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Student Spotlight: International Award-Winner Paul Cockson

Paul Cockson, Agroecology undergraduate major

Paul Cockson, senior agroecology student in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and undergraduate researcher in Horticultural Science, received the International Society for Horticultural Science Young Minds Award. He was honored for his poster presentation at the Soilless Culture 2nd Symposium at the International Horticultural Congress in Istanbul, Turkey, Aug. 12-16,  2018.

Paul’s poster was titled “Characterization of Nutrient Disorders of Dieffenbachia maculata,” also commonly known as Dumbcane. The research he presented was part of his work with the Provost’s Professional Experience Program (PEP). Paul has applied to the Department of Horticultural Science for the MS program with plans to conduct research on Brassica carinata nutrient disorders and how they affect the oil composition profile.

Why did you choose CALS?

Ever since I was a young child I had a love for plants. This passion expanded as I got older and I decided to pursue a degree and career in plant science.

What is your career goal? Why did you choose it?

My eventual goal is to go on to obtain my PhD and work in academia.  I chose this path because I am insatiably curious and want to satisfy my natural curiosity through research.

What are you working on? What’s next for you?

Currently I am working on a research project dealing with Brassica carinata. This non-edible oil seed crop has applications as a winter cover crop, biofuel and feed meal. The oil from this crop is in the process of being used as a biofuel for jet turbines and air travel.

I hope to continue my research on carinata in a master’s program here at NC State.

What have you learned that you will take with you when you graduate?

Everything. The classes and research experience I have gained while in the Crop and Soil Science program and my agroecology concentration have direct and immediate applications to the research I am currently doing and any future production or research I may do.

Tell me about an experience you’ve had outside the classroom.

My undergraduate research is under the direction of Dr. Brian Whipker and the mentorship of Josh Henry.  Both of these amazing scientists have poured into me and mentored me to help build my knowledge base and scientific skills.  Perhaps the most rewarding experience has been learning about a concept in class that directly applies to the work I do when I leave the classroom door and enter the greenhouse.

What is the best thing about CALS in five words?

I’ll give you two.  The people. Hands down the most amazing professors, mentors, researchers and scientists I have met. They pour so much into the student and go out of their way to make sure you have enriching external experiences to help you develop as a person, scientist and professional.