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Liz Marai wins Test of Time award

Liz Marai

G. Elisabeta (Liz) Marai, an associate professor of computer science and faculty member of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory, received a Test of Time award for the most high-impact paper on biovisualization from ISMB, the flagship conference for computational biology.

The 10-year Test of Time award was presented by the International Society for Computational Biology. The paper, “RuleBender: Integrated Modeling, Simulation, and Visualization for Rule-Based Intercellular Biochemistry,” was written by Marai, her collaborator James R. Faeder at the University of Pittsburgh, and three of Marai’s former graduate students, Adam M Smith, Wen Xu, and Yao Sun, who are now senior software engineers at Argo AI, Microsoft, and Amazon, respectively.

The paper has inspired both bioinformatics and visualization research. In addition, the piece of software presented in this paper, RuleBender, allows biochemists to construct, debug, simulate, and analyze rule-based biological models in the BioNetGen language. The tool is stable and still in use, and it is downloaded roughly 1,000 times per year. It has been adopted as a research and educational tool at more than 40 academic institutions all over the world, from Ghana to Estonia and Canada. Beyond its research impact, it has been used by hundreds of biologists for high-impact research, including work on the insulin signaling pathway, immunity mechanisms, and cancer system biology.

“We are extremely happy, proud and honored about this recognition,” Marai said. “In many ways, Test of Time Awards are the most important, most prestigious, and lasting indicator of research success that are out there in computer science.”