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Karin Strauss
Most Creative People 2016

Karin Strauss

Computer scientist, Microsoft Research | Redmond, WA

For storing data on DNA

Karin Strauss is a computer science researcher at Microsoft Research specializing in computer architecture and emerging computer-memory technologies, including DNA storage. Demand for data storage is projected to hit 16 zettabytes in 2017, which is the equivalent of 4 trillion DVDs. Existing storage media—hard disks and magnetic tape—can’t keep up. Strauss and her colleagues at Microsoft Research and the University of Washington are showing that DNA—the organic material that encodes life’s operating instructions—could be the solution. Information-dense and durable, DNA has been shown to be recoverable after being exposed to damage equivalent to 2,000 years, versus the 30 or so years of life you get with digital tape. In April 2016, Strauss and a group of computer scientists and molecular biologists unveiled an experimental DNA data storage system that could serve as a model. Practical applications for the technology might include deep-storing video archives or recording genomic data, which requires vast amounts of memory. The São Paulo native got her PhD from the University of Illinois in 2007 and worked in the research divisions of IBM and chipmaker AMD before coming to Microsoft. 

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