Carol Spalding

Rowan-Cabarrus Biotech Graduates Advancing Scientific Discovery

February 18, 2013




(NC Research Campus, Kannapolis, NC- February 18, 2013)- Behind every great scientist is a great research assistant.

At the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) in Kannapolis those great research assistants and research technicians are most often graduates of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s two-year applied science associate degree program in biotechnology.

Graduates are working in laboratories of the David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI), NC State University Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI), the UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute (NRI) and Dole Foods Nutrition Research Laboratory. Business and management graduates also have jobs on campus working in the PHHI’s administration and NCRC’s marketing office.

Graduates like Lori Solomon-Beale decided to attend Rowan-Cabarrus after being laid off in 2008. Then 47, she took a leap of faith that a degree in biotechnology would pay off.  She now works in the laboratory of Allan Brown, Ph.D., at PHHI supporting broccoli, cabbage and blueberry research. Her advice to others who are thinking about making a life change is not to be intimidated about going back to school.

“You think you’re going to get into class and have all of these 18, 19 and 20-year-olds, and you’re going to be the only one who is middle-aged. It’s just not so. There were students who were older than I was. It was really diverse at Rowan-Cabarrus.”

Rowan-Cabarrus also offers a cooperative education program that provides internships on campus. Although not a degree requirement, the Rowan-Cabarrus graduates working at the NCRC took advantage of the program to gain the experience and contacts to land a fulltime job. Walter Friday, who is a research laboratory technician on the research team of NRI Director Steven Zeisel, M.D., Ph.D., was an intern for NC MarketReady where he worked on a project involving microbiology. He then worked part-time in the post-harvest physiology lab of Penny Perkins-Veazie, Ph.D. at PHHI before being hired at the NRI.

Jody Albright, a research assistant for Brian Bennett, Ph.D., also at the NRI, praises the quality of Rowan-Cabarrus classes and instruction. “The core classes of the biotech program are really good at giving a nice overview of what goes on in labs,” he said. “You get to play around with recombinant DNA and bacteria. You learn about bioprocessing and what it would be like to work in industry. It is a good program.”

“I am exceedingly proud of our graduates! Among the victories of the biotechnology program, the most exciting to me is that we’ve taken a highly quantitative program and successfully trained students who never thought they were good at science,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “Traditionally, in North Carolina, only 50 percent of students who come to college in what we call developmental or remedial math classes actually complete the program. In our inaugural biotechnology graduating class in 2011, 71 percent of the biotechnology graduates began in developmental math! To have developmental math students demonstrate this level of success is rare and something we’re extremely proud of.”

Learn more about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and meet the graduates working at the NCRC:
TeQuana Bayless, research associate, Crown Bio/DHMRI
Lori Solomon-Beale, laboratory research technician, PHHI
Dottie Nanto, marketing/administrative assistant, NCRC Marketing Office
Dona Miller, administrative support specialist, PHHI
Walter Friday, research laboratory technician, NRI
Morgan Fabian, research assistant, Dole Foods Nutrition Research Laboratory
Jody Albright, research technician, NRI
About the Rowan-Cabarrus Applied Science Degree in Biotechnology
The Rowan-Cabarrus two-year, biotechnology training program includes 512 hours of lab time where students learn basic techniques such as micropipetting all the way to Fluorescent Activated Cell Sorter, and real-time PCR. The Rowan-Cabarrus 62,000-square-foot training facility located on the NC Research Campus is teeming with high-end, state-of-the-art equipment including a high performance liquid chromatograph, an FT-IR spectrophotometer and a gas chromatograph. The college’s nursing program is also based at the NCRC training center. Up to 98 percent of the students in the program are from the local area. They graduate and move into jobs not only at the NCRC but at companies like PreGel America in Concord, N.C., and Dendreon in Atlanta, G.A. Others go on to four-year colleges to continue their education.

Rowan-Cabarrus celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and is one of 58 North Carolina Community Colleges. For more information, visit or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).

About the NC Research Campus
The NC Research Campus is home to corporate, academic and healthcare partners focused on advancing science at the intersection of human health, agriculture and nutrition.  The NCRC is located on a 350-acre campus in Kannapolis, NC, just north of Charlotte, and has over a million square feet of lab and office space under management that includes five buildings and the research power of nine world-renowned universities and colleges in North Carolina. In addition to the university presence, the NCRC is home to General Mills, Sensory Spectrum, Monsanto, LabCorp, Dole Foods, Inc. and Crown Bio. For more information, visit
Phyllis Beaver
Marketing Director
North Carolina Research Campus


Paula Dibley
Director of College Relations, Marketing and Communications
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
O: 704-216-3467
C: 704-903-2738

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