Madison Schroder
Mooresville, NC
B.S. Chemistry, UNC-Chapel Hill

Rachel Coble
China Grove, NC
B.S. Biochemistry, Catawba College

For many members of this community, the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) is a relatively new sight in Kannapolis. Before the NCRC opened in 2008, the campus was home to Cannon Mills, which employed, housed, and educated many residents and generations before them. But for some, the NCRC is all they’ve known on this site in Kannapolis. Since childhood, they’ve admired the stately buildings and dreamed of working as researchers in our labs.

Two teammates in the Sumner Lab at the NRI have made that dream a reality: research technicians Rachel Coble and Madison Schroder. We sat down with Rachel and Madison to learn more about what it was like to grow up in the area, what they enjoy about their work at the NRI, and what they’re planning for their futures These interviews have been lightly edited for brevity.

What was your favorite thing about growing up in the (broader) Kannapolis area?
Rachel: My favorite thing about growing up in nearby China Grove was the small hometown feel. You never had to go far to enjoy events, meet new people, or see beautiful scenery. I think living in a small town allows you to easily meet and get to know wonderful people unlike in a huge city.
Madison: I grew up in Mooresville and I enjoyed being close enough to Charlotte to enjoy all it has to offer while also staying a little more tucked away from the daily hustle and bustle.

Do you have any childhood memories of the NCRC or Cannon Mills before it?
Rachel: I vividly remember seeing the NCRC being built as a young girl. I remember this so well because I can still recall the day that I said to my mother “I’m going to work there one day.” I am so grateful that this dream came true.
Madison: I remember going to large furniture stores in what I believe is now the downtown area. It has changed so much since then that I didn’t realize it was the same place for a while.

What do you enjoy most about your role at the NRI?
Rachel: My role has been such a wonderful opportunity to learn amazing things about nutrition, how we contribute to the community, and how I will be able to use these skills and knowledge for the rest of my career.
Madison: I really enjoy getting to use what I learned about mass spectrometry in lectures at school in a laboratory setting and knowing that my work will help achieve positive outcomes for public health.

What do you enjoy most about working on the NCRC?
Rachel: The thing I enjoy the most about working at the NRI is the beauty of the campus itself and seeing how much Kannapolis has grown over the years. More importantly, I enjoy being able to work with some of the best people I have ever met.
Madison: It is a great campus with a lot to offer. I like being able to walk to downtown and get food or sit on the swinging benches when the weather is nice.

What are your goals/plans for the future?
Rachel: I plan to earn my master’s degree in Informatics and Analytics to enhance my skills and knowledge in data and to keep creating an impact in the research world.
Madison: I’d like to attend graduate school to learn more about analytical chemistry once I’ve gained a little more experience in the lab.

The NRI is pleased that we frequently staff our laboratories and administrative offices with employees who have grown up locally, witnessing the transition of our mill town to a center of research prominence, who attended the excellent public and private schools the region has to offer, and who carry on the tradition of this community employing its members.

Posted February 7, 2022