The School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS) is pleased to introduce our new faculty member, Dr. Oscar Zapata, who joined us officially on May 1, 2021.
Dr. Zapata is an Assistant Professor and Centennial Chair in Community Energy Development in SENS, and he brings with him a wealth of Canadian and international research experience.
His work focuses on understanding the broad socio-economic impacts of energy development and its value proposition for rural and remote communities, where energy security can be pivotal for promoting social change and improving living conditions. As a researcher, Zapata is both pragmatic and optimistic.
“There is a disparity in energy access across different communities, in Canada and around the world, and my challenge is to find ways to address this so that everyone can enjoy the benefits that come with having consistent and reliable access to energy. Some levels of inequality might be inevitable but narrowing the gap of access to energy between communities, and also within communities, is critical for social cohesion,” says Zapata.
“If we want to transition from non-renewable to renewable energy models it is so important to get industry on side. An important aspect of my research is to show that renewable energy models are possible, beneficial, convenient, and profitable—that there is the possibility for income generation, employment, savings, and growth, in addition to increased well-being for individuals and communities.”
Zapata employs quantitative methodologies including statistical analysis, econometrics, economic modelling, and experimental design. He has considerable experience working with indigenous communities in the Amazon and the Andes of South America, and more recently with First Nations communities in Canada. He holds a PhD and master’s degree in Economics (University of Calgary) and a master’s degree in Sustainable International Development (Brandeis University).