Experts on 2024 Earth Day

Engineering, Science, Social Sciences, Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, Graduate Studies, Humanities, Fine Arts

The theme of Earth Day for 2024 is "Plastics vs. Planet."

The University of Victoria is powered by climate traction—having gained ground on clean energy transitions, climate program offerings, and sustainable operations. Learn more about UVic’s climate programs and training, research, and campus sustainability.

The following UVic experts are available to media to discuss environmental and climate change topics ahead of Earth Day (April 22):

Julia Baum (Biology) is an expert in marine ecology and conservation and a UVic President’s Chair. She is the director of Coastal Climate Solutions Leaders (CCSL), a first-of-its-kind Canadian graduate training program that prepares students to tackle the climate crisis head-on. She can discuss the impacts of human-caused climate change on marine ecosystems and people, and ocean climate change solutions. (Contact: or 250-858-9349)

Amanda Bates (Biology) is an Impact Chair in Ocean Ecosystem Change and Conservation. She is works on identifying the mechanisms enabling species to cope with environmental change. She brings this perspective to highlight challenges and ways forwards to better predict and mitigate marine biodiversity change. (Email:

Jason Colby (History) is an expert in environmental history, particularly the historical interactions of humans and marine mammals. He is the author of Orca: How We Came to Know and Love the Ocean’s Greatest Predator, which examines the transformation of human relations with killer whales (Orcinus orca) and its impact on regional and global environmental values and policy. His current research projects focus on the history and future of people and gray whales, as well as the history of people and climate change. He can speak on these subjects and broader topics like the history of environmental activism and shifting environmental values. (Email:

Maycira Costa (Geography) works in the Spectral and Remote Sensing Lab. Her areas of research include coastal oceans, kelp resilience, ocean temperatures, and First Nations. (Email:

Deborah Curran (Environmental Studies/Law) is the executive director of the Environmental Law Centre and director of UVic’s School of Environmental Studies. She is an interdisciplinary scholar who focuses on water and environmental law, environmental health outcomes related to drinking water protection, watershed governance, mining law and conservation. Working with community partners, Curran has been advocating for the regulation of single-use plastics and adoption of circular economy approaches to materials. (Email:

Peter Dietsch (Philosophy) works on issues in economic ethics, including the climate dimensions of monetary policy (e.g. green central banking) and tax policy (e.g. progressive carbon taxes) as well as inequality in income and wealth. (Contact: or 250-721-7411)

Jutta Gutberlet (Geography) is a UVic geographer, who works with waste pickers—or binners—on the West Coast of Canada. She has been supporting recyclers to help themselves—to improve working conditions, form co-operatives and associations, promote public policies inclusive of waste pickers, and advance social movements. Gutberlet can speak about the impacts of plastics and what needs to shift to reduce our reliance on plastic wrapping. (Email:

Thomas Heyd (Philosophy) is an environmental philosopher who researches and teaches on climate change and the Anthropocene, including climate anxiety. (Contact: or 250-853-3767)

Christina Hoicka (Geography/Civil Engineering) is an expert in low-carbon energy policy, transitions, innovation and technologies such as electrification and green hydrogen. She can speak to the inclusion of equity deserving communities in energy transitions, renewable energy integration, and regional, rural and urban community involvement in energy transitions. (Email:

Francis Juanes (Biology) is an expert in marine fisheries ecology and underwater bioacoustics. He is the Liber Ero Professor of Fisheries in biology at UVic. He can discuss the impacts of climate change on fisheries resources and ocean ecosystems, as well as the effects of increasing noise levels on the underwater soundscape. (Email:

Simi Kang (Gender Studies) is a Sikh American community advocate, educator, artist and scholar whose work in political ecology and environmental justice centres Asian American collaborative resistance and mutual aid as a site for imagining environmentally and economically just futures. Simi’s current research interests are environmental racism and sacrifice, coastal restoration and community resilience in the context of climate/involuntary migration and refugeeism and Asian North American diasporas. (Contact: or 250-472-4842)

Jen Kostuchuk (PhD student, Sociology) researches the intersection between climate justice and labour rights with specific focus on examining the extent to which green jobs are good jobs for all. Beyond academia, Kostuchuk has worked as a climate coordinator with a labour non-profit. In this role, she led community-engaged research on how precarious workers experience extreme weather events, hosted educational workshops, and campaigned for the provincial government to establish a maximum temperature policy. (Email:

Mark Lewis (Mathematics and Statistics/Biology) is an expert on modelling impacts of environmental change human activities on the ecology of natural systems. These include the effects of climate change on the spread of insect pests, effects of aquaculture on wild salmon and the spread of diseases through wild animal populations, including chronic wasting disease in deer and whirling disease in fish. He develops new methods to understand the impact of the environment conditions on movement patterns on animals, such as wolves responding to linear features in forested landscapes. He also models the effects of climate change on the energy budgets of animals, ranging from mountain pine beetles to polar bears. *Lewis is not available April 22.* (Email:

Loren McClenachan (History and Environmental Studies) is an interdisciplinary scholar engaged with ocean history, historical ecology, and marine conservation. Her research integrates natural science, social science, and humanities to quantify and describe ecological change and human drivers over centuries and across large areas. She is the author of more than 50 peer-reviewed articles focused on historical marine ecology, marine fisheries, and marine conservation. (Contact: or 250-721-7389)

Matt Miller (Earth and Ocean Sciences) is a PhD candidate in the Dower Lab. He is a chemical and biological oceanographer and studies the impacts of ocean acidification on marine species, and plastic pollution and mitigation, including microplastics and community activism. Matt is also an executive committee member of the Surfrider Foundation Canada UVic Club, and Clubs Coordinator for Surfrider Foundation Canada, a non-profit dedicated to protecting the ocean, mainly focusing on plastic pollution, water quality, and climate change. (Email:

Benjamin Neal (Biology) is a marine ecologist with expertise in how ecosystems respond to local and global anthropogenic disturbance, advanced sensing of benthic marine ecosystems and marine resource conservation and sustainable utilization. (Email:

Kara Shaw (School of Environmental Studies) is an expert in the political ecology of energy transitions, and ways in which frontline communities are both resisting the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure and advancing climate solutions. She is the director of the new Certificate in Transformative Climate Action, which focuses on the social and political dynamics of climate action, and of the UVic Sustainability Scholars Program, which pairs graduate students with community partners to research solutions to current sustainability challenges. (Email:

Natalie Slawinski (Gustavson School of Business) is an expert in sustainability and director of Gustavson’s Centre for Social and Sustainable Innovation. She can discuss how we can use place-based social enterprises to reimagine and reshape the future—even when confronted by climate change, food insecurity, resource depletion and inequality. She recently co-authored Revitalizing Place through Social Enterprise, which introduces a new framework for exploring how such enterprises tackle challenges and work to revitalize their places. (Email:

Anelyse Weiler (Sociology) is an expert in workplace health and safety, animal agriculture, and global labour migration. Her current research investigates how unions and labour movements are responding to climate change. Among other topics, she can discuss how agricultural workers manage environmental hazards such as pesticides and extreme heat, and the role of industry lobbying for anti-whistleblower laws in large-scale animal agriculture. (Email:


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Media contacts

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In this story

Keywords: climate, clean energy, environment, globalization, government, international, plants, politics, pollution, oceans, sustainability, recycling, water

People: Julia Baum, Amanda Bates, Jason Colby, Maycira Costa, Deborah Curran, Peter Dietsch, Jutta Gutberlet, Thomas Heyd, Christina Hoicka, Francis Juanes, Simi Kang, Jen Kostuchuk, Mark Lewis, Loren McClenachan, Matt Miller, Benjamin Neal, Kara Shaw, Natalie Slawinski, Anelyse Weiler

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