I am a scientist working in the Biological Computation Group at Microsoft Research. My work is centred on programming biological systems and understanding the computation performed by living cells and organisms. In the fields of synthetic biology and DNA computing, I am working on the design and construction of engineered biochemical circuits with robust, desirable behaviour. In stem cell and developmental biology, I am focusing on understanding the information processing strategies of natural biological systems. To address the challenging questions arising along both of these research directions, I am designing, implementing and applying novel computational methods and tools. As part of this work, I am developing automated analysis procedures based on Satisfiability Modulo Theories (SMT) for reasoning about the systems studied in these diverse biological fields.
Biography: To prepare for interdisciplinary research at the intersection of biology and computing, I pursued a BA with a double major in biochemistry and computer science at Clark University, where I engaged in computational research of protein biochemistry and dynamics. In 2005, I joined the postgraduate program of Boston University’s Biomedical Engineering Department. As part of my PhD studies there, I developed a theoretical framework and computational tools enabling the analysis and design of synthetic gene networks through hybrid system modelling and formal verification techniques. After completing my PhD in January 2011, I worked as a post-doctoral researcher within the Mechanical Engineering Department at Boston University, focusing on the integration of these methods into bio-design automation frameworks for synthetic biology. In September 2011, I joined the Biological Computation Group at Microsoft Research as a post-doctoral scientist, working on methods allowing the characterization of components used for the construction of biological circuits. I also developed SMT-based analysis strategies for reasoning about biological systems, enabling novel approaches to the design and verification of DNA circuits and advancing the study of developmental systems and stem cell decision making. I became a permanent member of the Computational Science Laboratory at Microsoft Research in June, 2014.