Nov. 16, 2022
Zach Schlamowitz receiving the Astronaut award

Zach Schlamowitz (right) receiving the award from former astronaut Steve Smith (left).

Zach Schlamowitz reached for the stars, and the effort paid off. 

Schlamowitz was awarded the 2022 Astronaut Foundation Scholarship award, one of the largest merit-based scholarships awarded to undergraduates in STEM. He was presented with the award by former astronaut and space shuttle veteran Steve Smith, at an award ceremony hosted at the University of Arizona Sands Club last week.  

Math IS For Everyone 

Tucson “born n’ raised” Schlamowitz is a Franke Honors Senior studying mathematics, expressing his interest in the subject for both its theory and application across disciplines, particularly in biology and economics. 

“As an undergraduate researcher in economics, cell biology, and data analytics, I've heard many people claim that math is not for them. However, as a mathematician, I believe that math can be for anyone,” said Schlamowitz.  

Communication and accessibility are at the heart of Schlamowitz’s study and research. He is passionate about fostering conversation that will bring about a mutual understanding of mathematics from people of different backgrounds, both science and non-science. 

“I recently read a quote proposing the notion that to solve a problem, one must simply bring together the right ideas by facilitating communication between the right people. Outside of science I see similar importance in communicating with individuals of various ages and backgrounds to strengthen mutual interest and understanding.” 

Schlamowitz’s undergraduate research joins math with important social issues. A long-running research project that he has been working on involves environmental economics and climate change, putting numbers on the impact that climate change is having on the economy. Additionally, his honors thesis project pertains to biology—using math to investigate which proteins can tailor cellular responses to oxidative stress. 

“Between interesting coursework, continuing and new research projects, and applications for the next phase, I’ve had my hands full.”  

Over The Moon 


Zach with Franke Honors College Deans, John Pollard and Karna Walter

Schlamowitz is congratulated by Franke Honors Interim Dean, John Pollard (left) and Assistant Dean for Student Engagement, Karna Walter (right).

Schlamowitz is congratulated by Franke Honors Interim Dean, John Pollard (left) and Assistant Dean for Student Engagement, Karna Walter (right).

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) was created in 1984 by the six surviving astronauts from Mercury 7 and is one of the most prestigious scholarships for juniors and seniors showing promise in STEM. Schlamowitz originally heard about the scholarship through his honors experience and proximity to the Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships (ONCS).  

“I knew I resonated with [ASF’s] focus on academic excellence and curiosity in the form of research. My excitement about the opportunity then grew when I discovered a mutual connection with last year’s Arizona Astronaut Scholar, Roberto Peralta. Talking with him about his experience helped clarify my understanding of what the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) is all about—STEM innovation” reflected Schlamowitz. 

He began the application process last year, writing personal statements, obtaining letters of recommendation, and brainstorming future innovation goals and research. He was over the moon when he got his response.  

“The notification email was by far the most terrific email to open the first week of summer break. Sitting at the kitchen table with my family, it took me a moment to process the meaning of what I was reading,” Schlamowitz was particularly elated to share the news with Roberto, letting him know what he had just achieved.  

ASF and beyond! 

Big accomplishments go hand in hand with big dreams, and Schlamowitz is already looking at the road ahead. He is currently applying to PhD programs in applied math, as well as travel scholarships for research that he would like to conduct in an international lab.  

Outside of his studies, Schlamowitz enjoys communication and science in different ways—in the form of swing dancing and bread baking. 

“I have come to appreciate the communication that happens through your movements and interactions with your swing dancing partner. I also am a bread-baking enthusiast and absolutely love the feeling of seeing a loaf come together from simple ingredients and the work of my hands. Sharing a fresh loaf with family and friends is a terrific way to end a day.”