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Cooking Inspires Love for Chemistry and Future Career for Zach Friar Chem’18

By Katherine Tancredi

Published on May 24, 2018

Zach FriarWhile working as sous chef at Thomas Kellar’s Bouchon Bakery in New York City, Zach Friar Chem’18, found a passion for chemistry. After reading Harold McGee’s book, On Food and Cooking, and exploring molecular gastronomy techniques in his cooking, Friar was hooked and decided to change career paths to further his interest in physical chemistry, He is now pursuing a graduate degree and looks forward to a career in renewable energy research.

After graduating from USciences, Friar will attend University of California, Berkeley in their physical chemistry PhD program. He plans to study inorganic materials with energy applications, He believes that his studies at USciences prepared him to enter one of the country’s top chemistry programs.

“I think that obtaining my bachelor’s degree from a small university has provided me with a lot of opportunities to get the most knowledge out of my professors as I could,” said Friar. “During office hours I was able to have a lot of great one-on-one conversations with my professors that were beyond the scope of the courses that I was in. These courses fostered my curiosity and continually challenged me.”

After earning his associates degree in science from the Community College of Philadelphia, Friar transferred to USciences, where he was drawn to the school’s small class sizes, strong reputation, and abundant research opportunities.

“I had heard that the University of the Sciences was a rigorous science school that prided itself on the ability of a majority of undergraduates to perform independent research,” said Friar.

During his time at USciences, Friar had the opportunity to start undergraduate research during his first semester and take directed studies that gave him a foundation for future research. Friar worked for associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry Alexander Sidorenko, PhD, on a project called Co-Ordianated Responsive Arrays of surface-Linked polymer islands (CORALs). He focused on investigating post-grafting modifications and morphological studies. Much of his work was done independently. Taking on that responsibility helped fuel his passion for the project.

“I was given my own project to work on independently,” explained Friar. “This really motivated me to take ownership over my project and it pushed me to do the best that I could.”

For incoming students, Friar has some advice.

“You get out of education exactly what you put into it,” said Friar. “It is easy to do just enough to get by and be fine, but the way to truly maximize your potential is to continually push yourself into situations where you are uncomfortable. You never know how much you can take on until you try. There are amazing opportunities at University of the Sciences, but it is up to you to seek them out.”

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