By Danielle Pycior | Bond LSC
Two years ago, Paul Martin found his love for biology in a freshman-level non-majors course. He’s now a researcher in Walter Gassmann’s lab helping to study transcription factors that regulate a plant’s immune response to bacterial pathogens.
Martin grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, near Arrowhead Stadium and has always loved sports. He recalled caring more about baseball stats in school than learning. By the time he reached high school, he loved to write and thought he could make a career out of it.
“I hated school until eighth grade,” he said. “I just it didn’t interest me.”
Originally a business and journalism double major, his biology professor approached him and told him he had a knack for it. It was that interaction that made him realize that his love for science could turn into a career in research.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “I wish I could go back and switch freshman year so I wouldn’t have to try to catch up.”
He hopes to one day work for the government through USDA or research through a university. He’s really interested in plant genetics; the challenge and joy of learning something new bring him back into the lab every week.
” I love learning how every little piece interacts, learning why things do what they do and getting answers to big questions that maybe no one has yet,” he said.
Balancing schoolwork, research and other interests has been the biggest challenge for him so far, but he values the opportunity to learn about a lot of different topics. He hopes to minor in philosophy for fun and is frequently listening to political podcasts. Right now, he’s listening to “Love it or leave it” by crooked media.
Along with his intellectual interests, he also loves to calm down by sketching.
“I’m not overly creative,” he said. “So I have to have something to base everything off of, but I enjoy it when I have time.”
Martin, like many scientists, is a goal-oriented individual. When he sets a goal, he said he’ll stop at nothing to make sure it gets done. Right now, he wants to run a half marathon before he graduates and he wants to get into a good graduate program.
He’s looking into Kansas State, University of Oregon, MU and the University of Toronto to study plant genetics and immune systems. He hopes to end up here at MU but said that he will go where the research takes him.
“Unlike most other things, there is really no subjectivity to science,” he said. “Everything’s objective. Even if you don’t know exactly what’s objective about it, eventually you discover the objective truth underlying what you’re studying.”
Martin said he’s proud of the progress he’s made amongst some great colleagues and hopes to continue improving.
“I really like the people,” he said. “I like the laid back atmosphere and I’m really looking forward to what the future has in store for this lab.”