Dr. Laura Tozer, PhD

I am an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences. With training in geography, environmental science, and environmental studies, I study climate change and urban sustainability governance and politics.

My research tries to understand how we can accelerate action to address the climate crisis. I study the policies and politics that can help us stop using fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy. I’m especially interested in understanding how governments and communities can rapidly change cities so that they are fairer, resilient to the impacts of climate change, and powered by renewable energy. I have conducted research on the planning and implementation of just, zero carbon and resilient transitions in cities; the politics of transnational urban climate governance; and pathways to mainstream sustainability solutions so that they become standard practice for urban development.

I am affiliated with the Environmental Governance Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and the Earth System Governance Project. I am a co-founder and steering committee member for the Women and Inclusivity in Sustainable Energy Research (WISER) Network and a steering committee member for the non-profit Project Neutral. My work has been published in academic journals such as Nature Climate Change, Energy Policy, Geoforum, Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, and Energy Research & Social Science, and in book chapters.

Previously, I was Director of Operations for the Community Energy Partnerships Program, a $10 million CAD grant program that provided funding for community groups and cooperatives developing renewable energy projects in Ontario.

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Departmental Website

Graduate Students

Ichha Ravinderpal Kaur Kohli

Ichha is a PhD candidate in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences. Her research is on nature-based solutions, equity, and urban governance.


Guilherme Baggio Ferla

Guilherme is a Masters of Environmental Science candidate in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences. Guilherme is researching the challenges and possibilities of municipal carbon budgets in Canada.


Vicky Koirala

Vicky is a Masters of Environmental Science candidate in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences. Vicky is researching energy poverty and residential building retrofit policies in Toronto.


Hannah MacRae

Hannah is a first year graduate student in the Master of Science in Sustainability Management program at the University of Toronto. She completed her undergraduate degree in zoology with a minor in ecology at the University of Guelph, where she conducted independent research projects on lichen abundance in Ontario deciduous forests and on the climatic determinants of alpine treeline position. She also spent three summers employed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as an undergraduate research assistant in an entomology lab studying insect pests of fruit crops in the Niagara region. Hannah has interests in ecology, climate science, social justice, responsible investing, and green infrastructure, which led to her interest in the Climate and Energy Governance Lab. In her free time, she enjoys reading, practicing yoga, spending time with loved ones, hiking, and discovering new places to explore.





Research Assistants

Emily Neeson

Emily Neeson is a Master of Public Policy student at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, where she is the recipient of a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS-M) and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS). Passionate about sustainability and urban resiliency, Emily spent six months working on the Climate Change Mitigation team at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) working on developing a systems-led approach to assist policymakers in implementing net-zero strategies. Emily’s prior work experiences span the Canadian and American government, environmental non-profit, and government relations consulting sectors. She holds a BA in Environmental Studies and Political Science from the University of Toronto, where she supported research on food sustainability and agriculture in Belize, and agri-tech uptake in the Great Lakes region.



Azzam Abu-Rayash

MEnvSc, 2020-2021, ‘Development and assessment of a net zero energy framework for buildings’

Azzam Abu-Rayash is an alumni of UTSC’s MEnvSc program and holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Ontario Tech’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, specializing in energy sustainability and smart cities. Pursuing a bilateral career in academia and energy consulting, he is the CEO of Polaris Energy Sustainability Solutions. Dr. Abu-Rayash is a Certified Energy Manager with the Association of Energy Engineers, a Project Management Professional (PMP),and an Engineering Officer with the Canadian Armed Forces. He is actively involved in the campus community as a dedicated volunteer, founder, and board member in several non-profit organizations across Canada. The author of a book and eight journal articles, Dr. Abu-Rayash is the recipient of various esteemed awards and scholarships including the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, the Lieutenant Governor’s Award, and the Trillium Response Medal. He holds a Master of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from Ontario Tech University, and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto. Dr. Abu-Rayash’s research revolves around the Sustainable Development of cities, systems, and processes to achieve global carbon neutrality and energy sector resilience. His research interests span the areas of Climate Change Impact Assessment, Energy Policy, and Renewable Energy Systems Development with the objective of meeting the energy demand of a rapidly growing and dynamically changing world. He is particularly interested in developing decarbonization pathways for cities to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and reaching net zero carbon by 2050. The developed cutting-edge models and solutions will be deployed to actualize the Smart City concept by addressing the environmental, economic, social and energy aspects simultaneously.