Undergraduate Research Profile: Alexandra Gast

Research is more than lab coats! Senior Alexandra Gast talks about her experience with Tiger Garden and the award she won at the Symposium “Roots” Student Competition this summer in Las Vegas. Video by Martin Morard

Petal to the Medal: Senior Floral Design Student Wins Award at a National Floral Design Competition

In Las Vegas, a city known for over-the-top entertainment and endless fun, Mizzou senior Alexandra Gast attended the 2022 Symposium “Roots” Student Competition. Hosted by the American Institute of Floral Design, the competition pushes students to be resourceful and creative while designing floral pieces under a time crunch.

Gast’s team worked with Professor Lesleighan Cravens to create four floral design pieces over the course of the competition, and her innovative use of color, depth, unity, and proportion with florals earned her first place in the body flowers category.

“There was a lot of hard work put in by the team and Lesleighan,” Gast says, “and it was great to see it all pay off.”

Gast and her group also designed an urn tribute piece, in the sympathy category, a piece for a recycling center in the interpretive design category, and bridal bouquets in the wedding design category. Gast’s team focused on the sustainability of their pieces to promote reducing, reusing, and recycling in the floral world, which was the theme of this year’s competition.

 Gast began working with floral design programs during her freshman year at Mizzou. During her Summer Welcome session, she was introduced to Tiger Garden, a student-run flower shop and floral design classroom.

She began working in Tiger Garden as a student retail worker, but quickly realized she wanted to be in the classroom. When Professor Lesleighan Cravens went on maternity leave, Gast began working as a TA. She has been teaching floral design lab courses ever since.

Having practiced her floral design skill over the years, this summer’s symposium was not Gast’s first competition. Each Spring semester, the Office of Undergraduate Research hosts the Visual Art and Design Showcase, or VADS; an exhibition showcasing the creative side of scholarship that undergraduate students conduct. In Spring 2022, Gast submitted an original piece, titled “A Mind in Color.” The work utilized flowers and color theory to reflect anxiety and mental illness in the minds of students.

“Your art is valid,” Gast says to Mizzou’s young creatives.

Story by Greta Ripperda

If you are curious about VADS 2023, click here for more information.