Meet Missouri Scientist (and MOST Director), Dr. Rachel Owen

Dr. Owen received her Ph.D. in the University of Missouri School of Natural Resources, researching the impact of a changing climate on wetland ecosystems and landowner perceptions of climate and agricultural threats in the Great Plains. Prior to moving to Missouri, she completed her B.S. in Agronomy and Global Resources Systems at Iowa State University and her M.S. in Plant Science from South Dakota State University.

In addition to serving as the Director of MOST Policy Initiative, Rachel serves as a soil science instructor at the University of Missouri, coaching the Mizzou soil judging team. She is also a Certified Professional Soil Scientist and Certified Crop Advisor and is the owner of Horizon Soil Solutions, LLC.

Rachel always knew she wanted to be a scientist and a leader, but didn’t quite understand how those fit together. “I loved my science classes in middle school and high school. My teachers always encouraged me to pursue higher education in biology, pre-med, or something similar. But I also loved leadership and business clubs and dreamed of being an entrepreneur someday,” Rachel said.

In college, Dr. Owen developed a passion for soil science. “I can travel anywhere in the world and know something about that place by looking at the soil. We walk on the soil every day, but very few people actually think about how important that soil is to our lives,” so she decided to pursue her advanced degrees in soil science.

“During my PhD while I was co-founding MOST, I was asked to share my experience as a scientist and entrepreneur.” This was the first time someone had labeled Rachel as an entrepreneur, and it all finally clicked. “I co-founded and led several student organizations while in college, but I never realized that made me entrepreneurial.”

In her current role, Rachel gets to wear many hats. “Scientist” will remain one of those roles regardless of where her career leads. “Science isn’t simply a job, it’s a way of thinking. I will always keep that curious, questioning outlook when approaching problems and finding evidence-informed solutions.”

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