Kim Engineering Building, Lecture Hall, Rm. 1110
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301 405 4471
Booz Allen Hamilton Distinguished Colloquium in Electrical and Computer Engineering
"Molecular Robotics with DNA Nanotechnology"
Prof. Erik Winfree
Computer Science, Computation and Neural Systems, Bioengineering
California Institute of Technology
A robot is commonly conceived of as an autonomous machine that can sense its environment, process information to make decisions, and take actions to move through or modify its environment. How small can a robot be? Molecular biology has long used the phrase "molecular machine" to refer to the amazing creations of 4 billion years of evolution. This begs the question of whether artificial molecular machines can be constructed, and whether -- if they can sense, compute, and act at the molecular level -- such artificial molecular machines ought to be considered robots. I will argue the affirmative by reviewing recent progress in DNA nanotechnology and illustrating how the robotics perspective can provide guidance to efforts to design more complex molecular machinery and systems, despite the limitations of information, energy, and stochasticity inherent at the molecular scale.
Erik Winfree is an Associate Professor in Computer Science, Computation & Neural Systems and Bioengineering at Caltech. He is the recipient of the Feynman Prize for Nanotechnology (2006), the Tulip prize in DNA Computing (2003), the NSF PECASE/CAREER Award (2001), the ONR Young Investigators Award (2001), a MacArthur Fellowship (2000), and MIT Technology Review's first TR100 list of "top young innovators" (1999). Prior to joining the faculty at Caltech in 1999, Winfree was a Lewis Thomas Postdoctoral Fellow in Molecular Biology at Princeton, and a Visiting Scientist at the MIT AI Lab. Winfree received a B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Chicago in 1991, and a Ph.D. in Computation & Neural Systems from Caltech in 1998.
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