Garren Powell
Garren Powell is a freshman involved in research through the Freshman Research in Plant Sciences (FRIPS) program. | photo by Allison Scott, Bond LSC

“#IAmScience because research helps fulfill the curiosity I have for learning about the world around me.”

By Allison Scott | Bond Life Sciences Center

Some people spend their whole lives trying to figure out what they want to do. Garren Powell, however, has known that science was his route for as long as he can remember.

“As a kid I was always the one doing my own little science experiments at home,” Powell said.

It’s no wonder he wound up as a biochemistry major at Mizzou. He works in Richard Ferrieri’s lab at the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR), which he found through Mizzou’s Freshman Research in Plant Sciences (FRIPS) program.

One day last summer, Powell was scrolling on his computer when he came across a posting for FRIPS. He immediately knew he was interested.

“I wanted to get involved in research,” Powell said. “I had already grown up around corn and farming, so I wanted to be able to see a different aspect of it.”

And the rest is history. After being accepted to the program — which chooses a select class each year — Powell’s next step was finding a lab.

“Before interviewing at any labs, FRIPS gave us a list of options,” Powell said. “From the beginning, I knew I wanted to work in the Ferrieri lab.”

Now, Powell works with Risobacteria — which colonize near the root system of plants — to help better understand malnourished soil.

“We’re trying to see how the bacteria interact with the root system to increase iron and the nutritional value of corn,” Powell said.

Doing so will allow his lab to help alter the farming industry.

“Dependency on nitrogen fertilizers is one of the reasons the soil is being stripped of nutrients,” Powell said. “Reducing that will help to create more sustainable farming practices.”

And his work isn’t just lab basics. He’s doing real research and getting his feet wet in the industry.

“I get to do actual projects and not just wash dishes,” Powell said. “In the Ferrieri lab, I have the chance to become a better researcher.”

Even though he’s just begun his career in research, Powell is excited to see where things will go from here.

“I’ve always been involved in science,” Powell said. “And doing it in a professional setting is something I’ve always dreamed of.”