Like his peer, neighbor, and fellow “four-peat” Plant Pathways Elucidation Project Intern Claire Thetford, Conor Reid began his adventure as an intern at the North Carolina Research Campus with two summers spent as a lab technician with Eric Jackson, PhD, from General Mills.
Reid has since spent his last two summers as a full-fledged P2EP intern under the guidance of graduate student Scott Smith, who’s set to graduate with his PhD in Plant and Microbial Biology in 2017. “We’re making better Cheerios for you every morning,” Reid said, describing his experiences with General Mills and with Smith. “Specifically, we’re looking at the beta glucan content in oats, with the end goal being to produce better food.”
As a repeating P2EP intern, Reid has had a unique experience being able to work on the same project two summers in a row. For his mentor, it is also convenient and helpful to have the same intern for the second year in a row. “He already understands a lot of the background information,” Smith explained. “He can help me help the other interns, and we have a lot of fun working together.”
With one year left at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Reid is planning on applying to medical school as well as graduate school for biomedical engineering. He is one out of about thirty other students at Chapel Hill who decided to take on biomedical engineering as a major. If the medical field ends up being the path he takes, Reid is hoping to specialize in neurology.
In just a few days, Reid and the rest of his peers from the internship program will head to Kannapolis City Hall to present their research and compete in a poster competition as part of the 2016 P2EP Summer Research Symposium. Reid was runner-up for the poster competition last year, which he says is especially motivating for the upcoming event. “I have a fire inside of me to win this year,” he said.
When he first arrived at P2EP to begin work with Dr. Jackson, Reid thought he would just be cleaning glassware. He was pleasantly surprised by the independence he and Thetford had once they had been trained, and he says this is part of the reason he came back to P2EP for three more years. “My experience in this program has taught me so much about research and how to comfortably talk about science. Truly a unique opportunity.”