I complete my BS in biology in 2002 at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. While at UNCW, my focus was on plants, and I took nearly every class they offered. I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Carolyn Dunn and she taken under the wing and was really a tremendous influence and a wonderful friend. She encouraged me to do a departmental honors project with the help of Dr. Ann Stapleton, Dr. Paulo Almeida and Zeynep Kurgun-Chen. My project was nothing fancy,just a simple efficacy trial on an iron-phosphate versus a metaldehyde slug bait. Because of my love of plants, I through continued to volunteer at the greenhouse and to assist Zeynep in any way that I could wether it be weeding, watering or just a simple conversation. I began working in Dr. Stapleton's lab doing DNA extractions of corn plants, trying to measure the effect that intense UV light had on the plant. The point of the experiment was to mimic the effect of ozone depletion, which would allow more of the sun's harmful UV rays to penetrate to the plant surface. It was both Dr. Dunn and Dr. Stapleton encouraged me to look into graduate research, however I was not sold on the idea, until I attended a sustainable agriculture conference in town and met several faculty members from North Carolina State University.

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