Sakul Ratanalert is a lecturer in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Whiting School of Engineering.
Ratanalert focuses his research on a specific type of DNA nanostructure referred to as DNA origami, for which DNA is used not as genetic material but rather as a self-assembling polymer. By programming the sequences of the DNA, the strands can stick to one another beyond the standard double helix to form 2D and 3D structures of arbitrary size and shape.
Motivated by the lack of well-formalized design rules, as well as by the need for a tool to enable the broader use of this nanotechnology, Ratanalert created and developed the software DAEDALUS, an algorithm to automate the design of DNA origami wireframes from CAD structures. He also developed innovations to the design of single-stranded DNA origami, programming the sequence of one strand of DNA to fold on itself to form the entire target shape. With this computational framework, he investigates the thermodynamics of the self-assembly process to understand further how design choices can affect how well the structures form.
Ratanalert earned his PhD in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2018.