Zhiping Weng to Deliver Annual DeLisi Lecture

Stringhini, Tron will receive Early Career Research Excellence Awards at event

To recognize their contributions to engineering and society, Zhiping Weng (’97) is the recipient of the 2022 Charles DeLisi Award and Lecture, and assistant professors Roberto Tron (ME) and Gianluca Stringhini (ECE) have earned this year’s Early Career Research Excellence Awards.

The Charles DeLisi Award and Lecture recognizes researchers with extraordinary records of well-cited scholarship, senior leaders in industry, and inventors of transformative technologies. The event gives the recipient a forum to discuss her work before the Boston University academic community and the general public.

Zhiping Weng (’97)

A distinguished alumna of Boston University, Weng will present the Charles DeLisi Distinguished Lecture, “Annotating Human and Mouse Candidate cis-Regulatory Elements in the ENCODE Project,” on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at 4 p.m., in the Metcalf Trustee Ballroom at One Silber Way, 9th floor. A Q&A and closing remarks will be held at 5 p.m., and a reception will follow, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

After earning her doctorate, and then teaching, in the BU College of Engineering’s biomedical engineering program, Weng was recruited to be the founding director of the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s program in bioinformatics and integrative biology. She is the Li Weibo Chair of Biomedical Research and a professor of biochemistry and molecular pharmacology at the UMass Medical School.

Weng’s research focuses on genomics,  epigenomics, transcriptomics, and molecular recognition. She is a computational genomicist who leverages the power of big data to understand the mysteries of the human genome. She has developed a systematic approach to define regulatory elements in the human and mouse genomes based on a select set of predictive epigenetic signals, and to annotate the activities of these elements across hundreds of cell and tissue types. These efforts might result in gene therapies that will correct or alleviate disease symptoms.

Weng leads data analysis centers in two consortia funded by the NIH to identify the core regulatory circuitry of human cells. She has published more than 200 papers and is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. She is also a co-founder of Rgenta Therapeutics, which uses RNA targeting platforms to discover small molecules for the treatment of cancer and neurological disorders.

The Early Career Research Excellence Award celebrates the significant, recent, high-impact research achievements of exemplary tenure-track faculty who are within 10 years of receiving their PhD.

Roberto Tron (ME)

Tron’s research interests combine elements of systems and control theory, robotics, and computer vision, with an emphasis on multiple robotic agents and human-robot interactions. He has made significant contributions in addressing questions of safety and performance of teams in complex environments and managing the computation load incurred when agents perform cooperative tasks. Tron has received, as a principal investigator, more than $3 million in funding, including from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. He has graduated four PhD students, his research has been cited more than 3,000 times, and he is an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Robotics.

Gianluca Stringhini (ECE)
Cydney Scott, BU Photo

Stringhini’s research uses data-driven approaches to better understand malicious activity online, with the goal of developing better mitigation techniques to keep users safe. He has worked on topics such as malware, online fraud, and spam, developing groundbreaking software and even helping to take down online criminal operations. In this work, he combines techniques from signal processing, image processing, machine learning, and computational social science. Stringhini has received several NSF grants and published more than 120 papers, and his research has been featured in the BBC, the New York Times, The Atlantic, and other prominent news outlets.

Charles DeLisi (BME)

The DeLisi Award was named for Dean Emeritus and Metcalf Professor of Science and Engineering Charles DeLisi (BME). Widely considered the father of the Human Genome Project, DeLisi was an early pioneer in computational molecular biology, and he made seminal contributions to theoretical and mathematical immunology. He continues to direct the Biomolecular Systems Laboratory, where more than 100 undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students have trained.

As dean of the BU College of Engineering from 1990 to 2000, DeLisi recruited leading researchers in biomedical, manufacturing, aerospace and mechanical engineering, photonics and other engineering fields, establishing a research infrastructure that ultimately propelled the college into the top ranks of engineering graduate programs. In 1999 he founded—and then chaired for more than a decade—BU’s Bioinformatics Program, the first such program in the nation.