Major Fellowship Activities: Zerriffi worked primarily on the future of the nuclear weapons complex. His major activity was his research project on two aspects of the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons complex: tritium production for nuclear warheads and the stockpile stewardship program to replace nuclear testing. His research on the DOE’s tritium production resulted in a report entitled “Tritium: The environmental, health, budgetary, and strategic effects of the Department of Energy’s decision to produce tritium,” an op-ed, and an article in the Institute’s newsletter, Science for Democratic Action.
He also conducted research on the Department of Energy’s Science Based Stockpile Stewardship program which resulted in a report which he co-wrote entitled “The Nuclear Safety Smokescreen: Warhead Safety and Reliability and the Science Based Stockpile Stewardship Program.” He co-authored “The U.S. Can’t Have It Both Ways,” an article drawing on some aspects of this work which was published in the March/April Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Current Activities: Zerriffi is an Associate Professor in Forest Resources Management at the University of British Columbia (UBC). He is the Principal Investigator for the Energy Resources, Development and Environment Laboratory at UBC Forestry and was a UBC Faculty Senator during the 2020-2023 academic year. He is also the Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the UBC Faculty of Forestry.
He was previously an Assistant Professor and the Ivan Head South/North Research Chair in the Liu Institute for Global Issues at UBC.
His research is at the intersection of technology, energy, and the environment, with a particular focus on rural areas of the developing world. He teaches and conducts research on the links between energy, environment and development with on-going research projects in China, India, Cambodia and Brazil. He is also a Faculty Affiliate at the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University and a member of the board of directors of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. He was previously a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Center for Environmental Science and Policy at Stanford where he led a project on the use of small-scale electric power systems for rural electrification in the developing world. He was also a visiting fellow at the World Resources Institute in their Climate and Energy Program. His doctoral thesis was on electricity systems under stress (e.g., electricity systems in areas of conflict or war). The research examined the reliability and economic impact of using wide-scale distributed generation (small power generators located close to users rather than current paradigm of large power plants and long-distance electricity transmission), particularly under stress. He worked for several years as a senior scientist at IEER. He co-wrote “Magical Thinking” which appears in the March/April 2001 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. He co-wrote “Nuclear Alchemy Gamble: An Assessment of Transmutation as a Nuclear Waste Management Strategy.” He wrote comments on the Department of Energy Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Facility. He spoke at a forum about technical and legal issues relating to the CTBT and ABM treaty at an IEER-sponsored conference entitled “Nuclear Disarmament, the NPT, and the Rule of Law” at the U.N. He co-wrote a report entitled Dangerous Thermonuclear Quest: The Potential of Explosive Fusion Research for the Development of Pure Fusion Weapons. He co-wrote Pure Fusion Weapons? which appeared in the October 1998 issue of Science for Democratic Action. Research he conducted during this time resulted in an article which appeared in the September/October 1996 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists entitled “The Stewardship Smokescreen.”
The Scoville Fellowship was an excellent opportunity for me…without the Fellowship it would have been very difficult for me to get experience in the non-profit sector working on these issues. By providing a paid position, the Scoville Fellowship removed a major hurdle towards getting work experience that is crucial for my professional and career goals. IEER provided a great work environment, substantive and challenging work, and Arjun Makhijani was and continues to be a great role model for an aspiring scientist concerned about the world…the lessons that I have learned here about the role of science and scientists will stay with me throughout my career. All in all I think the Scoville Fellowship program is excellent and I am very thankful for having had the opportunity to participate.