Lexie Adams receives 2020 Goldwater Scholarship

Lexie Adams, junior chemical engineering major, is one of only 396 students across the nation to receive this year’s Goldwater Scholarship, regarded as the most prestigious awards that an undergraduate STEM major can earn.

The Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established in 1986 to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater, to ensure the scientific talent of future generations. Lexie Adams

After being nominated by Miami faculty, Adams completed a rigorous application process which included perfecting and submitting her research paper.

Adams’ research is unique to not only Miami, but the rest of the country as well. Under the mentorship of Dr. J. Andrew Jones, she has worked in the field of metabolic engineering, taking cells of microbes and manipulating them to make them perform certain processes.

More specifically, Adams and the rest of the research team have worked to produce Psilocybin, the main ingredient in magic mushrooms. By engineering E. coli to have the optimal growing conditions, the drug can be produced more efficiently as a treatment resistant depression medication.

Adams oversaw the process and optimization, looking at the different characteristics of growing and producing, and finding the perfect parameters.

“Lexie's ongoing research to enhance Psilocybin biosynthesis in bacteria is poised to make a real impact in the world,” said Dr. Jones. “[Her] exemplary performance in the classroom, dedication to empirical research, and passion for extracurricular activities has well positioned her to be successful at top-tier PhD programs.”

After graduating from Miami, Adams plans to earn a PhD in biomedical engineering, focusing on drug development and looking at new ways to fight up and coming diseases. Eventually, she’d like to also conduct research in industry or at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“I think infectious diseases are so cool, and I’ve always wanted to study [them],” she said.

But what motivates Adams most is her desire to help people.

“I’ve been given this talent to be an engineer and I have all the resources to do I want to do research that helps people that aren’t as fortunate as myself,” she said. “[I want] to research things that are going to help people and are going to help them [with] the most direct impact.”

By Jenna Calderón, CEC Reporter