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Behind the microscope

Faces of ASU Special Edition: Zach Marsh

Published: Monday, March 11, 2013

Updated: Monday, March 11, 2013 17:03


Caitlin LaFarlette, Photo Editor

Some students can claim their research at ASU helped them become a doctor or chemist, but Zach Marsh’s entitlement has an interesting twist. His lab work with ABI will guide him with his Peace Corps work and has even aided in brewing homemade beer.

Marsh, a senior biology major of Hot springs, works with immortalized, hairy roots that are created when adding bacterium to plants.  
After the conversion the roots are grown in a liquid medium.

“It never dies,” Marsh explained. “It continually grows.”

This constant growth allows for different experiments with the plants, which contain anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

“We’re trying to enhance these yields so we have a natural product that we can use to sell to the public that they can supplement their diet with,” he said.

Marsh received a summer internship at ABI after his sophomore year, along with a $2,500 stipend.

“My boss that I was working with offered for me to stay on with him,” Marsh said. “I’ve been working in that lab for two years.”

Amazingly, this work will tie in with Marsh’s plans to join the Peace Corps and work in developing countries.

“A lot of problems are agricultural issues,” he explained, adding that his scientific background could help him increase nutritional value of food.

Like many students entering college, Marsh came to ASU with a direct career plan.  Eventually, that idea evolved into something else.

“As long as I can remember I wanted to be a doctor,” he said. “It wasn’t until my junior year that I decided that it was no longer my dream to become a physician, and that I wanted to serve wherever I was in a different way.”

From there, Marsh decided to look into the Peace Corps to serve at a local level.  
He is interested in helping with public health issues, and plans to obtain a master’s in public health with an emphasis in epidemiology.

With that degree, Marsh would be able to study the spread of disease.  “I’d like to work in a developing country, maybe through the CDC,” he added.

Marsh will be entering the Peace Corps before going back to school for his master’s. In four to six weeks he will learn where his first assignment will be.  
He hopes that he will travel to a Spanish speaking country but is comfortable with almost anywhere.  
His commitment will include three months of training and then two years of serving.

The volunteer work will be nothing new for Marsh. During his four years in college he has been actively involved with Volunteer ASU and is the Alternative Spring Break Chair.  This spring break Marsh will be traveling to Austin, Texas with 10 other students to participate in volunteer activities.

Behind the microscopes and philanthropy, Marsh has discovered a new hobby with brewing beer.

“It’s kind of applying my biology to cooking, in a way,” he said.

He discovered the emerging trend on the Internet last summer and decided to give it a try.  It started off as something fun to do in his free time but developed into more.

“It’s a good time for me and my dad to bond,” he said with a smile.

The beverage comes out tasting good, Marsh added. His “beer-snob” friends enjoy it and haven’t died from it yet.  The process is also a cheap one, producing beer at around $1 per beer.

“You can make it as scientific as you want,” Marsh said of how he applies his biology knowledge towards the process.  
In addition to the beer, he has also started making mead after reading instructions on Reddit, a popular Internet site.  The procedure can be done indoors so Marsh is able to brew year-round.  
“I knew there was something different about ASU,” Marsh said when explaining his education route.

The difference that he saw has led to incredible life opportunities with his lab work and prospects with the Peace Corps.  
The soon-to-be graduate is a prime example of how despite spending  years in a lab and volunteering, time can be found to kick back with a bottle of beer and enjoy the simple things in life.  

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