Helen Propson

Helen  Propson
MIT EECS | Philips Undergraduate Research and Innovation Scholar
Advisor: Vinod Vaikuntanathan
Department: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Areas of Research: Theory of Computer Systems
Years: 2022-2023
Research Project Title:

Secure DNA Project

abstract:As the ability to synthesize DNA becomes more widespread, it becomes increasingly important to address the resulting risk that dangerous biological agents can be assembled. To address this issue, we would like to be able to screen all DNA synthesis orders against a database of hazardous biological agents. However, we want this system to work without revealing the dangerous sequences we are screening the orders against. Furthermore, the privacy of the DNA synthesis query must also be maintained. Finally, we do not want this screening process to slow down ongoing DNA research. The focus of my project is to advance the development of such a cryptographic screening protocol, achieving all its security goals while maintaining a high level of efficiency.

I am participating in SuperUROP because I want to gain experience in computer science research. After taking Design and Analysis of Algorithms (6.046) and Computer Systems Engineering (6.033), I am interested in gaining exposure to cryptography and cybersecurity. I am excited to learn more about what conducting a research project looks like.