People

Assistant Professor, IRES
Assistant Professor, Psychology
Canada Research Chair (t2, Behavioral Sustainability)

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.

Website: http://zhaolab.psych.ubc.ca
Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.ca/citations?user=w6d1YTgAAAAJ&hl=en

PhD Candidate

Michiko Namazu is a PhD Candidate with the background of environmental engineering. She got master’s degree from the department of environmental engineering,  Kyoto University, Japan.

She was doing her research in the Asian-pacific Integrated Modeling (AIM) team at Kyoto University. Her field of study there was climate change modeling especially computable general equilibrium (CGE) model. She especially  focused on evaluating the economic impact from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction quantitatively in Asian regions, including Japan, China, and India, using AIM/CGE [basic] model.

For PhD research, she is interested in investigating sharing economy where services are provided through access instead of ownership thanks to technological developments.  The possibilities of sharing economy to open up new consumption style with less material consumption are the biggest motivation for her to study the topic. Currently she is especially analyzing car-sharing services which are the most widely accepted activities of the sharing economy.

PhD Student

Vikas is a PhD student at IRES, working with Dr. Hisham Zerriffi since Fall 2014. He completed his Mechanical Engineering (with a Masters  degree in Energy Technology) education in 2009 from Indian Institute of Technology Madras. He worked in the area of climate change consulting for 3 years, covering renewable energy and energy efficiency projects across India and South East Asia, followed by 2 years in the area of business research.

His research interests lie at the convergence of sustainability, technology and development. He is interested in the interaction between climate change ideas and society at large.

I am a PhD Candidate working with co-supervision of Dr. Jiaying Zhao (Psychology/ IRES) and Dr. John Robinson (Munk School of Global Affairs U of T/ IRES). My research question is focused on what motivates pro-environmental behaviour change, with majority of projects concentrated in recycling and composting participation and accuracy. Additionally I’ve examined how education and engagement in nature (at UBC Botanical Gardens) impacts people’s ecological knowledge, willingness to act and connections with nature.

Theoretically I am synthesizing insights from environmental psychology, socio-cultural theories and complex systems thinking how various elements come together to form sustainability pathways over time. Key elements I focus on involve material artifacts (things and their use), motivation (culture, social norms, context) and knowledge (information, know-how, bodily performance). My research is supported by the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship and the UBC 4 Year Fellowship.

Prior to coming to UBC I completed a Master’s of Environmental Studies at Queen’s University (Kingston, ON) and a B.A. from Carleton University (Ottawa, ON) in Environmental Studies (minor in Political Science). I love being involved in community/ campus sustainability: at UBC I worked as a Zero Waste Coordinator with Campus Sustainability & Community Planning for 2 years which provided me with valuable practical experience in rolling out campus-wide zero waste strategy.