Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, VA
PhD in Genetics, NC State University
M.S. in Educational Administration, Texas A&M University
Lab: Dr. Robert Franks
April graduated with a PhD in Genetics in 2013. She knew from the beginning she wanted to focus on plant developmental genetics and found NC State to be the best graduate program for it. Several labs within the program were already conducting plant genetic research, and she was quickly able to determine further which of those labs would best fit her specific research goals thanks to her first-year lab rotations.
April fondly remembers engaging with multiple faculty members early on in her graduate study as well as being able to participate in various activities that contributed to her training. “I was offered a nice funding package that allowed me to focus on research, but afforded me the opportunity to teach as well.” She underscores the phenomenal opportunities and support she received through the Genetics Program and NC State as a whole, specifically noting being accepted into the Preparing the Professoriate program run by NC State’s Graduate School, a competitive professional development program which provides immersive mentorship and faculty training among other unique benefits.
Now as a professor, April applauds the expansive training she received at NC State. She was presented with a variety of labs and material in general contexts as well as in-depth training in plant developmental genetics and transcription regulation. In her career, she points to the access she had within the Genetics Program to a diverse range of labs, research approaches, and resources. “This training, as well as exposure to large data sets and statistical analysis, has shaped the research I conduct now and the way I teach my undergraduate research-intensive courses.”
After completing her PhD, April accepted a Visiting Assistant Professor position in the Biology Department at St . Mary’s College of Maryland. Now, she has moved to Virginia where she is able to be teach as an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Mary Washington.
– NSF awarded Aug. 2018. “Digitization PEN: Filling in knowledge gaps with key herbaria for understanding vascular plant diversity in the Atlantic coastal plain”
Steven Vensko II
Team Lead, Bioinformatics Data Services
Q2 Solutions/Expression Analysis, Durham, NC
PhD in Genetics, NC State University
B.S., Clemson University
Lab: Dr. Eric Stone
Steven graduated with a PhD in Genetics in 2015. While at NC State, his research concerned MSL complex-mediated dosage compensation within Drosophila. Specifically, he focused on how dosage compensation influenced the genetic composition of the X chromosome and how levels of dosage compensation vary among tissues throughout male individuals.
Steven credits his initial interest in NC State to his Clemson undergraduate advisor, Dr. Amy Lawton-Rauh, who had earned her degree from the Genetics Program and thought it would be a good fit for him as well. During an interview with the program, his interest in NC State was solidified. “I was impressed by the range of interesting research being performed and the passion shared by all of the students and faculty,” he says. It was after this visit he decided to pursue a PhD in Genetics at NC State.
Now, reflecting on his years of graduate study with NC State Genetics, Steven appreciates how the program prepared him for his career. He specifically values how the program educated him and other students on all available career options as well as how they supported each student’s choice whether it was academia, industry, or another professional path. He also emphasizes the program’s ability to connect its students to career partners, saying “the opportunities to network with those in industry and even work as an intern at a local biotechnology company allowed me to earn the position I have today.”
After graduation, Steven landed a job with Q2 Solutions/Expression Analysis in Durham, NC as a Bioinformaticist. He has since moved up to Team Lead of Bioinformatics Data Services with Q2 and is thriving in his field.