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Engineering Ph.D. Graduate Receives Dissertation Award


Mohamed S. Ibrahim

Mohamed S. Ibrahim, a recent Ph.D. graduate in electrical and computer engineering, has received the 2018 Council of Graduate Schools (CGS)/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award in Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Engineering.

The award recognizes individuals who have completed dissertations that make an unusually significant contribution to the discipline. Two awards are given annually in two different broad areas. Individuals must be nominated for the award by a CGS member institution.

In addition to his $2,000 prize, Ibrahim also received an invitation to the awards luncheon at the CGS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., on December 6, where he presented to more than 600 attendees.

After earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in computer and systems engineering from Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt, Ibrahim came to Duke to pursue his Ph.D. in the Pratt School of Engineering. He received his doctorate in summer 2018.

His dissertation is titled “Optimization of Trustworthy Biomolecular Quantitative Analysis Using Cyber-Physical Microfluidic Platforms.” It presented novel algorithms and design methods for efficiently and reliably miniaturizing biomolecular analysis using microfluidic biochips.

Biochips are microsystems for clinic diagnostics, DNA sequencing, and drug-discovery applications. Ibrahim said that while biochips are revolutionizing biochemical analysis procedures, their adoption in molecular biology has been slow due to certain drawbacks in biochip design techniques. His dissertation tackled some of those issues.

“The results presented in this thesis open up new research directions by bridging the gap between microfluidic systems and molecular biology protocols, and enabling a new level of synergy between molecular biology, computing, and electrical engineering,” Ibrahim said.

Krishnendu Chakrabarty, Ibrahim’s faculty adviser, said the dissertation provides a much-needed bridge between different research communities, such as electronic design automation, biochips and microfluidics, microbiology, and hardware security.

“It envisions and paves the way for an automated design flow for microfluidic biochips, in the same way that design automation revolutionized integrated circuit design in the 80s and 90s,” said Chakrabarty, the William H. Younger Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“Mohamed’s research acumen and aptitude for interdisciplinary collaborations are truly remarkable. During the course of his Ph.D. thesis research, he taught me as much as I mentored him, and we moved ahead together with unbridled excitement in this uncharted territory.”