After five years of traveling North Carolina repairing and maintaining computers, 2011 Kannapolis Scholar Adam Baxter decided to apply his undergraduate degree in computer systems and computer programming to a new field.
He chose bioinformatics and enrolled in the Professional Science master’s program in Bioinformatics at UNC Charlotte. Ann Loraine, PhD, Associate Professor in the Bioinformatics and Genomics Department at UNCC, encouraged him to apply for the Kannapolis Scholars shortly after he began working with her in
The Kannapolis Scholars program is a first-of-its-kind transdisciplinary training program for postgraduate students. The 14 postgraduates currently in the program study food science, nutrition and human health under the direction of mentors from each of the participating universities- Duke, Appalachian State University, NC A&T, NC Central, NC State, UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte, and UNC Greensboro.
Baxter’s research involves visualizing and analyzing data from genes expressed in blueberry fruit. He aims to study anthocyanin and flavonoid biosynthesis pathways in blueberries and identify the genes responsible for their production. Anthocyanins are plant pigments that give blueberries their color and are thought to benefit human health. Learning more about these pathways will help breeders enhance the nutritional and health benefits of blueberries.
Of his experience, Baxter said, “I really enjoy programming and analysis. The job I was in, I couldn’t do any of that. I love what I do now.” The advantages of being a Kannapolis Scholar extend beyond research. “The Kannapolis Scholars program allows students like me to interact with extremely intelligent and wise people from academia and industry who have been where I am now,” Baxter said. “That’s the most important part of being a Kannapolis Scholar is networking with other people, learning what they do and having them learn about what you do.”
The interaction gives the 2010 and 2011 Kannapolis Scholars at the NCRC a chance to see how their research can apply in both industry and academic settings. For Baxter, he’s not only gaining research experience but a network of colleagues and a pathway for his scientific career to develop.