Researching Plant Biology – Rachel Powell

Success can be difficult for a college senior to define, especially when facing the uncertainties of life after school. But for biology major Rachel Powell, ’16, the picture is clear: she has received a full scholarship to her dream university, for a program she wants to pour her heart and soul into.

Rachel has spent her years at Meredith College studying vegetation and the effects of drought on certain plant life, while also immersing herself in campus life. She is planning to continue her research in plant biology at Auburn University this fall, where she has received a full scholarship.

“I also got accepted into Auburn’s fellowship program, which is all researched based. I’m excited to focus entirely on plant biology.”

Rachel has been studying and working on developing drought-tolerant plants with Karthik Aghoram, associate professor of biological sciences. Rachel sought out a graduate program that focused on the same research, which she found at a lab in Auburn.

The youngest of three children from Charlotte, N.C., Rachel has had her sights set on Auburn for quite some time.

“My brother, who is nine years older than I am, went to Auburn. I love the professors and I know it’s the right place for me to continue my research.”

Although Rachel has no doubt that Auburn’s plant biology program is where she belongs, she came to Meredith with a different plan.

“I wanted to be a physician. Then I took a course called ‘The Great Food Debate’ with Dr. Bill Landis and Dr. Aghoram, and that changed all of my career goals.”

In addition to her three years of plant biology research, Rachel has also been very involved in campus life at Meredith.

She belongs to both Kappa Nu Sigma and Alpha Lambda Delta honor societies. Currently, she serves as a community advisor in the on-campus Oaks apartments. Along with being the co-chair of the “Big Sis/Lil Sis” program, Rachel has taken part in many of Meredith’s longstanding traditions. She also has studied abroad in Iceland.

Rachel says that all of her campus involvement and her research have helped her become a stronger student, scientist, and woman.

“Everyone tries to tell me that their college is a community, but they’ve never experienced Meredith. I knew from the moment I stepped onto campus that this would be where I would spend my undergraduate years.”

By Lillian Redding, ’16


Learn more about studying biology at Meredith.

Watch a video in which Karthik Aghoram explains how drought-tolerant plants are developed.

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