In the Light – Zack Weaver


Senior Zack Weaver studied abroad in Wales during the Spring 2016 semester.

Mara Stein

Senior Zack Weaver is no stranger to space and science. In fact, it was his interest in astronomy that drove the Finger Lakes native to Colgate. Weaver is a double concentrator in Physics and Astronomy, and was excited as a prospective student about the opportunity to work with Colgate’s telescopes.

“I realized in high school that objects in space were really huge, interesting and fun to learn about,” Weaver said. “So, when I got to Colgate I wanted to jump right into research.”

And so he did. Since his arrival at Colgate, Weaver has spent each summer working with Professor Balonek in the Foggy Bottom Observatory. He has primarily studied objects called quasars, which are made up of black holes, jets of light and galaxies themselves. Weaver analyzes changes in the quasars’ brightness over time and then interprets what might be happening in galaxies billions of light years away. This type of research has guided not only his summer experiences, but also his senior honors thesis. Next fall, Weaver will continue to conduct scientific research as a PhD student at Boston University. 

“I don’t have an end goal yet, but I would love to research astronomy for the rest of my life if I could,” Weaver said.

Outside of his majors, Weaver has been involved in the Benton Scholars program at Colgate. His projects as a Benton have ranged from helping Professor Karen Harpp run the online Advent of the Atomic Bomb course to assisting Colgate in its online education endeavors more generally.

Weaver also studied abroad with Professor Joel Sommers in Cardiff, Wales. There, he and his study group took a bus tour of Wales and got the opportunity to see both the countryside and cities.

“I absolutely loved every second of it,” Weaver said.

Like many, Weaver reflects fondly on his time at Colgate, and is simultaneously nervous and excited to graduate. One thing he knows for sure is that he will be back soon. 

“I would give the following advice to students here at Colgate,” Weaver said. “Get out of your room and try to go to something new every week. You never know what you might learn, or who you may meet. Also, go to Colgate Inn Trivia on Wednesday nights. It’s such a fun time, and you never know – your secret obsession may just come in handy and help your team win a Tollhouse pie!”