My research aims to understand the barriers that prevent people from behaving in ways that would lead to individual and societal well-being and craft messaging that helps them overcome these obstacles.

Research Description

My research aims to understand the socio-cultural dynamics that shape our perceptions of morality and determine whether and why we act in ethical ways. One way to address health, environmental and welfare issues is to switch to a more plant-based diet. Previous work indicates that vegetarianism has become moralized and that people view vegetarians as judgmental. This socio-cultural moralization may act as a significant barrier to the uptake of a healthier and more sustainable diet that focuses on plants. In addition taste and issues related to identity, social values and inconvenience may also play a role in preventing change. With the support of the PSI I aim to understand the issue more completely and to work with Better Eating International, a non-profit educational organization, to produce, test and promote unique content with a positive social message geared towards better eating practices. By understanding the motivations, values and challenges of consumers better we can help them take a positive step towards a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.

What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?

Being a public scholar means sharing my work with those outside of academia, it means my research and insights have the potential to make a mark on real actions and behavior and it means increasing understanding and effecting change through collaboration with the community, industry and government.

In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?

A PhD is often associated with long, arduous years spent cramped in a dark, dinghy basement with no contact with the outside world, writing a thesis that few will read and even fewer will find useful. I think the public scholars initiative can help showcase the work we do, show those outside of academia how our work is relevant and give us the potential to have a larger and more lasting impact on others.

How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?

The integration of theory, research and practical skills will help broaden my career options and provide an opportunity to improve my abilities as a practitioner, supervisor, colleague, and researcher in the field. This real world research in collaboration with an external organization can benefit both parties and enable us to work together in ways that would be much more difficult to achieve outside the scope of the PSI. I hope academic rigor in methods can lead to meaningful insights and offer concrete, tangible recommendations that affect change for the public good.

How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?

My interest in prosocial behaviour stems largely from the potential impact such research can have on individuals, the wider society and the planet. I have been working with Better Eating International for the past year because I firmly believe that their approach has the potential to affect many lives and change behaviour for the better. By using well-tested methodology and an understanding of psychological principles we can develop strategies that help consumers make their preferred choices to make the world a better place. If you would like to work together to affect social change please connect with me: 

How do you hope your work can make a contribution to the “public good”?

Most of us agree that health, sustainability and welfare are extremely important components of our well-being and that the public good can be served by improving these three aspects. Changing our diets is one of the most effective ways to affect change in all three of these sectors at once and I hope that by encouraging and reducing barriers to plant-based consumption this work can make a contribution to the public good.

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I realized graduate school mixes the best of so many worlds - the opportunity to study anything that interests me and that I care about in depth, and the support and guidance to do so in the most rigorous ways with help from some of the best researchers. Working in a large corporation was fun but I like having the time to think more and not run after profit.

Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?

UBC has some of the foremost researchers in consumer behaviour in the world, particularly in the topics I am interested in. They are very engaged with the community in using research for social good through the Dhillon centre for Business Ethics and the Decision Insights for Business and Society (DIBS) centre. They are also really friendly and helpful. I also loved Vancouver when I visited and was excited to live here. 


Being a public scholar means sharing my work with those outside of academia, it means my research and insights have the potential to make a mark on real actions and behavior