Jessica Van Os

3MT 2024 Finalist Jessica Van Os

Mechanical Engineering, Natural + Applied Sciences

Thesis: Pathways to Net-Zero Electricity in Alberta

Introduce yourself:

I am a 2nd year master’s student in the department of Mechanical Engineering at the UofA. Outside of research, I enjoy outdoor activities and sports, spending time with friends and family, and am a passionate hockey fan!

What are you researching and what do you hope comes out of your research?

I am modeling pathways to a net-zero electricity system in Alberta under different carbon management policies. My model optimizes Alberta’s future electricity fleet (or mix of power plants) to meet future energy demand between now and 2045. I hope that my research helps to depoliticize emission reductions in Alberta’s electricity sector and provides insights related to reaching net-zero electricity.

How does presenting a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) help you to explain your research to the public?

I get asked about my thesis often, so it is important to have a quick research “pitch” ready. Especially, I have discovered, a pitch that does not bore people. Working on my 3MT has allowed me to better contextualize my research and work on describing it to a general audience. Hopefully, this means that people can find my research as exciting as I do!

What inspires you to do research?

There is nothing I enjoy more than spending a day outside during a beautiful Alberta summer. However, the future of our planet and those perfect summer days lays in the hands of my generation. Because of this, I wanted to get involved in clean energy or net-zero transition work. My research has given me the opportunity to learn so much about these areas and see many impressive leaders and academics in the area that continue to inspire me every day.

What are three key words important to your 3MT?

Net-zero, Electricity, Carbon policy.

How does your research impact local, provincial, or global communities?

Results may be useful to help understand the current trajectory of our electricity system and what might be necessary to reach net-zero. Reducing electricity emissions is an important part of Canada’s journey to net-zero emissions and could help set an example globally. As well, since greenhouse gasses are the main cause of climate change, emission reductions would result in a healthier environment for everyone.

If you had to dedicate your research to anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why?

Firstly, my supervisor Dr. Tim Weis and unofficial supervisor Dr. Andrew Leach. I am lucky to have had the chance to learn from such accomplished individuals. I'm grateful for the opportunities they have provided and their confidence in me, even when I doubt myself. Secondly, my parents, who have provided consistent support during every up exciting moment as well as the late nights and frustrations that come with being a graduate student.

Jessica Van Os – Pathways to Net-Zero Electricity in Alberta

Watch Jessica's Three Minute Thesis