WASHINGTON (May 30, 2019) -- The U.S. Department of Defense recently recognized a researcher from the Army's corporate laboratory, the Army Research Laboratory, an element of the newly formed Army Futures Command and Combat Capabilities Development Command, as the DOD Laboratory Scientist of the Quarter, 1st Quarter 2019.
The DOD lauded Dr. Bryn Adams, a research biologist in ARL's Biotechnology Branch, for her outstanding and distinguished accomplishments in biotechnology and synthetic biology programs. According to the nomination, Adams made novel and impactful contributions to Army programs and missions through research conducted in the following areas: living materials, agile expedient manufacturing, precision material synthesis, autonomous sensing and human performance.
Adams received the DOD award for a culmination of accomplishments and is a recognized subject matter expert in synthetic biology, specifically at the intersection of genetic control of non-traditional microbes and biohybrid interfaces, according to the nomination. "She has significant expertise in both these highly specialized areas, as supported by her record of publications and presentations."
Adams began her career with the Army after earning a doctorate in biology and transitioning to a career civil servant at the laboratory in 2014.
During her career, she has been awarded the ARL Award for Science as well as numerous customer service and on-the-spot awards for exceptional collaborative efforts across the lab. Adams initiated her synthetic biology work at ARL in 2011 as a postdoctoral fellow and played a key role in the launch of the synthetic biology partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Those efforts led to one of the first synthetic biology focused Laboratory University Collaborative Initiatives, known as LUCI, with Dr. Chris Voigt and Daniel I.C. Wang, professor of Advanced Biotechnology from MIT.
"Bryn is an exemplar of why I enjoy working with Laboratory researchers: creativity, technical excellence, and appropriate risk taking," Voigt said. "She is at the leading edge of working through how biotechnology can enhance Army effectiveness."
As an advocate and mentor in her field, Adams encourages the next generation of synthetic biologists to explore and utilize non-traditional genetic engineering hosts, he said.
Through partnerships with academia and STEM outreach, she recently conducted a workshop for local high school students, which introduced them to DNA technology while providing an understanding of how synthetic biology and biotechnology will impact the Army and the Soldier.
"By distilling complex synthetic biology concepts into simple experiments that provide rapid results with very tangible outcomes, we can bring a much needed level of understanding and appreciation of genetic engineering, as well as how synthetic biology and biotechnology benefits the DOD and Army," Adams said.
Adams credits some of her success to her close friend and colleague Dr. Dimitra Stratis-Cullum, an ARL research chemist and an Essential Research Program manager. Stratis-Cullum is building a foundation in the study of synthetic biology, Adams said.
"The Army is leading the way in engineering non-traditional microbes and genetic control of biological systems in the austere environments our Soldiers' face. The work that Dr. Adams was recognized for as DOD Lab Scientist of the quarter has been critical to forging that path," Stratis-Cullum said. "As a team leader, mentor and colleague, it is exciting for me to see the foundational work we do build capabilities for the future Army and to see our scientists excel in their careers and quest to make a difference to the warfighter."
Adams continues to propel research at the lab and is inspired by the numerous awards and recognition received to date, she said.
"I am truly appreciative of ARL and the Office of the Secretary of Defense's recognition of not only my research efforts in bringing synthetic biology out of the lab and into the battlefield, but also the impact synthetic biology and biotechnology will have on informing concepts for multiple domain operations, 2040 and beyond," Adams said.
Adams also commented on the importance of continued collaboration.
"This award represents successful teaming between academia and a DOD service lab...it is critical to partner with academic leaders, like Dr. Voigt from MIT. Partnerships like these allow for research questions to accelerate knowledge and technology innovation in the DOD."
While Adams indicated that ARL feels like a second home to her, outside of the office she enjoys art, Carolina Panthers football, observing local wildlife and spending time with her family and Shetland sheepdog.
The CCDC Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. As the Army's corporate research laboratory, ARL discovers, innovates and transitions science and technology to ensure dominant strategic land power. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our Nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.