KAREN HAUGEN-KOZYRA, P.AG., M.Sc. (PRESIDENT)
Karen has over 25 years of experience in agricultural greenhouse gas measurement, modeling, and climate change/environmental policy development – spanning her tenure at the provincial Department of Agriculture in Alberta, then at the not-for-profit Climate Change Central, and now in the private sector. During her tenure with the province, Karen was part of the cross-governmental team that developed Alberta’s Bioenergy Policy Framework, which was approved by cabinet in 2008. This framework set the stage for Alberta’s Bioenergy Program administered by the Department of Energy. Karen also led ecosystem goods and service policy and program development, in concert with other federal, provincial, and territorial governments under Canada’s Agriculture Policy Frameworks. In her earlier years with the provincial department of agriculture, she conducted research and studies of environmental mitigation opportunities for agriculture in air, water, soil and biodiversity
Her most significant contribution while she worked in the public and not-for-profit sectors was her work at a national level, with federal-provincial and territorial governments on the Canadian National Offset Quantification Team (NOQT). Karen, through her capacity on the Team, designed the protocol development process, represented the agricultural sector in Canada, and coordinated the development of several agricultural quantification protocols. In 2007, Karen was seconded to Climate Change Central, a not-for-profit established by the Government of Alberta. There, Karen led the implementation of the necessary market processes, infrastructure, and tools needed to get the Alberta Carbon Offset Market off the ground. In that role, Karen and her Team leveraged the previous NOQT work to help build sound rules, platforms, science-based quantification protocols, tools, and infrastructure (e.g. registry) needed to facilitate the development of a Carbon Offset Market in Alberta.
Currently, Karen is President of Viresco Solutions Inc. – a network of leading advisors making sustainability real for public and private clients in the agriculture, energy, and food sectors across North America and globally. Our team of experts enables our clients to meet their environmental, social, and economic sustainability objectives by leveraging our knowledge and experience in environmental policy, markets, and economics. Viresco Solutions provides clients from across North America with support from strategy and policy development through to project implementation and Measuring, Reporting, and Verification platforms.
Karen obtained a Biological Sciences Diploma from NAIT, BSc in Plant Sciences, and MSc in Soil Microbiology and Biochemistry from the University of Alberta. Karen is also a registered Professional Agrologist with the Alberta Institute of Agrology.
DR. BRIAN MCCONKEY, Ph.D. (CHIEF SCIENTIST)
Prior to his joining Viresco as Chief Scientist, Brian had 35 years of diverse experience in agri-environmental research, technology application, and science policy with the Alberta Ministry of Agriculture, Environment Canada, and, primarily, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. His research has been wide-ranging including soil and plant processes, soil health, water-agriculture inter-relationships, impacts of climate change on agriculture, quantifying carbon sequestration, and greenhouse gas emissions at the field to national scales, the sustainability of bioenergy, life-cycle assessment, and sustainability metrics. He led the initiative that developed the methods for quantifying the change in carbon stocks on Canada’s agricultural land used in Canada’s national greenhouse gas inventory.
Brian has contributed to the design of offset protocols for agricultural activities. From 2010 to 2014, he worked on developing the national strategy for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on agri-environmental research, development, and technology transfer. He was chosen by the IPCC to be a lead author for three different guidance documents that countries follow to report their national inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. From 2010 to 2018, he was co-chair of the Integrative Research Group for Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases involving 52-member countries.
Dr. McConkey has authored or co-authored 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. He has been invited to national and international conferences to speak on his research. Many private and public organizations have sought his extensive expertise for input on science-based solutions. He has a BSc (Ag. Eng) from the University of Manitoba, an MSc (Ag. Eng.) from the University of Alberta, and a Ph.D. (Soils) from Washington State University.
SAYEED MAHADI, MSc. (SUSTAINABILITY SPECIALIST)
Sayeed has 12+ years of working experience in leading innovative projects on Carbon offset, Sustainability, Nature-based solutions, Climate Change, Renewable Energy and International Development. He holds a Master of Science (MSc.) in Renewable Energy Technology (2015) and a Bachelor of Science (BSc.) in Mechanical Engineering (2011). At Viresco, he conducts research and advises on policies related to Sustainable Agriculture, Nature-based solutions, Carbon markets, Greenhouse Gas(GHG) Accounting and Reporting and Sustainability Strategy, manages public and private sector consulting contracts and coordinates scientific workshops and meetings. Prior to joining Viresco Solutions, he worked for Radicle Group Inc. and Practical Action. Till now, he worked with various multi-year multi-cultural multidimensional multi-million-dollar impactful projects, assignments and research works funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Global Affairs Canada, UNICEF, Netherlands Enterprise Agency, European Commission, USAID, Norec, Swisscontact, GIZ, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Canada, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Kenya.
He has extensive experience in conducting scoping and feasibility studies, baseline and project assessments, project development and management, GHG accounting and reporting, stakeholder management, clean technologies, carbon markets, policy analysis and development.
Sayeed has utilized his analytical capabilities and communication skills to write several articles, reports, and website content. Some of his research findings were published in IEEE Xplore, MDPI, American Institute of Physics (AIP) Conference Proceedings, WasteSafe, IconSWM. He has affiliations with various national and international organizations like ACTia, SESA, and LCEDN, etc. He was a participant of the Norec Skill Exchange program and CEU-UNIDO green industry SUN course (2015) and received Senior-level Leadership training from Franklin Covey. He has received training in ISO 14064 International standard for quantifying and reporting greenhouse gas emissions, CQI & IRCA (UK) Certified ISO 9001:2015 QMS, ISO 45001:2018 OHSMS, and ISO 14001:2015 EMS.
REBECCA E. JOHNSON, MSc. (SUSTAINABILITY SPECIALIST)
Rebecca has a strong background in climate change and environmental sciences, with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences (BSc.ENV) degree with a specialization in atmospheric and soil sciences and a Master’s of Science (MSc.) in Environmental Sciences from the University of Guelph. She is an NSERC CREATE Climate-Smart Soils scholar which provided her with a unique perspective on sustainable crop production. At Viresco, Rebecca provides analysis and technical writing expertise on projects related to sustainable agriculture and soil carbon sequestration.
Rebecca has worked on projects related to agriculture, bioenergy, and greenhouse gas emissions. During her bachelor’s degree, she undertook an independent research project on micrometeorological instrumentation methods for carbon dioxide measurement in agricultural systems. She worked with the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers to do a cost-benefit analysis of using greenhouse vegetable waste residues as the primary feedstock for anaerobic digestion in Southern Ontario. She also was a part of innovative research for optimizing high-value crop growth in greenhouses.
During her master’s degree, Rebecca advocated for soil health at the Soil Health Interpretive Centre and worked with the Soil Conservation Council of Canada / Compost Canada on a roadmap report for soil carbon sequestration in Canada’s managed soils. As part of her master’s thesis, Rebecca developed a novel greenhouse gas measurement method for nitrous oxide emissions. This method was then used to find nitrous oxide mitigation strategies on a variety of cropping systems (simplified bi-culture, diversified, cover cropped, warmed) on varying soil types.
LUCIE VICIANO, MSc. (SUSTAINABILITY SPECIALIST)
Lucie graduated with a BSc. Geography (2003) and an MSc. Remote Sensing (2004) from University of London colleges and completed her interests in the sustainability domain with a Commodity Trading course in 2008. She is passionate about finding and implementing sustainable solutions for stakeholders to minimize negative environmental impacts based on operations and policy initiatives.
Lucie has worked as a consultant for over 10 years in the UK and Canada in technical and strategic advisory roles for satellite sector specialist consultancies (Esys in the UK and Euroconsult North America in Montreal, Canada) and on due diligence mandates across the infrastructure sector (Mott MacDonald). She then worked as Sales and Business Development Manager for a reforestation-based carbon offset project developer based in Canada and as Climate Officer for McGill University, contributing to the institutions’ efforts in working towards carbon neutrality. She is also on the board of a local Quebec-based non-profit (GRAME) focusing on environmental education, terrain work, and regulatory influence.
In her role as a sustainability specialist at Viresco, she brings her experience in market research and analysis, benchmarking, strategic decision-making, business development, and communications. Her particular interests lie in promoting nature-based solutions and sharing best practices to influence positive change across sectors. She is a fluent French speaker.
TREVOR PAUL, MES. (SUSTAINABILITY SPECIALIST)
Trevor graduated with a Bachelor of Bio-resource Management (BBRM) degree with a major in environmental management, and a course-based Masters of Environmental Science (MES) from the University of Guelph. He focused many of his studies on identifying holistic adaptation and mitigation strategies to combat natural and anthropogenic influenced climate change. At Viresco, Trevor looks to provide innovative research and analysis, and writing experience within projects related to nature-based solutions and methods to strategically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Trevor has experience working on projects related to environmental policy, ecosystem restoration, climate change science, and Indigenous community planning. During his time in academia, he would often rely on nature-based solutions (NbS) such as ecosystem services, and natural capital to qualify and quantify the importance of enhanced ecological integrity and sustainable conservation efforts to provide future generations with adequate resources. He believes concepts such as NbS can be used to identify and provide solutions to environmental, economic, and social sustainability.
Trevor’s experience working within the environmental sector has allowed him to collaborate on a series of ecosystem restoration projects. Success within these projects provides the ability to appreciate the importance of sound ecological integrity and the services ecosystems provide to all beings.
WILSON FINK, BSc., AIT (SUSTAINABILITY SPECIALIST)
Wilson was raised on a mixed farm of grain, beef, and dairy in south-east Saskatchewan. His environmental interests led him to the BSc. Agroecology program at the University of Manitoba, which he graduated from in 2019. For his undergrad thesis project, Wilson studied the utility of using various C4 grasses for carbon storage and biofuel potential in southern Manitoba.
Wilson deepened his knowledge of cropping systems and environmental agronomy as a member of the Natural Systems Agriculture Lab in the University of Manitoba’s Department of Plant Science. He worked on field research projects testing the resiliency, sustainability, and productivity of crop rotations which differed in their degree of plant diversity and nutrient management. Wilson was also involved in organic crop breeding, phosphorous amendment studies, and mechanical weed control trials. In 2021, he helped found the Climate Action Committee in the Department of Plant Science.
As a Sustainability Specialist with Viresco Solutions, Wilson draws on his background in research and agronomy to support organizations in their sustainability initiatives. He is registered as an Agrologist-in-Training with the Manitoba Institute of Agrologists.
PAULA FIGUEROA DELGADO, BSc. (SUSTAINABILITY SPECIALIST)
Paula graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural and Environmental Science (BSc. Ag&Env) with a Food Production and Environment domain from McGill University. She is passionate about the intersection of environmentalism and agriculture. She comes from a cattle ranching background in Colombia, she also worked with the McGill dairy farm where she collaborated in animal welfare trials and fertilization plans.
Paula has experience in agricultural commodities and the supply chain as she worked as a commodity trader before joining Viresco. While trading commodities she deepened her understanding of the challenges involved in sourcing raw materials and created strong, lasting relationships down the supply chain. She has also collaborated with interdisciplinary projects in Barbados related to alternative fertilizer sources, water quality, and environmental remediation.
Paula is determined to use her knowledge and skills to find and share concrete solutions to problems that involve land use, food production, and emissions from agriculture to make a positive shift in the existing food systems. She is fluent in English, Spanish, and French.
DR. XIAOMEI LI, PhD. (SENIOR ASSOCIATE)
Joining Viresco Solutions as an Associate, Xiaomei brings 30 years of experience in agriculture and municipal waste management and greenhouse gas measurements. Her former research technology development programs with Alberta Innovates (former Alberta Research Council and Alberta Innovates-Energy and Environmental Solutions) focused on understanding responses of terrestrial ecosystems to environmental changes, developing technologies and solutions to mitigate impacts of these environmental changes, and promoting a sustainable and circular economy in Alberta.
Xiaomei’s technology development efforts aim to address environmental challenges in waste recycling, organic waste utilization and conversion, biogas generation, and the management of land and water resources. Her previous work has run the gamut from laboratory research to commercialization and marketing of innovative products, both within private sector firms as well as non-profit and government agencies. Her major accomplishments include:
• Creating a Biowaste Utilization Program that drove efforts of turning livestock waste into marketable products, including bioenergy and biofertilizer.
• Inventing IMUS (Integrated Manure Utilization System), which turns manure and agricultural waste into energy and value-added product.
• Investigating the effect of ethylene emission impact on agricultural crops, which contributed to the establishment of the official guidelines for ethylene oxide distribution in Alberta.
• Initiating a new approach to the reclamation of oil sand disturbed areas using organic wastes generated by its production, where the soil regeneration process will be initiated by creating a favourable soil physical environment in which biological processes can proceed uninhibitedly.
• Working with her partner to develop the K-model and the Soil P-Export Model (SPEM) that allows users to quantify soil carbon storage and assess the environmental risks associated with P runoff into surface water from agricultural land.
Xiaomei has authored or co-authored 12 published/issued patents, and 175 reports and peer-reviewed journal articles. She has been invited to speak on her research and technology to university classes, national and international conferences. Xiaomei has a BSc (agricultural chemistry and soil science) from Shanxi Agricultural University, MSc (soil physics) from China Agricultural University, and Ph.D. (soil and plant water relation) from Oregon State University. Xiaomei is a retired Professional Agrologist.
AARON SCHROEDER, P.Eng. (SENIOR ASSOCIATE)
Aaron, a Professional Engineer with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta, is both the Founder and Director of Brightspot Climate and an Associate with Viresco Solutions. Aaron brings more than thirteen years of experience analyzing, quantifying, and auditing greenhouse gas emissions in North America. Prior to forming Brightspot in 2015, Aaron worked for several years leading a team of fifteen GHG verification and policy analysts across Canada with ICF International.
Aaron has developed the corporate greenhouse gas inventories of a broad range of companies including international wineries, financial institutions, property management companies, municipalities, and industrial facilities. His verification experience exceeds 300 greenhouse gas offset projects and facility verifications. These verifications include but are not limited to commercial buildings, electricity generation, oil & gas extraction and processing, greenhouse operations, beef management, conservation cropping (zero-tillage) and nitrogen fertilizer management reduction projects, as well as renewable energy, and waste management. He is sought after for his expertise in devising strategies to bridge the gap between theoretical and practical implementation of methodologies for quantifying, reporting, and verifying.
For the previous five years, Aaron has been an instructor at the University of Toronto’s School of Environment and School of Continuing Studies, teaching courses focus on the three parts of the ISO 14064 standard, which provides governments, businesses, regions, and other organisations with a complimentary set of tools for programs to quantify, monitor, report and verify greenhouse gas emissions.
Aaron has a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan and is originally from rural Saskatchewan where he grew up on his family’s mixed dairy and grain farm. His experience in agriculture is apparent in his work ethic and his knowledge of farming practices on the Canadian Prairies.
TOM OGARANKO, BA, LLB (SENIOR ASSOCIATE)
Tom Ogaranko leads transformational change with high performing teams focused on complex challenges. Over his 26-year career, he has founded, built and exited multiple technology companies in advanced technology industries. He has advised the Governments of Canada and France and several Canadian Provincial Governments on innovation policy and has been involved in structuring the three crown agencies involved in research, innovation and technology development. Tom has assembled and structured $1B of investment funds for stimulating and growing innovative capacity for public and private clients. Tom is a frequent advisor to the Government on policies to grow ICT, biotechnology, genomics and cleantech sectors. Tom has also actively advised some of the leading innovative companies in Canada’s pharmaceutical, energy, mining, telecommunications and technology sectors.
Tom is presently involved in the development of a test and demonstration centre in Edmonton for bio industrial innovations, advises the Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre in Vancouver on its Industrial Challenge Program advancing pre-commercial innovations to market faster.