Alicia L. Johnson


Rice University Baker Institute Civic Science Fellow



Project focus: The Fellow will focus on improving public understanding of synthetic biology while also researching ethical, legal, and social implications of related emerging technologies.

Alicia L. Johnson is an analytical biochemist by training, STEM and health equity advocate, coffee enthusiast, and a Civic Science Fellow at the Baker Institute Science and Technology Policy Program. In her previous doctoral research, she combined her interests in biochemistry, precision medicine, and healthcare access by studying biomarkers for epilepsy in the blood to identify molecular signatures that could predict seizure severity in patients. Through this work, she developed a passion for how advancements in biotechnology can be distributed equitably and ensuring that they do not further harm systematically marginalized populations. This passion led Alicia to the Baker Institute.

Alicia researches the ethical, legal and social implications of synthetic biology with a current focus on bacterial sensors and wastewater epidemiology. To do this, she studies how these bacterial sensors designed for environmental purposes would be regulated and ethically tested. She is also interested in community engagement surrounding synthetic biology products and identifying ways to improve equitable access for emerging biotechnologies by developing alternative consent frameworks and designing accessible graphics to describe the projects she works on.

She brings her previous experiences in teaching and curriculum development for science writing and research methods courses. Additionally, Alicia has prior experience as an editor, in technology transfer, and as a workshop leader with the National Science Policy Network. Alicia earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry (Molecular Mechanisms of Disease) from University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her B.S. in Chemistry from Northwest Missouri State University.