Peyton Higgins, PhD
Peyton received a B.A. in Chemistry from Smith College and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from UW – Madison. Peyton’s doctoral research in Prof. Andrew Buller’s lab was in the field of protein engineering for biocatalysis; in other words, they studied how to get enzymes to catalyze the synthesis of new and biologically interesting chemicals. Partway through graduate school, Peyton discovered an interest in sustainable agriculture research and was surprised to learn that protein engineering and plant breeding have a few things in common! They spent a semester as a visiting researcher studying hazelnuts as part of the Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative (UMHDI).
Peyton returned to the world of hazelnuts Fall 2023 as a postdoctoral researcher whose work is co-advised by Brad Bolling and Julie Dawson. They are using near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy and various lab techniques to profile the nutrient composition of hazelnut kernels from UMHDI breeding populations, with the goal of assisting selection for high quality hazelnut kernels.
Outside of work, Peyton enjoys spending time with their wife and dogs, rock climbing, playing hockey, and practicing a variety of fiber arts (knitting, crochet, and spinning, so far…). Looking ahead, Peyton is especially interested in the process of translating academic research into real-world action and aspires to use their scientific background to promote the development of sustainable and equitable food systems.