Changing Lives: From books to biotechnology, student engineers social change
By TOM WOOLF | USF News
Alexandria Brady-Miné has been out to change the world since she was in elementary school in Gainesville, Florida.
“It seemed natural to me, when my teacher mentioned that some of the other children in local schools didn’t have access to as many books as we did, that I should do something,” says Brady-Miné, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering at USF. “I had found, in a sea of overwhelming world problems, a small thing that I could do to help. I started a program called Rainbow Readers to bring books to students.”
Then, in high school, Brady-Miné founded the Human Projects. The global youth-run nonprofit empowers young leaders to solve human rights issues in their communities and provide human rights educational programs to schools, nonprofits and individuals around the world. More than 1.6 million people in 118 countries have participated.
Brady-Miné has received several awards for her nonprofit work, including the Jane Goodall Institute’s Fund II Fellowship and the National Liberty Museum’s Young Hero Award. Earlier this summer, she was named a recipient of the Diana Award from a United Kingdom charity that honors young people for their social action or humanitarian work.
It also was during high school that she discovered her passion for research, specifically, applying engineering to developing biomaterials.
“While exploring solutions to a human rights issue, organ trafficking, I came across a potential solution focused on 3D-printing organs,” she says. “I became more interested in engineering and its potential to solve human rights issues. After reaching out to a university lab working on 3D-bioprinting, I was able to tour the lab and was invited to join as a student researcher.
“During my time in this lab, I discovered that the things that I loved about the nonprofit world – problem-solving, constant challenges, leadership and the passion of the people around me – were common to the research world as well.”
We can all play a role in building a better world.”
– Alexandra Brady-Miné
Attending a university that would provide the tools and support to engage in meaningful research was a priority for Brady-Miné. USF, she says, has been a good match for her goals.
“Participating in research in the College of Engineering has been one of the most important aspects of my college experience,” she says. “Through interdisciplinary research, I have expanded my knowledge of mechanical, biomedical and chemical engineering. I have had the opportunity to take on leadership roles and give oral presentations and poster presentations at national and international conferences. My time in the College of Engineering has helped me grow as a researcher, prepare for graduate school, and develop a career where I can use engineering to help others.”
Earlier this year, Brady-Miné received a 2022 Goldwater Scholarship, the most prestigious undergraduate award in the country for scientific research. In addition, she was selected for the 2022 MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Summer Research Program and spent this summer researching in the Harvard-MIT Biomedical Engineering Center.
After she earns her bachelor’s degree, Brady-Miné plans to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees and continue applying engineering to create social change. She wants to start a biotechnology company, developing solutions to reduce costs and increase access to medical technologies, particularly for people in developing countries.
“We can all play a role in building a better world,” she says.