College students embark on summer of research

Six students from universities across the state arrived for a summer of research at the North Carolina Research Campus over the Memorial Day weekend.

The students are the first crop of Kannapolis Scholars. They will spend 10 weeks working with researchers in state-of-the-art labs at the campus.

The Kannapolis Scholars program brings postgraduate students from eight universities to the research campus to study food science, nutrition and human health.

The universities are Appalachian State, Duke, N.C. A&T State, N.C. Central, N.C. State, UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte and UNC Greensboro.

Kannapolis Scholars will pursue postgraduate degrees in disciplines including nutrition, molecular and cell biology, bioinformatics and genomics, developmental psychology, and energy and environmental systems.

N.C. State University directs the program, which is supported by a $1million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It will bring at least 20 students to the Research Campus in the next four years.

Kannapolis Scholar Christine Bradish of Raleigh will research phytochemical variation in N.C.-grown raspberries this summer, with the ultimate goals of increasing raspberry production and revenue for the state.

Bradish is an N.C. State graduate student in horticultural science. Mentoring her are Penelope Perkins-Veazie, a professor and postharvest physiologist who is part of N.C. State's Plants for Human Health Institute in Kannapolis; Wei Jia, professor and co-director of the UNCGreensboro Center for Research Excellence in Bioactive Food Components; and Gina Fernandez, associate professor and Extension specialist, who leads N.C. State's raspberry and blackberry breeding program.

"This is the best training a scientist of the future can possibly obtain," said Mary Ann Lila, director of the Plants for Human Health Institute. "These scholars will be hot commodities in the world of industry and academia, because they are able to take approaches to problem solving that are truly unprecedented."

The other scholars are Daniel Cooper, UNCChapel Hill, from La Jolla, Calif.; Krista Kennerly, Appalachian State University, from Asheville; Kyle Suttlemyre, UNCCharlotte, from Winston-Salem; Christa Watson, N.C. A&T State, from Greensboro; and Kelly Will, UNCChapel Hill, from Arlington, Va.

After this summer, the students will complete two academic semesters at their home campuses, then return for another 10-week summer stint at the Research Campus in 2011. Kannapolis Scholars receive roughly $38,000 over 15 months for tuition, housing and other expenses.