Featured alum: Beth Traxler '80
In 1979, Manchester College junior Beth Traxler ’80 spent the year in Strasbourg, France with BCA Abroad. And thus began a love affair with global travel that fully engaged her passion for microbiology.
Today, the acronyms in her life are DNA, and ATP and ABC as she performs genetic and biochemical research on protein in the laboratories of the University of Washington in Seattle. Most recently, her lab is developing materials for nanotechnology. Her authority in DNA research carries her throughout the world as a highly respected lecturer and conference and seminar speaker.
Traxler’s education at Manchester College gave her a particular advantage over the traditional microbiologist. Fluent in French, Traxler impressed graduate school interviewers with her liberal arts and language scholarship.
She began her research of DNA as a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon University, focusing on bacterial conjugation. Post-doctoral research on proteins took her to Harvard Medical School, and mentor Dr. Jon Beckwith, who led research in 1969 that isolated the first gene from a bacterial chromosome.
Beth is a great example of the type of things that happen with MC grads,” says Professor Janina Traxler ’73, who teaches French, classical and medieval literature at Manchester. “The small liberal arts college has given her so many opportunities.”
Today, Beth Traxler is an associate professor of microbiology for University of Washington and lives with her family in Seattle. Her research and presentations worldwide fill her schedule to the brim, but that travel is just the ticket sometimes for connecting abroad with Janina and her other sisters, who all also majored in French (and other subjects) at Manchester: Wyndham Traxler-Carter ’74, who recently retired after teaching art (and French) for 35 years in Flora, Ind., public schools; Gay Traxler ’79x, who went to Strasbourg with BCA and remains abroad in Marburg, Germany; and anthropologist Loa Traxler ’85, associate deputy director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology for the University of Pennsylvania.