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September 24, 2009

DTC Faculty Marc Riedel receives NSF CAREER Award

Marc RiedelTHE DIGITAL TECHNOLOY CENTER is proud to announce that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded DTC faculty member Marc Riedel the CAREER award in support of his project "Computing with Things Small, Wet, and Random — Design Automation for Digital Computation with Nanoscale Technologies and Biological Processes."

This project strives for novel and transformative approaches to design automation guided by physical views of computation. A broad theme is the application of expertise from an established field, digital circuit design, to new fields, such as nanotechnology and synthetic biology. A specific theme that cuts across these domains is constructing and deconstructing probabilistic behavior. In the biological realm, the project will develop techniques for synthesizing biochemical systems that produce proteins according to specified probability distributions. This will provide robustness and flexibility akin to hedging with a portfolio of investments for applications in biochemical sensing and drug delivery. In the engineering realm, the project will develop techniques for designing digital circuits that process zeros and ones probabilistically. This will mitigate against the noise and glitches that occur as circuit components are scaled down in size to nanometers.

The circuit design community has unique expertise that can be brought to bear on the challenging design problems in synthetic biology. Applications in biology, in turn, offer a wealth of problems in algorithmic development. With its cross-disciplinary emphasis, this project will bring new perspectives to both fields. An important goal of the project is to communicate the goals and the impetus for interdisciplinary research to a wide audience. A new graduate-level course will be developed, titled "Circuits, Computation, and Biology." In parallel, a book with the same title will be written, to be published by Pan Stanford Publishing. Also public seminars will be given through the Café Scientifique series hosted by the Bell Museum of Natural History in Minneapolis.