Brady Holbach ?20 in the Carthage Institute of Paleontology laboratory, proudly holding a spectac...

Brady Holbach

Class Year


Current home

Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin


Biology (Paleontology Track) and Geoscience

Current Position

Fossil Preparator at the Dinosaur Discovery Museum

Brady Holbach ’20 currently works in the fossil preparation lab at the Kenosha Dinosaur Discovery Museum, where he cleans fossils using a variety of techniques.

“I use toothbrushes and dental picks when initially cleaning fossils, and then I use tools such as air scribes and air abrasion machines for finer cleaning. Once a fossil is clean, I apply a light coating of paraloid, a type of liquid plastic, to protect the fossil from degradation and stabilize it to be easier to handle. I will then look for pieces that fit each other and glue them back together. At this point, the fossils are placed safely back in collections where researchers can visit them to study, or a display is made to present the fossil and its significance to the public.”

Mr. Holbach most recently had the privilege of cleaning and making a display box for the rare partial remains of a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex, which were found during a Carthage Institute of Paleontology field expedition.

“I enjoy simply working in the lab and seeing a dirty, barely recognizable fossil be turned into a clean, pristine piece of bone that researchers can better learn and study from.”

Brady Holbach, ’20

How did Carthage prepare you?

“What most prepared me for my career was being able to volunteer as a student at the Dinosaur Discovery Museum. I also gained a lot of experience thanks to the paleontology field course that was offered during Carthage’s J-Term.”

Why did you choose Carthage?

“I specifically choose Carthage for its paleontology program. It’s one of only three schools in Wisconsin that has a program for undergraduates — the others being Madison and Milwaukee. Because Carthage is a smaller school, I felt I would gain a more personal experience in developing my skills.”

What opportunities were made possible because of your Carthage experience?

“Some of the opportunities I was able to receive include hands-on field and lab experiences, research opportunities in which I was able to develop experiments with my professors, working at the College and local museum, and gaining knowledge outside of normal areas of study — making me a well-rounded critical thinker.”

What Carthage professors played a part in your success and how?

“I have had a number of Carthage professors help me succeed not only in my career, but also in my life. My paleontology advisor Professor Thomas Carr helped me improve my academic writing and showed me the depth of research that can be done in paleontology. Professor Joy Mast helped me understand the value of making learning and presenting information fun, exciting, and engaging.

“I also need to thank former professors Kurt Piepenburg and Scott Hegrenes for showing me the value of being able to clearly communicate scientific information to non-scientists and how presenting that information in a story improves understanding and interest for those listening.”

What role have the values in Carthage's mission, "Seeking Truth, Building Strength, Inspiring Service — Together" played in your life?

“I am a scientist at the end of the day, and one of my greatest goals in life to is to understand the truth behind natural phenomena and to learn what life was like millions of years ago. Life is more than just understanding; it’s also sharing knowledge and resources to help people grow, achieve, and develop their own life goals. Advancements can be made in minutes when working with others, whereas they would have taken years to achieve when working alone. I plan to continue using these skills and values to improve both my life and the lives of those I work with.”


What's your favorite Carthage memory?

“My favorite Carthage memory was the time I got to present my research at an international conference in Brisbane, Australia. Other Carthage paleontology researchers and I were able to attend thanks to the support from the Paleontology
and grants that Carthage offered. I was able to network with paleontologists from all over the world and learn about a variety of different research taking place in the field. It was also a wonderful chance to see another part of the world and learn about another culture and environment.”

Tips for current Carthage students?

“My advice to students is to learn how you can use the talents you have and incorporate them into your field of interest when searching for careers. I originally wanted to be a research scientist and still do, but I quickly realized that my imagined perception of that job was not quite right for me. It’s fast paced and had far more writing than lab work. However, rather than abandoning this interest, I instead searched for careers that would allow me to pursue my interests and utilize my skills in a lab setting, which led me to become a fossil preparator.”

Are you a Carthage graduate who is excelling in your field?