The North Carolina Research Campus

The North Carolina Research Campus is helping to develop the next generation of research professionals. Programs such as the Plant Pathways Elucidation Project provide students from across our state the opportunity to gain hands-on research experience. As part of this academic-industry partnership, North Carolina science students collaborate with NCRC’s leading scientists in a multidisciplinary environment to produce unique, significant scholarly contributions to the fields of plant science and human health.

TRANSCRIPT OF “equipping tomorrow’s workforce”

Mary Ann Lila: We all know that blueberries are good for us, but what is it about a blueberry that’s good for you? A blueberry actually has compounds in them that are medicinal. Most people don’t understand what those compounds are and that we can actually breed to make a better blueberry.

In the Plant Pathways Elucidation Project, graduate students are selected for their knowledge and their expertise, but then the graduate students select undergraduate interns that can come and be part of their team to contribute to the research effort. Many of the undergrads that come into this program have home institutions that don’t have research facilities, and they are here as interns – not as a summer job, but as a professional development experience. They know from the beginning that everything that they do is of interest to not only their graduate student mentor, but their faculty mentor, and the industry partners. All of their discoveries become part of scientific publications that are going to make an impact. So they’re learning things that nobody else at an undergraduate level would even have the chance to learn. They are not afraid to say, ‘Let’s try this!’ Even though it sounds like a crazy idea. And sometimes, those crazy ideas are exactly what’s needed to move research to the next level.


Mary Ann Lila, PhD
Director, NC State University Plants for Human Health Institute