who we are

The Pacific Regional Institute for Marine Energy Discovery (PRIMED) is a research lab hosted by the Institute for Integrated Energy Systems of Victoria (IESVic) in the engineering department at the University of Victoria, which has been engaged in marine renewable energy (MRE) research for over 20 years.




PRIMED, in it’s current form, was created between October 2017- March 2020, through a $1.45M grant from the former Western Economic Diversification (WED), now Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan). The group has been engaged in marine renewable energy (MRE) research on the BC coast for over 20 years. Originally known as the West Coast Wave Initiative (WCWI). The groups early work was primarily focused on characterising the Wave Energy Resource off the West coast of Vancouver Island. Since then the scope of work has grown to become much broader than that of the original WCWI group.


Ben Whitby, PhD

Program Manager/Research Engineer

Ben works as a Research Engineer for PRIMED (Pacific Regional Institute for Marine Energy Discovery). He holds a Ph.D. from Cardiff University, UK and a M.Eng (Hons) degree in electronic engineering from the University of Exeter, UK. He has a background in renewable energies, power electronics, and power systems. This includes extensive experience in the marine energy sector. Prior to joining PRIMED he spent five years working as a consulting engineer in the offshore renewable energy group for UK based consultancy ITPEnergised. In this role, Ben was primarily responsible for providing technical engineering advisory services to clients and gained significant experience working with early stage marine energy device developers. He also participated in several European Union Funded (FP7) research and development projects, mainly related to offshore wind and marine renewable energy.

His PhD research focused on the control and electromechanical engineering design aspects of axial flow tidal stream turbines. This included investigating power limitation mechanisms and power maximisation control methods, as well as optimising the performance of the turbines electrical power take-off with consideration of overall device operation and impact on Cost of Energy.

In his spare time, he is an avid rugby fan and part-time brewer. He would one day like to open his own brewery.

Riley Richardson, MSc

Project Manager/ Engagement Lead

Riley Richardson is a Project Manager and the Engagement Lead at PRIMED with a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Geography from the University of Victoria. Riley currently works on a range of research topics spanning spatial analysis, economic analysis, community engagement, and regulatory & policy guidance.

Ignacio Beyá Marshall, MSc

Research Engineer

Ignacio graduated in 2010 from the Civil Engineering department at the University of Chile (major in hydraulic, environmental and sanitary engineering). Most of his professional working experience has been at the National Institute of Hydraulics in Chile where he was involved in projects of national interest related to artificial beach and breakwater design, dam-break and flood velocities and areas of inundation estimation, wave energy assessment, downtime estimation in harbors, hydrology in altiplanic watersheds, sediment transport in rivers and beaches, among others.

Ignacio arrived to Canada in June of 2018 to pursue a masters at the University of Victoria with the West Coast Wave Initiative (WCWI) group. He is currently working on the assessment of the wave energy along the Pacific coast of Canada using numerical modelling and wave measurements.

Sean Buchanan, BEng

Lab Technician

Sean received his BEng in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Victoria in December 2021. He spent 8 months at the Dynamics and Digital Manufacturing Lab modelling robot dynamics during machining. This research culminated in a final honours thesis modelling the relationship between robot motor torques and milling forces. Sean is now a modelling research assistant and battery lab technician at PRIMED. He plans to continue his research in modelling and dynamics, with a new focus on battery degradation.

Sam Johnson, BSc

Software Developer

Sam is a full-stack software developer with a Bachelor degree of Computer Science in Software Engineering from the
University of Victoria.

Blake Holowaty

Blake Holowaty is a Research Engineer focusing on mechanical design and simulation at PRIMED. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Victoria. Blake’s expertise lies in Computer-Aided Design where he creates detailed mechanical models and engineering drawings. He originally joined PRIMED as a co-op student in the Fall of 2023, where he gained valuable experience and insight into the company’s operations and projects.

Rezvan Rakhshan, EIT

Research Engineer

Rezvan holds a master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology. She also earned bachelor’s degrees in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanical Engineering from the same university. With four years of experience as a design engineer, her expertise lies in designing, manufacturing, and developing turbomachines. Presently, she is involved in conducting CFD simulations and FEA analysis for tidal turbines.

Anthony received his BEng in Mechanical Engineering from the Royal Military College of Canada (Kingston, ON) in May of 2011 and MASc from UVic in 2018. During his engineering undergraduate studies, Anthony particularly enjoyed working in the modelling and simulation of dynamical systems and control theory. Anthony served in the Canadian Forces from June 2006 until July 2016; this included two years of service in the infantry and eight years of service in naval engineering. Towards the end of his military service, Anthony began pursuing, purely out of interest, a B.Sc. in Applied Mathematics by correspondence with Athabasca University (Athabasca, AB); he completed this degree in August of 2016. During his mathematics undergraduate studies, Anthony particularly enjoyed working in mathematical modelling and simulation, differential equations, and optimization.

Anthony is currently working as a research engineer with PRIMED. His research interests include modelling, simulation, and optimization.

Our projects would not be possible without the generous funding from Pacific Economic Development Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

PRIMED is fortunate to be part of the University of Victoria’s Institute for Integrated Energy Systems (IESVic).