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DSU gets three-year grant to identify and analyze biomolecules

Brad Glazier
Delaware Public Media

Delaware State University is awarded a new three-year research grant.

The National Science Foundation awarded DSU a $584,970 grant to research the use of data science and machine learning in identifying and analyzing biomolecules.

DSU is the lead on this project, but scientists from the University of Delaware and the University of Virgin Islands are collaborating on it.

DSU professor of physics and engineering Dr. Hacene Boukari is the principal investigator on the project.

Analyzing Biomolecule.jpg
Delaware State University
Photo is Dr. Hacene Boukari, Professor of Physics and Engineering and Principal Investigator of the grant and Fatima Boukari, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Co-Principal Investigator of the grant.

He explains that it starts as the Nobel Prize in physics honors this type of information technology research.

“We are - at DSU - embarking on a similar endeavor, namely using what’s available in terms of information and in terms of data, which has been exploding for the last 20 years or so from different perspectives," he said. "And the premise is to see if we can use this data for discovery.” 

Dr. Boukari says the researchers will try to use machine learning technologies and methods to detect and characterize molecules using spectral data. This detection method could help in water quality monitoring and food safety.

“I think what we’re trying to do is go in at the fundamental level, namely we’re developing and applying this machine learning," he said. "And machine learning here is basically a model that has been developed to mimic how brains detect and recognize a signal or an image etc., using a computer system.”

Boukari says the project includes training and mentoring students, both here in Delaware and abroad.

Students will learn how to collect and process data, design and code the machine learning algorithm and then train and test the model.

Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.