I'm interested in getting a Ph.D. and would love to work on a project such the GEC project at Microsoft Research, which studies the application of programming languages for synthetic biology and genetic engineering. What groups are doing work like this in a university setting?

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    $\begingroup$ The web page you mention answers your question by listing four academics (one in Edinburgh, three in Cambridge) working on the project... Also, check out the papers listed to see if any of their authors are in academia. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Jul 20 '14 at 8:44

I choose to reply in an answer rather than a comment because I think that is actually the proper answer to your question (and it is too long for a comment anyway).

  1. Style

    If you intend to do research and write papers for an audience, then you should learn to be easy to read. Any improvement costs only once to you, and saves time and energy to each one of your readers. That includes giving web references that can be clicked, rather than having to be cut and pasted in a browser window. That also include briefly telling your readers what the reference is about, so that they do not have to jump into unknown territory. (this is a comment on the original version of your question, before the friendly editing of David Richerby).

    The same is actually true for programs. It is not enough to write a program that solves the problem, you should also make sure that it is easy to understand and to use, so as to spare aggravation to your users.

  2. Substance

    Getting a Ph.D entails doing a fair amount of research. The very first step is to find litterature that is relevant to your research topic. Usually, if you choose the topic, you are supposed to have some knowledge of it. In your case, you know of a project that is relevant. So that gives you names, keywords, and topics to search for on the web. Then some reading of that should give you a better understanding, increase your competence and allow you to search for more ... and find research groups that do that kind of work by looking at the authors of papers. Their affiliation is usually given, and many have a web site.

    Doing this yourself will increase you general competence at doing research, and also increase your knowledge of the field. It is in no way wasted work. Doing if for you is not doing you a service. You would not think of getting someone on the net to write your dissertation for you. Of course, it does make sense to discuss issues and ask questions, but usually after doing what work you can, so as to spare the time of colleagues ... they do not have so much available.

    But if you cannot do it yourself, you probably do not have the maturity to do research and you should rather consider another academic path, or professional path.

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    $\begingroup$ While you may give some good advice, how does this answer the question? One comment: unfortunately, being "easy to read" tends to be unappreciated in some communities. :/ $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jul 20 '14 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael I agree that this isn't an answer but an extended comment. The paragraph beginning "Getting a Ph.D" is highly relevant as a comment to this question but it mostly repeats my own comment; the rest is generic advice. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Jul 20 '14 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidRicherby I said myself that it may be perceived as a comment, but that I do consider it an answer. If the question had been only: "What groups are doing work like xxx in a university setting?", then you would certainly be right. Motivation would be none of my business. But the question was asked in a context, and thus this context is part of the question and can orient the answer. Or, to take another angle, why didn't you give a straight answer to this question? Hopefully, we all do what we think we ought to do. No problem. $\endgroup$ – babou Jul 20 '14 at 22:28

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