$500,000 Award Will Advance Work on DNA-Based Self-Assembling Systems

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas computer scientist Matt Patitz has received a $500,000 Faculty Early Career Development Program grant – known as a CAREER grant – from the National Science Foundation.

The award enables Patitz, an assistant professor of computer science and computer engineering, to continue developing a suite of software that automates the design and analysis of DNA-based self-assembling systems. The software modules will include a variety of molecular simulators that capture the dynamics of DNA-based self-assembly and will help researchers design, model, and verify the molecular components of complicated systems before they make expensive investments, in time and money, for physical experiments.

Self-assembly is a process in which individual, disordered molecules spontaneously combine into ordered aggregates without human intervention. A variety of self-assembling systems exist in nature and are responsible for the formation of many inorganic structures, such as crystals and numerous biological structures, including cellular membranes and viruses. Inorganic self-assembly systems include snowflakes and other crystals.

Patitz’s interdisciplinary research incorporates physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, and biochemical engineering. As part of the project, he will develop a new interdisciplinary course, Introduction to DNA Nanotechnology, and will host interdisciplinary workshops for students, as well as experienced researchers.

Faculty Early Career Development Program grants – known as CAREER grants -- are among the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards for junior faculty. Research activities supported by CAREER awards build the foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

 

Contacts

Matt Patitz, assistant professor, computer science and computer engineering
College of Engineering
479-575-5590, patitz@uark.edu

Matt McGowan, science and research communications officer
University Relations
479-575-4246, dmcgowa@uark.edu

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