Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type



Biological Sciences

Director of Thesis

Dr. Jeff Dudycha

First Reader

Dr. Reginald Bain

Second Reader

Dr. Reginald Bain


Sonification is the process of creating sound or music from data for investigative or aesthetic purposes. Data sonification has been used in multiple fields to provide an additional layer of analysis to datasets, engage general audiences in a scientific topic, or create an evocative musical piece. Sonification has been extended to biological subjects, including macromolecules such as protein and DNA. Epigenetics, the processes by which gene expression is regulated, is a burgeoning field of molecular biology research. Epigenetic processes have been scarcely sonified, and the process of sonifying DNA base methylation has never been published. DNA methylation is an integral component of gene expression regulation in response to environmental factors, and is partially heritable; methylation research might provide significant clues to the origin of certain diseases. Data sonification has the potential to facilitate detection of methylation patterns in future studies. The goal of this project was to identify the optimal method of sonifying DNA methylation data, retaining a balance of scientific significance and musical interest. Max/MSP computer music software was used to translate datasets accessed from the Gene Expression Omnibus database. Multiple types of data and methods of sonification were explored before determining the most useful model. This model incorporates and utilizes data to shape notes generated by frequency modulation sound synthesis. Each methylation site becomes a sustained note and the tone quality of the note fluctuates based on the amount of methylation in each sample. This method allows the listener to compare methylation levels across samples with the potential for identifying regions of differential methylation. Future directions of this project include formally testing model efficacy, improving program accessibility for researchers, and exploring the potential for musical enhancement.

First Page


Last Page



© 2022, Joelle Strom

Included in

Biology Commons