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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cameron Adams named UNCP’s Farm Bureau Scholar

Cameron Adams has been named UNC Pembroke’s Robeson County Farm Bureau Scholar for 2011-12.

Cameron AdamsThe $5,000 scholarship is part of a Robeson County Farm Bureau-UNCP partnership to promote agricultural science at the university and in the community.

A sophomore majoring in chemistry with a pre-health professions emphasis, Adams is conducting research in UNCP’s Biotechnology Research and Training Laboratory at COMtech.

“It’s going well; I’ve produced two posters of my research,” Adams said. “I’m learning a lot about the scientific equipment I am using. We just returned from Fayetteville State University to work with their scanning electron microscope.”

On the day of this interview, Adams brought digital images of nematodes and a unique bacterium that produces its own light through a process called bioluminescence. The images were taken at the Southeastern North Carolina Regional Imaging Center, jointly operated by UNCP and Fayetteville State University.

“We were able to get good, high-resolution images of the nematodes, but we had trouble finding the bacteria,” he said. “Science is trial and error, and I’ve learned in every error, there is a lesson.

“I’m just getting started with a project on bacteria growth. We’re learning how to stimulate replication,” he said. “We were able to double the growth rate using trehalose, a form of sugar.

“This has opened my eyes to chemistry at the molecular level,” he said. “Working in the lab has added to my maturity. I have a lot to learn.”

Adams started work last summer in UNCP’s Biotechnology Lab with UNCP biochemist Dr. Len Holmes. They worked to develop the lab’s honeybee program.  The COMtech Honeybee Center was established in 2009.

“We put out hives this summer for FFA (Future Farmers of America) volunteers in Brunswick County working with Southeastern Community College,” Adams said. “From what I’ve learned about how important bees are to agriculture and plant life in general, I’ll never look at a honeybee the same again.” 

Recently UNCP collaborated with Farm Bureau and the Robeson Area Beekeeper Association to transfer and place a hive into five county high schools for management by the FFA at each site. 

Adams, who is from the town of McDonald in southern Robeson County, is the third Farm Bureau Scholar at UNCP; all of them have worked in Dr. Holmes’ laboratory. Undergraduate research is an important mission of the lab.

“Cameron has been working in our lab for six months and has done well,” said Dr. Holmes, director of UNCP’s Biotechnology Lab. “He has presented his research twice at conferences. I am pleased to have him on our team.”

The Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization founded in 1936 to protect the interests of farm families and to provide farmers with a unified voice in matters of legislation. The organization provides insurance to its members through the Farm Bureau Insurance Company.  

 “Robeson County Farm Bureau is exactly the kind of neighbor that our county needs to assist UNC Pembroke in giving back to the agricultural community,” he continued. “Between the honeybee project and the beneficial nematode project, my lab has trained dozens of students, teachers and advanced degree scientists. Farm Bureau has its trademark on them all.”

This year’s Farm Bureau Scholar is a well-rounded student, who excelled in the arts and the sciences in high school. He also played several sports.

“I’ve always been interested in history and science, and I participated in three sports,” he said. “In college, it’s been all academics. I’m leaning towards a health care career. It runs in my family.”

In his first semesters, Adams has been taking science and math courses along with general education requirements. “I’m taking physics and organic chemistry this semester,” he said. “It’s going well. If you can visualize, you will get the concepts.

“I’ve found good teachers at UNCP,” he continued. “Every professor I’ve had has been great.”

As part of the Farm Bureau-Pembroke partnership, the university also hosts a day-long symposium each year to promote new agriculture ideas and practices. The next symposium will take place Thursday, February 2, 2012. 

The Biotechnology Research and Training Lab may be contacted at 910.521.6650 or by emailing biotech@uncp.edu.

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