Professor, IRES
Professor, Institute for Oceans and Fisheries

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 (, 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:

PhD Candidate

I am a PhD Candidate in the RMES program, working with Prof. Stephanie Chang. I finished my undergraduate studies in Urban and Regional Planning in Turkey. I did my masters at the University of Colorado Denver with concentration of Urban Place Making. Before starting my PhD at UBC, I worked as an Associate Planner, where I mainly focused on zoning, urban design, land development and land permitting projects.

My PhD research focuses on green infrastructure practices and climate change induced coastal disasters particularly in Canadian coasts. I am interested in how green infrastructure (G.I) effects adaption and resilience to potential coastal disasters and G.I’s applicability to communities along the Canadian coasts.

PhD Candidate

Jonathan Taggart is a PhD candidate studying with Drs. Terre Satterfield and Kai Chan whose research looks at the challenges in representing the traditional knowledge and land use of BC First Nations. Working closely with communities, he is interesting in the ways First Nations and allies might continue to express vibrant cultural practices in rights & title processes in ways that are both politically powerful and inclusive of diverse and dynamic human-nature interactions. Jonathan has taught visual-ethnographic methods at Emily Carr University and is Associate Faculty at Royal Roads University’s School of Communication & Culture. His feature-length ethnographic film,”Life Off Grid“, has screened at festivals and conferences internationally.

Jonathan is a UBC Public Scholar, a member of the Google Earth Outreach Trainers Network, and a founder of the Boreal Collective of Documentary Photographers. His research is supported by a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Graduate Scholarship and a UBC Four-Year Fellowship.

MA Student

Alida is a MA student in Resource Management and Environmental Studies working under the supervision of Dr. Terre Satterfield. Alida graduated with a double major in International Development Studies and Environment, Sustainability and Society from Dalhousie University.  Upon completing her undergraduate thesis on the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area and a placement at a conservation project in Zimbabwe, her interest in what constitutes effective conservation deepened. Her current research is in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund Namibia, identifying wellbeing indicators in the communal conservancies of the Zambezi region. 

MSc Student

Teddy is a second year MSc student in the Ecohydro Lab with an interest in water as a link between humans and natural systems. He works on a wide range of projects from remote sensing in Brazil, to developing open-source DIY water monitoring technology with  decolonizing water, to modeling mountain meadow restoration in the Sierra.

Teddy graduated with a BSE in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Princeton University in 2013, with a focus on urban stream restoration.  After graduation, Teddy pursued environmental engineering with an environmental consulting firm in the California Bay Area where he was involved in environmental site assessments, contaminant mapping, and groundwater monitoring.  He went on to join The Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis where he researched how hydrology drives montane meadow ecosystems in the Sierra and the amphibians living there.

When he’s not digging wells or monitoring streams, Teddy enjoys trail running, playing banjo, woodworking, or throwing the atlatl.

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.

PhD Student

Rocío López de la Lama is a PhD student exploring people’s motivations for setting up Private Conservation Areas in Peru (her home country). Although the government does not provide economic incentives (i.e. tax reductions, property rights) for their implementation, their coverage continues to expand and currently protect ~300,000 ha of the Peruvian territory. Therefore, Rocio’s research seeks to identify what motivates people to set up these areas and how effectively they are contributing to nature conservation and human well-being. Rocio is working under the supervision of Kai Chan, and is part of the CHANS Lab. She has an MPhil in Conservation Leadership from the University of Cambridge (UK), and a BSc in Biology from Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (Peru). Her previous work has focused on sustainable seafood, small-scale fisheries, gender studies and exploring people’s relationship with nature.

PhD Student

I am a Peruvian researcher that has been studying the ecological and human dimensions of the Humboldt Current in Peru, with emphasis on fisheries economics and governance. Before joining the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia as a graduate student, I worked  as associate researcher at Centre for Environmental Sustainability of the Cayetano Heredia University in Peru (2010-2015), and at Inteligencia Financiera SAC (2014-2015); as consultant for OCEANA-Peru (2016), the GEF-UNDP Project: “Towards the ecosystem based management of the Humboldt Current Large Marine Ecosystem” (2013-2015), the Peruvian Ministry of Production (2014), the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment (2013), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2013); and, as fisheries advisor to the Vice-Minister of Fisheries at the Peruvian Ministry of Production (2012).

My research interests include: (i) seafood value chains, (ii) ecological modelling, (iii) marine and fisheries governance, (iv) ecosystem-based fisheries management, (v) economic valuation of ecosystem services, (vi) small-scale fisheries, (vii) fisheries economics, (viii) fisheries law, (ix) reduction fisheries, (x) rights-based management.