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zac tomlinson headshot

From Dragon Nation to Hoosier Country – Zachary Tomlinson’s Acceptance into a Chemistry
Ph.D. Program at Notre Dame

Picture the following scenario – you’re about to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Tiffin University and have just been accepted into one of the most prestigious chemistry Ph.D. programs in the Midwest through the University of Notre Dame. There’s only one problem – in order to start the residency, you need to move from your home state of Ohio to Indiana, where you have no connections and limited family ties. Though the thought may be scary for some, Zachary (Zac) Tomlinson, for whom this scenario is a reality, is eager to begin the journey. In fact, Zac even credits his TU community for helping prepare him. 

“Other than my grandfather, who lives in Decatur, I don’t have any connections to Indiana, but I like the idea of living out of state,” he remarked. “It’s about time I get out and see the world, and I feel confident in my ability to succeed in this new academic environment because of the education I received during my time at TU. They helped me become the independent person I am today.”

Zac continued this thought, citing how easy the application process was, especially with his current professors and mentors in his corner throughout the process.

“The application process itself was very straightforward,” he began. “I submitted my application at the beginning of November and had my last letter of recommendation turned in at the end of the month. On the first of December, I was told I had been accepted. While this was simple, it took a lot of time and effort to compile and edit my application materials, and I’m grateful my mentors were there to help coach me through it and offer advice.”

According to Zac, he hopes to use his graduate education to become a researcher and professor at a university, as it will allow him the freedom to teach while making discoveries and advancements in his own field. He also gives credit to TU for giving him an advantage over his competition during Notre Dame’s candidacy vetting process – a particularly selective program, even compared to that of other doctoral programs in chemistry across the country with an average acceptance rate of only 7%. 

“TU’s small classroom environment allowed me to flourish,” he began. “I built positive relationships with the chemistry and biology faculty because of this, so several of them were more than willing to act as my references when the time came. I was also able to gain hands-on experience with specialized laboratory instruments such as a Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry device (GC-MS), a High-Performance Liquid Chromatography machine (HPLC), a Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR) and a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) apparatus. Knowing how to operate these tools is a massive advantage in the field, and I might not have gotten lab time with them had I attended a larger institution.”

While Zac’s TU family will surely miss him when he graduates this May, they are also excited to soon watch him trade in his dragon wings for leprechaun fists as he joins the ranks of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and embarks on this new adventure – and will be supporting him every step of the way. For more information about Tiffin University’s chemistry major and related programs, visit