Graduate Student Alicain Carlson Exemplifies Teaching Excellence!

Alicain Carlson
Alicain Carlson






















When she began her doctoral degree, Alicain Carlson, a Ph.D. candidate in the Horticultural Science Department, knew she wanted to teach. Just a few years later, she plans to graduate in May 2014 and has already been recognized on both university and national levels for her excellence in teaching.

At the university level, Alicain was awarded the University Graduate Student Association (UGSA) Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award. Selected as one of fifteen from a pool of over seventy nominations, Alicain was selected for exhibiting a “consistently superior command of the subject matter” and providing students with a “comprehensive, coherent understanding of the subject.” In her five years at NC State, Alicain has co-taught or been a teaching assistant for Greenhouse Management four times and been a teaching assistant once for Floriculture Production, Home Horticulture, and Introduction to Horticulture. She gives credit to her many talented and dedicated professors, including John Dole, William Fonteno, and Bryce Lane, for setting a good example and giving her advice.

Outside of the University, the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) awarded Alicain the 2013 Graduate Student Teaching Award at the annual NACTA conference in Blacksburg, Virginia. Selected as one of twenty from many students from universities across the country, Alicain felt especially honored by the award because it was given on the campus of Virginia Tech, her alma mater where she got her start. This prestigious award is granted based upon teaching philosophy, current student evaluations, student alumni evaluations, recommendations from faculty and administrators, and academic activities.

Alicain believes her participation in Preparing Future Leaders (PFL), particularly the Preparing the Professoriate (PTP) program, helped her “to confirm that academia was where [she] belonged” and left her feeling confident “that [she] could be successful.” “I have learned something useful in very single PFL event and program I’ve participated in,” she says. Additionally, she “met many amazing people and grew tremendously as an academic.” “The programs,” she feels, “were such an efficient use of [her] time for professional development that [she] just couldn’t turn down the opportunities.” As a former PFL Ambassador, Alicain aims to “spread the word of the successes [she has] had with PFL and encourage others to participate.”

In the lab, Alicain’s current research focuses on cut flower production and postharvest. After looking closely at the interactions of bacteria with cut flowers, Alicain is aiming to develop an organic floral preservative using a probiotic bacteria that could be added to vase water. Additionally, she is using HiSeq RNA sequencing technologies to create transcriptomes of two rose cultivars that develop bent neck and blue petals as they die. She hopes to discover if there is a genetic component causing these symptoms that eventually could be controlled through genetic modification or novel postharvest treatments in order to make roses last longer. Finally, she’s conducting research to promote Eucomis (pineapple lily) for use as a cut flower and potted plant.

After she graduates in May, Alicain aspires to be a professor. Currently, she is searching for faculty positions in horticulture throughout the United States for any combination of teaching, research, and extension. “Ultimately,” Alicain reports that she “want[s] to serve the horticulture community and make it better, however [she] possibly can.”

Click here to view archived Graduate School stories.