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CODY LOCKE, A ‘CAN DO’ STUDENT

By Chris Bryant

“Seize the day.” “Make the most of your opportunities.” “Just do it.” Whatever your phrase of choice to describe a “Go for the Gusto” attitude toward college academics, you can aptly apply it to University of Alabama senior Cody Locke.

The 22-year-old Boaz native, scheduled for a May graduation, has garnered unprecedented recognition for his classroom and research-laboratory accomplishments while a UA student. This first-generation college student, with a Harry Potteresque visage and the overachieving drive to match, is a three-time USA Today Academic All-American.

 In 2006, he was one of only 20 students nationwide chosen for the unit’s First Team, following his selection as a Second-Team member in both 2004 and 2005, all of which helped bring UA’s nation-leading four-year total to 20 team members. But it’s not just on paper, or in the paper, where Locke shines.

“Never before have I seen such an enormous talent mature to international stature at an undergraduate level as has Cody Locke,” wrote Dr. John W. Holaday, a biotechnology entrepreneur and an adjunct professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in support of Locke’s Goldwater scholarship, which he landed last year. Holaday met Locke through his professional association with Drs. Guy and Kim Caldwell, UA biology professors in whose lab Locke has worked between classes—and where the graduate-to-be expects to continue researching the molecular basis for epilepsy for the next year.

Locke has presented at major scientific conferences and seen his epilepsy research published in a top human disease journal. For a computer-based honors project, Locke used information from the Human Genome Project to construct an online database on the genetics of epilepsy. The database, at www.carpedb.ua.edu, has been used by scientists around the globe, is included in the National Center for Biotechnology Information Molecular Biology Database Collection and has been highlighted by Science magazine and others. 

“As a student at the Capstone, I have been allowed academic freedom to pursue my own interests both inside and outside of the laboratory,” Locke said. While the upcoming graduate calls research the “cornerstone” of his undergraduate experience, he’s quick to point out that classroom performance combined with lab work creates the best balance in career preparation. “Fortunately for me,” Locke said, “my research has actually facilitated my learning in the classroom, so finding that balance has been easy for me.”

Guy Caldwell calls inviting Locke to join his lab “one of the finest decisions of my career. Cody simply defines ‘the best and the brightest.’”

Active in campus organizations, Locke is the former editor in chief of the Journal of Science & Health at The University of Alabama, and president of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society. His career goal is to become a professor of molecular and cellular biology meaning a lifetime of learning, imagining the possibilities, and personifying such slogans as “Believe it to Achieve It” await.