Current Lab

Kayla Klym

Lab Coordinator University of Victoria

I am the Lab Coordinator at the Social Exergy & Energy Lab and am responsible for many of the day-to-day aspects of running the lab. I also assist with developing communications strategies, writing the lab manual, and research grant application logistics.

I graduated from the University of Victoria in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Geography and a minor in Economics. My undergraduate studies focussed on sustainability, resource management, and climate change adaptation and mitigation. I was drawn to the innovative research topics and inclusive nature of the Social Exergy lab as I aim to gain valuable work experience. I have also been working on writing an academic paper with another UVic professor concerning water resource management and co-management of natural resources in British Columbia.


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Pavel Soriano Hernandez

PhD 2022 University of Victoria

I am a PhD student in Geography at the University of Victoria and Research Assistant with Professor Hoicka at the Social Exergy Lab. My research topic is on renewable energy transformations and the impacts they have on local contexts. I have a Bachelor's degree in Physics from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and a Master's degree in Energy, Society and Sustainability from the University of Edinburgh. Prior to my arrival at UVic, I conducted interdisciplinary research on issues of income and wealth inequality among individuals, families, and companies. Recently my focus shifted to studying energy poverty using energy justice as a theoretical framework and quantitative methods for analyzing this type of poverty in Mexico and other regions or countries. 

Nikolas Ziozas

PhD 2022 University of Victoria

Nikolas is a PhD researcher working on the community energy, energy commons, and sustainable energy transition fields at the Geography Department at the University of Victoria under the supervision of Dr. Christina Hoicka. Specifically, his PhD project investigates the emergence and development phase of the community energy concept in Indigenous and Remote Communities (IRCs) in British Columbia through a novel transdisciplinary approach. Nikolas is a member and Research Assistant at the Social Exergy & Energy Lab, co-leading the Canadian portion of the Energy Citizens for Inclusive Decarbonization (ENCLUDE) Horizon 2020 Project through WP2 (Energy citizenship conceptualizations) and WP3 (Contextualising the emergence and consolidation of energy citizenship). Pior to this position, he worked as a research assistant at the Technical University of Crete for the CIVITAS Destinations Horizon 2020 Project, exploring sustainable mobility and community energy policies and initiatives in the Greek context. Nikolas holds a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering from the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki (BSc and MEng) with a specialization in the production and use of energy and an MSc in Enegy Policy from the University of Sussex. Nikolas's philosophical and research interests lie in reshaping the nature-human relationship out of the hierarchical capatalist context and towards a co-existing sustainable future and in the emergence of social democratic energy initiatives from people and for the people through a broad systemic change.

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Monika Mikhail

Incoming PhD 2023 University of Victoria

I am an incoming PhD student in Civil Engineering at the University of Victoria and a Research Assistant with Prof. Hoicka at the Social Exergy Lab. I am curious about machine learning and how it can be applied to generate data-driven reccommendations for energy policy. My past interdisciplinary research during my Masters in Sustainability Management from the University of Waterloo looked at analyzing net-zero energy performance of a case study office building. My undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering inspires my systems thinking as I expand my perspective to create creative and sustainable energy solutions!

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Past Lab


Jessica Conroy

MES 2020 York University

MES student specializing in environmental planning. I joined the Social Exergy & Energy Lab because I was interested in the intersection of energy and planning, especially how transitioning to low-carbon and renewable energy systems will impact the landscape. Christina was my major paper supervisor to study issues around land use and energy density; rising energy demand and integration of variable renewables; spatial design implications of urban versus rural renewable landscapes; and ensuring a just and democratic energy transition toward locally-oriented energy ownership and governance. 

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Yuxu Zhao

MES 2020 York University

Masters in Environmental Studies student at York University. My area of concentration is climate change mitigation and adaptation, with specific interests in low-carbon energy transitions. I joined the Social Exergy & Energy Lab as a research assistant. I assisted with the development and distribution of surveys to employers and employees of organizations that provide energy services in Ontario. I was also responsible for data collection and data management for this project. The purpose of this research is to identify the relationship between pro-environmental behaviors and system innovations in energy transitions.


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Maria-Louise McMaster

MES 2020 York University

Graduate student in the MES program at York University. Research area of concentration is in low-carbon energy systems. My objectives in this program were to gain a strong understanding of how energy systems and communities interact, and how technological and social innovations are successfully embedded in communities. My participation in Social Exergy & Energy Lab allowed me to engage with new ideas and ways of thinking about energy and energy systems, as well as the opportunity to learn from fellow students. 


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Natalia Bekirsky

MES 2020 York University

Graduate student in Masters of Environmental Studies program at York University. I was drawn to the lab by its comprehensive approach to energy transitions, which fit very well with my research interests in renewable energy and energy justice. In the lab I conducted research with Professor Hoicka on decentralization of energy systems, renewable energy, and energy justice and community involvement. 


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Devon Calder

MES 2016 York University

For my MES degree I had the privilege of working with Dr. Christina Hoicka as my academic advisor, major research supervisor, Graduate Assistant (GA) placement supervisor, and instructor for two courses. As Dr. Hoicka’s GA I conducted research, analysis, and synthesized findings relating to sustainable energy technologies, policies, and projects. Dr. Hoicka helped hone my research focus to a clearly articulated topic for my MRP. For my paper I presented the first stage of a decision support system that utilizes spatial analysis via a geographic information system to identify ideal locations for harvesting sewer wastewater heat for offsetting natural gas use for space and water heating.


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Alicia Campney

JD/MES 2019 York University

Graduate student in the JD/MES program at Osgoode Hall Law School and York University. Worked as a Graduate Assistant on Dr. Hoicka’s “Sustainable Energy Transitions: Linking Pro-Environmental Behaviour to System Innovation” research. I am pursuing a career practicing Environmental Law and am interested in its intersection with Indigenous Law, especially in the context of Environmental Justice. Working as a Graduate Assistant on Dr. Hoicka’s research enhanced my understanding of the energy sector and how critical innovation is to a successful energy transition. 


Dr. Runa Das

Postdoctoral Research Associate 2016
York University

I was a faculty member in the Doctor of Social Sciences Program. My research examined the assessment and practice of environmental and social sustainability and I approach these areas as overlapping, comprised of energy systems, energy and natural resources management, climate change mitigation and adaptation, environmental education, social and health equity, behaviour change, and community resilience. Through my PhD thesis, I sought to better understand individuals and households and their relationships with energy. In particular, my dissertation focused on learning about the characteristics that influence household energy use and what people know and feel about energy and energy-related issues, as well as their energy-related behaviours.

Julianna Felendzer

JD/MES Candidate 2018 York University

Graduate student in the JD/MES program at Osgoode Hall Law School and York University. I was drawn to this program because I am interested in the intersection of the energy transitions and the law. I found that this point of intersection focuses heavily on people’s well-being and helping people.  My research focuses on energy transitions, innovation, energy poverty, participation, and policy. Joining Professor Hoicka’s lab helped nurture my interest in intellectual property law, which I believe plays a significant role in future low-carbon transitioning.


Cristina Guido

MES 2017 York University

My research applies a social-psychology perspective to residential energy consumption, which explores factors that drive energy choices and the behavioural programs that can influence conservation practices. A behavioural intervention that will be of particular focus in my research is feedback and the impact that it can have on household energy consumption. My graduate assistant position with Professor Hoicka provided experience in communications, as I posted resources for students in Professor Hoicka’s blog. Additionally, I have partnered with Professor Hoicka in the management of Women in Renewable Energy’s (WiRE) twitter page.

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Maral Jamali

MES 2015 York University

I graduated from York University with a master’s degree in Environmental Studies and Urban Planning. My area of concentration was sustainability and energy efficiency. I was fortunate to take Professor Hoicka’s ENVS 6121 Community Energy Planning in Fall 2014. I became very interested in energy efficiency and focused my research on environmental and economic implications of residential energy efficiency improvements. Dr. Hoicka recommended me to the City of Toronto to assist the Environment and Energy Division with evaluating their recently launched Home Energy Efficiency Loan Program (HELP). My internship with the City was so interesting that I focused my final Major Research Paper on evaluating The Home Energy Loan Program of The City of Toronto.  My MRP was selected as an Outstanding Graduate Research Paper and was also shared with the City of Toronto. 

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John Lau

MES 2019 York University

Under the supervision of Professor Hoicka, I graduated from the MES program in 2019. I am currently a Clean Energy Policy Analyst at Natural Resources Canada. My MRP evaluated the effectiveness of the energy efficiency policies that targeted buildings in the cities of Toronto and Calgary. I became interested in energy policy during the third semester of my MES program, where I had the privilege of working at Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Energy and Environment Policy Division as an Intern Policy Analyst. 

Sohrab Pathan

MES 2018 York University

As an MES student at York University, my area of concentration is community energy planning, renewable energy and sustainability. I am deeply interested in Canada/Ontario energy policy and aspire to be an energy policy analyst/researcher upon graduation. I joined Social Exergy & Energy Lab as a Research Assistant (RA). As an RA, I was responsible for data collection and data management for an energy project that intends to statistically quantify the decision factors for non-adopters of energy retrofits in commercial properties.

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Katarina Savic

MES 2020 York University

My two passions  academically and personally are environmental and Indigenous issues in Canada. My overall guiding research question is – how can we plan for the energy transition? Professor Christina Hoicka supervised my research about governance structures of Indigenous-owned clean energy projects in Canada.

Brandon Slopack

MES 2016 York University

I am a graduate of the MES program. My area of concentration was ‘Land Use Planning and Sustainability.’ My areas of study were ‘Land Use Planning’, ‘Community Energy Planning’, and ‘Transportation Planning’. The choices within these three spheres and the ways in which they interact can greatly influence our carbon footprint. Based on these interests I developed  a two-part Major Research Project. The first part a was an ‘ Introductory Guide to the Relationship between Electric Vehicles and the Electricity Grid’ and the second part looked at ‘Identifying Barriers and Methods to Enabling a Transition to Electric Vehicle Infrastructure in Ontario.’

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Susan Morrissey Wyse

MES 2018 York University

I am a graduate of the MES program at York University and began my PhD within FES in September 2019. My research explores how communities participate in and benefit from local low-carbon energy initiatives, and questions whether local initiatives are living up to their claims of “community”-focused approaches. Through my participation in Social Exergy & Energy Lab, I received valuable mentorship that moved beyond a simple focus on completion of the MES program. As a research assistant within the lab, I worked on a variety of data-driven research projects related to provincial and territorial experiences with community-based energy as well as the landscape of services available to energy users and communities in the Ontario context. 

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