http://www.cas.gsu.edu/storydetail.aspx?id=550 Computer Science student wins university's Suttles Fellowship Monday, February 7, 2011 – Ann Claycombe PDF PDF Print Print E-Mail E-Mail Ken Nguyen, a Ph.D. student in Computer Science, has won the William M. Suttles Graduate Fellowship, the university’s highest graduate student honor. Nguyen’s project, “Efficient Multiple Sequence Alignment,” promises to find new ways to analyze and compare biological materials at the molecular level. Nguyen’s research is in the fast-growing field of bioinformatics, which is the use of computers to analyze vast amounts of biological data. In this case, the data comes from new sequencing techniques for DNA, RNA and proteins. By comparing – or “aligning” – similar sequences, researchers can find the shared evolutionary origins of specific genes or proteins. Those clues can point to new drugs and other medical breakthroughs. And the method can be used by those studying other massive data sequences: linguists trying to reconstruct a dead language, or marketers analyzing purchases over time. The problem is finding the needle of a clue in the haystack of data. To that end, Nguyen’s project is using a technique called parallel computing. In parallel computing, big problems are split into smaller components, which can be worked on by many different computers at once. “To the best of our knowledge, the new parallel alignment algorithm will be the most efficient algorithm that has ever been developed in this field of study,” Nguyen’s application reads. Nguyen’s work is part of a larger project headed up by his dissertation advisor, Professor Yi Pan, who is also chair of the department. The larger project is a collaboration with the University of Southern Mississippi, the Mississippi Functional Genomes Network, and others. Nguyen is the first computer science Ph.D. student to win the Suttles Fellowship, which was established by the John and Mary Franklin Family Foundation in memory of the fourth president of Georgia State University. He will receive $1,500, as well as an additional $1,000 from the university’s Dissertation Grant program.