Adam Higgins received a B.S. in Bioengineering and a B.A. in International Studies from Oregon State University in 2002. To fulfill the requirements of the International Studies degree, he spent 4 months in Quito, Ecuador, where he studied Spanish-language literature and conducted survey research at local hospitals. The results of this research were presented as an undergraduate thesis entitled "Medical Research and the Ethics of Distribution: Nisin-treated Catheters in Ecuador and Oregon." Adam received a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2008. At Georgia Tech, he conducted research on cryopreservation under the mentorship of Dr. Jens O.M. Karlsson. This work culminated in a dissertation entitled "Intracellular ice formation in tissue constructs and the effects of mass transport across the cell membrane." He began as an assistant professor in the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering at OSU in 2008.
The main research focus of the Higgins laboratory is the long-term preservation of biomolecules, cells, tissues and organs. This is an important research area, with applications in pharmaceuticals, in vitro fertilization, cell therapy (e.g., blood transfusions), cell-based devices (e.g., biosensors), tissue engineering and organ transplantation. Examples of preservation technologies include lyophilization (which involves stabilization at room temperature by first freezing and then drying under vacuum) and cryopreservation (which involves stabilization at extremely cold temperatures in a state of suspended animation).