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Alyssa Adams

Grad Research Assistant
Graduate Assistant/Associate, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 6004
Student Information:
Graduate Student
Liberal Arts & Sciences


Formally, I am a PhD student at Arizona State University. When I get my degree, it will say "Physics", which is ironic because I don't actually study much physics... at least in the traditional sense. I work under Dr. Sara Walker who leads the Emergence Lab, which focuses on the origin of life. My projects focus on what makes living systems different than non-living systems, so I often turn to the theory of computation and thermodynamics to address these questions (ah, there's some physics!).

Dreaming big, I'd love to understand how the laws of physics compute biology. In other words, what is the program that computes life? I believe knowing this is the key to unlocking true artificial intelligence. Maybe someday, I'll be involved in programming the world's very-first true artificial intelligence.

Informally, I'm a dork who loves to build, create, and dream. Science is the most fun way to express my creativity while taking big dreams and making them tangible. I like to carve out unique spaces. My living space is full of crawlies: 5 humans, 2 cats, 2 ferrets, 3 axolotls, 1 dog, and the occasional stray gang of ants. In my internet space, science gets wafted everywhere. I love to hobby by sculpting and building miniature figurines and playing games with them. Did I mention that I love to play League of Legends? Add me as GigglePuss and I'll carry you on my tiny Teemo shoulders! Finally, I love animals and weird creatures and find myself attracted to all the wonderful biology in the world. Life is cool!

Research Interests

Biology and computation, Theory of computation, computational architecture, artificial intelligence, artificial life, robotics. How does classic computation differ than what biology computes? How do biological hallmarks affect our understanding of computation?

Complex systems, State-dependent dynamics, emergence, open-ended evolution, replicator models, boundary between systems and environment, difference between living and non-living systems, definition of life.

The scientific community, Building a welcoming, diverse community for everyone who has interests in the physical sciences. This includes fostering an inclusive, diverse community within the sciences, as well as engaging the public in scientific discussions. In addition, bridging the gap between university science and public understanding of science is a priority.

Games and gaming, League of Legends, tabletop miniature games. What can data from video games reveal about complex systems and social systems?

Expertise Areas