banner USF Home College of Arts & Sciences OASIS myUSF USF A-Z Index

USF Home > College of Arts and Sciences > Department of Mathematics & Statistics

Mathematics & Statistics

Nataša Jonoska is promoted to Distinguished University Professor

Nataša Jonoska was promoted to Distinguished University Professor this summer in recognition of her work in the interface of mathematics, biology, computer science, and nanoscale architecture.

Dr. Jonoska arrived at USF in 1993 with a background in theoretical computer science and launched a research program in the then novel field of DNA computing and assembly. While DNA is usually regarded as a medium for information storage — of the human genome, for example — it is a highly controllable construction material for nanoscale structures. Dr. Jonoska worked on design principles for engineering these structures. (In DNA computing, these structures were solutions to problems encoded in the construction components. She described some her work in her 2001 Quaternion article Computing with Biomolecules.)

She has also explored DNA management in living organisms, particularly in ciliates, an ancient group of protozoans currently represented by about 3,500 known species (and perhaps ten times that many in the wild). Ciliates have two nuclei, a macronucleus that handles the day-to-day management typical of cell nuclei, and a micronucleus for reproduction. When some ciliates divide, its macronucleus dissolves, the micronucleus divides, and in each of the daughter cells, new macronuclei are generated from their new micronuclei. This generation involves considerable DNA management, and Dr. Jonoska and her students, together with Dr. Masahico Saito, have explored much of this operation.

In recognition of her work, Dr. Jonoska has received a Rozenberg (Tulip) Award in DNA Computing and Molecular Programming, an AAAS fellowship, a Blaise Pascal professorship, and other honors as well as serving as Principal Investigator for National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and most recently Simons Foundation grants awarding several million dollars support.

The Distinguished University Professorship was created in 1998 “to recognize senior members of the USF system faculty who have distinguished themselves among their peers both within and outside the University,” and who have been “recognized for pioneering, seminal and distinctive contributions to the development of his or her discipline.” At most three professors are promoted annually, and the role of the Distinguished University Professors is “to serve as an advisory group for the Provost and President of the University, and provide discussions and counsel on issues affecting the overall academic and scholarly activities of the University.”