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From Beakers to Bibs

How work in the lab translates to working the land

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin. 

Education is one of the most important tools in today ‘s society. Especially in agriculture. Looking to the future, a growing population, farm profitability, the cost of farmland and the dawn of precision agriculture among us, education is more important than ever to the future of farming. 

AG STUDENT: Brianna Maddock

Brianna Maddock has a true passion for agriculture.

Maddock is a sophomore at North Dakota State University studying biotechnology. She hopes to use this degree to better the future of agriculture through gene editing and is enjoying her work in the NDSU research lab where she tests proteins within a specific cut of muscle. 

Her involvement in North Dakota FFA has a lot to do with her passion for agriculture and research, as well. 

Maddock took her first ag class as a seventh-grader at Kindred High School. From there, she joined FFA with some encouragement from her mom, who was the state FFA foundation’s director at the time. 

“I could blame it on my parents, who are very involved in ag, but I also loved going to my grandparent’s ranches growing up, so I think that had a lot to do with it, too,” Maddock said.

“I didn’t really want to go, but Mom made me check it out and it was amazing,” she said. “I competed in a  bunch of  events that were a little random but fit into my interests in some way.”

Maddock thrived in FFA, competing at the state-level many times and at a national level three times individuals and three times on a team.

“I’m proud to come from Kindred FFA,” she said. “We have a very strong, competitive chapter and I had good teammates no matter what I competed in. From floriculture to ag sales.”

Maddock served as North Dakota’s state president of FFA last year.

“Seeing all the blue jackets and knowing the potential of these students makes me so excited for the future of agriculture,” she said. “We have a strong base in agriculture here in North Dakota, and it’s encouraging to see students plan to pursue careers in agriculture.”

She credits her roots to FFA, specifically in the agriscience fair.

“The agriscience fair was one of the biggest technical and hands-on learning experiences I’ve ever had,” Maddock said. “Through [it], I was able to see that we need researchers and people with my interests in the agriculture field as well. That experience in itself made me know that I want to conduct research potentially and more likey relating to the ag industry.”

This is also what helped her decide on NDSU, a land-grant, researched-based institution. 

“I knew NDSU would have the funds to help me focus on the research emphasis I was looking for,” Maddock said. 

Her area of study was originally in ag engineering and was switched to food science and she’s now landed in biotechnology.

“I’m super interested in math and science,” Maddock said. “I could do that all day and never be bored.”

She’s still deciding on exactly what her future holds, but her main interests right now are in genetics. 

“In both human medicine and how that relates to agricultural practices,” she said. “I hope to continue to explore that. I’m on the right track. Working in the lab has helped me assess and be sure of what I want to do.”

This past November, Maddock began working in NDSU’s research lab focused on muscle biology. She performs tests related to proteins and end of production in animals. 

“The reason Dr. Kasey Carlin is interested in this is that it’s the culmination of every decision the producer makes, and every decision the processor makes about the meat,” she said. 

Maddock performs western blots, a test that separates blood proteins and detects specific proteins, to identify different proteins in the meat and is currently working on identifying oxidative properties in meat to determine their expiration dates with the rest of Dr. Carlin’s team. 

As Maddock continues her education and experience, she’s hopeful for the future of agriculture and hopes to develop technologies and create more opportunities for agriculture for a growing world. 

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