Zach grew up in Colstrip and received a scholarship to the Montana Science Institute at Canyon Ferry while in high school. He is shown at a site in Rimini, a small historic town near Helena, where he monitored mine effluent for metal contaminants as part of his MSI study. Last spring he won a prestigious Udall scholarship as well as the Richard Field Physical Chemistry Award at UM.
What person changed your life? Dr. Graeme Baker—a mentor, chemist, but most of all an adopted grandfather. He taught me the wonder of chemistry and showed me how much fun life is from start to finish. (Baker, chemistry professor emeritus from Florida State University, was Zach’s professor at the Montana Science Institute.)
When you were ten, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to write novels. Now I’m writing research papers.
What’s the best advice you ever got? The best advice I ever received (and paid attention to) was from Dr. Graeme Baker: Make haste slowly.
What is your greatest hidden talent? People are always surprised at my musical side. I’ve performed as a pianist and tenor for many years.
What book would you take into your ‘next life’? Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends.
What’s your favorite bumpersticker? Be careful of stupid people in large numbers.
What was the best class you ever hated? Physical chemistry—8 a.m. all year, hard as a rock, best class ever.
What surprised you most when you came to UM? How easily I just fell into place.
If you could light anything on fire right now, what would it be? My car. It’s slowly falling to pieces.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure? Watching over-the-top comedies in the middle of the day with a huge bowl of vanilla ice cream with homemade hot fudge sauce.
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