Undergraduate paper accepted to INFOCOM

Dec 13, 2017      By Victoria Grdina

Colton Harper
Colton Harper

A paper written by junior computer science major Colton Harper has just been accepted to IEEE INFOCOM 2018.

The paper, “Estimating Information Exchange Performance of Engineered Cell-to-cell Molecular Communications: A Computational Approach,” examines the implementation of molecular communication through synthetic biology. The paper was co-authored by Harper, computer science and engineering assistant professor Dr. Massimiliano Pierobon, and Dr. Maurizio Magarini of Politecnico di Milano (PoliMi) in Milan, Italy.

Harper began his research with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s interdisciplinary iGEM team in 2015 and continued it through Pierobon’s MBiTe lab. After being accepted into the university’s McNair Scholars graduate prep program, Harper had the opportunity to conduct additional summer research advised by Pierobon, who suggested he submit a paper on their research to INFOCOM.

The paper presents the idea of developing metrics to engineer and measure information exchange between cells at the molecular level. The paper explains the importance of this idea and presents a computational model, developed by Harper, used to run cell communication simulations and collect data to prove its potential impact.

This research topic is new to INFOCOM, and it’s the first to examine computer communication metrics in an engineered cell-to-cell communication system using biological circuits, as well as chemical noise in the system. 

Harper’s paper was one of only 309 selected for presentation out of 1,606 submissions. Papers are also selected through a thorough triple-blind review process. Most papers are written and submitted to INFOCOM by faculty and graduate students. Undergraduates co-authoring such papers and being first authors are extremely rare.

Harper will have the opportunity to attend INFOCOM 2018, which will take place in April in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

Congratulations to Colton and Dr. Pierobon on this exceptional achievement!