Watch Jiaying's TED Talk

Jiaying Zhao’s research tackles critical social and environmental challenges with behavioural solutions in order to promote sustainability. She has pioneered behavioural interventions to encourage climate action, recycling, composting and biodiversity conservation. An early immigrant from Hangzhou, China, she ventured to Dublin, Ireland, to pursue her BA and MA in cognitive science and completed her PhD in cognitive psychology at Princeton University. She currently serves as an associate professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of British Columbia, in the department of psychology and the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability.

Zhao is a Killam Research Prize recipient and a faculty affiliate at the Center for Effective Global Action at University of California, Berkeley. She has advised a dozen government organizations, including the Privy Council Office, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and Policy Horizons Canada.

“That’s how we came up with what we call the Happy Climate Approachit’s actions that live in this sweet spot that reduce emissions and increase individual happiness at the same time.”


Updated April 21, 2023

Jiaying Zhao

Jiaying Zhao, Behavioural scientist
Vancouver, British Columbia




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