As Weston Bussler, PhD, put the finishing touches on his dissertation in spring 2018, he was interviewing at the Standard Process Nutrition Innovation Center, located at the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) in Kannapolis. Two months later, Bussler is settling in to his new role as Nutrition Scientist at the Center, demonstrating that plant pathways can open up opportunities for young professionals in science and technology.
During his graduate studies, Bussler was also one of the first four graduate mentors to lead teams of undergraduate students in the Plant Pathways Elucidation Project (P2EP) summer internship program. He would go on to lead groups of interns for the next three years. The interns worked at the lab bench alongside Bussler, receiving invaluable research and professional training while aiding Bussler in his studies on the anti-cancer properties of broccoli and anti-inflammatory capabilities of oats.
Bussler received his PhD from North Carolina State University (NCSU) in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Sciences under the direction of Slavko Komarnytsky, PhD, Associate Professor at the NCSU Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI), and Mary Ann Lila, the Director of PHHI. The Institute is located at the NCRC, where Standard Process, Inc. opened their new Nutrition Innovation Center in April 2018.
Bussler’s expertise in merging nutrition and food science paired with his experience leading teams of researchers set him up perfectly for a career at the Nutrition Innovation Center.
“Weston struck me as a student who had both determination and confidence to be productive on research projects and mature as a professional researcher during his time in my lab,” Komarnystky said. “He was also acknowledged among my undergraduate students for mutual support and collegiality. His strong background in both the nutritional and food processing sides of human health is a quality critical to his current job at Standard Process.”
The Nutrition Innovation Center is dedicated to whole-person clinical care, sustainable agriculture, and wholistic nutritional therapies. Bussler and the other scientists at the Center, like those at their home base in Palmyra, Wisconsin, are focusing on whole food-based clinical nutrition solutions to improve human health.
“The mission at Standard Process fits a lot of what the NCRC has represented for a long time,” Bussler said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen another company that cares about every single step of the process from producing a plant to developing clinical outcomes for people.”
As a Nutrition Scientist focused on research and development, Bussler is supporting existing projects and working on new product generation, integrating the Nutrition Innovation Center with the rest of the NCRC, and collaborating with food scientists and the clinical development team.
“Working at the Nutrition Innovation Center is fast-paced, exciting, and full of opportunity for me to make an impact,” Bussler said. “My graduate school experience at PHHI and P2EP prepared me for exactly this type of job. As I got ready to graduate in May, everything just fell into place. It’s like they built me for this job.”
The team at the Nutrition Innovation Center is continuing to grow, including two interns who will arrive this summer. Incidentally, one intern is an alumnus of the P2EP summer internship program.