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Biology and mathematics major Zach Meharg is preparing for his senior year at Olivet College. He’s gearing up for the swim season and an exciting independent study. This fall, Zach will be using the knowledge he’s learned in hands-on classrooms for his own real-world project — curating Michigan beetles.

“One of every five organisms is a beetle,” Zach said, so it’s no wonder why he’s selected the species as the focus of his independent study. This summer, he’s developed traps to collect beetles and a system to organize his specimens.

“The collected beetles will serve as an important research tool,” Zach said. “The collection will help log a population and overall health of the ecosystem.”

Zach’s interest in curating beetles actually stemmed from a close relationship with one of his professors, John Wilterding, Ph.D., professor of biology and chemistry.

“I started getting close with Professor Wilterding and helping out with his moth research,” Zach said. “He is curating a collection of moths by creating a binder, photographing them and logging their species, collection site and method, and appearance. This is part of what got me interested in curating the beetles.”

Zach added that Professor Wilterding has more than just moths in his collection. In fact, some of Professor Wilterding’s insect collection is so impressive and rare that he plans to donate it to the Smithsonian one day.

Zach’s passion for the sciences expands to more than just beetles. He also enjoys spending time in Professor of Biology Leah Knapp’s “zoo” and caring for the animals. Once, Zach even stepped up to care for the animals during a power outage.

In addition, Zach is the president of Earthbound, an organization dedicated to education in plants, animals, recycling and other environmental issues, and a member of Sigma Zeta, a math and natural sciences honor society.

Beyond Beetles

Thanks to a flexible and customizable college experience, Zach has paired his strong commitment to academics with athletics and extracurricular experiences. He’s especially thankful for close relationships with his swimming and diving teammates and Coach Rob Brownell.

He also serves as the vice president of Mathletes, a group designed to bring students interested in math together, and represents the swim team on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Zach even traveled to Mexico with his Ornithology class to study marine life firsthand.

After graduation, Zach plans to attend graduate school or shape his career in genetics. He’s confident the skills and network he’s developing now will help him succeed in any area.

Learn more about Olivet College by contacting the Office of Admissions at 800-456-7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu.

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