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Julie Tischer, a 2013 biology alumna, is a Ph.D. candidate in the Microbiology Department at the University of Georgia.

Beginning her third year in the program, Tischer is studying the CRISPR-Cas system, an adaptive immune system in bacteria and archaea, and is fascinated by the ways tiny organisms influence the planet and public health. Specifically, Tischer is studying the function of the system and how it integrates small fragments of invading genetic elements, such as viruses, into its own genome. These fragments, according to Tischer, are then used to detect the invader if it ever returns again, recruiting proteins to chop up the foreign nucleic acid.

“Microbiology in general has so many broad impacts on the world, from industry to health care,” Tischer said. “CRISPR research, specifically, is revolutionizing science through its use as a gene editing tool. The CRISPR field is rapidly moving towards possibly one day being able to cure genetic diseases, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Studying the foundational mechanisms involved in the CRISPR-Cas immune system is allowing us to try things we never knew were possible.”

Tischer’s interest in the field dates back to her seventh grade life science teacher who inspired her to study biology in college. Years later, Tischer’s interest grew into a calling as a result of the support and encouragement of Dr. Chad Sethman, associate professor of biology at Waynesburg University.

“I was particularly inspired by Dr. Chad Sethman, from whom I took many courses, including microbiology. That was my favorite course by far, and sparked my enthusiasm to pursue the field for my graduate research,” she said.

From her microbiology course, Tischer developed an interest in becoming a part of discovering how organisms function, and how they can be useful to humans, she said. According to Tischer, “each and every one of [her] professors at Waynesburg University led [her] to where [she is] today,” but scientifically speaking, she said, her biology professors, and the personal relationships she shared with each of them, helped her to develop into a “competent research scientist.”

Tischer also credits her Waynesburg University education for granting her the opportunities necessary to be accepted into a selective graduate school program.

“Choosing Waynesburg University allowed me to have a variety of experiences I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to at a large institution,” she said. “Waynesburg University provided me with all the foundational tools necessary to have a successful graduate career in research.”

Upon graduation, Tischer plans to pursue a career in teaching — a career that she says will allow her to give back to future students.

“I have had so many influential mentors and teachers in my scientific career, and I really want to make a similar impact on developing scientists. I have such a passion for helping people get excited about science and research, and love to see that moment when something finally clicks in a student,” she said.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Kaitlyn-Marteney_20150630-180026_1.jpgKaitlyn Marteney, a 2015 forensic accounting and criminal justice alumna, hasn’t wasted any time utilizing the skills she acquired through a number of courses and her two academic majors at Waynesburg University.

Marteney serves as a corporate internal auditor for Bayer, a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, agriculture and high-tech polymer materials, and is responsible for familiarizing herself with the appropriate policies surrounding the audit, as well as data analytics on provided documents.

“What I love about auditing is that every day is different. I preplan for audits for about two weeks and then spend the next three to four weeks performing the audit at the respective plant,” she said. “My audits are constantly changing; they may be similar, but are never the same. Each plant has a different means of operations; therefore, we have a different audit scope.”

Marteney is flown to various plant locations including Berkeley, California; Rockville, Maryland; Wilmington, North Carolina; Whippany, New Jersey; and Baytown, Texas.

Throughout the audit, Marteney is required to meet with key personnel from the plant to gain a better understanding of its operations. At the conclusion of the audit, Marteney and her audit team compile a report with their overall findings and related recommendations.

A perfect blend of accounting and criminal justice, Marteney chose auditing as a result of the way the two fields converge. A career that offers something different each day, Marteney is grateful for the structure of her undergraduate education, and the diversity of course requirements that have prepared her for her current work. Accounting and auditing principles, interview/interrogation techniques, knowledge related to breaches in security, and presentation and communication skills are just a few of the many competencies she utilizes daily.

In addition to her Waynesburg University education, Marteney is grateful for the spiritual guidance she received as a student at Waynesburg.

“The Waynesburg Business Department has taught me how to be a Christian in the workplace and not lose sight of my values,” she said. “My Waynesburg University career has shaped me to be full of integrity and faith. [Waynesburg alumni] view our careers as a calling and not just a job.”

Marteney is thankful for professors like James Tanda, instructor of Criminal Justice, and Joshua Chicarelli, assistant professor of Business Administration, and the importance they place on enriching the lives of their students.

“They have led me to where I am today,” she said. “Both of these professors have gone out of their way to meet with me and answer any questions that I have had over my four years at Waynesburg. It's great to know that your professors know you on a personal level and want to see you succeed.”

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Seth-Polk.jpgSeth Polk, a Waynesburg University biology alumnus and a first-year student at Eastern Virginia Medical School, has been inspired by the health sciences and fields involving laboratory research his entire life. Although he deems it both a blessing and curse, as a child, Seth was constantly plagued with injury (a majority sports-related) that caused him to spend an unimaginable amount of time in hospitals.

“As a result of growing up in hospitals, the hospitals grew on me,” he said.

Polk is pursuing a master’s in biotechnology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, and also plans to seek his Ph.D.  Upon completion of his education, Polk has an interest in joining the United States Navy, providing service to a country that he says “has given so much to [him].”

Polk comes by his desire to serve his country from the example set by his father, a retired United States Navy Lieutenant Commander who gave 25 years of service to his country. As a result of growing up in a “Navy family,” Polk recognizes the impact of the opportunities that potentially await him.

“The armed forces provide vast and advantageous resources for health care research,” he said.

His desire to research in the field of cell biology in relation to immunological responses can be attributed to his mother’s recent diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.

“She gives me inspiration,” he said.

Polk undoubtedly hopes that his work will one day “uncover a cure for Multiple Sclerosis.”

Polk credits his Waynesburg University education for his preparation for graduate school and beyond.

“Waynesburg prepared [me for my future] by providing excellent practical laboratory experience while maintaining strong lecture of underlying theory,” he said.

Polk also credits unmatched professors and dedicated mentors for his research skills, his understanding of the scientific process and “the push required to mature in the laboratory sciences.”

As for his Waynesburg University experience as a whole, Polk sums it up with one word — responsibility.

"Responsibility is the word I think of when I see the Seth Polk of today versus the Seth Polk of four years ago, and I have Waynesburg to thank for that characteristic,” he said.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Rachel-Lovely.jpgThree items topped Rachel Lovely’s wish list when it came to making a decision for her undergraduate career. Her list — a solid education, a personal relationship with her professors, and an environment that would allow her to study what she loved while playing the sport she enjoyed — has proven to have contained all the appropriate qualifications to prepare her for a successful future.

“Waynesburg offered me this and then some,” she said.

Lovely, a Waynesburg University biology alumna and a first-year student at The Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton, Pennsylvania, is working toward her medical degree with the hope of one day becoming a surgeon.

The combination of growing up in a medical family and discovering her love of science has allowed Lovely to recognize her calling.

“My father is a podiatrist, so I really got a first-hand look at the humanistic side of medicine from a young age. I've wanted to be a doctor since I can remember, but when I found my niche in science, I knew it was the field I was called to,” she said.

During her college summers, Lovely periodically volunteered in the operating room, and during her junior year, she was part of an internship program called Mentoring in Medicine. These experiences revealed a more specific path and kindled her interest in the surgical field.

“There was always something magical about the operating room. It was the one place, that I saw anyway, that it was just you and the patient, no distractions. I really liked that unwavering focus,” she said.

Lovely said her Waynesburg education, coupled with the close-knit relationships with her professors, are largely responsible for paving the way to where she is today.

“I cannot boast enough about [Waynesburg University’s] Biology Department,” she said.

Specific mentions of Dr. Christopher Cink, associate professor of biology, Dr. Bryan Hamilton, professor of biology, Dr. Chad Sethman, associate professor of biology, and Marietta Wright, assistant professor of biology, further demonstrate the emphasis and importance Lovely places on relationships and how they aid success.

Lovely said that through these professors, whom she refers to as geniuses, she learned how to truly understand, not just memorize, the information taught in class. She also credits humor and dedicated mentoring for the extent of her learning.

Along with her positive experiences with faculty, Lovely credits the culture of learning at Waynesburg University for the growth she has experienced.

“Waynesburg challenged why I did things, what I believed, and even how I thought. I really liked that. It allowed me to have a deeper understanding of science, religion, psychology and just interacting with people in general. I went from Roman thinking, ‘how do you,’ to thinking more like a Greek, ‘why do you’,” she said.

In addition, Lovely said her four years at Waynesburg helped her to “have a deeper understanding of what Christianity meant personally."

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Nick-Farrell.jpgFrom the time he was 5 years old, Nick Farrell could be found enthusiastically recreating the action he witnessed during Steeler football games on his homemade football field mat using plastic football helmets. His colossal imagination and his love of being in front of the home video camera combined to create a confident response to the all-too-familiar question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

More than 15 years later, Farrell, a 2015 communication and sports broadcasting/sports information alumnus, is a Monongalia and Preston County reporter at WBOY in Clarksburg, West Virginia, which comes as no surprise to those who know him best.

Farrell, a self-proclaimed one-man band, shoots video, conducts interviews, edits packages and writes scripts for anchors for three to four stories per day. In addition to possessing the array of skills necessary to tackle the aforementioned, Farrell takes note of how his own college experiences prepared him for his career.

“At Waynesburg, I was able to grow both as a writer and as a broadcaster. Being well-rounded in that regard makes me more confident in my approach at WBOY,” he said.

For Farrell, his time spent on the staff of the Yellow Jacket, Waynesburg University’s student-run newspaper, helped to prepare him for the fast-paced environment at a pro newsroom.

“I learned how to schedule my time, juggle heavy workloads and adjust to last-second changes at the Jacket. All of those skills are necessary — only now, it's on a daily basis,” he said.

Passionate about his field and the opportunities it presents, Farrell looks forward to using it as a vehicle to make a difference in the world.

“What journalism is, to me, is reporting the facts and answering questions. It's about telling the stories that will impact lives. It's about doing your homework, gathering information and presenting it in a way that makes the viewer ponder the information they just ingested,” he said. “If a story I write moves a viewer, informs a viewer or causes a viewer to think critically about a subject, then I've done my job. I take pride in that responsibility, knowing that viewers in our region rely on our newsroom to provide them with the information they desire.”

Farrell credits his Waynesburg education and accomplished faculty for his current position, and recognizes that his personal growth is just as valuable as the academic degree he received.

“Waynesburg is the place that confirmed my passion and helped me begin to realize the dream I first dreamt as a 5 year old,” he said. “At Waynesburg, I discovered how truly blessed I am to have a family that loves me, friends that support me and instructors who invested time in me.”

Although being a play-by-play announcer is his ultimate career goal, Farrell said he’s happy with where he is right now and grateful for the journey that has led him to this point.

“I'll never know what my life would look like if I had chosen to attend another college,” Farrell said. “Somehow, though, I have a feeling that my life wouldn't be as fulfilling as it is.”

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