June 30, 2021

Dr. Getachew Assefa promoted to Professor

Sustainability scholar passionate about tackling global challenges
Dr. Getachew Assefa
Hayden Pattullo

SAPL is pleased to announce Dr. Getachew Assefa, PhD, has been promoted to Professor effective July 1, 2021. A faculty member of the University of Calgary since 2009, Assefa’s main area of academic research is sustainability. He has received over $1 million in grants during his tenure at UCalgary to further his work in life cycle sustainability assessment, energy technology assessment and the implications of large-scale use of mass timber in building and infrastructure construction.

Originally from Ethiopia, he has devoted his research and teaching activities to promote education and peace and sustainability activism within his homeland. Assefa has taught at the Addis Ababa Institute of Technology, supervised the research of PhD students at Ethiopian universities, served as academic advisor for an exchange between UCalgary and Bahir Dar University (BDU) and delivered keynotes on Sustainable Development & Design at international conferences. He has also published peer reviewed journal articles on social life cycle assessment and life cycle sustainability assessment - including the life cycle assessment of wind farms and hydroelectric generation in Ethiopia.

“Dr. Assefa’s areas of research in life cycle assessment and sustainability hold tremendous potential for growth especially with his ability to make the work operational,” explains Catherine Hamel, Associate Dean Architecture. Craig Gerlach, UCalgary’s Academic Coordinator for Sustainability, notes Assefa “has a passion for tackling the 'big challenges' for a more sustainable global world. Through this platform he actively engages students in complex systems thinking, and often with examples drawn from his own research. Through active formal course instruction and through more informal mentoring activities, he provides students not only with a holistic understanding of the problems embedded in sustainable community futures, but also with a road map for their own professional development and career choices.”

One of the big challenges Assefa is tackling is being an ambassador for the Tigray people and raising awareness of the difficulties they are facing. “Being promoted to professor is a privilege and a responsibility to do more and better work in sustainability, from the local to the global level, and from the material and energy to the level of communities and cities. I would like to use the privilege and responsibility of being a newly minted full professor to raise awareness of the ongoing genocidal atrocities including mass killing, gang rape, mass starvation, looting and destruction of health, education and other infrastructure in Tigray where I grew up, and where my mom and sister and many close relatives still live. I would like to call upon our university community, Canadians and the international community to help stop what has been going on since November 4, 2020 and hold those responsible to account and restore the basic foundations of sustainable communities, peace and security.”