Joanna Szurmak        Scopus Author ID: 6506601382     ORCID:

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Joanna Szurmak photo taken in 2018​Research services and liaison librarian at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) Library working with the Psychology and Anthropology departments and the Robotics and Forensic Science programs; professional focus is scoping and systematic reviews.

PhD candidate in the Graduate Program in Science and Technology Studies at York University, Toronto, ON; studying Jane Jacobs as a knowledge producer.

Holds graduate degrees in electrical engineering and information studies from the University of Toronto; seconded to the Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation (CTSI) at the University of Toronto between 2010 and 2013 to build capacity for instruction among academic librarians.

worked in research labs, the Canadian telecommunications industry, and university libraries both in Canada and in the U.S.

 Recent publications (often listed here before the Publications link gets updated - apologies!):

Desrochers, P., & Szurmak, J. (2020). Population growth and the governance of complex institutions: People are more than mouths to feed. In Jenkins, M. E., Simmons, R, & Wardle, C. H. (Eds.), The Environmental Optimism of Elinor Ostrom (Ch. 4, 91-148 pp.). Logan, UT: The Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University. Retrieved from   

Desrochers, P., & Szurmak, J. (2020). The Environmental Benefits of Long-Distance Trade: Insights from the History of By-Product Development. In Jenkins, M. E., Simmons, R, & Wardle, C. H. (Eds.), The Environmental Optimism of Elinor Ostrom (Ch. 6, 173-210 pp.). Logan, UT: The Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University. Retrieved from​

Desrochers, P., & Szurmak, J. (2020). “Seven Billion Solutions Strong: Why Markets, Growth, and Innovation Are the Antidote to Eco-Pessimism.” Breakthrough Journal (Vol. 12, Winter 2020). Retrieved from 

Desrochers, P., & Szurmak, J. (2019). “The Long History of Eco-Pessimism.” Spiked! (October 25).  (reposted on several websites; translated and posted on a Swedish website)

Szurmak, J., & Desrochers, P. (2019). “Eco-Pessimism versus Techno-Optimism.” Areo (August 6). 

Desrochers, P., & Szurmak, J. (2019).“Population Density and Resource Abundance: Turning the Malthusian Logic on its Head.” New Geography (July 10).

Desrochers, P., & Szurmak, J. (2019).“The More the Green Crusade Changes, the More It Remains the Same.” New Geography (May 15). 

Thuna, M., & Szurmak, J. (2019). Telling their stories: A study of librarians' use of narrative in instruction. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 45(5)

Szurmak, J., Laflamme, M., Thuna, M., Ahmed, M., & Dhillon, K. (2019). A qualitative interview-based pilot study of discipline selection narratives by undergraduate science students: in search of “aha” moments and “bottlenecks”. Discussions on University Science Teaching: Proceedings of the Western Conference on Science Education, 2(1). Retrieved from

Szurmak, J. (2019). The science loop: How cognitive biases contribute to the intellectual entrenchment at the root of junk science. The Financial Post (June 20).

Szurmak, J., & Desrochers, P. (2018). The one-sided worldview of eco-pessimists. Quillette (3 December, 2018). This was a response to Dr. Christian Berggren's Quillette review of the Roslings' book Factfulness.

Desrochers, P., & Szurmak, J. (2018). Population bombed! Exploding the link between overpopulation and climate change. London, UK: Global Warming Policy Foundation. (258 pp.).

Population Bombed! was short-listed for the 2018-2019 Donner Prize. Please see the reviews and the op-eds.


My current research interests include: studying the impact of the work of Jane Jacobs, exploring the history and impact of "optimistic" viewpoints in the sciences and in popular discourse, exploring narrative methods in instruction, and researching the role of conceptual bottlenecks in discipline selection. 

In addition to academic projects and doctoral research, I have also worked on a podcast featuring the quirkier side of the University of Toronto Mississauga with Clearday founder Dr. Claire Carver-Dias. Please look up Bright Lights, Big Sauga on SoundCloud or iTunes and be sure to get Haunted . If you rate us on iTunes, we will be, as Claire assures, "eternally grateful."                 

 "You think you meet people by chance, but when you look back on your life you realise there was nothing random going on at all."   Jerome Bruner, 2007 interview.

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