Director, Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change
Since childhood I have been fascinated by the frontiers in technology. At university I came to understand uncertainty in the performance and economics of unproven technology and the impact of these on choices and public policy. I tried to apply systematic thinking to energy technology evaluation and policy. Soon, I learned that technical performance and economics need to be augmented with environmental and social impacts of technologies. That journey continues both in providing opportunities to learn from and to apply past lessons in looking at issues in new domains. Hence, my work can be characterized as explorations into understanding how these issues interact dynamically and what we don't (or can't) know about them before we have to make decisions. This journey has taken me from a degree in physics to lots of places where I have no training and no right to be poking my nose into. But curiosity and a desire to see if "we can do better" have been too strong a driver to keep me nearer to my disciplinary home. Since graduating in 1984, I have had the pleasure of working at Carnegie Mellon University (1984-7, 1991-2001), Resources for the Future (1987-91) and the Rockefeller Foundation (1988-9). I have learned much in each of these places and owe a great deal to my mentors: Granger Morgan, Lester Lave, Baruch Fischhoff, Ray Kopp, Paul Portney, John Ahearne, Jack Meyer and Ken Prewitt. In 2001, I was pleased to be offered a Canada Research Chair in Applied Mathematics, Integrated Assessment and Global Change at UBC. I guess the title says it all. I build quantitative models and love to puzzle out problems like climate change.