Skip to main content

Give to Carthage

The SURE Program

Back in 2008, when Isa Fritz was a rising junior at Carthage, she spent her summer break studying optical trapping with physics professor Brian Schwartz. Now, six years later, Ms. Fritz has a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Purdue University, and a position as an orbit dynamics engineer with Space Systems / Loral in Palo Alto, Calif.

She considers her SURE experience critical to her success.

“Because the Carthage SURE program is designed to mimic professional research labs, I gained valuable experience with designing and building my own research experiment,” said Ms. Fritz ’10. “Unlike in the classroom, where problems and methods are now laid out in front of you, SURE students quickly learn how to create a research question, get background information, design the experiment, fix their inevitable mistakes, and conduct the test.”

Carthage’s SURE program has been a hallmark of the College’s curriculum since the mid-1990s. The program pairs Carthage students with faculty mentors to conduct significant research during the summer months. Students work full time on campus for 10 weeks, and receive room and board, a stipend, and a small research budget for their work. The program is possible due in part to the generous support of alumni and friends of Carthage.

In 2012, the program expanded from the natural and social sciences divisions to all six academic divisions at Carthage. Thirty-six students were selected for the 2012 SURE program, doing research in the humanities, arts, natural sciences, social sciences, education and interdisciplinary studies.

• • •

Erin Zimmerman ’11 participated in the SURE program in 2009, studying enantiomers of beta blockers with chemistry professor Kevin Morris. Enantiomers are molecules that are mirror images of each other; they look identical but, in pharmaceuticals, can have very different and sometimes dangerous effects.

“That summer made me realize that I actually liked doing research,” said Erin, who graduated in May with majors in chemistry and theatre, and a minor in biology. Now she is headed for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she will pursue a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry. “The SURE program was my first research experience. It helped me land other research internships the next two summers, and ultimately helped me get accepted into graduate school. … I would not have even considered research as a career path had I not participated in the SURE program.”

• • •

Biology major and football player Max Machurick ’15 spent his first summer as a Carthage student researching alternative cancer treatment methods with Prof. Kristopher Kouldelka. He was selected for the 2012 SURE program after taking a J-Term course with Prof. Koudelka and expressing an interest in using modified procapsids as a source for cancer treatment.

“The ability to participate in the SURE program as a freshmen is incredible,” said Max, who plans to become an orthopedic surgeon. “Being introduced to this kind of research at such an early level is extremely beneficial in preparation for medical school.”

“Some of my favorite things about Carthage are the opportunities available for freshmen and the relationships you can form with professors due to the small class sizes,” Max said. “As a freshmen, I was enrolled in Phage Hunters Course, where I isolated and characterized my own mycobacteriophage in lab. I presented my findings at the Celebration of Scholars, and at poster and oral presentations at Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Farms in Virginia.”

The SURE program allowed him to grow even more as a scientist.

“I love that what I’m doing in the lab has a direct correlation to clinical applications,” Max said. “Being able to see the big picture and how experiments in the lab relate to the outside world makes me appreciate the research I am doing. Dr. Koudelka is a great teacher and mentor. Working with him all summer will expand my knowledge in the sciences, specifically biochemistry.”

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2017), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • Scheduled to open in fall 2018, a new residential tower will offer suite-style housing and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about The Tower

    • 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 wins, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • 96% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 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. 95% 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. 

    • As a freshman in the highly selective Honors Program, learn how to gain expertise in anything from music to forest ecology. After that, tackle a contemporary social, economic, or political problem. If you like, you can live on an Honors-only floor of a Carthage residence hall. 

    • In 2016 and 2017, Carthage was named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our athletic and recreation center, student union, computer labs, audiovisual production suite, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 10 years. Our new science center caps it off.

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

    • More than 90 percent of our students receive financial aid, a hefty chunk of which is scholarships and grants — including $1.25 million annually from the Presidential Scholarship Competition and numerous Merit Scholarships. 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,” says biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 30 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from 75% tuition up to full tuition, room, and board. 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 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Chemistry Club, to Frisbee and Latin Belly Dancing. 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.

    • Imagine presenting your original research at an international conference — as an undergraduate. Carthage is dedicated to undergraduate research. Learn more about current opportunities.

    • 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. 11 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 …