Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Engineering Georg Seelig and collaborators at UW CSE and Microsoft received the “Best of What’s New” Award from Popular Science for their work on DNA storage.
In the 2016 “Best of What’s New” Awards announced Wednesday, Popular Science recognized the technique developed by UW and Microsoft researchers to store and retrieve digital data in DNA as one of the most innovative and game-changing technologies of the year.
Seelig and the team from the UW Molecular Information Systems Lab announced in July that they had broken the world record for the amount of digital data successfully encoded and retrieved in DNA molecules, which are a much denser and more durable long-term storage medium than current archival technologies like hard drives or magnetic tape.
They successfully encoded and decoded a video by the band OK Go, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in more than 100 languages, the top 100 books of Project Gutenberg and the Crop Trust’s seed database — among other things— all on strands of DNA. The researchers have developed a novel approach to converting the long strings of ones and zeroes in digital data into the four basic building blocks of DNA sequences — adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine – as well as the ability to retrieve specific files from those sequences.
The team is currently focusing on automating and scaling up the DNA data storage technique, which was recognized in Popular Science’s software category.
“The Best of What’s New awards honor the innovations that shape the future,” said Kevin Gray, executive editor of Popular Science. “From life-saving technology to incredible space engineering to gadgets that are just breathtakingly cool, this is the best of what’s new.”
The award is collaboration between UW researchers Seelig and Luis Ceze, Torode Family Career Development Professor of computer science and engineering; Microsoft principal project researchers Karin Strauss and Doug Carmean; and a team of two dozen students and researchers from both institutions.
Learn more about the DNA data storage project in this UWTV video: