Zoe Zlatic of MICDS

Zoe Zlatic has her head in the stars. The MICDS senior’s avid interest in space led to a SEES (STEM Enhancement in Earth Science) internship, a joint program between NASA and the University of Texas at Austin Center for Space Research. During her time with SEES, she was selected to design her own experiment to be conducted on NASA’s zero-gravity plane, G-Force One. T&S caught up with Zlatic to learn more about her flight experience.

Where did your interest in space come from?
My fascination comes from watching Star Trek with my parents. During the pandemic, I spent more time focusing on it as a potential career instead of just an interest. My parents got me a telescope in middle school, which I got to use more. I started looking for opportunities to explore further, and now, I’m here.

Tell me about your microgravity research project.
I’m testing Procter & Gamble’s water purification treatment in microgravity and artificial gravity. It’s a really cool product that allows you to separate contaminants from dirty water so you’re left with clean drinking water. I wanted to check if astronauts could use the treatment in a space environment.

How did it feel to be selected to conduct research on G-Force One?
It was crazy. I found out during a Zoom call. I thought I was just answering some questions, but they told me I was part of the team. I’ve known about the plane since I was a kid, so it was a dream come true. I’m very lucky. This isn’t a process I went through on my own. I had support from a lot of people, like my parents, teachers and my mentors and fellow participants in the program. This has been a super memorable experience.

What was the flight like?
It was amazing. I can’t really describe what it’s like. Your head feels kind of goofy, and it’s not just that your body feels lighter. You have to learn to maneuver in a completely different way. Unfortunately, I did get sick, but it was entirely worth it.

Is there anything you are looking forward to as you wrap up your senior year?
Graduation is a big one, and at MICDS, we celebrate May Day every year. I plan to study aerospace or astrological engineering. I’m looking forward to starting college, but it’s a very bittersweet time. I’ll miss my friends, classes and teachers.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I’m someone who likes to have a lot of things to fill up my time. I play lacrosse. After graduation, I’m looking forward to having some time to focus on it. I also play volleyball. I co-founded the astronomy club, and I’m a student leader for MICDS’ chapter of Doorstep Donations. It’s a nonprofit that helps combat food insecurity. I also am a co-leader of Rambassadors, which is a student organization that works with prospective students and families.