Zachary M. Schrag was born in New York City in 1970. In 1977, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he attended Georgetown Day School, graduating in 1988. From there he went to Harvard, where he graduated in 1992.
In 1996 Zach entered the doctoral program in history at Columbia University, where he studied with Elizabeth Blackmar, Alan Brinkley, Ronald Grele, and Kenneth Jackson. He received his PhD in 2002.
After receiving his doctorate, Zach taught at Baruch College and Columbia University. In 2004, he joined the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University.
Zach’s first book, The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), examines the politics, planning, engineering, architecture, finance, and operations of the nation’s second-largest rail transit system, arguing that Metro is best understood as the concrete manifestation of Great Society ideals. A paperback edition, with a new preface, was published in 2014.
A second book, Ethical Imperialism: Institutional Review Boards and the Social Sciences, 1965-2009, was published by Johns Hopkins in 2010. It argues that biomedical researchers and bioethicists repeatedly excluded social scientists from rule making and ignored the existing ethical traditions in nonmedical fields. The result is that university ethics panels routinely impede the work of scholars in those fields.
Zach is now working on a third book, about the Philadelphia riots of 1844.
Zach’s articles have been published in the Journal of Policy History, the Journal of Urban History, Research Ethics, Technology and Culture, and Washington History, and his essays have appeared in the American Historian, AHA Perspectives, Bioethics Forum, Politico, TR News, the Washington Monthly, and the Washington Post. Zach has served as the editor of Washington History, a guest editor for the Journal of Policy History, a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Urban History, and a member of the board of the Urban History Association.
He has received grants and fellowships from Columbia University, George Mason University, the National Science Foundation, the Gerald Ford Foundation, and the Library of Congress. He has been awarded the Society for American City and Regional Planning History’s John Reps Prize and the Journal of Policy History’s Ellis Hawley Prize.
He is married to the beautiful Professor Rebecca Tushnet of Harvard Law School. They live in Arlington, Virginia, with their children, Leonard and Nora.
Updated 5 February 2018.