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Laura Alcocer entered the energy industry by accident. At the behest of her senior thesis advisor at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) in Mexico City, she took a job at the advisor’s consulting firm, EnergeA, which specializes in energy project development in Mexico.

“I didn’t have a particular sense of what energy was, and then I got into oil and gas pretty quickly and I really enjoy it,” Alcocer said.

A native of Mexico City, Alcocer earned her bachelor’s in economics at ITAM and then worked for two years at EnergeA, assisting in the restructuring of a government agency in charge of regulating industrial safety and environmental protection in the Mexican hydrocarbons sector.

Alcocer then got a master’s in economics at the University of Texas at Austin before joining EPIC.

“My attraction to economics was that it was ‘mathy’ enough that I would like it, but also had the social aspect to it, so it wasn’t just working with something very abstract,” she said. “It was something that could be applied to the real world.”

At EPIC, Alcocer works on the agriculture sector with the Climate Impact Lab (CIL), a multi-organization, multidisciplinary research group that works to calculate the social impacts of climate change.

Alcocer said she plans to pursue a PhD post-EPIC, adding that she likes environmental economics more as she continues to work in it. She is particularly interested in industrial organization and electricity markets.

Regardless, moving from oil and gas consulting to research on environmental economics, climate change and policy has been rewarding, Alcocer said.

“It’s been a really enriching experience to work with people that are so knowledgeable in the subject, and I honestly could not have imagined the technological tools we use for our models. That’s amazing to me,” she said. “I’ve also been developing a new way of thinking about things, a mindset for approaching the research process.”

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