Lexie Adams awarded Astronaut Scholarship

She's part of a team conducting groundbreaking research


Lexie Adams with faculty mentor Andrew Jones.

Miami University junior, Alexandra “Lexie” Adams, has been awarded a scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF). She is one of 56 students from 41 universities to receive the award for the 2020-2021 academic year.

The Astronaut Scholarship is among the most significant merit-based monetary scholarships awarded to undergraduate STEM juniors and seniors who intend to pursue research or advance their field upon completion of their final degree.

Astronaut Scholars are among the best and brightest minds in STEM who show initiative, creativity and excellence in their chosen field, according to the ASF.

Adams, a chemical engineering major and Spanish minor, also received a Goldwater Scholarship for 2020-2021, along with junior Hope Kirby.

She has been conducting undergraduate research with her faculty mentor, Andrew Jones, assistant professor of chemical, paper and biomedical engineering, since the fall of 2017 — the first semester at Miami for both of them.

Cutting-edge research


Adams in the lab (photo by Scott Kissell).

Since then, she has been part of Jones’ research team working on metabolic engineering and the production of psilocybin in the Escherichia coli bacteria. Psilocybin is a promising drug candidate that could help patients with treatment-resistant depression.

The project involves genetically manipulating E. coli to produce the psilocybin molecule from a series of enzymatic steps first discovered in the Psilocybe mushroom, Adams said.

She was a lead author on a paper describing their results published last fall in the journal Metabolic Engineering: In vivo production of psilocybin in E. coli.”

She has been working to further the development of the pathway in E. coli, as well as use the pathway to produce other molecules of interest.

“Lexie has made lasting contributions to research in my laboratory,” Jones said. “Her strong work ethic and positive attitude have shaped the laboratory culture by pushing her fellow researchers, including myself, to do their respective best.”

After graduating from Miami, Adams plans to earn a doctorate in biomedical engineering, focusing on drug development and looking at new ways to fight up and coming diseases.

asf-logoAstronaut Scholarship Program

Astronaut Scholars must be nominated by a faculty member, be entering their junior or senior year at one of the 41 participating schools the foundation supports and demonstrate excellence in research and academics.