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About Carthage

5 Minutes with Megan Moyer

Take a peek inside Prof. Moyer’s office on Instagram!

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Department: Chemistry
Title: Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Best Office Artifact: Periodic table of elements blocks

As a kid, Prof. Megan Moyer’s favorite subject was science. “In third grade, I wanted to be a scientist who wore a lab coat and lab goggles when I grew up, even though I didn’t really understand what chemistry was at that point,” she says. She liked chemistry in high school, but she didn’t fall in love until her first inorganic chemistry course.

“Learning about the different colors of gold nanoparticles (they’re not gold anymore when they’re nano sized!) sparked a much deeper interest in the subject and led to me specializing in inorganic materials chemistry in grad school.”

She joined the Carthage faculty in 2018 and teaches courses in general chemistry and the associated labs. Her research interests include porous support materials such as mesoporous silica and ordered porous carbons used with a variety of catalysts including precious metal nanoparticles, single-site catalysts, and biocatalysts.

We spoke with Professor Moyer about her passion for chemistry, why she enjoys teaching first-year chemistry students, and her advice for students.

What was your journey to becoming a Carthage professor like? Why did you choose to teach at Carthage?
“When I made the choice to go to grad school, my ultimate goal was to be able to become a professor. … As soon as I visited Carthage, I knew that this would be the absolute best opportunity for me. The location is beautiful, the members in the Chemistry Department work really well together, and the lab facilities are top notch. When I interviewed, I had excellent and encouraging conversations with many of the faculty members. What really stuck out was their passion for teaching and their love for the way Carthage facilitates this through small class sizes.”

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“It’s very easy for professors and students to get to know one another here, and that connection lasts not just for the semester you have that class, but for a long time.”

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How do you push students outside of their comfort zones?
“Teaching first-year chemistry is very interesting because I feel it’s part of my duty to bridge that gap between the way a high school class is run and the way a college course is run. I include skeletal notes in my lecture and do practice problems on the board, but every class involves the students working on their own as well. They are always encouraged to use the example I’ve provided as a jumping off point, but they need to make connections and build on ideas to solve subsequent and more difficult practice problems. I also work on helping students to become independent in the laboratory setting right away. They are required to come to class prepared and I tell them to work together with their lab partner first before asking me about the procedure. I will clarify points and ensure they work safely, but the majority of the experimental process comes from their own understanding and through working collaboratively.”

You participate in Carthage’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE), mentoring Carthage students in summer research projects. What do you hope students take away from their work/time with you?
“I hope my students learn that science is a process, that it’s OK to fail, and that research and problem solving can be fun and rewarding. We have already encountered some setbacks, but my students are always willing to try something new or out of the ordinary. It’s difficult to pick up a scientific paper and piece together the greatly abbreviated experimental section to create your own procedure, and many students do not have the opportunity to do this and follow through with characterization and application of their products until grad school. Hopefully, through SURE they are getting a leg up on their future endeavors as well as learning something that they can take into their remaining classes at Carthage.”

Any favorite moments from your first year at Carthage?
“One that comes to mind is working with a student in office hours before an exam, but getting onto the subject of cars, including fuel and catalytic converters. I spent a lot of time thinking, writing, and talking about catalysis in grad school, so this was a really fun conversation for me, and my student brought up many new points to consider since he knew a lot about cars. Another moment that was very memorable for me was watching the senior thesis presentations at the end of the fall semester. I had been in a few defenses, but to see the seniors talk about their research and share their knowledge with friends and family really impressed me.”

Tell us about a hobby you have that may surprise your students.
“I make amazing pork green chili, and even though that’s not really a thing in Wisconsin, it was hugely popular in Colorado. I also read and collect Tarot cards, though I certainly don’t ascribe all the woo-woo new age nonsense to them. They work as a useful reflection tool for me and often for others.”

What is your favorite class to teach?
“So far, I think CHM 1010 has been my favorite. Some of the content, such as electron configuration, brings back fond memories of my own freshman chemistry course. I also like having a large variety of students from different majors and in different stages of their college career, which you get in that class. It’s a great class to get students thinking about the role chemistry plays in their everyday life, and I always learn new things and start to look at my own world through that general chemistry lens.”

What advice do you have for new or prospective students interested in chemistry? Anything you wish you would have known during your time as an undergrad?
“Chemistry does not have to be scary. I think many people come into the class with an opinion that science is hard, that they are bad at it, and that they will have a very difficult time keeping up in the class. Chemistry is really a subject that helps explain why things are the way they are in the world around you, so having at least a fundamental understanding of it is important. I would advise prospective chemistry students to make sure they have a solid math foundation, but also to keep an open mind and realize that there are many ways to arrive at the correct answer. Just because a teacher or professor tells you one way to do it does not mean that’s the only correct way.”

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“Chemistry does not have to be scary. Chemistry is really a subject that helps explain why things are the way they are in the world around you…”

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“I wish I would have been more diligent about regularly attending all my classes as an undergrad Skipping class really does end up hurting you by the end of the semester. I also wish I would have gone to more office hours and gotten to know my professors, because I really didn’t do that until grad school. Getting to know your professors and being comfortable asking them questions is so incredibly helpful to your undergrad experience.”

Anything else you would like to add about your work or time at Carthage?
“Carthage is such a wonderful school! I did not attend a small liberal arts school myself, but I’ve been very impressed with how things are done here. It’s very easy for professors and students to get to know one another here, and that connection lasts not just for the semester you have that class, but for a long time. I’m very grateful to be able to teach here, to learn from other faculty and my students, and I am looking forward to this next school year!”

— Interview by Madeline Paakkonen ’21


  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2020), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • Our athletes rank up some impressive stats. So does our fitness center. The N. E. Tarble Athletic and Recreation Center (better known as the TARC), is home to a 16-lane swimming pool, 200-meter indoor track, two racquetball courts, an indoor rock climbing wall, and a 5,000-square-foot fitness center.

    • Carthage fields 24 NCAA Division III sports, including basketball, football, lacrosse, volleyball, and water polo. Our varsity teams play in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin — regularly taking home hardware from one of the nation’s toughest Division III conferences.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $20,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 3 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …