Mathematics professor's research could shape future of technology

GENESEO, N.Y. - Three projects by associate professor of mathematics Anthony J. Macula have to the potential to greatly influence computer operational capability, cross-disciplinary research, and the identification of new diseases.

Macula, who has taught at Geneseo for 13 years, is using a half-million dollar grant from the Air Force to use DNA molecules to perform computing operations at a capacity up to a billion times what is currently possible. Macula explained that "An integrated circuit in a computer only has so much space. Using DNA molecules as a medium, we are trying to make a computer perform the same operations on a much smaller scale." The DNA technology could lead to new kinds of faster computers with greater storage capacity and the ability to solve problems that cannot be accomplished by current computers. The project is funded by the Advanced Computer Architecture Division of United States Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, N.Y.

The National Science Foundation is also financing Macula's work, providing an $804,000 grant to support the Undergraduate Biomathematical Career Initiative Project at SUNY Geneseo. Macula is project director of the program, which creates the opportunity for students to do cross-disciplinary research in the field of biomathematics. According to the Office of Communications and Publications, Macula and the other professors involved oversee students' work on "lab verification protocols for DNA molecules, software tools for DNA design, biological network analysis and epidemiology." Also involved with the project is associate professor of biology Gregg Hartvigsen, mathematics professor Christopher Leary and chemistry professor Wendy Knapp Pogozelski.

Macula's third project is simulating a biological computer through the use of the DNA software tool SynDCode. This project is part of Macula's position as director for the College's sub-contracted project "BIO-CAD Tools for DNA Computing." Macula developed SynDCode with 2004 Geneseo graduate Morgan Bishop, and said that it "may be the best DNA code software in existence, and it can help researchers find, discover and fight diseases." The project is funded by CFD Research Corporation of Huntsville, Ala.

In addition to his projects at Geneseo, Macula previously served as a visiting professor at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Information Directorate in Rome, N.Y. In 2003 he was awarded a $75,000 contract from the AFRL Information Directorate as part of an eight-month agreement for a project called "Encoding and Implementing DNA Codes." Two years later he was awarded two addition contracts worth over $265,000 from the AFRL Information Directorate for the continuation of the work initiated by his study in 2003.