For Kaeli Bryant, her senior project at Greenwood Community High School, gave her a preview of her future career in microbiology.
And this summer, she will get a jumpstart on college, after she was one of 20 students selected for a program that incorporates biology and research. Bryant was selected from the pool of 400 that applied.
Bryant was named salutatorian of her class, falling just short of her goal to be No. 1. But she achieved her other top goal and won an academic scholarship that will cover all of her tuition at Indiana University over the next four years.
“The more important of the two goals happened,” Bryant said.
Bryant will study microbiology at Indiana University, focusing on the research of bacteria and viruses, she said.
She found her love for biology and research when she was a freshman at Greenwood.
For her senior project, Bryant worked with a biology professor from Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington. The two studied an organism over several months, similar to the work she hopes to do for a career, she said.
Since November, Bryant has been studying the DNA structure of microorganisms called bacteriophages. Part of her research required first identifying the microorganisms in the local environment. After graduation, she will take her samples and research she has completed to Indiana University and continue her work there.
“When I was doing research for my senior project, it confirmed to me that I want to do this work for the rest of my life,” she said.
Bryant’s biggest motivator to be the best student she could be was her mom, who always encouraged her to do her best, she said.
“Along the way, I realized I wanted to be successful and to me success was doing the best I can,” Bryant said. “Now my goal is to influence someone or something, whether it be two people or the whole world.”
Name: Kaeli Bryant
Parents: Mom, Jenni Miller
College: Indiana University
Career Goal: work as a microbiologist researching organisms, bacteria and viruses and teach at the college level.