Dr. Zapata was born in Texas and grew up in Northern Mexico. Later, he moved to Ohio where he lived for almost fifteen years. When asked what brought him to Colorado, he said, “Simple, Colorado has it all! The views, the weather, the people, the vibe, the initiative to pioneer, and a welcoming attitude to newcomers. Colorado was one of those places I always wanted to live in and now I am here.”
He obtained a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Ciudad Juarez and a Master of Science in Muscle Biology from the University of Chihuahua, in Mexico. He then moved to the United States where he earned a PhD at Ohio State University in Columbus, OH in the field of Muscle Proteomics and Applied Statistics.
Before coming to RVU, the experience he obtained while working on his PhD analyzing data led him to his first Postdoctoral position at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH. There he worked on a DOD grant where they developed models for cancer risk estimation using dogs. During that time, he developed a new research line in Behavioral Genomics in dogs. This work led to him being awarded a full Fellowship funded by the Stanton Foundation from Cambridge, MA. The second Postdoctoral position took place at Ohio State University, College of Veterinary Medicine in Columbus, Ohio. “My work in behavioral genetics has developed new ideas that allow us to see behavior and domestication in a novel way,” says, Dr. Zapata.
Dr. Zapata says, “RVU is a growing institution full of potential. If you are the type of person that is always looking for ways to develop new ideas, this is the environment you want to be in. I believe RVU has the expertise in place to move into research. It is an honor to be a part of that.”
He is passionate about research and is inspired most by the thrill of discovery. “Many people think that research is a planned-out, cold process; in reality, it is not. Research requires a great deal of open- mindedness and creativity that will lead you to new ideas and new ways to materialize them. As a scientist you don’t want to do what everyone else does, you want to do what nobody else has or can do. Being a Scientist is just like being an artist. Doing the same painting with different colors is nice but gradually loses its merit as it is repeated more and more times. Incorporating new concepts and expressing new ideas is a big challenge for an artist, the same thing for a scientist, says, Dr. Zapata
When Dr. Zapata isn’t working, he and his family love adventure. They like finding new places to eat, new trails to explore, meeting new people, and learning new and interesting facts about Colorado. He also enjoys finding new music but he loves making it even more. “Over the last couple of years, I have been producing music and have been lucky to have that music released through several independent labels in the US and around the world.”
Some interesting facts about Dr. Zapata are that he loves cheese and is allergic to cats. When asked if there was anything else he would like to share, he said, “Some free wisdom for you: “It’s all fun and games until you start eating ghost peppers.”