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Winds of change

Geographer awarded prestigious Rothermere Fellowship to study renewable energies

By Janet Harron

When Jessica Hogan was named Memorial’s 2019 Rothermere fellow, the first person she told was her master’s supervisor.

Dr. Carissa Brown co-supervised Ms. Hogan alongside Dr. Alistair Bath, Department of Geography, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“Dr. Brown had written my reference for the scholarship and I had talked to her recently about how I was nervously waiting to hear the results,” said Ms. Hogan, who has both undergraduate (geography and French) and graduate degrees (geography) from Memorial. “I was so excited to tell her that everything was going to be okay, well, even better than okay, really quite perfect.”

Jessica Hogan
Photo: Submitted

Dr. Brown says Ms. Hogan is an “exciting scholar, wonderful person and an incredible mentor to women in research.

“She made a huge contribution to our department during her undergraduate and master’s degrees, and I know she will bring that same passion and drive to her doctoral research,” said Dr. Brown. “I am particularly impressed at Jess’ continued commitment to producing research that helps decision-makers while giving a voice to affected communities.”

Barriers to wind energy

Her research, Winds of Change, addresses the various barriers to wind turbine development in Canada.

“The goal of my research is to design a framework that provides policy recommendations suitable for the context of Canadian wind development, specifically in Newfoundland and Labrador,” explains Ms. Hogan.

Project Drawdown, a non-profit organization dedicated to global warming solutions, says investing in onshore wind farms offers the greatest reduction in C02 emissions and is the equivalent of taking 593 million cars off the road.

In order to design the framework, Ms. Hogan will also examine Scotland, a world leader in electricity sourcing from renewables. According to Ms. Hogan, Scotland also provides an interesting and potentially useful model to explore how community-based energy encourages societal acceptance.

She plans to work in rural communities in Scotland where new industries associated with renewable energy production have led to innovative local energy solutions, created valuable local jobs, and strengthened community engagement.

Ms. Hogan will complete her PhD in the School of Geography and Sustainable Development at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where she will be supervised by Dr. Charles Warren, an expert in energy-related research.

Turbines
Photo: Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

Rothermere Fellowship

Established by Memorial University’s first chancellor, Lord Rothermere, the generous trust will fund the full cost of Ms. Hogan’s studies at the University of St. Andrews and will provide a yearly stipend and airfare to and from Newfoundland and Labrador. The annual award is currently valued at about £15,000 per year, plus tuition fees.

The Rothermere Fellowship is given to an exceptional scholar who has completed a first degree at Memorial.

A major part of the Rothermere Fellowship is to reward students who are committed to Newfoundland and Labrador and applicants must provide a written letter on that theme and how this commitment is reflected in their research.

“We have to ask what prevents the development and why?” — Jessica Hogan

According to a 2017 McGill University study, Newfoundland and Labrador has the largest potential for renewable energy in the country.

With the ability to produce much more energy than the province’s own needs, wind power could potentially serve as an important factor in diversifying local income for rural communities.

Ms. Hogan believes renewable energies are one way in which the province has the potential to provide rural regions with power, not only in the literal sense, but by providing new prospects.

“Essentially, if Newfoundland has so much potential for wind turbine development, but ranks one of the lowest in Canada for wind development, we have to ask what prevents the development and why? I hope to uncover and examine these barriers to help support better decision-making regarding renewables in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Ms. Hogan is from Carleton Place, Ont., but spent most of her childhood summers in Stephenville, N.L., to visit family.

“As I am travelling at the moment, people often ask me where I am from and I always say I grew up outside of Ottawa, but my heart belongs to Newfoundland.”


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