Rachel Becknell


  • Time Zone

  • Organization
    Washington University in St. Louis

  • Role
    Scientist Mentor: I will mentor teams of students online

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    I am passionate about restoration ecology and how the bacteria and fungi living in the soil help plants grow and co-exist. I perform experiments testing how I can use this knowledge to recreate ecosystems like tallgrass prairies so that they will be more successful and possibly even more resilient to disturbances such as invasive species and climate change.

  • Profile Question 1
    When and why did you decide to go into a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    I decided to go into a science career after taking an introductory evolution course. I was pre-vet at the time, but the wonder that the course awoke in me convinced me that becoming an ecologist was the right course. Follow your passion has rarely steered me wrong.

  • Profile Question 2
    What is your favorite plant? Why?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    My favorite plant is called Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium). It is a tallgrass prairie plant that has spikey leaves and greenish white flowers. It is called rattlesnake master because it was used as an anti-venom for rattlesnake bites by Native Americans. It is part of the carrot family and its roots actually smell like carrots! I have heard it called 'the duct tape of ancient times' since its fibers have been found in many ancient artifacts such as 3000+ year old sandals!

  • Profile Question 3
    Can you describe your attitude toward science when you were in high school?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    When I was in high school I couldn't care less about science. I was a member of my school's choirs and an art student and I took biology, chemistry, and ecology because I had to take them, not because I wanted to. I now believe that if I had had a passionate science teacher back then, that I would have fallen in love with science much sooner.

  • Help represent the outreach efforts of your societies. Please click all those organizations you are a member of:
    Ecological Society of America

  • Availability
    I am NOT available, please temporarily remove me from the available mentor list

  • Capacity: How many teams at a time are you comfortable working with?

Recent Posts

Team Xtreme Rachel Becknell

Hi Team Xtreme!

Thank you for the kind messages! I am glad to hear that you all enjoyed the project and that your presentation went well. It has been a pleasure being your mentor and I wish you luck as you continue with your education. I hope…

Team Xtreme Rachel Becknell

Hi Team! Your presentation looks great! How do you feel about your results? Are you giving your presentation today? Best of luck to you all. I look forward to hearing about it. :) 

Team Xtreme Rachel Becknell
commented on a blog post

Hi Issa, 

If you think that the plants are staying sufficiently moist and are able to visit them at least every couple of days, then I don't think that the saran wrap is necessary. If you think that it is harming and not helping your…


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