This year’s Biomedical Engineering Graduate Group Outstanding Graduate Student Award goes to Dr. Rick Fasani from Prof. Michael Savageau’s laboratory. While a doctoral student in the BME Graduate Group, Rick has made significant advances in developing computational tools for characterizing the phenotypic repertoire of cellular systems. His efforts represent a major advance in dealing with the Genotype-to-Phenotype problem, which is considered one of the grand challenges in modern biology. His program provides an analytical relationship between the qualitatively-distinct phenotypes of the system and its environmentally determined variables and genotypically-determined parameters. Rick’s successful research has become tremendously important for several research groups around the world that are using his program to study natural and synthetic gene circuits.
Rick has published four papers (with two submitted papers), all to top-tier journals including PNAS, with two more manuscripts in preparation. He has presented his research in many highly visible forums including the 2011 International Conference on Molecular Systems Biology (Lleida, Spain), the 2012 Gordon Research Conference on Microbial Stress Response (South Hadley, MA), and the 2012 BMES Annual Meeting (Atlanta, GA).