Introducing the team: Susan O’Donnell, primary investigator

It’s an exciting time to be researching energy transitions. Politicians and people everywhere are thinking and talking about how we will transition off fossil fuels, and those conversations will become more frequent and intense as we get closer to Canada’s targets of massively reducing GHG emissions by 2030 and building net-zero electricity grids by 2035. The conversations we need to be having include: how all energy use contributes to biodiversity loss, the limits to economic growth, and what we can learn from Indigenous nations about caring for all our relations and making decisions with future generations in mind.

I’ve been a social science researcher for almost three decades, starting in 1995 with a three-year contract at Dublin City University in Ireland after completing my Master’s degree at Cardiff University in Wales. When that first research contract ended, I started a research consultancy in Dublin while completing my PhD and worked for five years on projects involving different European countries. I returned to Canada in 2004 to join the National Research Council (NRC) in Fredericton where I worked on projects involving a range of technologies. My current focus – analyzing the social, environmental, economic and political aspects of nuclear technologies – started in 2020, as a researcher at the University of New Brunswick. I moved to St. Thomas University (also in Fredericton) and launched the CEDAR project in 2023.

In addition to and alongside my research work, I’m an activist and writer. I started in the environmental movement at Carleton University in the late 1970s with the radio show Eco-Chamber on CKCU FM and later worked for Pollution Probe in Ottawa. Over the years I’ve been active in the feminist movement and as a leader in my NRC public sector union. I’m currently a volunteer on several boards of non-governmental organizations and a core member of the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick (CRED-NB).