Lab People (past and present)

Prof. Christina E. Hoicka

Hoicka web ready

I am a tenure-track Assistant Professor at York University. I am also the PowerStream Chair in Sustainable Energy Economics. I hold university degrees in three different disciplines: I have a Bachelor of Engineering (McGill University), a Masters in Environmental Studies (York University), and a PhD in Geography (University of Waterloo). With training in such diverse fields, my research and teaching is cross- and interdisciplinary. When I investigate a problem, I like to combine my knowledge of human geography, energy and climate change policy, and engineering. I also like to use mixed methods, where I combine qualitative and quantitative methods. I have conducted research on: the adoption of clean energy technologies; household engagement with smart grids; participation in community-based energy efficiency programs; and renewables integration into the electricity grid. To learn more about my current research projects, please visit the lab Research page.

Current Lab

Alicia Campney

I am in my second year of study in the JD/MES program at Osgoode Hall Law School and York University, and have an Honours B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in Psychology. I am working as a Graduate Assistant on Dr. Hoicka’s “Sustainable Energy Transitions: Linking Pro-Environmental Behaviour to System Innovation” research. Additionally, I currently sit on the Affordable Housing Committee at York University which is seeking to establish more affordable rental housing for students, university staff and the surrounding community on York’s surplus lands. I also mentor first-year law students through the Osgoode Mentor Program.

I am very interested in climate change mitigation and adaptation in addition to social justice. I am pursuing a career practicing Environmental Law and am interested in its intersection with Indigenous Law, especially in the context of Environmental Justice. As such, my MES area of concentration is climate change mitigation and adaptation, one component of which involves exploring how we can mitigate climate change without further disadvantaging Canada’s most vulnerable peoples and communities. Working as a Graduate Assistant on Dr. Hoicka’s research has and continues to enhance my understanding of the energy sector and how critical innovation is to a successful energy transition – both of which are integral to the study of climate change mitigation.

Sohrab Pathan

As an MES student here 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 recently joined Hoicka Energy Research Lab as a Research Assistant (RA). As an RA, I am 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.

Before I joined Hoicka Energy Research Lab, I was a Research Associate (Economist) at Institute of Social and Economic Research at University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). My work at Alaska made me interested in rural and arctic energy policies. While I was building financial models for renewable energy projects located in various communities in Alaska, I decided to further my knowledge of energy policies and enrolled myself in the MES program.

Along with renewable energy I am also interested in ecological economics and resilience theories. One of my recent projects allowed me to statistically quantify and create indices for resilience factors of various communities in South Sudan. In another recent project, I was responsible to develop an economic model for green infrastructure (rain garden/bio-retention facility) in Mount Albert, Ontario.

To know more about me please check my LinkedIn profile:

Susan Morrissey Wyse

As a graduate student of the MES program at York University, I recently joined Dr. Hoicka’s lab in May, 2017. Previously, I received my BA (hons) in Political Science and Communication Studies from Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, where I became interested in provincial climate change mitigation policies.

Since beginning my studies at York, I have focused on provincial energy policy and community-based renewable energy. My motivation for pursuing this field of study is twofold: (1) Canada is one of the world’s largest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases and a large portion of those emissions are due to our energy sector. (2) While we need to reduce our emissions, global climate change goals must not come at the expense of local communities. Community-based energy presents an opportunity to transform our energy systems without solely depending on large, centralized projects that too frequently have not received the social licence from the communities in which they operate.

As an assistant for Dr. Hoicka, I am currently working on research related to provincial and territorial experiences with community-based energy—specifically, gathering data on community-based energy plans across the country, as well as the policy contexts in which these development are taking place. In addition to this research, I am employed as a research intern with Community Energy Knowledge - Action Partnership (CEKAP). Through these research opportunities, it is my goal to gain a greater understanding of how governments can work towards meeting emission reduction targets while also building healthier and more resilient communities.

Find Susan on Linkedin.


Past Lab

Dr. Runa Das, Research Associate

rasI am a faculty member in the Doctor of Social Sciences program. My background includes degrees in Psychology (undergraduate and Masters), and Environmental Applied Science and Management (PhD). My research examines 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. I examine these in an interdisciplinary manner given the range of important disciplinary lenses that can be used to examine both and due to my disciplinary background—my previous degrees have been invaluable in navigating the intersection between people, the built environment, and the natural environment.

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. Thus my work had two main research themes: the first comprised understanding patterns of household energy use while the second related to energy literacy; both required advanced quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches. My passion for quantitative and qualitative methodology also extends to teaching, for which I have several years of experience as a course instructor and teaching assistant. When I am not working I can be found hiking, camping, or enjoying spending time with my very funny dog, Yogi.


Brandon Slopack

brandonI 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.'

Taking Professor Hoicka's Community Energy Planning course was a ‘eureka’ moment for me in the MES program. I discovered that there was a field of study that covered a wide range of sustainability and energy related topics, ideas, and technologies. When carefully analyzed they could help communities improve their energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and produce sustainable energy solutions through the form of community energy plans. The class format was such that pre-class we would read interesting and current journals articles, then in class we would have thoughtful discussions based on the articles and often see a great guest presentation. This was bookended by a final project in which each class member helped an organization answer a CEP related research question. For instance, I was assigned to help the Ministry of Energy determine what the challenges and barriers to implementing community energy plans were, and suggest solutions.


Maral Jamali

maral-photoI have recently 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. Being very resourceful, 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. 

You can find Maral on LinkedIn.

Cristina Guido


Twitter: @cguidz, Linkedin

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. I worked for Prof. Hoicka during the development of a SSHRC grant that was successfully awarded to Professor Hoicka.

The Community Energy Planning (CEP) course was most valuable to me in the MES program. I enjoyed the structure of the course, with the variety of guest speakers and their practical career advice. Our class discussions de-constructed complex journal articles that contributed to our understanding of CEPs. The course allowed us to explore the intricate principles of CEPs and we learned that they are geographically constituted, context-specific and should be collaborative and cross-departmental.

Most recently, I’ve been the Town of Caledon’s energy management student for over a year, which is the longest term a student has had. The larger projects that I’ve worked on with the Town are: building benchmarking, O.Reg 397/11 reporting, sitting on meetings for the development of the Town’s Community Energy Plan and Sustainable Neighbourhood Retrofit Action Plan. Additionally, I have partnered with Professor Hoicka in the management of Women in Renewable Energy’s (WiRE) twitter page. I am also working to complete my major research paper.

Devon Calder

Devon Profile Pic

For my MES degree I had the privilege of working with Dr. Christina Hoicka in several capacities.  Professor Hoicka was my academic advisor, major research supervisor, Graduate Assistant (GA) placement supervisor, and instructor for two courses.

Professor Hoicka guided me through the implementation of my Plan of Study (POS). I wanted to better understand the theories and practices of climate change mitigation and adaptation, and the theories and practice of community energy planning for achieving a low carbon future. Dr. Hoicka helped me achieve those goals.

As Dr. Hoicka’s GA I conducted research, analysis, and synthesized findings relating to sustainable energy technologies, policies, and projects.

Dr. Hoicka was my instructor for ENVS 6121: Community, Energy, and Planning and an Independently Direct Study (IDS) [ENVS 6599]. I enjoyed ENVS 6121 tremendously as it enlightened me on the complexities of how communities obtain and use energy, and the barriers and opportunities for achieving a low carbon future. My IDS with Dr. Hoicka was also great due to the freedom allotted to me to investigate a topic I was deeply interested in. For the IDS I answered critical questions to better understand energy production and consumption spatially and analyzed spatial analysis methodologies that could be employed in planning sustainable urban energy systems.

Dr. Hoicka helped hone my research focus to a clearly articulated topic for my MRP. For my paper I present 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.