A group of researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign that includes chemistry professor Martin Gruebele has been using sonification – the use of sound to convey information – to depict biochemical processes and better understand how they happen.
Now, Gruebele is featured in a February 2023 Los Angeles Times article talking about how he uses data sonification in his research.
The Biophysics Sonification Group at UIUC was formed by Gruebele, music professor and composer Stephen Andrew Taylor, and Illinois music and computer science alumna, composer and software designer Carla Scaletti. The group has experimented with using sonification in Gruebele’s research into the physical mechanisms of protein folding, and its work recently allowed Gruebele to make a new discovery about the ways a protein can fold.
Gruebele and his research team use supercomputers to run simulations of proteins folding into a specific structure, a process that relies on a complex pattern of many interactions. The simulation reveals the multiple pathways the proteins take as they fold, and also shows when they misfold or get stuck in the wrong shape – something thought to be related to a number of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Read more about Gruebele's work with data sonification.