Brian Cruz's research takes an unanswered problem from biology—"how do bacteriophage viruses store their own DNA?". Since bacteriophage viruses are those which attack bacteria, being able to simulate them in their various life stages is an important step in developing bacteriophage-based drugs. His research focuses on modeling the virus’s biomolecular motor as well as its DNA and serves as a foundation for future, more comprehensive models of viruses. Such models would help scientists design viruses to attack strains of bacteria that have thus far eluded antibiotic therapy.
To accomplish his work, Brian uses mathematical and computational techniques to model the DNA packaging process on computers. The work is inherently interdisciplinary and involves not only biology and mathematics but also physics and computer science because the program needed to run his dynamics simulation did not exist. To fill the gap in programming, Cruz designed and implemented his own program utilizing the latest technology in parallel computing.
Brian's work would not have been possible without the tutelage of his advisor, Dr. Mariel Vazquez, who received the 2012 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for her pioneering work in the field of DNA topology, an area of biomathematics that applies knot theory to the well-known genetic code. Brian was one of the graduate students selected by SF State Graduate Studies to present his work at the 2013 CSU Research Competition in the field of biomathematics.
Research Advisor: Dr. Mariel Vazquez