Firestone, Assistant Professor of Practice in the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management and in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and member of the Nebraska Governance and Technology Center faculty, published an article in Empirical Software Engineering examining the use of software product line engineering in the domain of synthetic biology.
In the article, Firestone posits that software product line engineering, a system that has become a best practice for modeling, building, and managing families of softwares systems, can be applied to the field of synthetic biology - that is - the practice of engineering living organisms by modifying their DNA. Synthetic biology has already been used to sense heavy metals for pollution mitigation, the development of synthetic biofuels, engineering cells to communicate and produce bodily tissues, as well as emerging medical applications. Firestone demonstrates that, as with software code, there exist common and variable DNA sequences that can be applied to achieve standardized results in synthetic biology.
Firestone’s paper is a further outgrowth of his interdisciplinary research that focuses on the intersection of computer science, synthetic biology, and regulatory frameworks, including how traditional software engineering principles could apply to synthetic biology.