We are among the few institutes in North America comprised of a dedicated core faculty whose mandate in research and teaching is sustainability and whose foundation is the inter-disciplinarity that necessarily and fundamentally guides that project.
Milind Kandlikar (PhD Carnegie Mellon) is a Professor at the Liu Institute for Global Issues and the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability. His work focuses on the intersection of technology innovation, human development and the global environment. Dr. Kandlikar’s current projects include the regulation of agricultural biotechnology including implications for food security; air quality in Indian cities; risks and benefits of nanotechnology; solar lighting systems in the developing world; and development and climate change. He has also published extensively on the science and policy of climate change.
Navin Ramankutty is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Change and Food Security at the Liu Institute for Global Issues and the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. His research program aims to understand how humans use and modify the Earth’s land surface for agriculture and its implications for the global environment. Using global Earth observations and numerical ecosystem models, his research aims to find solutions to the problem of feeding humanity with minimal global environmental footprint. He contributed to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report and to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He was an editor of the journal Global Food Security and Global Ecology and Biogeography, and is an Associate Editor of Environmental Research Letters. He is a Leopold Leadership Fellow.
Role as Graduate Advisor:
1) Managing and improving the student experience at IRES
2) Liaison between the RES program and UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
3) Reviewing student progress toward their degree
4) Signing lots and lots of forms
Associate Professor of Law, Policy and Sustainability, IRES
David R. Boyd is an environmental lawyer and internationally renowned expert on human rights and the environment. He has a PhD in Resource Management and Environmental Studies from UBC, a JD from the University of Toronto, and a business degree from the University of Alberta. His primary focus is on identifying laws and policies that will accelerate the transition to an ecologically sustainable and just future, both in Canada and across the world. Areas of particular interest include environmental justice, environmental rights and responsibilities, the rights of nature, the debate between regulation and economic instruments, and urban environmental issues. Boyd is the author of seven books and over 100 articles on environmental issues. His most recent books include The Optimistic Environmentalist (ECW Press, 2015), Cleaner, Greener, Healthier: A Prescription for Stronger Canadian Environmental Laws and Policies (UBC Press, 2015), The Right to a Healthy Environment: Revitalizing Canada’s Constitution (UBC Press, 2012) and The Environmental Rights Revolution: A Global Study of Constitutions, Human Rights, and the Environment (UBC Press, 2012).
Kai is an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented sustainability scientist, trained in ecology, policy, and ethics from Princeton University and Stanford University. He strives to understand how social-ecological systems can be transformed to be both better and wilder. Kai leads CHANS lab (www.chanslab.ires.ubc.ca), Connecting Human and Natural Systems; he is a Leopold Leadership Program fellow, a Coordinating Lead Author of the IPBES Global Assessment, a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholar, Artists and Scientists, a director on the board of the North American section of the Society for Conservation Biology, a member of the Global Young Academy, a senior fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program, and (in 2012) the Fulbright Canada Visiting Research Chair at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.ca/citations?user=OByl3J0AAAAJ
Dr. Stephanie Chang’s research addresses issues of community vulnerability and resilience to natural disasters. Broadly speaking, it investigates three types of questions: What happens in disasters, and why? What can be anticipated in future disasters? And, how can disruption from disasters be effectively reduced? Her work emphasizes economic, geographic, and planning aspects of risk and resilience at the urban scale. She is particularly interested in the role of urban infrastructure such as energy, water, and transportation systems. Dr. Chang has written extensively on socio-economic impacts of disasters, loss estimation models for critical infrastructure systems, infrastructure interdependencies, economic evaluation of disaster mitigations, urban disaster recovery, and long-term urban risk dynamics. She has conducted research on these topics in Canada, the U.S., Japan, New Zealand, and other places. Her current projects focus on coastal hazard risk and resilience in British Columbia. Dr. Chang has served on the U.S. National Research Council’s Committee on Disaster Research in the Social Sciences and its Committee on Earthquake Resilience ¬– Research, Implementation, and Outreach.
Hadi Dowlatabadi’s research is focused at the interface of nature, humans, technology and policy. He uses a systems approach to capture the dynamics of such systems as well as what is known and unknown about it. This permits the use of a value of information approach to focusing on research that matters most. Once the bare bones of a problem are combined with the psychology and sociology of public perception and problem definition the research will identify the paths that have led to the problem and barriers to finding solutions that avoid repeating similar challenges. Hadi has served as Lead Author for the IPCC, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and reviewer for WHO’s Global Burden of Disease. He has worked with 42 PhD students to complete their degrees and published over 150 peer reviewed papers. He has co-founded half a dozen non-profit and for profit initiatives to bring better solutions for meeting human needs.
Hadi is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Engineering & Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is also a University Fellow at Resources for the Future in Washington DC.
Amanda Giang’s research addresses challenges at the interface of environmental modelling and policy through an interdisciplinary lens, with a focus on air pollution and toxics. She is interested in understanding how environmental assessment processes can better empower communities and inform policy decision-making. How can we assess the environmental and health impacts of human activity given uncertainty and complexity in human, technological, and natural systems? How can different ways of knowing inform policy design and evaluation? How can we integrate scientific analysis and public deliberation in policy decision-making? Combining integrated modelling and qualitative approaches, her ongoing and past research on mercury, lead, and persistent organic pollutants has explored these questions in the context of North American and global policy. Future areas of interest include the impacts of technology and policy on pollutant fate and transport, citizen science and community based monitoring for air toxics, and policy implications of climate and air pollution interactions. Amanda holds a PhD and MS in Technology and Policy from MIT, and a BASc in Engineering Science from the University of Toronto.
Leila Harris is an Associate Professor at IRES Institute on Resources Environment and Sustainability and in the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia. She also serves as Co-Director for UBC’s Program on Water Governance (www.watergovernance.ca), is a member of the EDGES research collaborative (Environment and Development: Gender, Equity, and Sustainability Perspectives, www.edges.ubc.ca), and is an Associate of the Department of Geography, and the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at UBC. Dr. Harris’s work examines social, cultural, political-economic, institutional and equity dimensions of environmental and resource issues. Her current research focuses on the intersection of environmental issues and inequality / social difference, water governance shifts (e.g. marketization, participatory governance), in addition to a range of water governance challenges important for the Canadian context (e.g. First Nations water governance). Current projects include a SSHRC funded project on everyday access and governance of water in underserved areas of Cape Town, South Africa and Accra, Ghana. Dr. Harris is also principal investigator for the SSHRC funded International WaTERS Research and Training Network focused on water governance, equity and resilience in the global South (www.international-waters.org).
Dr. Mark Johnson is working to understand how land use practices influence interactions between hydrological and ecological processes, and how these ecohydrological processes further affect ecosystem services including carbon sequestration. Unraveling interactions between the water cycle and the carbon cycle is essential for improving the sustainability of land and water management, especially under changing climatic conditions. Dr. Johnson’s research in ecohydrology demonstrates that soil carbon processes are also integrally important to the health of freshwater ecosystems and drinking water supplies. Dr. Johnson and his team are testing carbon and water cycle interactions to address questions such as: How much carbon does water transport from the land into freshwater systems? His research can also help to answer very applied questions related to soil fertility and water use such as: How much food can be produced in urban environments, and how much water would that require? To address these and other related questions, Johnson is developing innovative approaches to ecohydrological research in partnership with communities, natural resource management agencies and organizations, and industry.
Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.ca/citations?user=KfQwll4AAAAJ&hl=en
Dr. Gunilla Öberg is inspired by her deep knowledge in chlorine biogeochemistry, environment and sustainability, and her experience as a leader of complex interdisciplinary research and education. Her recent projects address sustainable sanitation planning, particularly in growing urban areas. Questions that drive her work include: What kind of knowledge is needed, used and trusted? How does the knowledge used impact perceived solutions and how are risks and benefits distributed? Research of late involves land-application of biosolids/sewage sludge, contaminants of emerging concern and sustainable sanitation solutions for informal urban settlements. Dr. Öberg also pursues innovations in science education including how to: learn/teach science while recognizing its limits; internalize ideas about bias, uncertainty and ignorance; and distinguish between absence of proof versus proof of absence. Her new pedagogy initiatives include directing UBC’s “First Year Seminar in Science” and developing “Sustainability for the Community and the World”, a 4th year capstone course in UBC’s emerging sustainability concentrations.
An anthropologist by training and an interdisciplinarian by design, Terre’s work concerns sustainable development in the context of debates about cultural meanings, environmental values, perceived risk, environmental and ecosystem health. Difficult environmental policy dilemmas and the qualitative and quantitative methods that might resolve these are of particular interest. Locally, her work pertains to First Nations interest in land management, oil and gas development, and regulatory contexts. Globally, her research incorporates biodiversity management and politics, and the perceived risk of new technologies (biotechnology, fracking and nanotechnology). Terre is also a board member or research scientist for several international initiatives that seek to better integrate social science research into policy analysis normally led by the natural and engineering scientists.
Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.ca/citations?user=1nrd2msAAAAJ&hl=en
Dr. Hannah Wittman’s research examines the ways that the rights to produce and consume food are contested and transformed through struggles for agrarian reform, food sovereignty, and agrarian citizenship. Her projects include community-based research on farmland access, transition to organic agriculture, and seed sovereignty in British Columbia, agroecological transition and the role of institutional procurement in the transition to food sovereignty in Ecuador and Brazil, and the role that urban agriculture and farm-to-school nutrition initiatives play in food literacy education.
What is psychology good for? How can psychology contribute to sustainability? To answer these questions, Dr. Zhao aims to use psychological principles to design behavioral solutions to address sustainability challenges. This approach offers insights on how cognitive mechanisms govern human behavior, and how behavioral interventions can inform the design and the implementation of public policy. Dr. Zhao is currently examining the cognitive causes and consequences of scarcity, what behavioral interventions improve the performance in low-income individuals, how to promote recycling and composting behavior, water and energy conservation, what cognitive, motivational, and sociocultural factors shape the perception of climate change, and how to engage the public on biodiversity conservation.
Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.ca/citations?user=w6d1YTgAAAAJ&hl=en