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Dr. Timothy Meredith honored with the 2018 Daniel R. Tershak Memorial Teaching Award

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Dr. Meredith

9/25/18 – The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) Department has selected Dr. Timothy Meredith, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, to receive the 2017-2018 Daniel R. Tershak Memorial Teaching Award. The department’s Peer Teaching Evaluation Committee selected Meredith for the award based on his outstanding instruction in BMB 402, a large, general, biochemistry course featuring challenging course material and a diverse student population. The committee found Meredith’s classes to be extremely engaging and filled with many outside examples that allow students to relate the course material to their lives. Both his students and peer observers have confirmed that his efforts in the classroom have made the course both informative and enjoyable for the students enrolled.

Meredith, originally from Norristown Pennsylvania, has always been interested in science, particularly in understanding how things work. As Meredith aged, his enjoyment for science increased, encouraged by his chemistry teacher whose passion for the subject and teaching style easily engaged students in the class material. This teacher’s passion inspired not only Meredith, but many other of his students to pursue chemistry/biochemistry in college.

Following high school graduation, Meredith attended Villanova University earning degrees in both chemistry and biochemistry. He then attended the University of Michigan for graduate school and took part in an interdepartmental program the university offered. After that he went to Boston/Cambridge to study at Harvard Medical School in the microbiology, molecular genetics and immunology department.

Although his interest in chemistry and biochemistry has been the basis of his career, Meredith did not originally begin in the field he is in today. Originally, he studied synthetic organic chemistry. After realizing that bacteria could make the same molecules he was trying to create, but faster and with a higher purity, his interest shifted to microbial metabolism and physiology/function.

The Meredith Lab focuses on the bacterial cell envelope, and in particular on lipid metabolism, across a set of key human pathogens including Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The bacterial envelope is composed of a typical phospholipid bilayer common to all cells that is encased within a unique peptidoglycan polymer mesh consisting of glycan strands crosslinked by oligopeptides. In Gram negative bacteria, there is an additional asymmetric outermembrane lipid bilayer containing the saccharolipid lipopolysaccharide. Beyond being a requisite structural element that imparts structural rigidity, the cell envelope regulates the uptake of nutrients, the exclusion of toxins, and is at the forefront of host-pathogen interactions. The lab uses a combination of biochemistry, bacterial genetics, and functional genomics to understand how the cell envelope is assembled, maintained, and altered by cellular programs in response to complex environmental stimuli. By uncovering and characterizing cell envelope related genetic determinants responsible for cell envelope biogenesis, they aim to establish strategies for new antibiotic development, characterize antibiotic resistance mechanisms, and uncover factors that enhance virulence.

In regard to receiving the Daniel R. Tershak Memorial Teaching Award, Meredith said “It is an honor to be recognized by one’s peers for contributing to the BMB department’s mission of providing top notch undergraduate education.” Seeing students understand material that they thought was beyond what they are capable of learning brings Meredith the most enjoyment as a teacher. Meredith is referred to as an engaging instructor and likes to interject many examples of how the course material matters beyond simply being questions on an exam. With BMB 402, he finds that the material naturally lends itself to making these connections for students.

Meredith has taught BMB 402 for the past 3 years and added an ethics course for graduate students (BMMB 509) to his repertoire during the 2017 – 2018 academic year. The department is proud to have Dr. Meredith as a member of its faculty. Congratulations Dr. Meredith on receiving this award and for being the instructor that our students deserve!