Talk: Using Computational Approaches to Mimic Nature

Date: 
Nov 28, 2012 | 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Location: 
EE 303

Advances in quality and accessibility of computational methods are beginning to transform chemical engineering. I will discuss two projects in chemical engineering which require sophisticated computational resources and methods. The goal of the first project is simple: create a surface which can hide from blood clotting. To design the chemistry, we applied bioinformatics to the heterogeneous 3-D data of all known human proteins in order to mimic their surface chemistry.

In other words, we copied nature's surfaces. There we used SQLShare, a cloud-based data sharing and storage tool, integrated with the statistical programming language R to search for patterns. We synthesized compounds based on these results and tested them; we did succeed at designing surfaces that have the same resistance to blood clotting as native proteins.

In contrast to direct applications, the second project instead focuses on distributing a set of methods to as many researchers as possible. These methods are for analyzing combinatorial peptide libraries, where the space of possible compounds much larger than the data.

In addition to the difficulties of analyzing combinatorial spaces, I'll discuss how we made our methods as easy to use as possible for other researchers through distributing an R plug-in and creating an online webapp. Wider adoption of the webapp also allows us to data-mine many peoples' datasets to search for expression biases that are convoluted on smaller scales.

Bio: Andrew graduated from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 2007 with a BS in chemical engineering. He also spent a year studying at the Otto-von Guericke Universität in Magdeburg, Germany. While living in Germany, he worked at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems with Professor Hartmut Grammel. He's been attending the University of Washington since 2008 and expects to graduate in March, 2013 with a PhD in chemical engineering. He does his research in under Professor Shaoyi Jiang. In addition to research and teaching, he tutors, snowboards and sometimes does graphical design. His artwork appeared in Science and Nature in 2010.