College of Staten Island professor Louis Petingi, PhD, has received the Best Paper Award of the International Conference on Computational Biology for 2016. Dr. Petingi’s paper, “A Graph-Theoretical Approach for Partitioning RNA Secondary Structures into Pseudonotted and Pseudoknot-free Regions,” was presented at the World Congress on Engineering and Computer Science Conference in San Francisco, Ca.
Dr. Petingi’s field of expertise is Graph Theory, one of the sub-fields of Mathematics. “This area of research has been applied to study systems that can be modeled as graphs, such as social, communication, chemical, and biological networks (e.g., DNA, RNA, protein networks). My research, until recently, was focused on the study of the reliability of communication networks (e.g., wireless, internet, satellite networks), but in 2013, I became very interested on Ribonucleic acid (RNA) prediction and structure,” noted Dr. Petingi, who also had the opportunity to write a paper in this area with Tamar Schlick, PhD, from the department of Mathematical Sciences of the Courant Institute, New York University.
“As RNA secondary structures can be represented as graphs, we found how well-known graph-theoretical algorithms can be applied to partition RNAs into basic regions and allow classification and identification of complex structures called Pseudoknots. Pseudoknots are also identified using other computational techniques (e.g., dynamic programming), but Graph Theory offers a different perspective and an alternative research path to systematically investigate RNA structure,” explained Dr. Petingi, who began at CSI in 1998 as a tenured-track assistant professor of the Computer Science Department.
“This award not only honors Professor Petingi’s work, but it brings recognition to our university. It is an example of the quality research done at CSI,” commented Vivian Incera, PhD, Professor of Physics and Dean of Science and Technology.
“From the beginning our research encountered many obstacles, since our methodology was relatively new to the scientific community as it does not belong to the traditional areas of Biology and Mathematics, but rather to the frontier of both fields. Consequently this award represents a recognition to a challenging research path,” Dr. Petingi said.