Powell has done ethnographic research in Chiapas, Mexico, in Beijing, China, and most extensively in the Navajo (Diné) Nation in the American Southwest, focusing on environmental movements around energy infrastructure. Her first book, Landscapes of Power: Politics of Energy in the Navajo Nation, will be published with Duke University Press in 2017. Powell has a long-term collaboration with scholars at the Diné Policy Institute with whom she is currently developing a new project, investigating the significance of the recent Standing Rock/Dakota Access Pipeline movement within Diné energy and infrastructure politics.
The Agrarian Studies Program presents a weekly colloquium organized around an annual theme. Invited specialists send papers in advance that are the focus of an organized discussion by the faculty and graduate students associated with the colloquium.