Professor Zarama red mathematics at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá. He obtain his Doctorate from EHESS, Paris. By invitation of Magdalene College he had a postdoctoral fellowship at University of Oxford. Subsequently, he had a post-doctoral position at the Collège de France, at the end of this fellowship he was granted the doctorat d'État.
Professor Zarama has been a tenured professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at the Universidad de los Andes since 1998. He was Director of the department (2001-2013). He is a fellow of the IISE and member of other professional organizations.
In the past ten years, Professor Zarama has supervised 15 successful doctoral graduates and been thesis advisor to more than 40 Masters Students. As a result of his research there is an average of 5 peer-reviewed publications per year in the last five years. With Juan Felipe Penagos one of his doctoral student and in collaboration of the president of the university they structured the proposal that develop with the leadership of the minister of education the program named Ser Pilo Paga.
Professor Zarama lead the constitution of a research center named Ceiba-Complejidad. The center in now a foundation that funds research students and projects of its members. Professor Zarama is the academic director of Ceiba. The members of Ceiba are the following seven Universities: Universidad de Antioquia, Universidad de los Andes, Universidad del Norte, Universidad del Rosario, Universidad del Valle, Universidad Javeriana and Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Ceiba was founded to encourage collaboration between groups and individuals engaged in research into the application of the interdisciplinary research to issues of strategic importance for Colombia and other developing countries. Topics have included internal conflict arising from insurgent activities, health systems, inequitable wealth distribution, innovation in major cities and problems associated with the integration and optimization of transit systems. In 2017 Ceiba had more than 600 students sponsored by the foundation.
Professor Zarama has also worked as a consultant form many public, private and non-government organization.