Payton received a B.S. in Biomedical and Health Sciences Engineering with a Minor in Chemistry and Neuroscience from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. He entered IQ Biology through the Biomedical Engineering Program. Payton completed his first lab rotation in Mark Borden's lab in the Materials Science and Engineering Program. He completed his second lab rotation in Nick Bottenus' lab in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Payton completed his third lab rotation in Adam Green's lab at Anschutz's Medical Campus. For his team rotation, Payton worked with two other IQ students in Kayla Sprenger's (Chemical and Biological Engineering) and Mark Borden's (Mechanical Engineering) labs. In May 2022, Payton joined the Borden lab.