A BIG Difference for BC 2018: Vancouver
Speaker Bios

Keynote Address


Jiaying Zhao, University of British columbia

Jiaying Zhao is the Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Sustainability, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. Jiaying uses psychological principles to design behavioural solutions to address financial and environmental sustainability challenges. Specifically, she examines the cognitive consequences of poverty and designs interventions to alleviate the cognitive burdens in low-income individuals. In addition, she develops behavioural interventions to encourage recycling, composting, and biodiversity conservation. Jiaying has served as a research advisor and consultant for a number of organizations, including Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, Policy Horizons Canada, City of Vancouver, and the U.S. Social and Behavioral Sciences Team. She received her PhD in cognitive psychology from Princeton University in 2013.

Practitioner Panel


Ashley Whillans, Harvard Business School & BC Behavioural Insights Group

Ashley Whillans is an assistant professor in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit at Harvard Business School. Broadly, she studies how people navigate trade-offs between time and money. In both 2015 and 2018, she was named a Rising Star of Behavioral Science by the International Behavioral Exchange and the Behavioral Science and Policy Association. In 2016, she co-founded the Department of Behavioral Science in the Policy, Innovation, and Engagement Division of the British Columbia Public Service. Professor Whillans earned her BA, MA, and PhD in Social Psychology from the University of British Columbia. Prior to joining HBS, she was a visiting scholar and guest lecturer at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.


Tobin Postma, City of Vancouver

As the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the City of Vancouver, Tobin Postma works across City departments and with external stakeholders and partners to identify opportunities and figure out ways to quickly implement or trial any project, initiative or idea that could help the City’s efforts to manage and improve street-level or downstream impacts of systemic social challenges such as street homelessness, mental illness and addiction – no matter how big or how small. In addition to this, Tobin is passionate about promoting and supporting innovation within and outside of the municipal government in order to drive sustainable change.


Kerri Buschel, WorkSafe BC

Kerri Buschel is the Director of Marketing, Insights and Experience at WorkSafeBC. Using behavioural research and insights to better understand the people we serve, Kerri and her team work with internal partners to build experiences, services and products that help WorkSafeBC connect with people to achieve awareness as well as shifts in behaviour around health and safety at work. From correspondence and shifts in how we communicate to the development of initiatives for workers and employers in high risk industries – behavioural insights enable better results.  With a career in public sector roles, Kerri has a passion for connecting with people - and is a guest speaker and facilitator on brand, culture, knowing your audience, and presenter on nudge and behavioural insights within the public sector.



Isabelle Andresen, BC Behavioural Insights Group

Isabelle Andresen is a Senior Policy Advisor in the BC Behavioural Insights Group and consultant to the City of Vancouver. Prior to this she worked for the UK’s Behavioural Insights Team and the UK government, helping to improve the design and delivery of policies and services through the application of behavioural science. A large component of her work has been running randomized controlled trials across a broad range of areas, including cancer screening, revenue collection, voter registration and charitable giving, as well as building capacity across government.   


David Hardisty, University of British Columbia

David Hardisty is Assistant Professor of Marketing & Behavioural Science at UBC Sauder School of Business. His research focuses on decisions about the future, including sustainability, financial planning, and impulsivity. He also studies attribute framing and social dilemmas. At UBC Sauder, he teaches Ethics & Sustainability and Consumer Behaviour. His ultimate goal is to develop tools to improve long-term decision making.  He received his PhD in Psychology from Columbia University in 2011.



Kirstin Appelt, University of British Columbia & BC Behavioural Insights Group

Kirstin Appelt is Adjunct Professor of Marketing and Behavioural Science at UBC Sauder School of Business. Kirstin’s research explores why people struggle with important decisions about the future and how to use choice architecture to help them make the best decisions for themselves and for society. Kirstin is a behavioural science consultant for organizations including the BC Behavioural Insights Group (BC BIG), the California Health Benefit Exchange (Covered California), Google, the Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH), and WorkSafeBC. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Columbia University and her B.A. magna cum laude in Economics from Dartmouth College.