Kevin ’08 and Lora Toncheva ’07 Potter are a duo that makes Graceland proud. With successful careers, two young boys (and another one on the way) and their sights on improving the world, this couple is making a difference.
Kevin, from Missouri, and Lora, from Bulgaria, met at Graceland — in the middle of everywhere. After graduating, Kevin worked at DuPont Pioneer, where he developed a passion for research. He went to Iowa State University for graduate school and graduated with a PhD in molecular, cellular and developmental biology in 2015. Currently, he is a Postdoctoral Fellow funded by the National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Initiative, where his research focuses on understanding how a plant hormone called cytokinin regulates diverse aspects of plant growth and development in rice. After Graceland, Lora earned an MBA from the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business in 2014 while working full time at DuPont Pioneer. She now works as a project analyst in the Regulatory and Stewardship department at Pioneer, ensuring that the work necessary for getting new products approved in different geographies around the world is completed on time.
"The knowledge gained from my research may be used to improve rice yields that are needed to combat hunger and keep up with the future food supply and demand." - Kevin Potter
Both Kevin and Lora — coming from different places and studying completely different fields, biology and business — feel Graceland provided a solid undergraduate experience that prepared them for the next steps in their careers.
“My education prepared me well by pushing me to develop problem-solving skills, teaching me how to work well with people from different backgrounds and cultures, and how to be flexible and adjust easily to whatever each day brings,” explained Lora.
Kevin felt that the housing system gave him brothers to lean on. He was in Agape House and remarks, “AGAPE! I learned that putting a bunch of college boys together on a hall leads to a lot of craziness! Kidding aside, I think that by having a close community of friends to provide guidance and support definitely allowed me to perform well in my classes.”
The Potters, who currently live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, plan to follow Kevin’s research. Lora isn’t sure where that will take them, but she is prepared and flexible; ready and excited for new challenges and opportunities. Kevin explains, “My hope is to obtain a professorship at a major research university and manage my own research program. I hope to have a well-funded laboratory that enables my trainees to answer broad questions related to plant biology. Also, I hope to have a house with two refrigerators to feed my three (the third is due in April) growing boys…”