Smith Profcast: Ileana Streinu
In September, Ileana Streinu, the Charles N. Clark Professor of Computer Science and Mathematics, began a yearlong research endeavor sponsored by a fellowship from Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She is one of 53 scholars from 11 countries chosen to receive the prestigious 2018–19 fellowship in the arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences. Her project, “Structure in Motion,” addresses a longstanding fundamental challenge in understanding what she calls the basic building blocks of life, such as macromolecules, and determining how they move and connect to other structures. Overall, the research is an interdisciplinary, cutting-edge effort involving mathematics, geometry and applied computer science. Streinu and her collaborator, mathematician Ciprian S. Borcea, aim to publish a book of their findings, including techniques and insights related to protein folding, robot kinematics, and auxetic behavior in crystalline materials, disclosing various analogies and structural characteristics. In this edition of Profcast, she talks about her research and the unique intellectual freedom that a Radcliffe fellowship offers.