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About Town: Grace Johnson

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he new LHS Research Lab Program is giving high school students interested in expanding their knowledge in the science field, the opportunity to conduct high level research projects throughout the school year.  

Lebanon High School senior Grace Johnson, daughter of Justin and Sara Johnson, is in the final stages of having her first major research project published in the “Journal for Emerging Investigators.” She has been involved in the LHS Research Lab for two of the three years that it has been offered to students, each year, completing a large-scale science project.  

“I do plant science, so last year I tested the reaction of thistles, the invasive species here in Missouri, to a type of native soil fungus called arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi,” she said.  

Johnson presented this project to several science boards and fairs last year, such as the Ozarks Science and Engineering Fair (OSEF), the Missouri Junior Academy of Sciences (MJAS) and the Missouri Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (MJSHS). Her paper is now in the final stages of publication.  

For her second year, she has taken on another large, plant science project. The biofortification of R. sativus (radish) with calcium, through irrigation with calcium ion solutions.

“I am fortifying radishes with calcium, so I am trying to put more calcium in the final product of radishes through irrigation water,” she said. 

Johnson is in the process of experimenting now. She has 200 radish plants in the school greenhouse that she is working with each day. Next semester she will move on to present this project to several different science fairs.  

Throughout her two years in the LHS Research Lab Program, Johnson has made several accomplishments in the science world. She qualified for the state competition at the Missouri Junior Academy of Sciences (MJAS), received a $1,000 stipend for research from Science Coach and has a publication in the “Journal for Emerging Investigators.”  

As Johnson is finishing her final year in high school, she is reminiscing about her years in the program and looking forward to her future in science.  

“The biggest thing I have learned from this experience is also the lab’s motto, fail forward. It means that even when you fail, there are things to learn from it,” Johnson said. “Next year, I plan to go to college for a degree in plant science, specializing in genetics. I hope to get a job in a research lab, developing genetically modified crops that will help feed the growing population.”

The LHS Research Lab is continuing to grow its program and opening new opportunities for high school students each year.  

Editor’s note: This week’s About Town profile was written by Lebanon High School senior Abigail Twenter. Abigail is a student in the LHS GOCAPS class and is job shadowing at the Laclede County Record for a few weeks. We will have more from Abigail in an upcoming edition of the newspaper.

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