Sakul Ratanalert joins ChemBE as lecturer

August 1, 2018

Sakul Ratanalert will join ChemBE as a full-time lecturer Aug. 1.

Ratanalert, who earned his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Chemical Engineering in 2018 under the supervision of Mark Bathe and Gregory Rutledge, focuses his research on DNA origami. In this field of nanotechnology, 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 will teach two courses each semester during the 2018-2019 academic year, including Senior Lab. The Livingston, NJ native earned a master’s degree in chemical engineering practice from MIT in 2013, and a B.S. in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Cornell University in 2011. At Cornell, he was a McMullen Dean’s Scholar and won an Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award.

“One of the main reasons I pursued a Ph.D. was so I could teach,” Ratanalert says. “Here at Johns Hopkins, I hope to bring a lot of new ideas to the ChemBE classroom and help students to build the fundamentals they need to succeed in their careers.”

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