Dirks Prize Recipients
2018 Dr. Fei Zhang
The 2018 Robert Dirks Molecular Programming Prize was awarded to Dr. Fei Zhang of Arizona State University for her work engineering molecular wireframes with defined vertex angles and edge curvatures and for developing molecular architectures for expressing knots and cages with high crossing number, suggesting a path toward programmable and expressible structural complexity. Fei performed this work as a graduate student and postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Hao Yan at Arizona State University.
2017 Dr. Ashwin Gopinath
The 2017 Robert Dirks Molecular Programming Prize was awarded to Dr. Ashwin Gopinath of the California Institute of Technology, for his work developing scalable and programmable nanophotonic devices. Combining the top-down scalability of photonic crystal cavity layout on a chip and the bottom-up programmability of DNA origami components that precisely organize emitters within cavities, the work bridges the fields of molecular programming and applied physics to offer a path toward label-free single-molecule detection and quantum information processing. Ashwin performed this research as a postdoctoral scholar under the supervision of Dr. Paul Rothemund at the California Institute of Technology.
2016 Dr. Thomas Ouldridge
The inaugural Robert Dirks Molecular Programming Prize was awarded to Dr. Thomas Ouldridge of Imperial College London, for his work developing a coarse-grained model and simulation framework for DNA. By capturing the essential biophysics of unpaired, paired, and transitioning nucleotides, the oxDNA framework enables simulation of long-time-scale dynamics for an arbitrary number of strands (including pseudoknotting), with wide applicability to problems in molecular programming and biology. Tom performed this research as a graduate student under the supervision of Prof. Ard Louis and Prof. Jonathan Doye at the University of Oxford.