Hieu Bui, associate professor, engineering and computer science, is this year's keynote speaker for University Research Day. He will explore "Progress in Bringing DNA Computers to Life."
Bui's research group is working on multiple projects at the intersection of computer science, engineering, and systems biology. In addition to designing and developing intelligent DNA systems for sensing biological molecules, the group's ultimate goal is to develop and realize DNA computers — a new kind of advanced computing — to solve unsolvable problems.
"The potential of DNA computers to operate within a biological environment and to interact with other biological molecules could enable us to engineer health as well as to leverage and mimic the power of the human brain for advanced computing," Bui said.
DNA is often called the blueprint of life because all biological molecules of an organism can be derived from it. According to Bui, the discovery of the double helix of DNA by James Watson and Francis Crick in the 1960s unlocked a new frontier to advance molecular biology as well as other disciplines.
As a recent article noted, Bui has built a prototype of a system that uses DNA molecules to detect specific biomolecules and antibodies. The system could be used for early detection in a number of diseases and viruses, including COVID-19.
In his keynote on University Research Day, he will discuss advancements toward realizing DNA computers using computer science principles together with synthetic and programmable DNA materials.
"I'm truly honored and excited to be selected as the keynote speaker for the University Research Day," Bui said.
He encourages students to submit abstracts for University Research Day, noting that it is a “one-of-a-kind opportunity to showcase your skills and highlight your talents. The collaborative environment at URD will allow you to connect and exchange ideas with other researchers at Catholic University as well as provide a unique chance for you to impress your potential employers.
"The future of our University research depends on you, both undergraduate and graduate students. Without your active participation, we will not get to where we are today. Anywhere you go on campus, there is always a set of interesting problems that is waiting for your creative solutions."
Abstracts for University Research Day are due on Jan. 28, 5 p.m.