High-rise art

Adam Marsh, associate professor of marine biosciences and co-founder of Evozym Biologics

Adam Marsh, associate professor of marine biosciences and co-founder of Evozym Biologics

When University of Delaware professor Adam Marsh was exploring the genetic evolution of proteins for fighting diseases, he thought the computer animations that resulted from his mathematical algorithms–a flowing mosaic of beautifully colored tiles–looked pretty cool.

Now, Marsh’s work is reaching new heights–literally. The animations, or rather the mathematical algorithms underlying them, were later developed to form the cornerstone of Evozym Biologics, a biotech start-up company co-founded by Marsh, which helps companies home in on high-value synthetic proteins for producing next-generation antibiotics and biofuels.

And the moving mosaic is now on display on the “Crown Lights,” the illuminated top of the PECO building in Philadelphia, on Fridays through October, from 7 p.m. to midnight.

“When I was developing the genetic algorithm engine that later became what is now the core of Evozym Biologics, I was using color tile displays to assess evolution rates, organization and structures. I would link all the output images across millions of generations into an animation and could easily watch how a system–my system–would evolve through time,” says Marsh, an associate professor of marine biosciences in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.

Marsh submitted some of his results to the “Art in the Air” project, sponsored by PECO in partnership with Breadboard, a program of the University City Science Center that explores the intersection of art, science and technology. He was notified last week that a short video of his evolving color fields was accepted for the digital display.

According to the PECO website, “Art in the Air” was initiated last year to commemorate the first anniversary of the launch of PECO’s new energy-efficient LED Crown Lights system. In 2010, PECO featured the works of more than 20 different artists atop the lights as part of the program.

To view a video clip of the animation, click on the arrow under the image at the top of this page. For more background about the animation, visit Marsh’s web page.

Article by Tracey Bryant

Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson