As a student intrigued by science—her favorite school subject—Adrienne Blakey found an interest in plant genetics as a student in the Stillwater FFA Chapter in Stillwater, Okla. Though she participated in a beef placement supervised agricultural experience (SAE) in high school, Adrienne gave speeches on plant breeding through FFA.
Adrienne saw an opportunity to engage in research when she entered the Freshman Research Scholars program at Oklahoma State University. Through the program, she connected with a faculty mentor and began research on wheat gluten.
“It was so easy to become passionate about, because gluten is something that we’re seeing so often in health conversations today, in families near and far, including my own,” she said. “It kind of also touches that home base for me as well … having a mom who is allergic to gluten.”
Adrienne’s research centers around identifying if gluten proteins have changed in a way that affects human diets.
“If there is a reason for them to be concerned based on the breeding advancements that we’ve made over the last century, then we need to do what it takes to make that correct,” Adrienne said. “It’s important that the food that we’re providing to people is as genuine and … good as we possibly can make it.”
For younger FFA members interested in science and research, Adrienne said her advice is to ask questions about the environment, how technology is advancing, and how consumers react to information that researchers relay to the public.
Adrienne said she hopes to continue researching in her future career but also wants to help communicate research findings to consumers effectively.
“That’s our job as agriculturalists,” she said. “What this research allows me to do is not only be someone who’s speaking up for the ag industry, but also being someone who has experienced things with the actual science that goes on behind it.”