Biology major and Kenosha native Meredyth Wenta has excelled within Carthage’s challenging courses through the help of her small class sizes and close professor-student relationships. Stemming from her great work in class, Meredyth has been apart of numerous research opportunities and presentations through renowned hospitals and organizations.
“There are so many different areas that you can focus on within biology, such as ecology, microbiology, immunology, and genetics. If you have any interest within the sciences, it is almost guaranteed that at least one area of biology will interest you.”
“After graduation, I plan on attending medical school with the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.”
How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?
“Throughout my time at Carthage, I have been lucky enough to have many outstanding professors in a variety of subject areas. Each of them has helped me grow as a student and an individual in some way, and I’m very grateful for that. The professor that has had the greatest impact on my Carthage career is Dr. Deborah Tobiason. I was in Dr. Tobiason’s Phage Hunters course my first semester at Carthage, and now she is my academic and research advisor. Dr. Tobiason has had such a great impact on my Carthage career because she is consistently pushing me to reach my full potential. She can see a student’s potential even if they cannot see it themself. Her life’s work is her passion, and it is very evident. The high standard of work that she expects encourages me to always work my hardest.”
“My favorite class at Carthage would be Phage Hunters II. I took this course Spring semester my freshman year. In Phage II, we annotated two bacteriophage genomes and completed independent bioinformatic research projects. We also learned more about bacteriophage and bioinformatics in general. After isolating the phage a semester prior, it was interesting to see what the viral genomes encoded. The majority of genes identified had corresponding proteins found in other phage. However, some were novel. I enjoyed this course because it involved a lot of group work and piecing together the genome was similar to piecing together a puzzle. Additionally, Phage Hunters II was my first experience with bioinformatics and research involving viral proteins. This course furthered my interest in phage and the effects of viral proteins on cell mechanisms.”
“So far at Carthage, Disease Resistance is the toughest class I have taken. This course is taught like a graduate school seminar. As a class, we read, discussed, analyzed, and presented many scientific articles. This course was difficult because it required me to truly analyze and understand articles on topics I had never studied. Additionally, Disease Resistance featured group and independent student presentations. These presentations were difficult to prepare for, as they required extensive research on the topic of the paper and the various methods and tests used within the studies. Even though Disease Resistance was the toughest class I have taken, I was able to further develop my skills in literature analysis, communication, and research. The techniques Dr. Elaine Radwanski taught for literature analysis have been extremely helpful in interpreting articles for senior thesis work.”
Opportunities at Carthage
“Over my time at Carthage, I have had the opportunity to participate in two independent research projects. My sophomore year I worked with Dr. Patrick Pfaffle on the cloning of pCelA into E. coli. This year, I am working with Dr. Tobiason on a project from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and another side project. For HHMI, I am testing the infection capabilities of bacteriophage found at Carthage on the Xeno lysogen. A lysogen is a bacterial cell that contains virus DNA. My additional research project is isolating bacteriophage that infect Microbacterium foliorum from environmental samples. Prior to my independent research experience, I also had the opportunity to discover my own bacteriophage and annotate a genome through the Phage Hunters courses. The research I have participated in has allowed me to present at the annual Celebration of Scholars event twice. Through my participation in the Phage Hunters program, I had the opportunity to present at the SEA-PHAGES annual conference at HHMI.”
“I received multiple financial awards from Carthage College. I was fortunate enough to receive two scholarships; the Blake R. and Marie E. Children Scholarship and the George and Hazel Osborn Scholarship. I was also awarded the Director’s Grant, Robert Todd Grant, Sibling Grant, and Tri-County Grant, in addition to Carthage Highest Honors. It is a tremendous honor to receive all of these financial awards. I am very grateful for the generous donors who are helping to support my education.”
Favorite moments and memories at Carthage
“Spending time in the new and improved David A. Straz, Jr. Center will always be one of my favorite memories of Carthage. As a biology major, I spend the majority of my time in Straz and the new facilities are remarkable. Through my science classes, I was fortunate to meet a great group of people freshman year, and our friendships continue today. I will always remember that fun times we have had studying for exams, working in the spine, and relaxing between classes.
As previously mentioned, I have had the opportunity to present at Celebration of Scholars with some of my classmates. This is by far my favorite weekend during the school year because it celebrates the school’s academic accomplishments.
Outside of class, Alpha Chi Omega has brought many new friendships and memorable experiences. Thus far, my favorite experience with Alpha Chi has been participating in the Homecoming parade. It was extremely fun decorating the float, walking with my sisters, and celebrating Carthage.”
Favorite spot on campus
Biggest surprise so far
“The biggest surprise is the amount of doors that have opened for me at Carthage. Coming in as a freshman, I never would have imagined that I would have been chosen to present at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, been listed as a “Freshmen to Watch”, or have a research position under the head of the department. The people that I have met and the classes I have taken have helped me grow in ways I never would’ve expected.”
What would your 8-year-old self think of you now?
“My 8-year-old self would be amazed with what I’m doing. I never would have pictured myself being truly immersed in my studies and loving it as much as I do now. As a child, I knew I wanted to help others, and I am still continuing on that path.”
Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?
“My advice to students considering a major in biology would be to stay open-minded. The sciences, biology in particular, have a reputation for being challenging and a lot of work. That reputation is very much correct, but if you have a passion for biology, or science in general, the work is well worth it. For students considering biology, don’t let the fear of difficult courses create doubt. There is a wide variety of areas to focus on in biology, and it is easy to find one you love.”
“Growing up in Kenosha, I have attended small schools my entire life. When it came time to think about college, I knew I wanted to go to a smaller school where I could develop close relationships with my professors and have access to many opportunities. Additionally, I wanted to be close enough to home so that I could commute. Thus, Carthage was the perfect fit.”