Professor & Canada Research Chair in Applied Mathematics and Integrated Study of Global Change

I am honoured to be a Canada Research Chair & Prof in Applied Mathematics and Global Change, at the University of British Columbia. I am similarly fortunate in being a University Fellow at Resources for the Future, a Washington DC think tank and an Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Engineering & Public Policy.

I received my BSc in Physics (focussing on quantum optics) from Edinburgh University (1980) and my PhD in physics (focussing on integrated energy systems) from the Cavendish Laboratories at the University of Cambridge (1984).

I see the world in terms of interacting social, economic and environmental systems.  I am interested in how these systems create and respond to challenges over time.  Most of what I have focused on is at the interface of technology, energy, the environment, public health and public policy.

I have studied a wide range of topics ranging from how to choose electricity generation technologies under technological and regulatory uncertainty to different determinants of malaria in the world. I have been a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and also on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. I am very pleased to have been able to have helped 44 PhDs complete their theses.

Some highlights:

  • In 1989 I was awarded a Warren Weaver Fellowship by the Rockefeller Foundation where I co-designed the program for global environmental leadership LEAD with Tim Weiskel.
  • In 1995 our team at Carnegie Mellon, in recognition of its development of the Integrated Assessment approach, was awarded one of two NSF awards for the study of the Humans Dimensions of Global Change. Our sister institution was led by Elinor Ostrom at U of Indiana.
  • In 2004 James Tansey and I co-founded the non-profit Offsetters Climate Neutral Society.  Offsetters made the 2010 Olympics climate neutral and has been a pioneer in novel strategies for real GHG reductions in British Columbia.
  • In 2005 Ian Thomson, Doug Hooper, Adam Levine, Bob Biagioni and I founded the Canadian Bioenergy Corporation.  Our philosophy was to promote the development of renewables fuels with real GHG reductions and no impacts on food prices (cf. corn based ethanol).  Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, this was a far larger challenge than our $20M of funding could accomplish.
  • In 2007 Farrokh Elmieh, Mehran Farmanara and I co-founded  Green-Erg Technologies Ltd where we try to promote technologies that reduce energy and GHGs by >50% are economical without public funding and compatible with social and individual values. We are currently in the process of building the first off-grid biomass based community energy system (3MWth, 720kWe) in Canada at Tsay Keh Village north of Williston Lake in Central British Columbia.
  • In 2012 we founded HydroRun a company that is developing a novel hydrokinetic device to generate electricity from the energy of free-flowing streams. Our goal is dispatchable renewable electricity generation at competitive prices to the grid.


Rm 422, 2202 Main Mall, UBC, Vancouver, V6T 1Z4.