The Nanosquad

Henderson Laboratory | Iowa State University

Learn More

Our Science

We Build Nanobots

Using the magic of DNA hybridization we design and build self-assembling
DNA Nanodevices like the Pathogen Sentinel shown below.

DNA Nanostructures and Devices: We make functional nanodevices out of DNA. Our most current device is a pathogen sentinel that can detect, measure and report the presence of a variety of pathogen-related biomarkers. Billions of these sentinels can be created for pennies in a few microliters of saltwater. Even better, since they are made out of DNA they are extremely robust.

We also developed a new method for creating 2D and 3D DNA nanostructures. This method uses DNA origami as a design tool but does not require a single-stranded scaffold of biological origin. In this way, our method allows the creation of any number of DNA nanostructures with much fewer restrictions on size and, importantly, simultaneous assembly in a single reaction ("single pot" self-assembly). Creating useful machines and expanding the general method of DNA-based nanodevice construction are currently the main objectives.

Recent Publications

Gotta Do It

Ellis, Samuel J., Henderson, Eric R., Klinge, Titus H., Lathrop, James I., Lutz, Jack H., Lutz, Robyn R., Mathur, Divita, and Miner, Andrew S. (2014) Automated Requirements Analysis for a Molecular Watchdog Timer In Proceedings of the 29th ACM/IEEE international conference on Automated software engineering (ASE '14). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 767-778. DOI=10.1145/2642937.2643007 (Awarded the "Manfred Paul Award for Excellence in Software: Theory and Practice").

Mathur, D. and Henderson, E. (2013) Complex DNA Nanostructures from Oligonucleotide Ensembles, ACS Synthetic Biology, 2, 180-185.

R. Lutz, J. Lutz, J. Lathrop, T. Klinge, E. Henderson, D. Mathur, and D. Abo Sheasha, (2012) Engineering and verifying requirements for programmable self-assembling nanomachines, Proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 2012, Zurich, Switzerland, June 2-9, 2012), pp. 1361-1364.

Lutz, Robyn R., Lutz, Jack H., Lathrop, James I., Klinge, Titus H., Mathur, Divita, Stull, Don M., Bergquist, Taylor G. and Henderson, Eric R. (2012) Requirements analysis for a product family of DNA nanodevices, Proceedings of the Twentieth IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference (RE 2012, Chicago, IL, September 24-28, 2012), pp. 211-220.

People Make Science Fun!

There are the maniacs willing to delve into the unknown.

Divita Mathur

Does It All | CV

Brian Nakayama

Knows It All | CV

Eric Henderson

Total Slacker | CV


Learning It All





It's all about the bass - and the sugar-phosphate backbone (of course). I am enamored with DNA and the magical (almost) way I can direct hundreds of little pieces to come together to make cool nanodevices like my awesome Pathogen Sentinel (code name: OPTIMUS) and more!

Well, if I make a cocktail of math, DNA, chemical reaction networks, piercings, and Zen-like calmness in the face of disaster, I end up with a decent picture of what it is going to take to get me to that Ph.D. finish line!

I'm putting an engine on a self-assembling nanomachine to "make it go" - this is gonna be awesome!

If I had my druthers I'd be inventing fun stuff, doing fun science, playing lots of fun music and writing lots of fun books - oh wait, that's what I do already! Ha ha ha @henderbooks,

Evolution has done a lot of the work and given us a giant library of parts with which we can fiddle around...!

Now we take the work evolution has done and add to it our evolving concepts and come up with some pretty awesome new machines and, who knows, maybe even make the planet a better place to live!


If you want to get in touch here are some good leads:

Phone: 515-294-0253