (2017). "Environmental change in the terrestrial vegetation of Bermuda: revisiting Harshberger (1905)." Brittonia, A Journal of Systemic Botany.

Wolsak, S. and Turner, NJ. (2014). Ethnobotanical Plant Collectors in northwestern North America. A.R. Kruckeberg, R. Love, eds. Plant Hunters of the Pacific Northwest.

Selected work experience


2015-present: Guest lecturer in Ethnobotany: UBC, SFU, Douglas College (Vancouver), Bermuda College, THINK Fest, St. Georges' Foundation World Heritage Centre (Bermuda)

2005-present: Therapeutic Counsellor (Choose Again Centre for Attitudinal Healing, Costa Rica and Vancouver)

2016 - present: Teaching assistant: Plants and People (UBC)

2012-2017: Database technician and researcher (Botanical Dimensions, California) 

2012-2015: Collections manager and database technician (UBC Herbarium

2008-2009: Program developer (Be the Change Earth Alliance, Vancouver)

Selected Awards and Scholarships



2019/5- 2022/4: Joseph Armand-Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship Program Scholarship - Doctoral Scholarship (3 years)


2018/5-2019/5: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Centre (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship (1 year)

2016/5 - 2017/5: Joseph Armand-Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship Program Master's Scholarship (CGS-M) (1 year)

2018/8 London-Wen Gaia Scholarship from the Matthew London and Sylvia Wen Gaia Fund: first ever recipient of a new scholarship for women in ethnobotany


2018/6: National Science Foundation Conference Travel Award, to attend the Society of Ethnobiology and Society of Economic Botany joint conference


2017/9 - 2022/4: UBC 4 Year Fellowship Tuition Award (4 years)


2017/9 - 2018/5: UBC 4 Year Fellowship (4YF) (1 year)


2017/9: UBC Go Global Award, to attend Forests as Complex Social-Ecological Systems course in Vallombrosa, Italy

2017/1 - 2017/8 Research grant from the Dept. of Community and Cultural Affairs, Bermuda


2015/9 - 2016/8: UBC Graduate Support Initiative (GSI) Tuition Award