<![CDATA[New NEETRAC Director Joe Hagerman Aims for Center to Lead Amid Power Grid Transformation]]> 27338 As the nation's power grid undergoes a transformative shift with historic investment in clean energy, Joe Hagerman understands the importance of this moment for the National Electric Energy Testing, Research and Applications Center (NEETRAC). It presents the center with a distinct opportunity to showcase expertise, drive progress, and actively shape the future of the grid.

NEETRAC, a leading research and testing resource for the electric energy industry, housed under the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), has announced the appointment of Hagerman as its director, starting June 1.

“Under the leadership of former Director Rick Hartlein, NEETRAC has established itself as a trusted authority in testing and research for the electric power industry,” said Hagerman. “Thanks to this reputation, we are now poised to take a leading role in the country's de-carbonization and re-electrification priorities. The potential for strengthening our ties with the Institute, the state of Georgia, and federal entities is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Hagerman joins NEETRAC after directing the Energy, Policy, and Innovation Center (EPICenter), a division of the Strategic Energy Institute.

 

Prior to Georgia Tech, Hagerman served as a section head at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He also has served as the deputy chief scientist of the ;National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and as a senior policy advisory at the U.S. Office of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

“As NEETRAC prepares for the next phase of its journey, Joe's passion, visionary approach, and bridge-building abilities will be indispensable for success,” said Arijit Raychowdhury, professor and Steve W. Chaddick School Chair in ECE. “His policy work and technical expertise in grid systems speak for themselves, especially regarding emerging areas like renewables, connected equipment, and cybersecurity. I’m thrilled to have Joe leading the way.”

The Right Time for Growth

The domestic demand for electricity continues to steadily rise because of the government's ambitious renewable and carbon-free energy objectives, the increased electrification of transportation and heating, and the growing demand for digitally connected devices.

Add this to an aging power grid, and incentives and investments for making the grid stronger and more resilient are at an all-time high for the electric power industry.

Hagerman looks to leverage his governmental research reputation and knowledge of the Georgia Tech landscape to enhance NEETRAC's existing strengths and explore new opportunities. He seeks to establish new connections — both inside and outside of the Institute — for the center, enabling it to effectively drive innovation and address the evolving needs of the industry.

“The power grid stands as a remarkable feat of human engineering, and its sheer physical scale is incredible,” said Hagerman. “Incorporating changes is not as simple as flipping a switch. It requires extensive knowledge and countless hours of rigorous testing. Thankfully, NEETRAC and Georgia Tech possess an abundance of expertise — and a world class staff — that can be harnessed to navigate these challenges successfully.”

An Invaluable Industry Resource

For more than 25 years, NEETRAC — located just south of the Atlanta campus, near the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — has played a vital role in facilitating collaboration between the electric energy industry and academia.

Everything connected to the power grid — even power poles to bucket trucks — can be tested and researched at the center. NEETRAC’s experienced engineers and technicians seek to deliver innovative, effective solutions to all problems related to the transmission and distribution of electric energy.

As a membership-supported center, NEETRAC's member companies comprise utilities that represent around 65% of U.S. electric customers, along with manufacturers who contribute significantly to the products and services offered in the electric utility industry.

“NEETRAC is much more than a testing laboratory to us,” said Sherif Kamel, vice president of New Product Development at Southwire, a NEETRAC member organization. “The deep knowledge and expertise that NEETRAC uses to support our industry’s needs is unparalleled.”

This diverse membership base promotes collaboration and knowledge exchange, keeping NEETRAC at the forefront of industry challenges, advancements, and opportunities.

Sherif, NEETRAC's advisory board chair and a member of the search committee that recommended Hagerman, stated that NEETRAC's staff and facilities aid Southwire in developing, improving, and supporting customers. Additionally, the center enhances the credibility and proficiency of the company's test results. Southwire was founded in 1937 by Roy Richards, a graduate of Georgia Tech, and is a NEETRAC founding member.

Future Potential

Hagerman stressed that with so much uncertainty regarding the future of the domestic power grid, one thing is clear: To evolve NEETRAC will need to enhance its relationship with the industry and scale to help its current and future members throughout North America.

“There’s excitement in not knowing how everything will unfold,” he said. “It’s important for us to be nimble and ready to adapt, but to also use our position to anticipate the needs of our members and provide value and insights to our partners.”

According to Hagerman, the future services of NEETRAC could be driven by several important factors, namely the integration of renewable energy sources, ensuring the security of the grid both in physical and cyber aspects, and harnessing the power of big data.

Investing and expanding in the expertise of NEETRAC's skilled scientists and engineers, its technical staff, and its administrative staff is arguably the most crucial approach to meeting the uncertain demands of the future.

“By nurturing the talents and skills of the team and by incorporating an inclusive approach, we all work toward the shared future of NEETRAC and the Institute. We are all one Georgia Tech,” said Hagerman. “NEETRAC’s role in that future is defined by its cutting-edge evaluations, its world class research, and its continued support of innovation for a resilient and secure domestic power grid for all.”

]]> Brent Verrill 1 1694021833 2023-09-06 17:37:13 1694022065 2023-09-06 17:41:05 0 0 news As the nation's power grid undergoes a transformative shift with historic investment in clean energy, Joe Hagerman understands the importance of this moment for the National Electric Energy Testing, Research and Applications Center (NEETRAC).

]]>
2023-05-25T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-25T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-25 00:00:00 Dan Watson

]]>
671616 671616 image <![CDATA[NEETRAC Meeting_150_cropped.jpg]]> The NEETRAC advisory board meeting on May 17, at Georgia Tech. New NEETRAC Director Joe Hagerman (front row, second to left) was introduced to the board during the meetings.

]]> image/jpeg 1694021938 2023-09-06 17:38:58 1694021938 2023-09-06 17:38:58
<![CDATA[BioSpark Labs Igniting Innovation for Biotech Startups]]> 28153 Ryan Lawler realized early on in her academic career that a scientist with a great idea can potentially change the world.

“But I didn’t realize the role that real estate can play in that,” said Lawler, general manager of BioSpark Labs – the collaborative, shared laboratory environment taking shape at Science Square at Georgia Tech.

Sitting adjacent to the Tech campus and formerly known as Technology Enterprise Park, Science Square is being reactivated and positioned as a life sciences research destination. The 18-acre site is abuzz with new construction, as an urban mixed-use development rises from the property.

Meanwhile, positioned literally on the ground floor of all this activity is BioSpark Labs, located in a former warehouse, fortuitously adjacent to the Global Center for Medical Innovation. It’s one of the newer best-kept secrets in the Georgia Tech research community.

BioSpark exists because the Georgia Tech Real Estate Office,  led by Associate Vice President Tony Zivalich, recognized the need of this kind of lab space. Zivalich and his team have overseen the ideation, design, and funding of the facility, partnering with Georgia Advanced Technology Ventures, as well as the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, and the core facilities of the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience.

“We are in the middle of a growing life sciences ecosystem, part of a larger vision in biotech research,” said Lawler, who was hired on to manage the space, bringing to the job a wealth of experience as a former research scientist and lab manager with a background in molecular and synthetic biology.

Researchers’ Advocate

BioSpark was designed to be a launch pad for high-potential entrepreneurs. It provides a fully equipped and professionally operated wet lab, in addition to a clean room, meeting and office space, to its current roster of clients, five life sciences and biotech startup, a number certain to increase – because BioSpark is undergoing a dramatic expansion that will include 11 more labs (shared and private space), an autoclave room, equipment and storage rooms.

“We want to provide the necessary services and support that an early-stage company needs to begin lab operations on day one,” said Lawler, who has put together a facility with $1.7 million in lab equipment. “I understand our clients’ perspective, I understand researchers and their experiments, and their needs, because I have first-hand proficiency in that world. So, I can advocate on their behalf.”

CO2 incubators, a spectrophotometer, a biosafety cabinet, a fume hood, a -80° freezer, an inverted microscope, and the autoclave are among the wide range of apparatus. Plus, a virtual treasure trove of equipment is available to BioSpark clients off-site through the Core Facilities of the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience on the Georgia Tech campus.

“One of the unique things about us is, we’re agnostic,” Lawler said. “That is, our startups can come from anywhere. We have companies that have grown out of labs at Georgia State, Alabama State, Emory, and Georgia Tech. And we have interest from entrepreneurs from San Diego, who are considering relocating people from mature biotech markets to our space.”

Ground Floor Companies

Marvin Whiteley wants to help humans win the war against bacteria, and he has a plan, something he’s been cooking up for about 10 years, which has now manifested in his start-up company, SynthBiome, one of the five startups based at BioSpark Labs.

“We can discover a lot of antibiotics in the lab but translating them into the clinic has been a major challenge – antibiotic resistance is the main reason,” said Whiteley, professor in the School of Biological Sciences at Georgia Tech. “Something might work in a test tube easily enough and it might work in a mouse. But the thing is, bacteria know that mice are different - and and so bacteria act differently in mice than in humans.”

SynthBiome was built to help accelerate drug discovery. With that goal in mind, Whiteley and has team set out to develop a better, more effective preclinical model. “We basically learned to let the bacteria tell us what it’s like to be in a human,” Whiteley said. “So, we created a human environment in a test tube.”

Whiteley has said a desire to help people is foundational to his research. He wants to change how successful therapies are made. The same can be said for Dr. Pooja Tiwari, who launched her company, Arnav Biotech, to develop mRNA-based therapeutics and vaccines. Arnav Biotech also serves as a contract researcher and manufacturer, helping other researchers and companies interested in exploring mRNA in their work.

“There are only a handful of people who have deep knowledge of working in mRNA research, and this limits the access to it” said Tiwari, a former postdoctoral researcher at Georgia Tech and Emory. “We’d like to democratize access to mRNA-based therapeutics and vaccines by developing accessible and cost-effective mRNA therapeutics for global needs”.

Arnav – which has RNA right there in the name – in Sanskrit means ‘ocean.’ An ocean has no discernible borders, and Tiwari is working to build a biotech company that eliminates borders in equitable access to mRNA-based therapeutics and vaccines.

With this mission in mind, Arnav is developing mRNA-based, broad-spectrum antivirals as well as vaccines against pandemic potential viruses before the next pandemic hits. Arnav has recently entered in a collaboration with Sartorius BIA Separations, a company based on Slovenia, to advance their mRNA pipeline. While building its own mRNA therapeutics pipeline, Arnav is also helping other scientists explore mRNA as an alternative therapeutic and vaccine platform through its contract services. 

“I think of the vaccine scientist who makes his medicine using proteins, but would like to explore the mRNA option,” Tiwari posits. “Maybe he doesn’t want to make the full jump into it. That’s where we come in, helping to drive interest in this field and help that scientist compare his traditional vaccines to see what mRNA vaccines looks like.”

She has all the equipment and instruments that she needs at BioSpark Labs and was one of the first start-ups to put down roots there. So far, it’s been the perfect partnership, Tiwari said, adding, “It kind of feels like BioSpark and Arnav are growing up together.”

 

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1677771280 2023-03-02 15:34:40 1691415907 2023-08-07 13:45:07 0 0 news Located in the 18-acre Science Square campus, BioSpark is designed to be a launch pad for high-potential entrepreneurs. It provides a fully equipped and professionally operated wet lab, in addition to a clean room, meeting and office space, five life sciences and biotech startups — and more.

]]>
2023-03-02T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-02T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-02 00:00:00 Writer: Jerry Grillo

]]>
666358 666360 666361 666362 666358 image <![CDATA[BioSpark Trio]]> image/jpeg 1677770803 2023-03-02 15:26:43 1677790719 2023-03-02 20:58:39 666360 image <![CDATA[Ryan Lawler]]> image/jpeg 1677770875 2023-03-02 15:27:55 1677770875 2023-03-02 15:27:55 666361 image <![CDATA[Marvin Whiteley]]> image/jpeg 1677770912 2023-03-02 15:28:32 1677770912 2023-03-02 15:28:32 666362 image <![CDATA[Pooja Tiwari]]> image/jpeg 1677770944 2023-03-02 15:29:04 1677770944 2023-03-02 15:29:04
<![CDATA[Chemistry, Chaos, Peptides, and (Infinite) Problems: Georgia Tech Researchers Pioneer New Frontiers with NSF CAREER Grants]]> 35599 Five Georgia Tech College of Sciences researchers have been awarded CAREER grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

These Faculty Early Career Development Awards are part of a five-year funding mechanism designed to help promising researchers establish a personal foundation for a lifetime of leadership in their field. The grants are NSF’s most prestigious funding for untenured assistant professors.

Read more:

  • Making Medicines: Vinayak Agarwal’s research into peptides, and their medicinal potential
  • The Fundamental Questions: Jesse McDaniel’s new framework for predicting chemical reaction rates, leveraging computer modeling
  • Chasing Chaos: Alex Blumenthal’s research in chaos, fluid dynamics
  • Solving Infinite Problems: Anton Bernshteyn’s new, unified theory of descriptive combinatorics and distributed algorithms
  • Gauging Glaciers: Alex Robel's new ice sheet modeling tool 

One of the most exciting parts of the CAREER grants is that they support new faculty, who are often working at the frontier of their fields. “I am excited about the CAREER research because we are really focusing on fundamental questions that are central to all of chemistry,” says Jesse McDaniel (School of Chemistry and Biochemistry) about his project, which focuses on creating a new framework to predict the rates of chemical reactions, leveraging computer science.

Anton Bernshteyn’s (School of Mathematics) work in the recently emerged field of descriptive combinatorics is also on the cutting edge of discovery. “There’s this new communication between separate fields of math and computer science— this huge synergy right now— it’s incredibly exciting,” Bernshteyn explains. “Right now we’re only starting to glimpse what’s possible.”

Each award also includes a teaching and outreach component: Vinayak Agarwal (School of Chemistry and Biochemistry) plans to use his grant to not only investigate peptides, but also to train the next generation of leaders, emphasizing student inclusion from diverse backgrounds: “The training is broadly applicable,” says Agarwal. “It will prepare students to move forward in STEM – and especially graduate studies – but will also prepare them for industry careers, government and regulatory science, graduate studies, and more. This kind of background is applicable in all fields.”

Alex Blumenthal (School of Mathematics), who is investigating the intersection of chaos, turbulence– including fluid dynamics– mathematics, and computer-assisted proof, agrees. “There’s a whole lot of new stuff to do,” Blumenthal says. “There’s a growing community of people studying random dynamics, and a growing community of people doing computer proofs– it’s a great place for undergrads to have meaningful research experiences.”

Alex Robel (School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences), emphasizes the broad impacts of the CAREER grant projects. Robel is working to create a new ice sheet modeling tool, which will be accessible to anyone, and just require the use of a computer browser. “Ultimately,” Robel says, “this project will empower more people in the community to use these models and to use these models together with the observations that they're taking.”

]]> sperrin6 1 1681873800 2023-04-19 03:10:00 1691163879 2023-08-04 15:44:39 0 0 news Five Georgia Tech College of Sciences researchers have been awarded CAREER grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF). These Faculty Early Career Development Awards are part of a five-year funding mechanism designed to help promising researchers establish a personal foundation for a lifetime of leadership in their field. The grants are NSF’s most prestigious funding for untenured assistant professors.

]]>
2023-04-19T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-19T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-19 00:00:00 Written by Selena Langner

]]>
64346 About the Georgia Institute of Technology

The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the world's premier research universities. Ranked seventh among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities and the eighth best engineering and information technology university in the world by Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, Georgia Tech’s more than 20,000 students are enrolled in its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech is among the nation's top producers of women and minority engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

]]>
670577 670579 670575 670580 671064 670577 image <![CDATA[Chemistry Mosaic]]> image/png 1681837853 2023-04-18 17:10:53 1681837908 2023-04-18 17:11:48 670579 image <![CDATA[Mosaic Network]]> image/png 1681840456 2023-04-18 17:54:16 1681840488 2023-04-18 17:54:48 670575 image <![CDATA[Petri Dish Mosaic]]> image/png 1681836224 2023-04-18 16:43:44 1681836644 2023-04-18 16:50:44 670580 image <![CDATA[Mosaic Turbulence ]]> image/png 1681840504 2023-04-18 17:55:04 1681840546 2023-04-18 17:55:46 671064 image <![CDATA[Robel's open-access software package will pair state-of-the-art tools with ice sheet models that anyone can use]]> image/png 1687972518 2023-06-28 17:15:18 1687974626 2023-06-28 17:50:26 <![CDATA[Making Medicines: Vinayak Agarwal Awarded NSF CAREER Grant for Peptide Research]]> <![CDATA[The Fundamental Questions: Jesse McDaniel Awarded NSF CAREER Grant for Research Into New Method of Predicting Chemical Reaction Rates, Leveraging Computer Modeling]]> <![CDATA[Chasing Chaos: Alex Blumenthal Awarded CAREER Grant for Research in Chaos, Fluid Dynamics]]> <![CDATA[Solving Infinite Problems: Anton Bernshteyn awarded NSF CAREER grant for developing a new, unified theory of descriptive combinatorics and distributed algorithms]]>
<![CDATA[Breakthrough Scaling Approach Cuts Cost, Improves Accuracy of Training DNN Models]]> 32045 A new machine-learning (ML) framework for clients with varied computing resources is the first of its kind to successfully scale deep neural network (DNN) models like those used to detect and recognize objects in still and video images.

The ability to uniformly scale the width (number of neurons) and depth (number of neural layers) of a DNN model means that remote clients can equitably participate in distributed, real-time training regardless of their computing resources. Resulting benefits include improved accuracy, increased efficiency, and reduced computational costs.

Developed by Georgia Tech researchers, the ScaleFL framework advances federated learning, which is an ML approach inspired by the personal data scandals of the past decade.

Federated learning (FL), a term coined by Google in 2016, enables a DNN model to be trained across decentralized devices or servers. Because data aren’t centralized with this approach, threats to data privacy and security are minimized.

The FL process begins with sending the initial parameters of a global DNN model to smartphones, IoT devices, edge servers, or other participating devices. These edge clients train their local version of the model using their unique data. All local results are aggregated and used to update the global model.

The process is repeated until the new model is fully trained and meets its design specifications.

Federated learning works best when remote clients involved in training a new DNN model have comparable computational power and bandwidth. But training can bog down if some participating remote-client devices have limited or fluctuating computing resources.

“In most real-life applications computational resources tend to differ significantly across clients. This heterogeneity prevents clients with insufficient resources from participating in certain FL tasks that require large models,” said School of Computer Science (CS) Ph.D. student Fatih Ilhan.

“Federated learning should promote equitable AI practice by supporting a resource-adaptive learning framework that can scale to heterogeneous clients with limited capacity,” said Ilhan, who is advised by Professor Ling Liu.

Ilhan is the lead author of ScaleFL: Resource-Adaptive Federated Learning with Heterogeneous Clients, which he is presenting at the 2023 Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition. CVPR 23 is set for June 18-22 in Vancouver, Canada.

Creating a framework that can adaptively scale the global DNN model based on a remote client’s computing resources is no easy feat. Ilhan says the balance between a model’s basic and complex feature extraction capabilities can be easily thrown out of whack when manipulating the number of neurons or the number of neuron layers of a DNN model.

“Since a deeper model is more capable of extracting higher order, complex features while a wider model has access to a finer resolution of lower-order, basic features, performing model size reduction across one dimension causes unbalance in terms of the learning capabilities of the resulting model,” said Ilhan.

The team overcomes these challenges in part by incorporating early exit classifiers into ScaleFL.

These ML-based tools are designed to optimize accuracy and efficiency by introducing intermediate decision points in the classification process. This capability enables a model to complete an inference task as soon as it is confident in its prediction, without having to process the whole model.

“ScaleFL injects these classifiers to the global model at certain layers based on the model architecture and computational constraints at each complexity level. This enables forming low-cost local models by keeping the layers up to the corresponding exit,” said Ilhan.

“Two-dimensional scaling with splitting the model along depth and width dimensions yields uniformly scaled, efficient local models for resource-constrained clients. As a result, not only does the global model achieves better performance compared to baseline FL approaches and existing algorithms, but local models at different complexity levels also perform significantly better for clients that are resource-constrained at inference time.”

The exit classifiers that help balance a model’s basic and complex features also play into the second part of ScaleFL’s secret sauce, self-distillation.

Self-distillation is a form of knowledge distillation, which has been used to transfer knowledge from a ‘teacher’ model to a smaller ‘student’ model. ScaleFL applies this process within the same network by comparing early predictions made by the exit classifiers (students) and the final predictions of the last exit (teacher) of local models during optimization. This technique prevents isolation and improves the knowledge transfer among subnetworks of different levels in ScaleFL.

Ilhan and his collaborators extensively tested ScaleFL on three image classification datasets and two natural language processing datasets.

“Our experiments show that ScaleFL outperforms existing representative heterogeneous federated learning approaches. In local model evaluations, we were able to reduce latency by two times, and the model size by four times, all while keeping the performance loss below 2%,” said Ilhan.

]]> Ben Snedeker 1 1685671538 2023-06-02 02:05:38 1689185480 2023-07-12 18:11:20 0 0 news School of Computer Science researchers have developed a new framework that advances federated learning, a distributed, real-time approach for training deep neural network models. The new framework enables remote clients to equitably participate in training regardless of their computing resources.

]]>
2023-06-02T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-02T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-02 00:00:00 Ben Snedeker, Communications Manager II
Georgia Tech
College of Computing

albert.snedeker@cc.gatech.edu

]]>
670912 670912 image <![CDATA[Georgia Tech CS Ph.D. student Ilhan Fatih]]> image/png 1685672138 2023-06-02 02:15:38 1685672138 2023-06-02 02:15:38
<![CDATA[NIH BRAIN grant funds Emory-Georgia Tech center for next-generation neurotechnology]]> 36327 Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology received a $4.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) BRAIN Initiative to establish a center to make and globally distribute next-generation micro-technologies for neuroscience. The funds will be awarded over a five-year period.

The Center for Advanced Motor BioEngineering and Research will make cutting-edge biosensors that were developed jointly by the two universities, disseminate them to neuroscientists across the country and around the world, and provide training and other resources for how to use the biosensors to explore a range of research questions.

Co-principal investigators for the project are Samuel Sober, Emory associate professor of biology, and Muhannad Bakir, Georgia Tech professor of electrical and computer engineering.

“Our technology allows you to see data that was invisible before — the electrical signals that single neurons in the spinal cord send to muscles all over the body during complex movements,” Sober says. “This information is like the missing link for trying to understand how the brain controls behavior.”

“The potential to develop new microscale technologies — with advances commonly used in semiconductor chip manufacturing — to enable scientific and medical discoveries in neuroscience is incredibly motivating,” Bakir adds. “It’s the inspiration driving this project.”

The NIH Brain Research Through Advancing Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative is aimed at revolutionizing understanding of the human brain. The five-year grant awarded to Emory and Georgia Tech is part of the BRAIN Initiative’s U24 Program, which supports projects to broadly disseminate validated tools and resources for neuroscience research.

Joining the power of two universities
 

Sober and Bakir combined the expertise of their labs to develop their breakthrough technology — biosensors that precisely record electrical signals from the nervous system to muscles that control movement.

Sober works at the forefront of describing the computational signals that the brain uses to control muscles. He’s particularly interested in how the brain learns, or relearns, motor skills — for example, in a recovering stroke patient.

Currently, clinicians use electromyography, or EMG, as a tool to diagnose the health of muscles and the motor neurons that control them. EMG typically involves the use of a tiny wire, or electrode, inserted into a muscle to record the electrical activity in the muscles.

Sober wanted a much finer resolution of data and more practical methods for his research on how the brain activates and controls muscles in songbirds as they learn to sing. He needed devices tiny enough to implant in the birds’ vocal cords. The devices also needed flexibility and strength to bend with the movement of a muscle without breaking. And each had to contain an array of gold electrodes to gather high-resolution data.

Enter Bakir, who works at the frontier of flexible electronics.

The unique collaboration between the two researchers allowed them to forge new scientific territory. “We leveraged state-of-the art microfabrication tools to solve a problem deeply rooted in the life sciences,” Bakir says.

A tiny device delivers big-picture insights
 

The researchers’ teams developed flexible electrode arrays that include microscopic 3D contacts for recording muscle activity. Each microarray includes one or more threads, about the width of a human hair. The devices are so tiny that they can be sewn into a muscle like a suture thread or even loaded into a syringe and injected into the muscle, making them minimally invasive. An earlier version of these technologies was developed in the Georgia Tech PhD work of Muneeb Zia, who is currently a Georgia Tech research faculty member.

They dubbed the new devices “Myomatrix arrays,” incorporating the Greek work “myo” for muscle. The high-tech biosensors allow researchers for the first time to record high-resolution data across large groups of muscles simultaneously while subjects perform complex behaviors.

To help test and refine the devices, the researchers have already given them to more than 100 different labs in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia where they have been used to explore neuroscience questions in a variety of species — from the crawling muscles in a caterpillar to the locomotion of a mouse leg and the reaching movements of a monkey’s arm.

Setting the stage for clinical use
 

Comparing data from across species will help speed discoveries of the normal functioning of the neuromuscular system. That sets the stage for the Myomatrix arrays to become a valuable tool in clinical settings.

The researchers recently completed initial experiments with the biosensors in healthy humans, marking another major step forward.

The devices may eventually enable doctors to diagnose a neurogenerative disease earlier so that interventions can start sooner. The sensitivity of the Myomatrix arrays could also potentially measure any improvement a patient may experience after taking a drug or other therapy.

The BRAIN Initiative grant will allow the researchers to disseminate the technology to even more labs to do longer-term studies.

“A lot of times when new scientific technology gets developed it can be jealously guarded by the inventors for years,” notes Sober. “One of the big impacts of this technology is that we’ve already been giving it away as much as possible in an open-science way. And that’s helped us in turn to keep improving the technology because we are getting so much feedback.”

The Georgia Tech team will continue to fabricate and package the Myomatrix arrays using advanced microelectronic technologies in special “cleanrooms” where the air is purified to such extreme levels that the number of dust particles in the environment can be counted.


A global educational component 

The Emory team will continue to work on assembling and testing the devices, in addition to training users from around the world in the use of technology via Zoom meetings and in-person sessions.

“This project is not just about making and disseminating the devices; it’s also a teaching mission with a big educational component,” Sober says. “We believe that this technology is going to have a major impact on the field of motor neuroscience.”

The project members will work with the NIH to ensure that the devices are distributed to a diverse range of users, institutions and research areas, consistent with the BRAIN Initiative’s goal to make the latest neuroscience tools more broadly accessible.

“We’ll be serving scientific communities that historically have not had access to such technologies or manufacturing capabilities,” Bakir says. “Emory and Georgia Tech are opening the doors to our facilities and to our expertise so that anyone who works in motor neuroscience can access and leverage these new devices, which require hundreds of millions of dollars to build and equip. This democratization of the technology will help to advance motor neuroscience at a more rapid pace.”

 

This story was originally published by Emory University. Check out their article here.

 

Photo Caption
Co-principal investigators for the project are (left) Samuel Sober, Emory associate professor of biology, and Muhannad Bakir, Georgia Tech professor of electrical and computer engineering. They combined the expertise of their labs to develop their breakthrough technology.

— Ann Watson, Emory Photo/Video

]]> mlindo7 1 1687363850 2023-06-21 16:10:50 1688129590 2023-06-30 12:53:10 0 0 news Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology received a $4.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) BRAIN Initiative to establish a center to make and globally distribute next-generation micro-technologies for neuroscience. The funds will be awarded over a five-year period.

]]>
2023-06-21T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-21T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-21 00:00:00 Carol Clark

]]>
671003 671003 image <![CDATA[NIH Brain Grant]]> image/jpeg 1687372210 2023-06-21 18:30:10 1687372298 2023-06-21 18:31:38
<![CDATA[Thomas Kurfess Elected ASME President]]> 27513 Thomas Kurfess, Ph.D., P.E., was elected president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)--he will be the 142nd president. Kurfess is the chief manufacturing officer of the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the executive director of the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute. He is the HUSCO/Ramirez Distinguished Chair in Fluid Power and Motion Control and professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering.

He also serves as the chief technology officer at the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences. He served as the chief manufacturing officer and founding director for the manufacturing science division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory from 2019 to 2021. He served as the assistant director for advanced manufacturing at the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President of the United States of America in 2012 and 2013, coordinating advanced manufacturing research and development.


American Society of Mechanical Engineers (news release) >>

]]> Walter Rich 1 1687438246 2023-06-22 12:50:46 1687526496 2023-06-23 13:21:36 0 0 news Thomas Kurfess, Ph.D., P.E., was elected the 142nd president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Society announced during its annual meeting June 6. Kurfess is an ASME Fellow and has served as a member of the Board of Governors since 2019.

]]>
2023-06-22T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-22T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-22 00:00:00 Walter Rich

]]>
671008 671008 image <![CDATA[Kurfess_Picture_2015 copy.jpg]]> Thomas Kurfess, Ph.D., P.E., has begun his term as the 142nd president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)

]]> image/jpeg 1687438477 2023-06-22 12:54:37 1687438477 2023-06-22 12:54:37
<![CDATA[The Impact of Data Augmentation: Georgia Tech Researchers Lead NSF Study]]> 28153 In the past year, Georgia Tech researchers Vidya Muthukumar and Eva Dyer have made a powerful impression on the National Science Foundation (NSF), forging partnerships between their labs and the foundation that may ultimately lead to more efficient, equitable, human-centered, and human-like artificial intelligence, or AI.

Working at the forefront of research in AI and machine learning, the two are both recent NSF CAREER Award winners – and are collaborators in a multi-institutional, three-year, $1.2 million effort supported by the NSF’s Division of Information and Intelligent Systems. 

“Our goal is to provide a precise understanding of the impact of data augmentation on generalization,” said Muthukumar, assistant professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering. She’s also principal investigator of the NSF project called, “Design principles and theory for data augmentation.”

Generalization is a hallmark of basic human intelligence – if you eat a food that makes you sick, you’ll likely avoid foods that look or smell like that food in the future. That’s generalization at work, something that we do naturally, but takes a greater effort to do efficiently in artificial intelligence. 

To build more generalizable AI, developers use data augmentation (DA), in which new data samples are generated from existing datasets to improve the performance of machine learning models. For example, data augmentation is often used in computer vision – existing image data is augmented through techniques like rotation, cropping, flipping, resizing, and so forth. 

Basically, data augmentation artificially increases the amount of training data used in machine learning models. The idea is, a machine learning model trained on augmented images of dogs is better equipped to recognize dogs in different environments, poses, and angles, even if the environments, poses, and angles are different from those seen during initial model training.

“But data augmentation procedures are currently done in an in an ad-hoc manner,” said Muthukumar. “It’s like, let’s apply this and see if it works.”

They are designed and tested on a dataset-by-dataset basis, which isn’t very efficient. Also, augmented data does not always have the desired effects – it can do more harm than good. So, Muthukumar, Dyer, and their collaborators are developing a theory, a set of fundamental principles to understand DA and its impact on machine learning and AI.

“Our aim is to leverage what we learn to design novel augmentations that can be used across multiple applications and domains,” said Dyer, assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.

Good, Bad, and Weird

Muthukumar became interested in data augmentation when she was a graduate student at University of California at Berkeley.

“What I found intriguing was how everyone seemed to view the role of data augmentation so differently,” she said. During a summer internship she was part of an effort to resolve racial disparities in a machine’s classification of facial images, “a commonly encountered problem in which the computer might perform well with classifying white males, but not so well with dark-skinned females.”

The researchers employed artificial data augmentation techniques – essentially, boosting their learning model’s dataset by adding virtualized facial images with different skin tones and colors. But to Muthukumar’s surprise, the solution didn’t work very well.  “This was an example of data augmentation not living up to its promise,” she said. “What we’re finding is, sometimes data augmentation is good, sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it’s just weird.”

That assessment, in fact, is almost the title of a paper Muthukumar and Dyer have submitted to a leading journal: “The good, the bad and the ugly sides of data augmentation: An implicit spectral regularization perspective.” Currently under revision before publication, the paper lays out their foundational theory for understanding how DA impacts machine learning. 

The work is the latest manifestation of a research partnership that began when Muthukumar arrived at Georgia Tech in January 2021, and connected with Dyer, whose NerDS Lab has a wide-angled focus, spanning the areas of machine learning, neuroscience, and neuro AI (her work is fostering a knowledge loop – the development of new AI tools for brain decoding and new neuro-inspired AI systems).

“We started talking about how data augmentation does something very subtle to a dataset, changing what the learning model does at a very fundamental level,” Muthtukumar said. “We asked, ‘what the heck is this data augmentation doing? Why is it working, or why isn’t it? And, what types of augmentation work and what types don’t?’”

Those questions led to their current NSF project, supported through September 2025. Muthukumar is leading the effort, joined by co-principal investigators Dyer; Mark Davenport, professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Tom Goldstein, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Maryland.

Clever, Informed DA

The four researchers comprise a kind of super-team of machine learning experts. Davenport, a member of the Center for Machine Learning and the Center for Signal and Information Processing at Georgia Tech, aims his research on the complex interaction of signal processing, statistical inference, and machine learning. He’s collaborated with both Dyer and Muthukumar on recent research papers. 

Goldstein’s work lies at the intersection of machine learning and optimization. A member of the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies at Maryland, he was part of the research team that recently developed a “watermark” that can expose text written by artificial intelligence.

Dyer is a computational neuroscientist whose research has blurred the line between neuroscience and machine learning, and her lab has made advances in neural recording and gathering data. Muthukumar is orchestrating all of this expertise to thoroughly characterize data augmentation’s impact on generalization in machine learning.

“We hope to gain a full understanding of its influence on learning – when it helps and when it hurts,” Muthukumar said. Furthermore, the team aims to broaden the promise of data augmentation, expanding its effective use in other areas, such as neuroscience, graphs, and tabular data.

“Overall, there’s promise in being able to do a lot more with data augmentations, if we do it in a clever and informed kind of way,” Dyer said. “We can build more robust brain-machine interfaces, we can improve fairness and transparency. This work can have tremendous long-range impact, especially regarding neuroscience and biomedical data.”

 

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1686929796 2023-06-16 15:36:36 1687448179 2023-06-22 15:36:19 0 0 news Research team's work could lead to more efficient AI and machine learning

]]>
2023-06-16T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-16T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-16 00:00:00 Jerry Grillo

]]>
670988 670988 image <![CDATA[Eva Dyer and Vidya Muthukumar]]> Eva Dyer and Vidya Muthukumar

]]> image/png 1686925542 2023-06-16 14:25:42 1686926007 2023-06-16 14:33:27
<![CDATA[ GTRI’s Warner Robins Field Office Wins Top Security Award ]]> 35832 The Georgia Tech Research Institute’s (GTRI) Warner Robins Field Office is among the organizations receiving the highest national recognition for industrial security from the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA).

The field office was among 19 facilities of cleared defense contractors across the United States to receive a James S. Cogswell Outstanding Industrial Security Achievement Award for 2022. The awardees were selected from among approximately 12,500 facilities approved for classified research.

The Warner Robins facility, located in middle Georgia near Robins Air Force Base, was one of two University Affiliated Research Centers (UARC) to receive a Cogswell Award in 2023. The award is the second won by the Warner Robins Field Office (WRFO), and was presented by DCSA on June 7 at the annual NCMS training seminar in New Orleans, LA.

“Winning this award could have only been made possible by the dedication and hard work of all WRFO assigned personnel, who put forth the effort of adhering to the required federal regulations and local policies and procedures in protecting this nation’s most sensitive information,” said Al Concord, Director of Georgia Tech’s Research Security. “Partnerships between site management (Lee Evans), the on-site security team (Dondi White and Robert LaBuda), Research Security personnel on campus, senior leadership, and colleagues at the DSCA played a major role in meeting the high security standards recognized by this award.”

The Cogswell Award was established to recognize the importance of partnerships between industry and government to ensure the protection of classified information, materials, and programs. The award is based on the following criteria:

Currently, some 60 GTRI researchers and staff work together to enhance the capabilities of Robins AFB – a significant economic engine for the middle Georgia region – in its national security mission, said Lee Evans, manager of the field office.

“Researchers in the WRFO work in the areas of electronic warfare; aircraft electronics upgrades; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); software development and systems engineering,” he noted. “Much of the work that GTRI performs for Robins AFB is joint between the WRFO and researchers located in Atlanta, including integrated support station development for EW suites, electronic countermeasures testing and analysis, EO/IR protection systems, equipment familiarization software, F-15 hardware and software support, and cybersecurity compliance for U.S. Air Force systems.”

Winning the Cogswell Award required not only deep knowledge of security and hard work, but also partnerships between field office staff and headquarters in Atlanta, said Dondi White, Facility Security Officer at WRFO.

“Receiving this award validates the tireless focus and efforts of all the Warner Robins Field Office personnel regarding security,” White said. “It is truly amazing to witness so many people not only demonstrate a deep understanding of security, but also the ability to apply that knowledge to real-world situations.”

Working in a field office with limited staff often requires many skills from a single specialist, added Robert LaBuda, Information Systems Security Manager/Assistant Facility Security Officer.

“I believe the biggest challenge of ensuring security of field offices is that all field offices only have one or two designated security professionals,” LaBuda said. “Administering an effective program requires those teams to wear many hats and be knowledgeable on numerous subjects. What makes the field offices of GTRI successful is our intense collaboration with each other and with HQ.”

Beyond the recognition for the work of security teams, the award demonstrates that Georgia Tech takes seriously its responsibility for security.

“Winning this award will continue to instill confidence in our valued U.S. government sponsors that WRFO and all of Georgia Tech will continue to excel in our excellence of governance, proper oversight, and adherence to the highest security standards to protect their sensitive information,” Concord said.

The team behind the award includes:

Warner Robins Field Office Personnel: Lee Evans, Field Office Manager; Dondi White, Facility Security Officer; Robert LaBuda, ISSM/Assistant FSO; James Herring, Sr. Research Engineer; Harriet Sheffield, Security (Retired).

GTRI Home Office Personnel: Al Concord, Director, Research Security; Jon Riling, Sr. Associate Director, Research Security; Ida Brown, Associate Director, Research Security; Dannie Lyvers, Insider Threat Program Sr. Official; Phu Le, Sr. Information Systems Security Manager; Renee Gourdine, Research Security Manager Sr.; Rupert Simon, Research Security Materials Manager; Richard Sharp, Research Security Manager; Shoji Harris, Research Associate II; Solomon Nelson, ISSO; Terry Culver, Research Security Specialist; Jorge Boyzo, Research Security Coordinator II; Tyrin Dowdell, Research Security Coordinator II; Corey Hightower, Research Security Specialist Sr.

 

Writer: John Toon (john.toon@gtri.gatech.edu)
GTRI Communications
Georgia Tech Research Institute
Atlanta, Georgia

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is the nonprofit, applied research division of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Founded in 1934 as the Engineering Experiment Station, GTRI has grown to more than 2,900 employees, supporting eight laboratories in over 20 locations around the country and performing more than $800 million of problem-solving research annually for government and industry. GTRI's renowned researchers combine science, engineering, economics, policy, and technical expertise to solve complex problems for the U.S. federal government, state, and industry.

]]> Michelle Gowdy 1 1687443146 2023-06-22 14:12:26 1687443540 2023-06-22 14:19:00 0 0 news The Warner Robins Field Office has been awarded the James S. Cogswell Award for outstanding industrial security achievement. The Cogswell Award was established in 1966 and is named in honor of the late Air Force Col. James S. Cogswell, who was the first chief of the unified office of Industrial Security. Col. Cogswell is responsible for the underlying principle of the Industrial Security Program. That principle is the need for a true partnership between industry and government to ensure the protection of classified information, materials, and programs.

]]>
2023-06-22T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-22T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-22 00:00:00 (Interim) Director of Communications

Michelle Gowdy

Michelle.Gowdy@gtri.gatech.edu

404-407-8060

]]>
671009 671009 image <![CDATA[GTRI's Warner Robins Field Office]]> GTRI's Warner Robins Field Office is among the organizations recently receiving a Cogswell Award for industrial security. The award was presented at the annual NCMS training seminar. (Photo courtesy of DCSA)

]]> image/jpeg 1687442307 2023-06-22 13:58:27 1687443134 2023-06-22 14:12:14
<![CDATA[Scientists Unearth 20 Million Years of ‘Hot Spot’ Magmatism Under Cocos Plate]]> 34528 Ten years ago, Samer Naif made an unexpected discovery in Earth’s mantle: a narrow pocket, proposed to be filled with magma, hidden some 60 kilometers beneath the seafloor of the Cocos Plate.

Mantle melts are buoyant and typically float toward the surface — think underwater volcanoes that erupt to form strings of islands. But Naif’s imaging instead showed a clear slice of semi-molten rock: low-degree partial melts, still sandwiched at the base of the plate some 37 miles beneath the ocean floor.

Then, the observation provided an explanation for how tectonic plates can gradually slide, lubricated by partial melting. The study also “raised several questions about why magma is stored in a thin channel — and where the magma originated from,” says Naif, an assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Fellow researchers went on to share competing interpretations for the cause of the channel — including studies that argued against magma being needed to explain the observation.

So Naif went straight to the source.

“I basically went on a multiyear hunt, akin to a Sherlock Holmes detective story, looking for clues of mantle magmas that we first observed in the 2013 Nature study,” he says. “This involved piecing together evidence from several independent sources, including geophysical, geochemical, and geological (direct seafloor sampling) data.”

Now, the results of that search are detailed in a new Science Advances article, “Episodic intraplate magmatism fed by a long-lived melt channel of distal plume origin”, authored by Naif and researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey at Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, Northern Arizona University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and GNS Science of Lower Hutt, New Zealand.

Zeroing in

A relatively young oceanic plate — some 23 million years old — the Cocos Plate traces down the western coast of Central America, veering west to the Pacific Plate, then north to meet the North American Plate off the Pacific coast of Mexico.

Sliding between these two plates caused the devastating 1985 Mexico City earthquake and the 2017 Chiapas earthquake, while similar subduction between the Cocos and Caribbean plates resulted in the 1992 Nicaragua tsunami and earthquake, and the 2001 El Salvador earthquakes.

Scientists study the edges of these oceanic plates to understand the history and formation of volcanic chains — and to help researchers and agencies better prepare for future earthquakes and volcanic activity.

It’s in this active area that Naif and fellow researchers recently set out to document a series of magmatic intrusions just beneath the seafloor, in the same area that the team first detected the channel of magma back in 2013.

Plumbing the depths

For the new study, the team combined geophysical, geochemical, and seafloor drilling results with seismic reflection data, a technique used to image layers of sediments and rocks below the surface. “It helps us to see the geology where we cannot see it with our own eyes,” Naif explains.

First, the researchers observed an abundance of widespread intraplate magmatism. “Volcanism where it is not expected,” Naif says, “basically away from plate boundaries: subduction zones and mid-ocean ridges.”

Think Hawaii, where “a mantle plume of hot, rising material melts during its ascent, and then forms the Hawaii volcanic chain in the middle of the Pacific Ocean,” just as with the Cocos Plate, where the team imaged the volcanism fed by magma at the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary — the base of the sliding tectonic plates.

“Below it is the convecting mantle,” Naif adds. “The tectonic plates are moving around on Earth's surface because they are sliding on the asthenosphere below them.”

The researchers also found that this channel below the lithosphere is regionally extensive — over 100,000 square kilometers — and is a “long-lived feature that originated from the Galápagos Plume,” a mantle plume that formed the volcanic Galápagos islands, supplying melt for a series of volcanic events across the past 20 million years, and persisting today.

Importantly, the new study also suggests that these plume-fed melt channels may be widespread and long-lived sources for intraplate magmatism itself — as well as for mantle metasomatism, which happens when Earth’s mantle reacts with fluids to form a suite of minerals from the original rocks.

Connecting the (hot spot) dots

“This confirms that magma was there in the past — and some of it leaked through the mantle and erupted near the seafloor,” Naif says, “in the form of sill intrusions and seamounts: basically volcanoes located on the seafloor.”

The work also provides compelling supporting evidence that magma could still be stored in the channel. “More surprising is that the erupted magma has a chemical fingerprint that links its source to the Galápagos mantle plume.”

“We learned that the magma channel has been around for at least 20 million years, and on occasion some of that magma leaks to the seafloor where it erupts volcanically,” Naif adds. 

The team’s identified source of the magma, the Galápagos Plume, “is more than 1,000 kilometers away from where we detected this volcanism. It is not clear how magma can stay around in the mantle for such a long time, only to leak out episodically.”

Plume hunters wanted

The evidence that the team compiled is “really quite subtle and requires a detailed and careful study of a suite of seafloor observations to connect the dots,” Naif says. “Basically, the signs of such volcanism, while they are quite clear here, also require high resolution data and several different types of data to be able to detect such subtle seafloor features.”

So, “if we can see such subtle clues of volcanism here,” Naif explains, “it means a similar, careful analysis of high resolution data in other parts of the seafloor may lead to similar discoveries of volcanism elsewhere, caused by other mantle plumes.”

“There are numerous mantle plumes dotted across the planet. There are also numerous seamounts — at least 100,000 of them! — covering the seafloor, and it is anyone’s guess how many of them formed in the middle of the tectonic plates because of magma sourced from distant mantle plumes that leaked to the surface.”

Naif looks forward to continuing that search, from seafloor to asthenosphere.

 

###

Funding: National Science Foundation: OCE-0625178, U.S. Science Support Program

Citation: DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.add3761

About Georgia Tech 

The Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, is one of the top public research universities in the U.S., developing leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition.

The Institute offers business, computing, design, engineering, liberal arts, and sciences degrees. Its more than 45,000 undergraduate and graduate students, representing 50 states and more than 148 countries, study at the main campus in Atlanta, at campuses in France and China, and through distance and online learning.

As a leading technological university, Georgia Tech is an engine of economic development for Georgia, the Southeast, and the nation, conducting more than $1 billion in research annually for government, industry, and society.

]]> jhunt7 1 1686945220 2023-06-16 19:53:40 1687281200 2023-06-20 17:13:20 0 0 news A team of scientists led by Georgia Tech have observed past episodic intraplate magmatism and corroborated the existence of a partial melt channel at the base of the Cocos Plate. Situated 60 kilometers beneath the Pacific Ocean floor, the magma channel covers more than 100,000 square kilometers, and originated from the Galápagos Plume more than 20 million years ago, supplying melt for multiple magmatic events — and persisting today.

]]>
2023-06-20T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-20T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-20 00:00:00 Writer:
Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech
 

]]>
670990 670992 670991 670989 670990 image <![CDATA[Mantle plumes, shown in red, have been identified around the world. (Ingo Wölbern, via Wikimedia Commons)]]> Mantle plumes, shown in red, have been identified around the world. (Ingo Wölbern, via Wikimedia Commons)

]]> image/jpeg 1686945795 2023-06-16 20:03:15 1686945795 2023-06-16 20:03:15
670992 image <![CDATA[Samer Naif, left, with fellow researchers in the field (offshore New Zealand, for a separate research study). ]]> Samer Naif, left, with fellow researchers in the field (offshore New Zealand, for a separate research study).

]]> image/jpeg 1686946709 2023-06-16 20:18:29 1686946709 2023-06-16 20:18:29
670991 image <![CDATA[Regional topographic relief map. (Naif et al)]]> From the study: The Cocos and Nazca plates are formed at the EPR and the GSC. The Galápagos Triple Junction (GTJ) trace marks the boundary between EPR- and GSC-derived oceanic crusts. The Galápagos Plume is currently centered beneath the Galápagos Islands 200 km south of the GSC and generates two hot spot tracks, the Cocos Ridge and the Carnegie Ridge.

]]> image/jpeg 1686946437 2023-06-16 20:13:57 1686946437 2023-06-16 20:13:57
670989 image <![CDATA[A figure showing the Earth relief around the Galapagos islands, which shows the effects of the mantle plume. (Wikimedia Commons)]]> A figure showing the Earth relief around the Galapagos islands, which shows the effects of the mantle plume. The data are from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission and this figure was produced in PyGMT. (Wikimedia Commons)

]]> image/jpeg 1686945657 2023-06-16 20:00:57 1686945657 2023-06-16 20:00:57
<![CDATA[Plumes of Hot Material Near Earth's Core Grease Way for Moving Slabs of Earth]]> <![CDATA[Surfacing New Clues: Water’s Impact in Undersea Earthquakes]]>
<![CDATA[Spring 2023 IEN Seed Grant Winners Announced]]> 34760 The Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology (IEN) at Georgia Tech has announced the Spring 2023 Core Facility Seed Grant winners. The primary purpose of this program is to give first- and second-year graduate students in diverse disciplines working on original and unfunded research in micro- and nanoscale projects the opportunity to access the most advanced academic cleanroom space in the Southeast. In addition to accessing the labs' high-level fabrication, lithography, and characterization tools, the awardees will have the opportunity to gain proficiency in cleanroom and tool methodology and access the consultation services provided by research staff members in IEN. Seed Grant awardees are also provided travel support to present their research at a scientific conference.

In addition to student research skill development, this biannual grant program gives faculty with novel research topics the ability to develop preliminary data to pursue follow-up funding sources. The Core Facility Seed Grant program is supported by the Southeastern Nanotechnology Infrastructure Corridor (SENIC), a member of the National Science Foundation’s National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI).

Since the start of the grant program in 2014, 86 projects from ten different schools in Georgia Tech’s Colleges of Engineering and Science, as well as the Georgia Tech Research Institute and three other universities, have been seeded.

The four winning projects in this round were awarded IEN cleanroom and lab access time to be used over the next year. In keeping with the interdisciplinary mission of IEN, the projects that will be enabled by the grants include research in biomedical devices, nuclear engineering, phase change materials, and environmental engineering.

The Spring 2023 IEN Core Facility Seed Grant Award winners are:

Direct Lithography Micro-Optic 3D Lightfield Endoscope Module
PI: Shu Jia
Student: Corey Zheng
Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering

Organic Copolymer Semiconductor for Direct Detection of Ionizing Radiation
PI: Anna Erickson
Student: Shae Cole
George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering (Nuclear and Radiological Engineering Program)

Investigating Phase Transformations in 2D Materials via in situ TEM Biasing Experiments
PI: Josh Kacher
Student: Alex Butler
School of Materials Science and Engineering

Development of Interdigitated Electrodes-Based Antimicrobial Surfaces to Prevent Biofilms
PI: Xing Xie
Student: Feifei Liu
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering

 

The Southeastern Nanotechnology Infrastructure Corridor, a member of the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure, is funded by NSF Grant ECCS-2025462.

]]> Laurie Haigh 1 1686841273 2023-06-15 15:01:13 1686845347 2023-06-15 16:09:07 0 0 news Four Interdisciplinary Projects to Receive IEN Technical Support and Facility Access

]]>
2023-06-15T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-15T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-15 00:00:00 Laurie Haigh

]]>
<![CDATA[New Summer Internship Program for High School Students]]> 27513 This summer, five students in Georgia will be participating in the Institute for People and Technology’s (IPaT) inaugural summer research program at Georgia Tech specifically designed for high school students. Students participating in the summer 2023 inaugural class include:


Nekele Hayes is a high school junior and while the other students are seniors in high school.
Nathan Williams, a Dekalb County school teacher, is onsite helping to support the program.

The goal of IPaT’s high school summer internship program is to expose high school students interested in careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to ongoing research at the Institute for People and Technology. Project areas will include Esports, augmented reality/cognitive aid design, and technologies for aging in place (Aware Home). 

The team of IPaT faculty and staff members supporting the program includes:

 

 

]]> Walter Rich 1 1686837142 2023-06-15 13:52:22 1686837241 2023-06-15 13:54:01 0 0 news This summer, five students in Georgia will be participating in the Institute for People and Technology’s (IPaT) inaugural summer research program at Georgia Tech specifically designed for high school students.

]]>
2023-06-15T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-15T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-15 00:00:00 Walter Rich

]]>
670982 670982 image <![CDATA[Image copy-cropped.jpg]]> High School students participating in the summer 2023 inaugural class.

]]> image/jpeg 1686837149 2023-06-15 13:52:29 1686837149 2023-06-15 13:52:29
<![CDATA[Melkote Awarded 2023 SME Gold Medal]]> 27513 Shreyes N. Melkote, who holds the Morris M. Bryan, Jr. Professorship in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, won the 2023 SME Gold Medal award which recognizes outstanding service to the manufacturing engineering profession in technical communications through published literature, technical writings, or lectures.

SME is a nonprofit association committed to advancing widespread adoption of manufacturing technologies and developing North America’s talent and capabilities. He was among seven 2023 SME International Honor Award winners are recognized for their significant contributions to manufacturing in the areas of manufacturing technologies, processes, technical writing, education, research and management, and service to SME. The 2023 SME International Awards Gala was held on June 5 at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester, Michigan.

Melkote also serves as executive director of the Novelis Innovation Hub at Georgia Tech and as associate director of the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute. Melkote’s research focuses on the science and technology of manufacturing processes, industrial robotics for manufacturing, and data-driven methods for cyber manufacturing.

For over six decades, SME’s International Honor Awards have identified professionals whose bodies of work have led to critical breakthroughs and advancements in manufacturing technologies, processes, and education as well as honored members for their volunteerism.

“These seven professionals are among the most accomplished thought leaders in manufacturing, and I’m proud to acknowledge they also hold membership in SME,” said Bob Willig, executive director and CEO of SME. “Though their backgrounds are varied, all share a penchant for continuous improvement where status quo just doesn’t cut it.”

Melkote has published over 280 technical papers on these topics, has one U.S. patent and has successfully transitioned technology to industry. Melkote is a recipient of the SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award, the ASME Blackall Machine Tool and Gage Award and several best paper awards. He served as president of SME's North American Manufacturing Research Institution (NAMRI) from 2014-15, and as ASME Swanson fellow and assistant director for Technology at the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office at NIST from 2015-16. Melkote is a fellow of SME, ASME and CIRP and has been a SME member since 1994.

SME 2023 International Honor Award Recipients:

]]> Walter Rich 1 1686682479 2023-06-13 18:54:39 1686682572 2023-06-13 18:56:12 0 0 news Shreyes N. Melkote, who holds the Morris M. Bryan, Jr. Professorship in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, won the 2023 SME Gold Medal award which recognizes outstanding service to the manufacturing engineering profession in technical communications through published literature, technical writings, or lectures.

]]>
2023-06-13T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-13T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-13 00:00:00 Walter Rich

]]>
670977 670977 image <![CDATA[1686089878741.jpeg]]> Shreyes N. Melkote won the 2023 SME Gold Medal award which recognizes outstanding service to the manufacturing engineering profession in technical communications through published literature, technical writings, or lectures.

]]> image/jpeg 1686682490 2023-06-13 18:54:50 1686682490 2023-06-13 18:54:50
<![CDATA[GTRI Researchers Support Execution of Multinational Training Exercise in Alaska]]> 35832 GTRI Researchers from across multiple Labs supported the Northern Edge 2023 (NE23-1) training exercise in Alaska from May 8 to May 19. The training exercise took place at the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC).

Northern Edge 2023 involved thousands of U.S. service members, five ships and more than 150 aircraft at various locations in and around Alaska. The NE 23-1 contingency included service members from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Royal Air Force (UK), and Royal Australian Air Force. NE 23-1 provided the opportunity for U.S. military and allied personnel to sharpen their skills; practice tactics, techniques, and procedures; to improve command, control, and communication relationships; and develop cooperative plans and programs.

The large contingent of U.S. forces participants was joined by United Kingdom and Australian service members in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command exercise, which provided an opportunity for joint, multinational, and multi-domain operations designed to provide high-end, realistic warfighter training, develop and improve joint interoperability, and enhance the combat readiness of participating forces. U.S. alliances and partnerships remain a critical defense relationship and a central pillar of all nations’ national security, based on shared values and a common commitment to peace and security.

“NE23-1 is a strong example of multilateral cooperation and demonstrates the U.S. commitment to the region by building interoperability, advancing common interests and a commitment to our Allies and partners in ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” according to Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs.

GTRI researchers supported the exercise from multiple locations, including Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Eielson Air Force Base, among others. The exercise provided an opportunity for GTRI to showcase our talents and capabilities across multiple areas of air and ground systems research and development.

Great job to all!

 

Writer: Mike Naes, Orlando Field Office Manager (Reference 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

Photo: Senior Airman Jose Miguel Tamondong

 

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is the nonprofit, applied research division of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Founded in 1934 as the Engineering Experiment Station, GTRI has grown to more than 2,900 employees, supporting eight laboratories in over 20 locations around the country and performing more than $800 million of problem-solving research annually for government and industry. GTRI's renowned researchers combine science, engineering, economics, policy, and technical expertise to solve complex problems for the U.S. federal government, state, and industry.

]]> Michelle Gowdy 1 1686658062 2023-06-13 12:07:42 1686659712 2023-06-13 12:35:12 0 0 news GTRI Researchers from across multiple Labs supported the Northern Edge 2023 (NE23-1) training exercise in Alaska from May 8 to May 19. NE 23-1 provided the opportunity for U.S. military and allied personnel to sharpen their skills; practice tactics, techniques, and procedures; to improve command, control, and communication relationships; and develop cooperative plans and programs.

]]>
2023-06-13T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-13T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-13 00:00:00 (Interim) Director of Communications

Michelle Gowdy

Michelle.Gowdy@gtri.gatech.edu

404-407-8060

]]>
670974 670974 image <![CDATA[Multinational Training Exercise]]> Photo: Senior Airman Jose Miguel Tamondong

]]> image/png 1686657868 2023-06-13 12:04:28 1686658025 2023-06-13 12:07:05
<![CDATA[GTRI Looks to Use VOC Sensors to Prevent Aflatoxin Contamination in Peanut Plants]]> 35832 There’s more to peanuts than meets eye – or in this case, nostrils.  

All day long, peanut plants emit chemical scents in the form of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can provide insight into potential stressors such as drought and disease that could reduce crop yield and lead to significant losses for farmers and distributors.

One disease that is particularly worrisome is aflatoxin, a carcinogen generated by the fungus Aspergillus flavus. Aflatoxin is harmful to humans because it can contaminate crops in the field, at harvest, and during storage, and is more likely develop in conditions where plant water supply is unpredictable. According to recent estimates, aflatoxin takes as much as $126 million out of the U.S. peanut industry each year due, but current detection methods are costly and inefficient. Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) and University of Florida (UF) are working to change that.

“The aflatoxin detection process as a whole, from sample prep to analysis to developing a finalized data report, can be labor intensive, time intensive and expensive,” said Christopher Heist, a GTRI research scientist who is supporting the project. “Being able to better predict and detect aflatoxin earlier in the peanut production process will be critical to breaking that cycle.” 

VOCs can be likened to smells or fragrances that are distinct to each peanut plant. However, because the plants emit thousands of these smells, it can be difficult to pinpoint which scents indicate a potential aflatoxin infection. As a result, many farmers treat the entire field for infection, impacting both healthy and infected plants and losing money in the process.   

Some farms also outsource detection to third-party laboratories, which collect plant samples and transport them to a lab for an analysis using a technique known as high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). HPLC is an analytical chemistry technique used to separate, detect and quantify each component in a sample. 

“With HPLC, the labs have to get all the chemicals into a liquid state, run the liquid into a column, separate it, and then identify the chemicals using a detector,” explained Daniel Sabo, a GTRI senior research scientist who is leading the project. “From start to finish, that process can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.”  

GTRI has developed a collection technique that utilized glass rods called Twisters® that are coated with gas-absorbent material to capture VOCs so that they can be tested for potential aflatoxin contamination. In recent field tests, GTRI successfully demonstrated the Twisters® could capture VOCs to be analyzed for the detection of mild to severe drought stress and aflatoxin contamination in peanut plants, as well as aflatoxin contamination in peanut pods and nuts post-harvest.

The research team’s next steps are to standardize its VOC measurement process and develop low-cost sensor platforms that would allow farmers to test for aflatoxin in the field.

“What we’re trying to do is use the Twisters® to figure out what those key features or chemicals are that we need to be looking for in peanut plants,” said Sabo. “Then we could use that information to develop specialized sensors that test specifically for those chemicals.”

GTRI has partnered with the UF’s Agronomy Department to experiment with VOC collection methods in its outdoor field site, environmental chamber and greenhouse on its campus in Gainesville, Florida.

William Hammond, an assistant professor of plant ecophysiology in UF’s Agronomy Department, said UF’s expertise in plant ecophysiology, or the study of how plants interact with their environment, combined with GTRI’s knowledge in collecting and analyzing VOCs, could allow for earlier detection of aflatoxin formation in peanut plants. 

“Working towards early warning systems via VOC detection and/or better understanding the plant-environment interactions, could allow the industry to identify the risk of aflatoxin formation earlier than is presently possible,” Hammond said.

Looking ahead, Heist and Sabo said they expect robots to play a role in conducting targeted, in-the-field testing for farmers, which could further reduce costs and minimize the environmental impact of aflatoxin treatment. GTRI envisions farmers would use robotic systems to geotag locations where aflatoxins are most concentrated and direct the robots to apply fungicide only in those specific areas.

“It's hard to put a timeline on when this might happen, but it’s a very interesting area for us and we look forward to working with the many roboticists in our division to solve this challenge,” Heist said.

 

Writer: Anna Akins 
Photos: Sean McNeil 
GTRI Communications
Georgia Tech Research Institute
Atlanta, Georgia

 

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is the nonprofit, applied research division of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Founded in 1934 as the Engineering Experiment Station, GTRI has grown to more than 2,900 employees, supporting eight laboratories in over 20 locations around the country and performing more than $800 million of problem-solving research annually for government and industry. GTRI's renowned researchers combine science, engineering, economics, policy, and technical expertise to solve complex problems for the U.S. federal government, state, and industry.

]]> Michelle Gowdy 1 1681221079 2023-04-11 13:51:19 1686592397 2023-06-12 17:53:17 0 0 news There’s more to peanuts than meets eye – or in this case, nostrils. One disease that is particularly worrisome is aflatoxin, a carcinogen generated by the fungus Aspergillus flavus. Aflatoxin is harmful to humans because it can contaminate crops in the field, at harvest, and during storage, and is more likely develop in conditions where plant water supply is unpredictable. According to recent estimates, aflatoxin takes as much as $126 million out of the U.S. peanut industry each year due, but current detection methods are costly and inefficient. Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) and University of Florida (UF) are working to change that.

]]>
2023-04-03T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-03T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-03 00:00:00 (Interim) Director of Communications

Michelle Gowdy

Michelle.Gowdy@gtri.gatech.edu

404-407-8060

]]>
670496 670497 670496 image <![CDATA[GTRI Team Leading AOC Sensors Project]]> The GTRI team that is leading this project includes, from left to right: Senior Research Scientist Daniel Sabo, Senior Research Engineer Judy Song, and Research Scientist Christopher Heist. (Photo Credit: Sean McNeil, GTRI).

]]> image/jpeg 1681220360 2023-04-11 13:39:20 1681221046 2023-04-11 13:50:46
670497 image <![CDATA[GTRI's Judy Song Loading VOC Samples ]]> GTRI's Song loads VOC samples into an instrument that tests for the presence of aflatoxin (Photo Credit: Sean McNeil, GTRI).

]]> image/jpeg 1681222084 2023-04-11 14:08:04 1681222246 2023-04-11 14:10:46
<![CDATA[GTRI, Georgia Tech Launch Computer Science Pilot Program for Rural Georgia High Schools ]]> 35832 Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, data analytics and cybersecurity have taken the world by storm, and thanks to work being done by the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), they are making their way into high school curriculums in rural Georgia.

Georgia Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC) and STEM@GTRI have launched a pilot program for rural Georgia school districts that provides high schoolers with access to interactive modules in the areas of coding, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, sensors and data visualization. The participating school districts for the 2022-2023 academic year include Cartersville City, Chattooga County, Effingham County, Fayette County, Gordon County, Haralson County, Liberty County, and Walker County.

The initiative, called the Computer Science for Rural Georgia High Schools Pilot, launched in summer 2022 and has been supported with funding from the State of Georgia. Roughly 400 students have participated in the pilot to date and up to 600 are expected to participate in total.  

“This program is increasing the exposure of opportunities in computer science and fields in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for a wider range of students, which is pretty exciting for us,” said STEM@GTRI Director Leigh McCook.

The five modules, which include introduction to coding, advanced coding, principles of cybersecurity, sensors and data visualization, and foundations of artificial intelligence, were developed based on input from the participating school districts and tap into Tech’s areas of expertise. Each module is two weeks in duration and is taught virtually by a Georgia Tech faculty member in collaboration with the classroom teacher, who is in person.

For the introduction to coding class, students learned the basics of coding and then were able to develop and deploy code to the Georgia Tech Robotarium, which is a remotely accessible swarm robotics research platform that is free and open to anyone. The advanced coding class is based on EarSketch, a free educational programming environment developed at Georgia Tech that is designed to teach coding in two widely used languages, Python and JavaScript, through music composing and remixing.

The modules on cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and sensors and data visualization are aimed at addressing current workforce development needs in Georgia. 

With an economic impact of nearly $54 billion, Georgia’s technology sector accounts for 6% of the state’s total workforce, according to recent data from the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). Georgia’s estimated net tech employment for 2021 was 281,666 workers, a gain of 4,219 net new jobs year-over-year, according to CompTIA’s latest data.  

The number of software, programming, web and quality assurance (QA) occupations led the state for 2021, at 60,863. IT support specialists and repair technicians followed at 25,517; cybersecurity and systems engineers ranked third, at 24,076, per CompTIA.

After the week-long instruction concluded, students completed a project where they solved a real-life problem facing their communities with the technologies they learned about. Then, Tech faculty and students provided the teams with feedback on their projects. 

It’s a little bit like a Shark Tank environment, where the students receive professional feedback on their projects,” said CEISMC Director Lizanne DeStefano, who also serves as a professor of psychology at Georgia Tech.

Participating teachers said the pilot has given their students the opportunity to make a tangible connection to many valuable computer science topics. 

“Day one was awesome!,” said Stephanie A. Ratliff, a teacher at Chattooga High School. “I just can’t say thank you enough to GTRI and Georgia Tech for allowing us to be a part of this pilot venture.”

Gerald Nelms, a teacher at Bradwell Institute, a high school located in Liberty County, added: “My students were exposed to a wide world of possibilities that exist in computer science. We cannot wait for future collaborative efforts.”  

Once the pilot concludes at the end of the current fiscal year, DeStefano and McCook said they are eager to scale the program to more districts and create a resource repository for participating districts to draw from at any time. 

“At the very minimum, we will develop this into an educational resource and continue to host it on our websites,” DeStefano said. “If there is continued funding, then we would be interested in refining the five modules and offering them to a larger number of districts.”

STEM@GTRI is GTRI's K-12 outreach program. Funded by the State of Georgia, the mission of STEM@GTRI is to inspire and engage Georgia educators and students by providing access to experts in STEM fields. CEISMC is a unit with Tech’s Office of the Provost that serves as the primary connection point between faculty and students and the preK-12 STEM education community.

 

Writer: Anna Akins 
Designer: Toya Ejike 
Photo Credit: CEISMC 
GTRI Communications
Georgia Tech Research Institute
Atlanta, Georgia

 

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is the nonprofit, applied research division of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Founded in 1934 as the Engineering Experiment Station, GTRI has grown to more than 2,900 employees, supporting eight laboratories in over 20 locations around the country and performing more than $800 million of problem-solving research annually for government and industry. GTRI's renowned researchers combine science, engineering, economics, policy, and technical expertise to solve complex problems for the U.S. federal government, state, and industry.

]]> Michelle Gowdy 1 1681219432 2023-04-11 13:23:52 1686592291 2023-06-12 17:51:31 0 0 news Georgia Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC) and STEM@GTRI have launched a pilot program for rural Georgia school districts that provides high schoolers with access to interactive modules in the areas of coding, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, sensors and data visualization. The participating school districts for the 2022-2023 academic year include Cartersville City, Chattooga County, Effingham County, Fayette County, Gordon County, Haralson County, Liberty County, and Walker County.

]]>
2023-04-06T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-06T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-06 00:00:00 (Interim) Director of Communications

Michelle Gowdy

Michelle.Gowdy@gtri.gatech.edu

404-407-8060

]]>
670493 670493 image <![CDATA[School District Map of Rural Computer Science Pilot for 2022-2023]]> A map showing the Georgia school districts that participated in the rural computer science pilot for the 2022-2023 academic year. (Design credit: Toya Ejike).

]]> image/png 1681217473 2023-04-11 12:51:13 1681218208 2023-04-11 13:03:28
<![CDATA[New Approaches, Including Artificial Intelligence, Could Boost Tornado Prediction]]> 35832 Research using data from a pair of geostationary satellites and a ground-based lightning mapping array could lead to more accurate forecasting of devastating tornadoes spinning off from severe storms. By analyzing dozens of factors, such as the electrical charge patterns within the storms and variations in lightning frequency, researchers are working to identify a “genetic profile” of the thunderstorms likely to produce tornadoes.

If they’re successful in using an artificial intelligence technique known as machine learning to associate potentially dozens of factors with the formation of tornadoes, the work could dramatically improve the detection of severe storms – and reduce false alarms.

“This is a great opportunity to apply machine learning to take advantage of the severe storm reports available for the past several years,” said Levi Boggs, a research scientist at the Severe Storms Research Center (SSRC) at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). “We can feed all of this information, potentially 30 or 40 different predictors, into the machine learning models and train them to identify patterns that we could potentially use to predict when tornadoes will form. Using AI, we can take on tasks that would be too challenging for humans alone.”

Using data from their ground-based lightning mapping array, the researchers also are studying “jumps” and “dives” in lightning activity to see how they may help predict the formation of tornadoes.

Overcoming the Challenges of Radar

Forecasters now rely on weather radar to identify tornadoes and predict which storms may spin them off. But in areas such as North Georgia, topographical features such as mountains can limit the ability to see lower portions of potentially-dangerous storms, while the time required for radars to update their views can cut into warning times. Electromagnetic interference also can create confusing radar results, and during large severe weather outbreaks stretching across hundreds of miles, there can be multiple storms that must be watched for signs of tornadic activity.

As a result, the development of tornadoes can be missed, while false alarms may lead citizens to disregard warnings – or wait too long to seek shelter. Based on research conducted so far, Boggs believes warnings based on machine learning techniques could be significantly faster and more accurate – and offer the potential to automate the tracking of the storms.

“With radar-based methods, there can be a high false alarm rate, as much as 60 or 70 percent,” he said. “At the same time, the probability of detection can be as low as 50 or 60 percent, which means a lot of tornadoes are missed. With these machine-learning techniques, we expect to improve on both detection and false alarm rates.”

Training Machine Learning with Detailed Storm Reports

So far, researchers have trained their machine learning system on data from 62 tornadoes resulting from 40 different storms in Georgia. In the Peach State, tornadoes commonly pop up from squall lines of storms, though supercells – larger rotating behemoths more often seen in the Midwest – also bring tornadoes into the state.

Supercells can spawn more powerful tornadoes – EF3, EF4, and EF5 – which are more dangerous to humans and destructive to property. But squall line tornadoes can also be deadly, even if they create less powerful EF0, EF1, and EF2 tornadoes, and lines of storms capable of producing them may extend across multiple states.

“One of the main benefits of this machine learning technique is that by using data from the geostationary lightning mapper on the GOES satellite, you would be able to avoid the limitations of radar,” he said. “Using satellite data, you have a huge field of view without the terrain blockages, and you can detect tornadoes over a huge distance – potentially the entire continental United States.”

Using the technique, Boggs and his colleagues are evaluating as many as 40 different parameters to see which ones may be relevant to predicting tornado formation. Among them is the pattern of electrical charge within the storms, which he compares to a genetic profile.

“A typical thunderstorm may have two or three charge regions, but the supercells could have a dozen or more separate regions,” he said. “It’s really complicated to see what’s going on with the lightning because those complex charge structures will create different types of discharges. The flash rate can be just noisy.”

Despite the potential advantages of satellite tornado prediction, Boggs believes forecasters will likely continue to use existing radar techniques, supplementing them with new technology as it develops. GTRI has submitted proposals to funding organizations to continue testing the machine learning tool, which also could be useful to countries that lack the weather radar network available to forecasters in the United States.

Analyzing Lightning ‘Jumps’ and ‘Dives’

Satellite data and machine learning aren’t the only approaches SSRC researchers are using to identify where tornadoes and other severe weather will pop up.

For several years, GTRI has operated the ground-based North Georgia Lightning Mapping Array (NGLMA) that tracks lightning bursts in North Georgia, centered on the Atlanta metropolitan area. Researchers are using radio-frequency emissions recorded by the array to study lightning flashes in an effort to correlate “jumps” – increases in lightning occurrence – and “dives” – reductions in frequency – with the development of severe storms.

The ground-based array – one of several operating in the United States – provides information not available from satellites, so the two sources are complementary, providing both optical and radio-frequency data.

The array was deployed by John Trostel, director of the SSRC, and correlates data on electromagnetic energy produced by the lightning bursts with precise timing and location information. The network of 12 ground stations tracks both lightning that interacts with the ground as well as bursts that stay in the clouds – which account for 75 percent of all lightning – providing a detailed map of electrical charge in the atmosphere.

“What we are looking for is a rapid increase in how many flashes there are over a brief period of time, on the order of a couple of minutes,” said Jessica Losego, an SSRC research meteorologist who is using a NASA-developed algorithm to study the phenomena. “If you see a jump, you can feel somewhat confident that you’re going to soon have some type of severe weather that may include damaging wind, hail, or a tornado. Analyzing this can help with all modes of severe weather, not just tornadoes.”

Losego is among the weather researchers worldwide who are also studying dives, sudden declines in lightning rates, though it’s not yet clear how – and if – they may help forecasters. The dives in lightning activity may serve as yet another indicator of the strength of a storm and how it may be changing.

How Georgia’s Severe Weather Is Different

After a tornado killed a dozen people in North Georgia in 1998, the SSRC was created by the state of Georgia to develop improved means of providing early warning of tornadoes and severe storms. Beyond topographical issues, Georgia’s tornadoes can differ from those of neighboring states in other ways, Losego noted.

“A lot of our storms come through later in the day, which means there’s less sunlight to provide energy to the storms,” she said. “The storms may start in Mississippi early in the day and may fall apart by the time they get there, but they are still dangerous. Storms that arrive late in the day or evening can make it more difficult to warn citizens who may be asleep when tornadoes are detected.”

Data gathered by the NGLMA is shared with National Weather Service (NWS) forecasters in Peachtree City, providing an additional source of information for its forecasts.

“Our goal is to provide another tool that the NWS can use to provide more warning and have more confidence in that warning,” Losego said. “Data from our lightning mapping array goes directly into their systems, and we will share what we learn about using information from jumps and dives that could improve warnings to Georgia citizens.”

The NGLMA now covers North Georgia. Because the southern part of Georgia is out of the range of the NGLMA network and can have a different set of weather conditions, the researchers would like to establish a second array to track severe storms there.

Research Supports SSRC Goals

The SSRC was created through funding from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the state of Georgia to serve as a focal point for severe storm research in Georgia.

“The SSRC serves the state of Georgia by actively developing alternative methods for detecting and forecasting severe local storms and exploring improvements to existing storm prediction and sensor technology,” said Trostel. “We are utilizing the latest in machine learning, data analysis, and other technologies to support the goals of keeping Georgians safe from severe storms.”

 

Writer: John Toon (john.toon@gtri.gatech.edu)
GTRI Communications
Georgia Tech Research Institute
Atlanta, Georgia

 

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is the nonprofit, applied research division of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Founded in 1934 as the Engineering Experiment Station, GTRI has grown to more than 2,900 employees, supporting eight laboratories in over 20 locations around the country and performing more than $800 million of problem-solving research annually for government and industry. GTRI's renowned researchers combine science, engineering, economics, policy, and technical expertise to solve complex problems for the U.S. federal government, state, and industry.

 

]]> Michelle Gowdy 1 1684854201 2023-05-23 15:03:21 1686582149 2023-06-12 15:02:29 0 0 news Research using data from a pair of geostationary satellites and a ground-based lightning mapping array could lead to more accurate forecasting of devastating tornadoes spinning off from severe storms. By analyzing dozens of factors, such as the electrical charge patterns within the storms and variations in lightning frequency, GTRI researchers are working to identify a “genetic profile” of the thunderstorms likely to produce tornadoes.

]]>
2023-05-23T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-23T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-23 00:00:00 (Interim) Director of Communications

Michelle Gowdy

Michelle.Gowdy@gtri.gatech.edu

404-407-8060

]]>
670855 670855 image <![CDATA[Map of Lightning Jumps in Alabama and Georgia]]> Researchers studied lightning jumps and dives in long-track tornadoes that occurred in Alabama and Georgia in March 2021. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration image)

]]> image/jpeg 1684849577 2023-05-23 13:46:17 1684849742 2023-05-23 13:49:02
<![CDATA[Hybrid Ceramic-Polymer Batteries Offer Safety, High-Performance Potential]]> 35832 Future generations of solid-state lithium-ion batteries based on hybrid ceramic-polymer electrolytes could offer the potential for greater energy storage, faster recharging, and higher electrochemical and thermal stability – while overcoming many of the technology challenges associated with earlier solid-state batteries.

At the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), researchers are working to expand their fundamental understanding of these hybrid electrolytes, the component that transfers charge between electrodes as the batteries power systems such as electric vehicles (EVs) – and are then recharged. Lithium-ion batteries widely used in today’s EVs rely on liquid electrolytes, which are susceptible to thermal runaway and fire if they are damaged.

“We’ve shown that we can fabricate these hybrid, solid-state electrolytes and put them into coin cells to demonstrate high performance and high stability,” said Ilan Stern, a principal research scientist who leads battery research at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), Georgia Tech’s applied research organization. “We’ve laid the foundation to show that we can develop innovations in solid-state batteries based on these ceramic-polymer hybrids. Our next step is to integrate the technology into pouch cells, the type of batteries used in electric vehicles.”

The GTRI researchers are working with colleagues from Georgia Tech’s George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, School of Materials Science and Engineering, and the Strategic Energy Institute on research into an electrolyte known as lithium aluminum germanium phosphate (LAGP). A polymer component known as poly DOL surrounds the LAGP electrolyte, providing internal ionic conductivity that goes well beyond existing ceramic electrolytes – without the disadvantages of flammable liquids. The fabrication team and academic collaboration are led by Jinho Park, a GTRI research scientist. Synthesis of the LAGP ceramic is led by Jason Nadler, a GTRI principal research scientist.

Advantages of Hybrid Ceramic-Polymer Materials

Stern describes traditional ceramic electrolytes as similar to hard candy – think M&Ms – poured into the space between the battery anode and cathode. The hard ceramics provide safety and energy storage advantages, but are limited in how much they contact the electrodes to transfer ionic charges. Adding the polymer dramatically improves the interfacial contact between the electrodes and electrolyte while maintaining most advantages of the ceramics.

“The electrochemical stability, thermal stability and mechanical stability will be the main differences between the liquid electrolytes and these hybrids,” he said. “We’re really taking the best of both worlds. As solid-state batteries enable the use of a Li-metal anode, the ceiling for capacity is significantly higher, so we should ultimately see a dramatic increase in energy density compared to the conventional Li-ion batteries based on the liquid electrolytes.”

The hybrid ceramic-polymer electrolyte looks like a hockey puck, but will be more resistant to damage than a pure ceramic. “It will certainly be much more forgiving than a ceramic,” Stern said. “Even if micro-cracks develop, the polymer will provide the scaffolding to ensure integrity, holding it together structurally.”

Moving Ahead with Solid-State Batteries

Solid-state batteries are not yet in commercial use, but at least one EV manufacturer plans to put them into vehicles within the next few years as battery manufacturers continue to make improvements. But the technology is far less mature than existing liquid-electrolyte systems, inviting innovations such as the hybrid system the Georgia Tech researchers are working on.

The research is being supported, in part, by a $1.1 million, three-year independent research and development commitment from GTRI. “With the unprecedented federal and state investment made in Georgia for electric vehicles, battery manufacturing, and recycling, GTRI continues to build strong collaborations to help identify gaps and new business models – and to forecast the number and types of recycling plants necessary to respond to future market demands,” Stern added.

Based on encouraging results with small, laboratory-scale batteries, the researchers plan to expand their work into batteries that could be fabricated by the hundreds or thousands for further development and testing – and, ultimately, large-scale manufacturing. “As we increase our efficiency with fabrication, manufacturing costs will come down, while supply chain integration and the sustainability goals of reusability and recycling will have a big impact,” Stern said.

Model-Based System Engineering Guides the Future

Beyond demonstrating the potential for this technology, the research team also is modeling the operation of the cells to help guide future technology development and assessing the potential life cycle of the hybrid electrolyte solid-state batteries. Among the future goals are integrating the technology into supply chains that would not rely on materials sourced from conflict areas of the world, and evaluating new electrode materials such as lithium metal and silicon to replace standard graphite.

“The objective of the model-based system engineering (MBSE) task is to model expert knowledge ranging from the fabrication level to the system integration to unveil opportunities for research as well as new business models,” said Paula Gomez, a GTRI senior research engineer, and the modeling team lead.

The research team is developing models in three main areas: (1) fabrication and performance; (2) manufacturing process; and (3) reuse, refurbish, and recycling. Integrating these models involves evaluating battery efficiency and stability, cost of production, and energy consumption, as well as return on investment of recycling materials.

Though the advantages of solid-state electrolytes are very attractive, there are challenges ahead. A hybrid electrolyte system is more complicated to manufacture, and the electrical, mechanical, and chemical interactions between the materials must be thoroughly studied. “The more complexity you have, the more issues you have to understand,” Stern said.

Military and Economic Development Applications

GTRI is known for its support of national security through research sponsored by U.S. Department of Defense agencies. Stern expects the improved solid-state battery technology will ultimately find its way into military gear carried by soldiers and future generations of electrically powered military vehicles.

The work also supports economic development for the state of Georgia, which is rapidly becoming a hub for electric vehicle and battery manufacturing.

“Georgia is becoming the epicenter of the electrification revolution with vehicle makers such as Rivian and Hyundai, battery companies such as SK, FREYER Battery, and recyclers such as Ascend Elements,” Stern said. “Georgia Tech is contributing to the state’s economic development by helping drive that innovation.”

Battery Day Demonstrates Interest

A recent “Battery Day” held March 30 at Georgia Tech highlighted the broad research collaborations already underway. Led by Matthew McDowell, associate professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Materials Science and Engineering, the event attracted more than 230 energy researchers and industry participants.

Beyond those already mentioned, the hybrid battery project includes Michael Shearin, Richard Wise, John Hankinson, Matthew Swarts, Khatereh Hadi, Milad Navaei, and Jack Zentner from GTRI.

 

Writer: John Toon (john.toon@gtri.gatech.edu)
GTRI Communications
Georgia Tech Research Institute
Atlanta, Georgia

 

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is the nonprofit, applied research division of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Founded in 1934 as the Engineering Experiment Station, GTRI has grown to more than 2,900 employees, supporting eight laboratories in over 20 locations around the country and performing more than $800 million of problem-solving research annually for government and industry. GTRI's renowned researchers combine science, engineering, economics, policy, and technical expertise to solve complex problems for the U.S. federal government, state, and industry.

]]> Michelle Gowdy 1 1685539024 2023-05-31 13:17:04 1686580411 2023-06-12 14:33:31 0 0 news At the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), researchers are working to expand their fundamental understanding of solid-state lithium-ion batteries based on hybrid ceramic-polymer electrolytes, which could offer the potential for greater energy storage, faster recharging, and higher electrochemical and thermal stability – while overcoming many of the technology challenges associated with earlier solid-state batteries.

]]>
2023-05-31T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-31T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-31 00:00:00 (Interim) Director of Communications

Michelle Gowdy

Michelle.Gowdy@gtri.gatech.edu

404-407-8060

]]>
670903 670902 670903 image <![CDATA[GTRI All-solid-state Battery Project Team]]> Members of the all-solid-state battery project model-based system engineering team include (left to right) Milad Navaei, Gonzalo Vegas, Matthew Swarts, Khatereh Hadi, Ilan Stern, Jinho Park, Paula Gomez, John Hankinson and Jack Zentner. (Credit: Christopher Moore, GTRI)

]]> image/jpeg 1685538028 2023-05-31 13:00:28 1685538748 2023-05-31 13:12:28
670902 image <![CDATA[GTRI Team Presents the Results of Cell Performance Test]]> Jinho Park (center), fabrication team leader for the project, presents the results of cell performance test to Ilan Stern (right), project director; and Seung Woo Lee (left), professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering. (Credit: Christopher Moore, GTRI)

]]> image/jpeg 1685537783 2023-05-31 12:56:23 1685538007 2023-05-31 13:00:07
<![CDATA[GTRI Works to Enhance EV Battery Reuse and Recycling in Georgia ]]> 35832 Amid the surge in demand for lithium-ion batteries, which power everything from smartphones to electric vehicles (EVs), there is a greater need to properly recycle them. The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is working to optimize Georgia’s EV battery supply chain by developing cost- and energy-efficient methods to recover materials from spent batteries so that more of them can be reused – and pose fewer environmental risks.

Georgia is quickly emerging as a hub for the electronic transportation industry. According to data from the Georgia Department of Economic Development, since 2018, 35 EV-related projects have contributed $23 billion in investments in the state.

South Korea-based Hyundai Motor Group recently broke ground on its first fully dedicated EV manufacturing facility in Savannah’s Bryan County. The company has also teamed up with LG Energy Solution to invest $4.3 billion in building an EV battery cell manufacturing plant at the same location.

EV manufacturer and automotive technology company Rivian, which is based on Irvine, Calif., has announced a $5 billion investment in its second U.S. plant located east of Atlanta in Morgan and Walton Counties.

Hyundai’s new facility is expected to reach full production capacity at the end of 2025, with 30 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy anticipated to support the production of 300,000 EVs. Rivian, meanwhile, anticipates its Georgia plant will employ over 7,500 workers while producing up to 400,000 vehicles each year.

“This level of industry engagement in Georgia is unprecedented,” said Kevin Caravati, a GTRI principal research scientist, who is supporting this project. “The Hyundai plant, for example, could create tens of thousands of jobs in a very rural part of Georgia, which would be a step in the right direction for the entire state.”

The lithium-ion batteries that power EVs are seen as desirable over other battery technologies because of their high energy density, which allows electric cars to travel longer distances on a single charge. These types of batteries also have a low self-discharge rate, which means that the stored energy remains available for an extended period of time even when the vehicle is not in use. 

However, these batteries can easily turn into fire hazards – especially at the end of their life cycle. Very few batteries ever end up being recycled and those that do get recycled are often mishandled.   

“Currently, there are no recycling standards in place, which poses challenges for the entire supply chain,” said Milad Navaei, a GTRI senior research engineer, who is leading this project. “Our goal is to create circular economy for batteries in Georgia where we can reduce our dependence on raw materials that often come from overseas and can be very expensive.”  

Lithium-ion batteries use metals including lithium, nickel, manganese, and cobalt that are mined in locations such as Africa’s Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chile and Argentina. During the production process, the metals are combined with other materials to form the two key components of a battery cell – the cathode and the anode. Inside a battery, the cathode, which has a negative charge, and anode, which has a positive charge, interact to generate electrons that power the electronic device. Most lithium-ion batteries are currently made in China.  

Navaei noted that geopolitical sensitivities and lingering supply chain challenges in many of these regions makes GTRI’s work all the more crucial.

GTRI’s research consists of two parts: One, develop more advanced analytics capabilities for fleet management companies to monitor the health and performance of EV batteries, and two, optimize the recovery of raw materials from batteries at the end of their useful life.  

“The battery is the most important part of an EV, and it’s critical to know the battery’s state of health (SoH), which is the ratio of the present capacity to the initial capacity,” said Navaei. “Our goal is to utilize technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor the SoH of these batteries and estimate the life cycle, which heavily depends on the usage and the type of battery for its safe and reliable implementation in the next life application.”

GTRI aims to integrate these technologies into companies’ existing inventory management systems to streamline process management and reporting.

For the second part of the research, GTRI is utilizing a statistical technique known as parametric modeling to aggregate data about known behaviors and characteristics of EV batteries to help companies make more informed decisions about properly depowering them and repurposing their raw materials with minimal environmental impact.

“Developing a robust system-modeling approach to support our energy research is a primary focus of ours,” said GTRI Principal Research Scientist Ilan Stern, who is also supporting the project. “Since our ultimate goal is to utilize domestic sources in our supply chain, really the only way to do that is by building out strong recycling models to account for the fact that these companies are working with finite materials and many of them are coming from conflict zones.”

GTRI is working with a number of industry partners on this project, including many companies that participated in Georgia Tech Battery Day earlier this year. At the event, over 230 energy researchers and industry participants convened to discuss emerging opportunities in energy storage research. Some of the companies represented at the event included Hyundai Kia, Delta Airlines, Cox Automotive and Panasonic.

 

Writer: Anna Akins 
Photo Credit: iStock 
GTRI Communications
Georgia Tech Research Institute
Atlanta, Georgia

 

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is the nonprofit, applied research division of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Founded in 1934 as the Engineering Experiment Station, GTRI has grown to more than 2,900 employees, supporting eight laboratories in over 20 locations around the country and performing more than $800 million of problem-solving research annually for government and industry. GTRI's renowned researchers combine science, engineering, economics, policy, and technical expertise to solve complex problems for the U.S. federal government, state, and industry.

]]> Michelle Gowdy 1 1686151398 2023-06-07 15:23:18 1686580173 2023-06-12 14:29:33 0 0 news The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is working to optimize Georgia’s EV battery supply chain by developing cost- and energy-efficient methods to recover materials from spent batteries so that more of them can be reused – and pose fewer environmental risks.

]]>
2023-06-07T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-07T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-07 00:00:00 (Interim) Director of Communications

Michelle Gowdy

Michelle.Gowdy@gtri.gatech.edu

404-407-8060

]]>
670938 670938 image <![CDATA[GTRI's EV battery recycling efforts]]> GTRI's EV battery recycling efforts are crucial because many of the key minerals found in lithium-ion batteries are sourced from geopolitically sensitive regions across the globe (Photo Credit: iStock).

]]> image/jpeg 1686150352 2023-06-07 15:05:52 1686150650 2023-06-07 15:10:50
<![CDATA[Celebrating Inclusive Excellence: Janelle Cornwall Adapts and Advances]]> 35832 In transactional law, the goal most often is to avoid litigation. Transactional attorneys comb through contracts and other legal documents meticulously—dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” in an attempt to keep things sailing smoothly without any surprises. In life, however, there is continuous change and disruption. Often, one just has to imbue oneself with the skills and perspicacity to navigate the sea changes that occur.

Janelle Cornwall, Assistant Chief Counsel, GTRI Transactions, Office of the General Counsel is savvy about transactional law and overcoming obstacles and change.

“I’ve faced several obstacles in both my education and career,” said Janelle.

“Obstacles have been a part of both my education and career,” Janelle shared. “However, they have served as stepping stones, propelling me towards growth and resilience.”

The Stanford University alumna, who studied Sociology and Psychology, and later, transactional law at Emory Law School, joined GTRI on Nov. 1, 2022. As the Assistant Chief Counsel, her role is pivotal to GTRI's operations.

"My job involves providing advice and counsel to GT/GTRI leadership, management, and contracting officers on GTRI transactions," Janelle explained. "It's about understanding the impact of Georgia procurement laws and regulations on the Institute’s transactions. I also prepare and review contracts, such as MOUs, NDAs, and other legal agreements and documents impacting GTRI."

Her journey was not without challenges. The most influential mentor in her life, her mother, stood by her through the stormy seas of change.

The New York native is the offspring of Caribbean immigrants. Her family moved to Atlanta suburb Stone Mountain during her high school years. 

One of Janelle's first hurdles was the realization that her initial college major choice of pre-med wasn't the right fit. "My grades suffered as I struggled to understand certain concepts that came easily to my classmates," she recalled. "I finally decided to pause and reflect on my skill strengths – writing, analysis, research, and problem-solving. With this renewed focus, I decided to pursue a career in law."

That choice proved to be the right one. She flourished as a law student. Her time in college included a term as Executive Managing Editor of the Emory (University) International Law Review.

A new challenge surfaced with the 2008 recession just as she embarked on her law school journey. "The job market was incredibly difficult to navigate," she said. "I applied to hundreds of jobs, rarely hearing back from employers. It was an emotionally draining experience."

As an inspiration in her life, Janelle acknowledges prominent political figure and social justice advocate Stacey Abrams. "Her tenacity and dedication to social equity have been truly inspiring," Janelle expressed.

Janelle's own tenacity and dedication have enabled her to rise above the tides of personal and professional strife.

"I’m fortunate to say that I’ve attained many of my personal and professional goals," she said.

She's a homeowner and is passionate about her family, including her dog, Milo, her home, music, pop culture, and social equity--like her role model Abrams.

In the future, Janelle plans to join Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) at GTRI, as she believes they can foster a sense of belonging. "I plan on joining a few ERGs so that I can start to build a greater sense of belonging at GTRI as a new employee," she said.

Janelle does have less taxing goals and pursuits as well: "In my free time outside of work, I enjoy going to concerts, listening to podcasts, hiking up/around Stone Mountain, and spending time with my family, friends, and dog.

"Post-COVID, my personal goal is to travel more, especially to places on my bucket list."

Janelle Cornwall’s story is a testament to resilience and the power of adaptation. Despite the challenges she faced in her educational and professional journey, her ability to navigate change and overcome adversity has led her to a rewarding early career path at GTRI.

Her story is exemplary for aspiring attorneys and current and future GTRI employees alike.

Writer: Christopher Weems
Photographer: Christopher J. Moore
GTRI Communications
Georgia Tech Research Institute
Atlanta, Georgia

 

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is the nonprofit applied research division of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Founded in 1934 as the Engineering Experiment Station, GTRI has grown to more than 2,900 employees, supporting eight laboratories in over 20 locations around the country and performing more than $800 million of problem-solving research annually for government and industry. GTRI's renowned researchers combine science, engineering, economics, policy, and technical expertise to solve complex problems for the U.S. federal government, state, and industry.

]]> Michelle Gowdy 1 1686153287 2023-06-07 15:54:47 1686579995 2023-06-12 14:26:35 0 0 news Janelle Cornwall, Assistant Chief Counsel, GTRI Transactions, Office of the General Counsel is savvy about transactional law and overcoming obstacles and change. Her story is a testament to resilience and the power of adaptation. Despite the challenges she faced in her educational and professional journey, her ability to navigate change and overcome adversity has led her to a rewarding early career path at GTRI.

]]>
2023-06-07T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-07T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-07 00:00:00 (Interim) Director of Communications

Michelle Gowdy

Michelle.Gowdy@gtri.gatech.edu

404-407-8060

]]>
670939 670939 image <![CDATA[Janelle Cornwall, Assistant Chief Counsel, GTRI Transactions, Office of the General Counsel ]]> Janelle Cornwall’s story is a testament to the resilience and the power of adaptation.

(Photo Credit: GTRI Photographer, Christopher Moore)

]]> image/jpeg 1686151466 2023-06-07 15:24:26 1686151816 2023-06-07 15:30:16
<![CDATA[Filler to Serve as Interim Executive Director of the Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology]]> 34760 Effective immediately, Michael Filler will serve as interim executive director of the Georgia Tech Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology (IEN). Filler is a professor and the Traylor Faculty Fellow in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and he has served as IEN’s associate director for research programs since January 2022.

“As a leader in the field of scalable electronics manufacturing and having served as associate director of IEN, Professor Filler is in an excellent position to take on this new role,” said Julia Kubanek, professor and vice president for interdisciplinary research at Georgia Tech. “He will lead IEN in continuing to support Georgia Tech faculty pursuing microelectronics and nanotechnology-sponsored research programs and collaborations. This is especially important right now given current CHIPS Act-related funding and workforce development opportunities.”

As associate director of research programs, Filler nurtured research opportunities aligned with Georgia Tech’s Strategic Plan and the Research Next missions and goals; catalyzed new interdisciplinary research communities in the area of electronics and nanotechnology; managed the portfolio of interdisciplinary research centers and programs associated with IEN; and developed strategies for industry engagement with IEN and its centers and programs.

Filler succeeds Oliver Brand who tragically passed away in April 2023 after serving as IEN’s executive director for more than a decade. During Brand’s tenure as executive director, IEN expanded its core facilities and research programs and grew to include more than 200 faculty members at Georgia Tech from multiple colleges and schools. Brand was also instrumental in securing the coordinating office for the NSF-supported National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure at Georgia Tech.

“I’m humbled and honored to take the helm of IEN at this critical time,” said Filler. “I step into this role with profound respect for the talent, dedication, and excellence of the IEN staff, faculty, and students. I am not only committed to furthering Oliver’s legacy but also capitalizing on the opportunities brought by the CHIPS Act to support the campus community and shape the future of electronics and nanotechnology."

Filler’s research focuses on the synthesis, understanding, and manufacturing of semiconductor nanowire materials and devices to enable “hyper-scalable” electronic systems. Prior to joining the IEN leadership team, Filler co-directed the Community for Research on Active Surfaces and Interfaces (CRASI) as well as the Computational Skins for Multifunctional Objects and Systems (COSMOS) research programs.

Filler earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Cornell University and Stanford University, respectively, prior to completing postdoctoral studies at the California Institute of Technology. He has been recognized for his research and teaching with the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Georgia Tech Sigma Xi Young Faculty Award, CETL/BP Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, and as a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Environmental Chemistry Mentor.

]]> Laurie Haigh 1 1686235586 2023-06-08 14:46:26 1686239079 2023-06-08 15:44:39 0 0 news Filler is a professor and the Traylor Faculty Fellow in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and he has served as IEN’s associate director for research programs since January 2022.

]]>
2023-06-08T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-08T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-08 00:00:00 Laurie Haigh

]]>
670949 670949 image <![CDATA[Professor Michael Filler]]> image/png 1686238929 2023-06-08 15:42:09 1686238971 2023-06-08 15:42:51
<![CDATA[Eta Kappa Nu Awards Outstanding Teacher Awards to Naeemi and Krishna]]> 36172 On April 28, 2023, Azad Naeemi and Tushar Krishna were celebrated as the recipients of this year's Eta Kappa Nu (IEEE-HKN) Outstanding Teacher Awards.

HKN award recipients are determined by a majority vote of the graduating class of the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) undergraduate program. They recognize the central and crucial role of professors in training and motivating future electrical, computer and allied field student engineers.

Professor Naeemi received this year’s W. Marshall Leach/Eta Kappa Nu Outstanding Senior Teacher Award. Naeemi’s research crosses the boundaries of materials, devices, circuits, and systems investigating integrated circuits based on conventional and emerging nanoelectronic and spintronic devices and interconnects.

He holds the distinction of being the inaugural recipient of the IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society (SSCS) James D. Meindl Innovators Award. He has also received accolades such as the NSF CAREER Award, SRC Inventor Recognition Award, and multiple best paper awards at international conferences.

In recognition of his innovative use of educational technology, Professor Naeemi was honored by the Institute with the Class of 1934 Outstanding Innovative Use of Education Technology Award this year. His educational tools have greatly enhanced the learning experience of students studying quantum theory and semiconductor physics/devices worldwide.

Associate Professor Krishna was awarded the Richard M. Bass/Eta Kappa Nu Outstanding Junior Teacher Award. His research encompasses computer architecture, interconnection networks, networks-on-chip (NoC), and deep learning accelerators, with a particular emphasis on optimizing data movement in modern computing systems.

Krishna was inducted into the High-Performance Computer Architecture (HPCA) Hall of Fame in 2022, recognizing his significant contributions to the field. He has also been honored with the Class of 1940 Course Survey Teaching Effectiveness Award from Georgia Tech (2018) and the Roger P. Webb Outstanding Junior Faculty Award from the ECE (2021).

Naeemi and Krishna’s enduring impact on the School of ECE undergraduate program and the wider engineering community will forever be recognized with their names etched on the Eta Kappa Nu Outstanding Teacher Awards display in the Van Leer Building.

]]> dwatson71 1 1685712264 2023-06-02 13:24:24 1685727471 2023-06-02 17:37:51 0 0 news Professor Naeemi received this year’s W. Marshall Leach/Eta Kappa Nu Outstanding Teacher Award and Associate Professor Krishna was awarded the Richard M. Bass/Eta Kappa Nu Outstanding Junior Teacher Award.

]]>
2023-06-02T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-02T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-02 00:00:00 Dan Watson

]]>
670913 670913 image <![CDATA[Professors Azad Naeemi (left) and Tushar Krishna (right).]]> Professors Azad Naeemi (left) and Tushar Krishna (right).

]]> image/jpeg 1685711787 2023-06-02 13:16:27 1685711897 2023-06-02 13:18:17
<![CDATA[BBISS Initiative Leads Projects Selected]]> 27338 Ten projects have been chosen for the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems (BBISS) Initiative Leads program. Project themes include climate adaptation and mitigation solutions, innovation and social impact, computation and design approaches to sustainability, sustainable development, and conservation. BBISS Initiative Leads receive $10,000 in discretionary funds to advance their project.

The projects chosen involve 15 faculty members hailing from all 6 of the colleges at Georgia Tech. Several of the projects are also joint initiatives with other Georgia Tech Interdisciplinary Research Institutes (IDEAS, IPAT, and SEI), the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business, or the Office of Sustainability.

The Initiative Leads and projects are:

The Initiative Leads program has several overarching goals. BBISS aims to cultivate promising topics for future large-scale collaborative sustainability research, research translation, and/or high-impact outreach; to provide (mostly mid-career) faculty with leadership and community building opportunities; and to broaden and strengthen the BBISS sustainability community as a whole.

]]> Brent Verrill 1 1675955127 2023-02-09 15:05:27 1684870030 2023-05-23 19:27:10 0 0 news Ten projects have been chosen involving 15 faculty members hailing from all 6 colleges at Georgia Tech and the campus in Shenzhen, China.

]]>
2023-02-09T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-09T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-09 00:00:00 Brent Verrill, Research Communications Program Manager, BBISS

]]>
665595 665595 image <![CDATA[2023 BBISS Initiative Leads 4x4 Montage]]> image/jpeg 1675873722 2023-02-08 16:28:42 1677515770 2023-02-27 16:36:10
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech to Lead NASA Center on Lunar Research and Exploration]]> 36123 Georgia Tech researchers have been selected by NASA to lead a $7.5 million center that will study the lunar environment and the generation and properties of volatiles and dust. The Center for Lunar Environment and Volatile Exploration Research (CLEVER) will be led by Thomas Orlando, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

CLEVER is the successor to Orlando’s pioneering REVEALS (Radiation Effects on Volatiles and Exploration of Asteroids and Lunar Surfaces) center, and both are part of NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) program. 

REVEALS and CLEVER look ahead to the return of humans to the moon for sustained periods — a key part of NASA’s plan for space exploration in the coming decade. Volatiles such as water, molecular oxygen, methane, and hydrogen are crucial to supporting human activity on the moon. Dust is also important since the space-weathered particles can pose health effects to astronauts and hazards to the technology and hardware.

The interdisciplinary group of researchers supported by CLEVER will study how the solar wind and micrometeorites produce volatiles, research how ice and dust behave in the lunar environment, develop new materials to deal with potential dust buildup, and invent new analysis tools to support the upcoming crewed missions of the Artemis program.

 “The resources and knowledge that CLEVER will produce will be useful for the sustainable presence of humans on the moon,” Orlando says. “We have the correct mix of fundamental science and exploration — real, fundamental, ground-truth measurements; very good theory/modeling; and engineering — an easy mix with Georgia Tech and outside partners.” 

Orlando adds that CLEVER adopts a unique perspective on the challenges of understanding how to operate on Earth’s moon. “The atomic and molecular view of processes with angstrom distances and femtosecond time scales can help unravel what is happening on planetary spatial scales and geological time frames,” he says. “We can also translate our knowledge into materials, devices, and technology pretty quickly, and this is necessary if we want to help the Artemis astronauts.”

CLEVER includes investigators from Georgia Tech, University of Georgia, the Florida Space Institute, University of Hawaii, Auburn University, Space Sciences Institute, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, NASA Ames, NASA Kennedy Space Center, and partners in Italy and Germany. In addition to pursuing a blend of fundamental science and mission support, CLEVER will also emphasize the research and career development of students and young investigators, another important goal of the SSERVI system.

 

Writer: M.G. Finn

Art: Brice Zimmerman

]]> Catherine Barzler 1 1684440093 2023-05-18 20:01:33 1684783116 2023-05-22 19:18:36 0 0 news Georgia Tech researchers have been selected by NASA to lead a $7.5 million center that will study the lunar environment, and explore the generation and properties of volatiles and dust. 

]]>
2023-05-18T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-18T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-18 00:00:00 Catherine Barzler, Senior Research Writer/Editor

]]>
670844 670844 image <![CDATA[22CLEVER_GRAPHIC_1(300dpi).png]]> Research themes defining NASA’s CLEVER Center which will be led by professor Thomas Orlando.

]]> image/png 1684440904 2023-05-18 20:15:04 1684440904 2023-05-18 20:15:04
<![CDATA[Engineering A New Way to Feed Gorillas]]> 34528

A team of Georgia Tech researchers has built an automatic feeding machine for gorillas at Zoo Atlanta that allows the primates to more naturally forage for food. Their ForageFeeder replaces the zoo’s previous feeding protocols, which had staff deliver food to the habitat at set times and locations.

With the new machine, feeding times can be set for different intervals every day. This encourages the gorillas’ natural feeding behavior, giving them additional random foraging opportunities throughout the day.

"This is a great example of how technology can positively influence animal welfare," says David Hu, Faculty Advisor of the project. "Zoo Atlanta is a local, nonprofit institution, and it was great to see Georgia Tech students learning by doing. Technology has been improving human lives for years, and now it’s the gorillas’ turn."

Read the full story on the College of Engineering's website.

]]> jhunt7 1 1684181956 2023-05-15 20:19:16 1684778838 2023-05-22 18:07:18 0 0 news A team of Georgia Tech researchers has built an automatic feeding machine for gorillas at Zoo Atlanta that allows the primates to more naturally forage for food. Their ForageFeeder replaces the zoo’s previous feeding protocols, which had staff deliver food to the habitat at set times and locations.

]]>
2023-05-15T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-15T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-15 00:00:00 Jason Maderer
College of Engineering

]]>
670802 670802 image <![CDATA[Photo credit: Adam Thompson, Zoo ATL]]> image/jpeg 1684182024 2023-05-15 20:20:24 1684182024 2023-05-15 20:20:24
<![CDATA[Space Lace: Net Fishing in Low Earth Orbit]]> 27513 Lisa Marks is launching the ancient craft of fishing villages into space vehicle design. Her work adapting traditional textile handcraft to modern problems created a unique opportunity for collaboration cleaning up space debris.

According to NASA's Orbital Debris Program Office (OPDO), this debris jeopardizes future space projects. Large objects like rocket bodies and non-functional satellites are the source of fragmentation debris.

The OPDO website says removal of even five of the highest-risk objects per year could stabilize the low Earth orbit debris environment.

A research team with members from the Georgia Tech Research Institute and the Aerospace Systems Design Lab has developed a concept using a net to capture and de-orbit large debris.

A mutual connection at Tech's GVU recommended that the team speak to Lisa Marks, assistant professor in the School of Industrial Design, based on her work combining traditional textile with new materials and methods.

“There’s a lot of different projects on space debris happening all around the world,” Marks said, “and there’ve been a few concept papers talking about using a net.”

“But all the drawings of the net are basic concepts, just a square with a few hatches through it. No one has figured out what that net might be.”

Marks researches ways to combine traditional textile handcraft with algorithmic modeling. “I specialize in analyzing the shape of every stitch and how we can use that stitch differently. Can we create new patterns through coding, or make it larger and out of wood?”

“It allows me to think really creatively about how we can use different textiles.”

This innovative, exploratory approach is a natural fit to create a net for a job no has ever done. “There's a lot of technical considerations with this,” Marks said. 

Read the full story >>

]]> Walter Rich 1 1684516329 2023-05-19 17:12:09 1684516445 2023-05-19 17:14:05 0 0 news Lisa Marks is launching the ancient craft of fishing villages into space vehicle design. Her work adapting traditional textile handcraft to modern problems created a unique opportunity for collaboration cleaning up space debris.

]]>
2023-05-19T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-19T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-19 00:00:00 walter.rich@research.gatech.edu

]]>
670849 670849 image <![CDATA[feature.handsholdinglace.png]]> Static Nets Catch Fish; Slippery Nets Catch Rockets

]]> image/png 1684516347 2023-05-19 17:12:27 1684516347 2023-05-19 17:12:27
<![CDATA[Researchers Use Novel Approach to Teach Robot to Navigate Over Obstacles]]> 32045 Quadrupedal robots may be able to step directly over obstacles in their paths thanks to the efforts of a trio of Georgia Tech Ph.D. students.

When it comes to robotic locomotion and navigation, Naoki Yokoyama says most four-legged robots are trained to regain their footing if an obstacle causes them to stumble. Working toward a larger effort to develop a housekeeping robot, Yokoyama and his collaborators — Simar Kareer and Joanne Truong — set out to train their robot to walk over clutter it might encounter in a home.

“The main motivation of the project is getting low-level control over the legs of the robot that also incorporates visual input,” said Yokoyama, a Ph.D. student within the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “We envisioned a controller that could be deployed in an indoor setting with a lot of clutter, such as shoes or toys on the ground of a messy home. Whereas blind locomotive controllers tend to be more reactive — if they step on something, they’ll make sure they don’t fall over — we wanted ours to use visual input to avoid stepping on the obstacle altogether.”

To achieve their goal, the researchers took a novel training approach of fusing a high-level visual navigation policy with a visual locomotion policy.

In a paper advised by Interactive Computing Associate Professor Dhruv Batra and Assistant Professor Sehoon Ha, Kareer, Yokoyama, and Truong show that their two-policy approach successfully simulates robotic navigation over obstacles.

They call their approach ViNL (Visual Navigation and Locomotion), and so far, it has guided robots through simulated novel cluttered environments with a 72.6% success rate. The team will present its paper, ViNL: Visual Navigation and Locomotion Over Obstacles, at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, which is being held May 29-June 2 in London.

Both policies are model-free — the robot learns on its own simulation and doesn’t mimic any pre-existing behavioral patterns — and can be combined without any additional co-training.

“This work uniquely combines separate locomotion and navigation policies in a zero-shot manner,” said Kareer, who along with Truong is a Ph.D. student within the School of Interactive Computing. “If we come up with an improved navigation policy, we can just take that, do no extra work, and deploy that to our robot. That’s a scalable approach. You can plug and play these things together with very little fine-tuning. That’s powerful.”

The visual navigation policy teaches the robot through goal-achieving motivation. It gives the robot an objective of navigating from one place to another while avoiding any obstacles. The robot receives a score based on how successfully it completes its task. If it stumbles over an obstacle, it is penalized.

“We gave it an environment that had very few obstacles, and then slightly more and slightly more,” Kareer said. “This gradual approach is helpful to its learning. When you just toss it into an environment with a million obstacles, it fails a lot. But if you show it one or two obstacles and say, ‘try to learn these,’ it’s much more stable.”

The locomotion policy teaches the robot how to use its limbs to step over an object, including how high it should lift its legs.

Because a real-world quadruped will only be able to see what its front camera sees, obstacles will disappear from its view as it gets closer to them. The team accounted for this by incorporating memory and spatial awareness into their network architecture to teach the robot exactly when and where to step over the obstacle.

“The robot has a rich understanding of where its entire limb is relative to the obstacles,” Kareer said. “When you see it walking over obstacles, it’s not just deciding to put its foot down on spots where there are no obstacles. It’s remembering where all the obstacles are relative to its body and keeping its limbs out of the way until it’s passed over them.”

And if an obstacle is too tall to step over, the robot can also choose to go around it.

“We saw that it was very good at navigating, and even in cases where it might take a wrong turn, it knows that it can backtrack and go back where it came from,” Truong said.

Finally, the group taught the robot specifically what types of objects it should be looking to step over in a house, such as toys, and ones that it should go around, such as a chair. This also helps the robot to know how high it will need to lift its legs.

“What’s important for navigation is to be able to have the experience of navigating in real-world houses, so we train our navigation policy with photo-realistic scans of apartments,” Truong said. “We used scans of over 1,000 apartments for training and evaluated the robot in scenarios it had never seen before. We zero-shot deploy it into a new environment, so you can take a new robot, put it in a new house, and it will be able to do this as well.”

The researchers agree their paper is multi-faceted and has numerous implications that fall outside its focus but are nonetheless important. Their work could lead to robots navigating openly in the outdoors, selectively picking paths based on the user’s preference to avoid muddy ground or rocky terrain.

“Normally, it matters much less how you get from Point A to Point B,” Truong said. “You just need to know that Point B is valid. With overcoming obstacles, not only do Point A and Point B need to be valid, how you get from Point A to Point B also matters.”

The team’s paper also won a best paper award for the Learning for Agile Robotics Workshop at the 2022 Conference on Robot Learning in December.

]]> Ben Snedeker 1 1684429110 2023-05-18 16:58:30 1684437591 2023-05-18 19:19:51 0 0 news Georgia Tech researchers are using a new approach to train their robot to walk over clutter it might encounter in a home.

]]>
2023-05-18T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-18T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-18 00:00:00 Nathan Deen, Communications Officer I

School of Interactive Computing

nathan.deen@cc.gatech.edu

]]>
670836 670836 image <![CDATA[208A9510 copy.jpg]]> image/jpeg 1684429431 2023-05-18 17:03:51 1684429431 2023-05-18 17:03:51
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Chips Day Explores the Latest Developments in Microelectronics and Semiconductors]]> 34760 More than 150 academic, government, and industry experts gathered on Tuesday, May 2, in the Marcus Nanotechnology Building for Georgia Tech Chips Day. The event was designed to bring together experts in microelectronics to learn from each other, network, and discuss this rapidly changing field.

Hosted by the Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology (IEN), Chips Day began with a recorded statement from U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff emphasizing the importance of microelectronics and semiconductor research and commending Georgia Tech for hosting the event.

The agenda included speakers with a wide variety of expertise, including Gregg Bartlett, chief technology officer of GlobalFoundries, Fayrouz Saad, director of public engagement for the CHIPS Program Office, and Victor Zhirnov, chief scientist of Semiconductor Research Corporation, among others. Multiple Georgia Tech faculty members also gave talks, including Chaouki Abdallah, executive vice president of research, and Arijit Raychowdhury, professor and chair of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

During his keynote address, Bartlett discussed market trends in the semiconductor industry and the market focus and roadmap for GlobalFoundries, one of the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturers. He explained that GlobalFoundries’ core focuses are on innovation and differentiated platforms, including silicon photonics, FinFET, and feature-rich CMOS. Bartlett also noted that, due to the dynamic nature of the semiconductor market, success requires collaboration across research consortia and academic institutions, including events like Chips Day and the recent partnership on semiconductor research and workforce development signed with Georgia Tech.

"I am incredibly proud of the work that the IEN faculty, staff, students, and our industrial and governmental partners did to make Chips Day a success,” said Michael Filler, IEN’s associate director of research. “This event brought together some of the brightest minds in the semiconductor industry to share their ideas and collaborate on solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing our field.”

Chips Day also included a ceremony honoring John Hooper (M.S. EE 1955, Ph.D. EE 1961), Georgia Tech Regents’ Professor emeritus and the founding director of the Microelectronics Research Center (MiRC), which is now IEN. It included an overview of Hooper’s career and accomplishments given by David Hertling, professor emeritus in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Hooper’s children, Jeff and Christie, were also in attendance.

Hertling explained how Hooper worked with President Joseph Pettit in the 1980s to establish a strong microelectronics research presence at Georgia Tech. This included designing the MiRC, which was uniquely constructed as a resource center to enable faculty from all disciplines to engage in cutting-edge research. This model allowed Tech to attract top microelectronics talent and become a leader in the space. Thanks to Hooper’s efforts, among others, IEN is now home to one of the largest academic cleanrooms in the country and supports the research of more than 1,000 users per year from Georgia Tech, other academic institutions, industry, and government labs.

In addition to the talks, Chips Day included industry panels on economic and workforce development featuring thought leaders in these respective areas. Georgia Tech students participated in a poster session to give attendees a glimpse into their research and vendors showcased the latest products and solutions driving advancements in semiconductors and microelectronics.

“Georgia Tech is committed to advancing semiconductor research and development,” concluded Filler. “I am confident that the work that was done at Chips Day will help to ensure that the United States remains a leader in semiconductor innovation for years to come."

]]> Laurie Haigh 1 1684352250 2023-05-17 19:37:30 1684358874 2023-05-17 21:27:54 0 0 news The event was designed to bring together experts in microelectronics to learn from each other, network, and discuss this rapidly changing field.

]]>
2023-05-17T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-17T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-17 00:00:00 Laurie Haigh
Research Communications

]]>
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Addressing the Nation’s Call for Semiconductors]]>
<![CDATA[IEN Helps Teachers Bring Nanotechnology into the Classroom]]> 34760 The Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology (IEN) Office of Education and Outreach participated in the 2023 National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) conference, held in Atlanta on March 23-25, 2023. The NSTA is a community of science educators and professionals committed to best practices in teaching science and STEM and its impact on student learning.

During the conference, the IEN team, along with the National Nanotechnology Coordinating Office (NNCO) from Washington, D.C., shared the many opportunities available to educators to learn about and teach nanotechnology to their students. IEN also provided an optional tour of its micro- and nanofabrication cleanroom and its Materials Characterization Facility for conference attendees. During the tour attendees got a firsthand view of the work that takes place, the capabilities of the facility, and notable research accomplishments.

“Partnering with organizations like the NSTA gives us an opportunity to teach educators how they can incorporate nanotechnology in their classrooms,” said Mikkel Thomas, IEN’s associate director for education and outreach. “Since the conference was held in Atlanta, we were able to not only share the many programs we have with them but also showcase our facilities.”

As part of its mission to prepare the workforce of the future, IEN offers opportunities for educators to learn about and teach nanotechnology. This includes the Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program for high school teachers and technical college faculty a paid opportunity to experience the excitement of nanotechnology research and share this experience in their classrooms. In addition, the Summer Nanoscience Institute for Middle School Teachers (NanoSIMST) is a five-day workshop in which teachers will learn about nanoscience, develop lesson plans, and receive hands-on activities that bring nanoscience into the classroom.

In addition, high school teachers that participated in IEN’S Summer 2022 RET program shared their experiences with attendees by presenting a talk at the conference. The RET program was funded by the National Science Foundation and is part of a larger program within the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI).

]]> Laurie Haigh 1 1684353182 2023-05-17 19:53:02 1684357412 2023-05-17 21:03:32 0 0 news The Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology (IEN) Office of Education and Outreach participated in the 2023 National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) conference, held in Atlanta on March 23-25, 2023.

]]>
2023-05-17T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-17T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-17 00:00:00 Laurie Haigh
Research Communications

]]>
670830 670830 image <![CDATA[Marcus Nanotechnology Building]]> image/jpeg 1684353022 2023-05-17 19:50:22 1684353077 2023-05-17 19:51:17
<![CDATA[Chuck Zhang Selected as Cyber Security Fellow]]> 27513 Chuck Zhang, GTMI faculty member and the Harold E. Smalley Professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, is one of five faculty members will help grow the College of Engineering’s work in high-impact cyber-physical systems security (CPSS) as new Cybersecurity Fellows.

Fellows represent expertise in a variety of areas of CPSS, which addresses risks where cyber and physical worlds intersect. That includes the Internet of Things (IoT), industrial systems, smart grids, medical devices, autonomous vehicles, robotics, and more.

“As devices, systems, and the world continue to become more connected, cyber-related threats that were traditionally limited to the digital domain have made their way to physical systems,” said Raheem Beyah, dean of the College, Southern Company Chair, and a cybersecurity expert. “The College of Engineering has world-renowned cybersecurity and artificial intelligence researchers. This new cohort will continue to expand the College’s breadth of expertise and leadership in CPSS.”

The three-year fellowship was made possible by a gift from Kyle Seymour, a 1982 mechanical engineering graduate who retired as president and CEO of S&C Electric Company in 2020. Seymour wanted to help increase cybersecurity-related research and instruction within the College.

School chairs nominated potential fellows, who were evaluated and selected by a committee of senior cybersecurity researchers and College leaders. 

Five faculty members will help grow the College of Engineering’s work in high-impact cyber-physical systems security (CPSS) as new Cybersecurity Fellows.

Fellows represent expertise in a variety of areas of CPSS, which addresses risks where cyber and physical worlds intersect. That includes the Internet of Things (IoT), industrial systems, smart grids, medical devices, autonomous vehicles, robotics, and more.

“As devices, systems, and the world continue to become more connected, cyber-related threats that were traditionally limited to the digital domain have made their way to physical systems,” said Raheem Beyah, dean of the College, Southern Company Chair, and a cybersecurity expert. “The College of Engineering has world-renowned cybersecurity and artificial intelligence researchers. This new cohort will continue to expand the College’s breadth of expertise and leadership in CPSS.”

The three-year fellowship was made possible by a gift from Kyle Seymour, a 1982 mechanical engineering graduate who retired as president and CEO of S&C Electric Company in 2020. Seymour wanted to help increase cybersecurity-related research and instruction within the College.

School chairs nominated potential fellows, who were evaluated and selected by a committee of senior cybersecurity researchers and College leaders. 

View the new Cybersecurity Fellows >>

]]> Walter Rich 1 1684350203 2023-05-17 19:03:23 1684350320 2023-05-17 19:05:20 0 0 news Chuck Zhang, GTMI faculty member and the Harold E. Smalley Professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, is one of five faculty members will help grow the College of Engineering’s work in high-impact cyber-physical systems security (CPSS) as new Cybersecurity Fellows.

]]>
2023-05-10T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-10T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-10 00:00:00 Walter Rich

]]>
657950 657950 image <![CDATA[Chuck Zhang]]> image/jpeg 1651676734 2022-05-04 15:05:34 1651676734 2022-05-04 15:05:34
<![CDATA[Ethnicity, life expectancy data can aid in health equity efforts]]> 28153 Across the planet, many people are living better and longer, as humans continue to experience a substantial overall decrease in mortality. Unfortunately, that happy trend is not evenly distributed across communities.

Despite the progress in healthcare over the last century, resulting in longer life expectancy and better disease survival outcomes, significant disparities between various population groups remain a major global health issue.

A new study by Georgia Institute of Technology researchers in the open-access journal PLOS Global Health probes ethnic health disparities and mortality risk factors in the United Kingdom. Their work points to mortality risk factors that are group-specific, but modifiable, supporting the notion of targeted interventions that could lead to greater health equity.

“Different ethnic groups show very different levels of disease-specific mortality along with distinct mortality risk factors,” said I. King Jordan, professor in the School of Biological Sciences, and principal investigator on the study. “Unfortunately, when it comes to health, ethnicity still matters.”                         

Both environmental and genetic factors, and the interaction between them over time, have been cited as main contributors of health disparities. Closing the gap will require a long-term, complex series of solutions.

“Taking a one-size fits all approach to healthcare will only exacerbate the very health disparities that already disproportionately burden ethnic minorities,” said Jordan, whose collaborators on the study were lead author Kara Keun Lee, as well as Emily Norris, Lavanya Rishishwar, Andrew Conley, and John McDonald, emeritus professor in the School of Biological Sciences and founding director of Georgia Tech’s Integrated Cancer Research Center

The work was done in collaboration with, and with support from, the NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) and Leonardo Mariño-Ramírez, a researcher working on epidemiology and genetics research at NIMHD’s Division of Intramural Research (DIR).

The UK Example

The research team analyzed data on 490,610 Asian, Black, and White participants from the UK Biobank, a study that enrolled 500,000 people in the UK aged 40 to 69 between 2006 and 2010. The UK Biobank includes data spanning physical measures, lifestyle, blood and urine biomarkers, imaging, genetic, and linked medical and death registry records.

Certain causes of mortality were more common among the different ethnic groups: Asian individuals had the highest mortality from ischemic heart disease, while individuals in the Black community had the highest mortality from COVID-19, and White individuals had the highest mortality from cancers of respiratory/intrathoracic organs.

In addition, some preexisting medical conditions and biomarkers showed specific associations with ethnicity and mortality. Mental health diagnoses, for instance, were a major risk factor for mortality in the Asian group, whereas parasitic diseases and C-reactive protein (CRP) serum levels were associated with higher mortality in the Black group.

“These results underscore the importance of population-specific studies that can help decompose health disparities and inform targeted interventions towards, shrinking the health disparity gap,” said Jordan, who praised Lee’s approach to the study, “which highlights the importance of considering individuals’ self-reported identity as it relates to their health outcomes, disease risks, and exposures.”

For future work, the team plans to look at racial and ethnic health disparities in the US, in collaboration with the NIMHD.

 

CITATION: Kara Keun Lee, Emily T. Norris, Lavanya Rishishwar, Andrew B. Conley, Leonardo Mariño-Ramírez, John F. McDonald, and I. King Jordan. “Ethnic disparities in mortality and group-specific risk factors in the UK Biobank.”  doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgph.0001560

 

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1678456794 2023-03-10 13:59:54 1684273165 2023-05-16 21:39:25 0 0 news A new study by Georgia Tech researchers in the open-access journal PLOS Global Health probes ethnic health disparities and mortality risk factors in the United Kingdom. Their work points to mortality risk factors that are group-specific, but modifiable, supporting the notion of targeted interventions that could lead to greater health equity.

]]>
2023-03-10T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-10T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-10 00:00:00 Writer: Jerry Grillo

]]>
666597 666597 image <![CDATA[Kara and King]]> image/jpeg 1678455984 2023-03-10 13:46:24 1678455984 2023-03-10 13:46:24
<![CDATA[Kimberly French Named Association for Psychological Science ‘Rising Star’ ]]> 34434 Kimberly French, assistant professor in the School of Psychology, is one of 48 researchers worldwide named to the Association for Psychological Science’s annual list of APS Rising Stars.

The Rising Stars award, begun in 2013, is presented to APS members in the early stages of their careers. The designation recognizes researchers whose innovative work has already advanced the field and signals great potential for their continued contributions.

“I feel heartened and grateful to be nominated for this recognition, let alone be among the outstanding awardees,” French said. “It is an honor to be recognized for my work, and to know that others see great potential in my contributions. I am excited to fulfill that trajectory as we continue to tackle questions about managing our work, family, and health needs.”

French is one of the few industrial/organizational (I/O) psychologists on this year’s Rising Stars list. I/O psychology researchers conduct scientific studies on a wide range of topics facing organizations and workplaces, including recruitment, skill acquisition and training, job behavior and performance, and workforce aging and diversity. Learn more about I/O psychology in the School of Psychology here.

"Our I/O psychology program has a distinguished history of excellence and is an intellectual powerhouse,” said Tansu Celikel, professor and chair of the School of Psychology. “Kim is a great example of our academicians who will shape the future of work psychology. She is not only a rising superstar in work psychology, but also an outstanding educator and mentor. "

About Kimberly French

French is the principal investigator of the Work Family Health Lab. Her research focuses on how people manage work and family, “and how this juggling act impacts individual and family health,” French said. “I focus particularly on physical and physiological health, as well as underrepresented and vulnerable populations, such as single mothers and shift workers. The ultimate goal is to build work-family policies and practices at work and at home that foster psychological, physical, and social health for all.”

French joined Georgia Tech in January 2018. She received her M.S. from California State University, San Bernardino, and her Ph.D. from the University of South Florida. 

About Georgia Tech 

The Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, is a top 10 public research university developing leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition. The Institute offers business, computing, design, engineering, liberal arts, and sciences degrees. Its nearly 44,000 students representing 50 states and 149 countries, study at the main campus in Atlanta, at campuses in France and China, and through distance and online learning. As a leading technological university, Georgia Tech is an engine of economic development for Georgia, the Southeast, and the nation, conducting more than $1 billion in research annually for government, industry, and society.

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1675888169 2023-02-08 20:29:29 1684273133 2023-05-16 21:38:53 0 0 news The Association for Psychological Science (APS) recognizes French in its annual list of impactful early career researchers around the world. 

 

]]>
2023-02-08T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-08T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-08 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

]]>
665614 652511 665614 image <![CDATA[Association for Psychological Science Rising Stars]]> image/png 1675888356 2023-02-08 20:32:36 1675888356 2023-02-08 20:32:36 652511 image <![CDATA[Kimberly French]]> image/png 1636138484 2021-11-05 18:54:44 1636138484 2021-11-05 18:54:44 <![CDATA[Connecting Childhood Trauma to Work-Family Conflict in Adulthood]]> <![CDATA[Countering Chronic Hindrances at Work]]> <![CDATA[Early Career Advancement Leads to Short-term Stress, Self-esteem Splits — and Lasting Emotional Resiliency]]>
<![CDATA[Rahul Saxena Appointed CREATE-X Director]]> 36436 Rahul Saxena has been appointed as the director for Georgia Tech CREATE-X. Saxena has been a part of the CREATE-X team since 2019, when he was named associate director of the Launch program. He became the interim director in 2021.

CREATE-X is a faculty-led, student-focused initiative geared toward instilling entrepreneurial confidence in Georgia Tech students through the creation of startups. Students in the program can take courses and participate in workshops to build business skills, build prototypes, and receive mentorship, funding, and in-kind services to support launching their own startup during the program’s summer incubator, Startup Launch.  

Prior to joining the CREATE-X team, Saxena spent more than 20 years building and guiding multiple startup companies, working as a development engineer and an early-stage venture capitalist, and publishing several research papers on cardiovascular fluid mechanics and mechanical heart valves.  

At Georgia Tech, his alma mater, Saxena studied mechanical engineering. He then earned a European master’s degree from the Von Karman Institute for fluid dynamics and an MBA from Emory University.

Now that he’s the director of CREATE-X, Saxena wants to continue expanding awareness of the programs benefits to as many students as he can.

“My passion for the program has only grown since I joined the team,” Saxena said. “Our students have the skills and creativity to build startups, and I want them to know that CREATE-X will not only help them take their ideas to market, but also instill an entrepreneurial mindset and confidence which will be a lifelong skill for them.”

Since CREATE-X began, more than 5,000 students have been involved, crossing 38 majors.

Saxena said it’s been an honor to be a part of so many students’ entrepreneurial journey. Even after students graduate, Saxena still takes the time to give them advice and connect them to others in the Atlanta business community. That dedication to mentorship has also translated to the students who participate in the program. Founders continually reach out to Saxena to get involved with coaching students and helping the program where they can.

Saxena said he wants to continue building connections across campus and beyond, harnessing the wealth of knowledge, experience, skills and resources of Georgia Tech to help students be successful, regardless of their career pathway after graduation. He also wants to encourage those students that doubt they can create startups to try entrepreneurship as students, when the opportunity cost for them can be significantly lower.

“CREATE-X is rapidly growing, launching more than 350 startups since we began in 2014. Rahul has a proven track record of success at CREATE-X, and I’m confident that his continued leadership will foster even more growth,” Raghupathy “Siva” Sivakumar, vice president of the Office of Commercialization at Georgia Tech. “He has a firm grasp on what students need to gain entrepreneurial confidence and launch successful startups, the dedication to go out on campus and connect with students and other stakeholders, and he has a broad skill set to tackle the challenges of overseeing one of our nation’s largest student entrepreneurship platforms. We couldn’t have picked a better champion for our program.”

]]> bdurham31 1 1677691212 2023-03-01 17:20:12 1684273019 2023-05-16 21:36:59 0 0 news Rahul Saxena, who joined the Georgia Tech CREATE-X team in 2019, has been appointed as the program's director.

]]>
2023-03-01T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-01T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-01 00:00:00 Breanna Durham, marketing strategist for CREATE-X

]]>
666316 666316 image <![CDATA[Rahul Saxena at Founders' Forum]]> image/png 1677690799 2023-03-01 17:13:19 1677691120 2023-03-01 17:18:40
<![CDATA[Nucleic Acid-Based Devices Will Rapidly Diagnose Sepsis, Respiratory Infections]]> 27195 A multidisciplinary team led by Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) researchers has received $14.7 million in funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop novel diagnostic devices able to rapidly identify the bacteria causing sepsis – and viruses that cause respiratory infections such as RSV, SARS-CoV-2, and influenza.

The novel nucleic acid detection devices will use the CRISPR Cas13a enzyme to initiate a synthetic biology workflow that will lead to the production of a visible signal if a targeted infectious agent is present in a sample of blood – or fluid from a nasal or throat swab. The devices will be simple to use, similar to the lateral-flow technology in home pregnancy tests. The devices will provide diagnostic capabilities to low-resource areas such as clinics and battlefield medical units, allowing treatment of infections to begin more quickly – potentially saving lives.

“This new technology will make it much faster and more cost-effective to diagnose these infections,” said Mike Farrell, a Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) principal research scientist who is leading the project. “You would obtain a sample, put it into a device, diagnose the underlying pathogen, and be able to provide a treatment. This could be a huge leap forward in rapidly diagnosing these diseases where sophisticated laboratory testing isn’t available.”

Funded by DARPA’s Detect It with Gene Editing Technologies (DIGET) program, the project – known as Tactical Rapid Pathogen Identification and Diagnostic Ensemble (TRIAgE) – also includes researchers from Emory University and two private sector companies. The goal will be to detect 10 different pathogens with each device.

Detection Reaction Begins with CRISPR Cas13a Enzyme

Detection of a pathogen will begin with exposure of a patient sample to the CRISPR Cas13a enzyme with guide proteins containing RNA genetic sequences from the targeted pathogens. If a genetic sequence in the device matches a sequence in the patient sample, the enzyme will begin breaking down the targeted RNA.

Development of the CRISPR Cas13a component of the project will be led by Phil Santangelo, a professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University and one of the team’s collaborators. CRISPR Cas13a differs from Cas9 technology, which has become known for its ability to edit DNA, which Cas13A will not do.

Once the Cas13a enzyme breaks down the pathogen RNA, that will trigger additional reactions to amplify the signal and create a visible blue line in the device within 15 minutes.

Synthetic Biology Workflow Signals Pathogen Presence

“We will be assembling a synthetic biology workflow that takes an initial signal created by CRISPR-based nucleic acid detection and amplifies it using the same cell-free synthetic biology approaches we have used to create sensors for detecting small molecules and metals: turning on genes that create a visual readout so that expensive instruments, and even electricity, are unnecessary,” explained Mark Styczynski, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and another team collaborator.

“As part of the DIGET project, we will be leveraging my group’s expertise in minimal-equipment diagnostics,” he added. “The biological ‘parts’ we develop can be reused to transduce signals for the detection of essentially any nucleic acid sequence.”

Another Georgia Tech researcher, I. King Jordan, professor and director of the Bioinformatics Graduate Program in the School of Biological Sciences, will mine the genomes of the targeted pathogens for optimal Cas13a target sequences as well as the corresponding Cas13a RNA guide sequences.

Devices Must be Both Sensitive and Specific

Beyond specifically identifying the pathogen or pathogens causing an infection, the diagnostic devices being developed must also be very sensitive – able to detect as few as 10 copies of the target pathogen in a sample. “A major technological challenge is achieving the level of signal amplification within the device’s synthetic biology circuit to reach the needed level of sensitivity,” Farrell said.

The ability to detect 10 different pathogens with a single lateral-flow assay is an ambitious goal for a device that depends on a synthetic biology circuit and is designed for use in the field, he added. Lateral-flow assays commonly used in home or point-of-care medical tests operate by applying a liquid sample to a pad containing reactive molecules. The molecules may create visible positive or negative reactions, depending on the design.

“You just put the sample on the device and it does its thing,” Farrell said. “If the target pathogen is present, a line turns blue and you can see it with your eye.”

Early Diagnosis Can be Life-Saving

Sepsis is an infection of the bloodstream by any of a number of different bacteria. These bacteria can originate from a lower respiratory infection, kidney or bladder infection, digestive system breakdown, catheter site, wound, or burn. Sepsis results in a severe and persistent inflammatory response that can lead to disrupted blood flow, tissue damage, organ failure, and death.

“It’s important to identify the specific bacteria causing the sepsis because that informs the type of antimicrobial therapy that’s needed,” said Farrell. “The sooner you can identify the underlying pathogen, the faster you can provide the proper medical care, and the more likely it is that the patient will survive. Current laboratory-based diagnostic methods can take between 24 and 72 hours, and that is just too long.”

Improving diagnostics for sepsis and respiratory diseases will have applications to both the military and civilian worlds, particularly in locations without easy access to laboratory testing.

“Wounded soldiers in the field are very susceptible to sepsis blood infections, and common respiratory diseases can affect troop readiness, so from a military standpoint, having this rapid diagnostic test would be very significant,” Farrell said. “In low-resource environments, being able to diagnose these diseases with a single test would be huge as well. Being able to identify the underlying bacteria behind sepsis more quickly could save a lot of lives.”

Beyond the university researchers, the project includes Global Access Diagnostics, a manufacturer of lateral-flow devices, and Ginkgo Bioworks, which manufactures proteins essential to the diagnostics.

The five-phase project is expected to last for four years and will conclude with field validation and a transition to manufacturing. The devices will need to win FDA approval before they can be used, so there is a significant regulatory review aspect to the project, Farrell said.

Approved for Public Release, Distribution Unlimited

Writer: John Toon
GTRI Communications
Georgia Tech Research Institute
Atlanta, Georgia

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is the nonprofit, applied research division of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Founded in 1934 as the Engineering Experiment Station, GTRI has grown to more than 2,900 employees, supporting eight laboratories in over 20 locations around the country and performing more than $800 million of problem-solving research annually for government and industry. GTRI's renowned researchers combine science, engineering, economics, policy, and technical expertise to solve complex problems for the U.S. federal government, state, and industry.

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1681435607 2023-04-14 01:26:47 1684272826 2023-05-16 21:33:46 0 0 news Mike Farrell, I. King Jordan, and Phil Santangelo working on $14.7 million DARPA funded project to developing novel diagnostic devices able to rapidly identify the bacteria causing sepsis. 

]]>
2023-03-29T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-29T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-29 00:00:00 John Toon

]]>
<![CDATA[Announcing the Recipients of the 2022-2023 Krish Roy – GRA Travel Awards ]]> 36454 The Krish Roy - GRA Travel Award is a new travel award endowed by Professor Krishnendu Roy with funding provided by the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA). Roy is a Regents’ Professor and the Robert A. Milton Endowed Chair in Biomedical Engineering. He also serves as Director of the NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Cell Manufacturing Technologies (CMaT), the Marcus Center for Cell Therapy Characterization and Manufacturing (MC3M), and the Center for ImmunoEngineering. The award was designed to support to IBB-affiliated undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral trainees conducting research in cell manufacturing, drug delivery, immunoengineering, and regenerative medicine.

Ten finalists (pictured left) were selected to receive a stipend to travel to a domestic or international conference or workshop to present their research work.

“The Krish Roy Travel award allowed me to participate in my first conference of my graduate school career." said Parisa Keshavarz-Joud. "I had the opportunity to present a poster on my research at the Physical Virology Gordon Research Conference in January 2023 and interact with experts in the field. This experience broadened my knowledge of the field and helped me in developing new ideas about the next steps of my project.”

Elijah Holland used his award in January to attend the Fibronectin Gordon Research Conference in Ventura, California. In expressing gratitude for the award, Holland shared that he was able to meet leaders in the cell adhesion field and gave his first oral research presentation, titled "Mechanotransduction at Focal Adhesions: Interplay among Force, FAs, and YAP."

Fourth-year ChemE PhD student Hyun Jee Lee plans to use the award to her support her first experience at an international seminar and conference, where she will present her research and connect with other researchers around the world. Lee's research focus is developing microfluidic tools to study cellular and molecular mechanisms in small organisms. "I'm particularly interested in investigating brain activity changes associated with learning in C. elegans." Lee explained. "I'm very grateful to have received the award." 

Awardees (pictured from top left to right):

John Cox, Graduate Research Assistant, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Yarelis Gonzalez-Vargas, Graduate Student, Biomedical Engineering

Travis Rotterman, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Biological Sciences

Wenting Shi, Graduate Research Assistant, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Kamisha Hill, Graduate Research Assistant, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Paris Keshavarz-Joud, Graduate Research Assistant, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Elijah Holland, Graduate Research Assistant, Mechanical Engineering

Hun Jee Lee, Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering 

Maeve Janecka, Undergraduate Student, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 

Sunny (Chao-yi) Lu, Graduate Research Assistant, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

]]> swilliamson40 1 1681396062 2023-04-13 14:27:42 1684272654 2023-05-16 21:30:54 0 0 news The Krish Roy - GRA Travel Award is a new travel award endowed by Professor Krishnendu Roy with funding provided by the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA). Roy is a Regents’ Professor and the Robert A. Milton Endowed Chair in Biomedical Engineering. He also serves as Director of the NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Cell Manufacturing Technologies (CMaT), the Marcus Center for Cell Therapy Characterization and Manufacturing (MC3M), and the Center for ImmunoEngineering. The award was designed to support to IBB-affiliated undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral trainees conducting research in cell manufacturing, drug delivery, immunoengineering, and regenerative medicine.

Ten finalists (pictured left) were selected to receive a stipend to travel to a domestic or international conference or workshop to present their research work.

 

]]>
2023-04-13T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-13T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-13 00:00:00 Savannah Williamson

Research Communications Program Manager, IBB

 

]]>
670528 670528 image <![CDATA[Final_GRA awardees.png]]> image/png 1681406289 2023-04-13 17:18:09 1681406289 2023-04-13 17:18:09
<![CDATA[Physics to Host Climate Talk with Former U.S. Secretary of Energy, Nobel Laureate ]]> 34528 On April 26, 2023, the School of Physics and College of Sciences at Georgia Tech will welcome Stanford University physicist Steven Chu to speak on climate change and innovative paths towards a more sustainable future. Chu is the 1997 co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, and in his former role as U.S. Secretary of Energy, became the first scientist to hold a U.S. Cabinet position.

About the Talk

The event is part of the School of Physics “Inquiring Minds” public lecture series, and will be held at the Ferst Center for the Arts. The talk is free and open to campus and the Atlanta community, and no RSVP is required. Refreshments begin at 4:30, and the lecture will start at 5 p.m. ET.

“The multiple industrial and agricultural revolutions have transformed the world,” Chu recently shared in an abstract for the lecture. “However, an unintended consequence of this progress is that we are changing the climate of our planet. In addition to the climate risks, we will need to provide enough clean energy, water, and food for a more prosperous world that may grow to 11 billion by 2100.” 

The talk will discuss the significant technical challenges and potential solutions that could provide better paths to a more sustainable future. “How we transition from where we are now to where we need to be within 50 years is arguably the most pressing set of issues that science, innovation, and public policy have to address,” Chu added. 

The event’s faculty host is Daniel Goldman, Dunn Family Professor in the School of Physics at Georgia Tech.

About Steven Chu

Steven Chu is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Physics and a professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology in the Medical School at Stanford University.

Chu served as the 12th U.S. Secretary of Energy from January 2009 until the end of April 2013. As the first scientist to hold a U.S. Cabinet position and the longest serving Energy Secretary, Chu led several initiatives including ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy), the Energy Innovation Hubs, and was personally tasked by President Obama to assist in the Deepwater Horizon oil leak.

In the spring of 2010, Chu was the keynote speaker for the Georgia Tech Ph.D. and Master's Commencement Ceremony.

Prior to his cabinet post, Chu was director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he was active in pursuit of alternative and renewable energy technologies, and a professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Stanford, where he helped launch Bio-X, a multi-disciplinary institute combining the physical and biological sciences with medicine and engineering. Previously he also served as head of the Quantum Electronics Research Department at AT&T Bell Laboratories.

He is the co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions to laser cooling and atom trapping. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Pontifical Academy Sciences, and of seven foreign academies. He formerly served as president, and then chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Chu earned an A.B. degree in mathematics and a B.S. degree in physics from the University of Rochester, and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as 35 honorary degrees.

He has published over 280 papers in atomic and polymer physics, biophysics, biology, bio-imaging, batteries, and other energy technologies. He holds 15 patents, and an additional 15 patent disclosures or filings since 2015.

 

]]> jhunt7 1 1682030804 2023-04-20 22:46:44 1684272543 2023-05-16 21:29:03 0 0 news Physicist Steven Chu was the first person appointed to the U.S. Cabinet after having won a Nobel Prize — and the first scientist to hold a Cabinet position. On April 26, he will deliver a public lecture at Georgia Tech on climate change and innovative paths towards a more sustainable future.

]]>
2023-04-20T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-20T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-20 00:00:00 Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

]]>
670596 670597 670596 image <![CDATA[Steven Chu (Credit: Imke Lass/Redux)]]> image/jpeg 1682031580 2023-04-20 22:59:40 1682031580 2023-04-20 22:59:40 670597 image <![CDATA[Steven Chu (Credit: Larry Downing/Reuters)]]> image/jpeg 1682031622 2023-04-20 23:00:22 1682031622 2023-04-20 23:00:22
<![CDATA[BME Professor Krish Roy to Become Dean of Engineering at Vanderbilt]]> 28153 Krishnendu “Krish” Roy, biomedical engineering professor and founding director of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Cell Manufacturing Technologies (CMaT), is leaving Georgia Tech to accept a leadership post at Vanderbilt University.

In a news story published today, Vanderbilt announced it has hired Roy as its next Bruce and Bridgitt Evans Dean of Engineering.

“It is hard to part ways with the place and people you love,” said Roy, Regents’ Professor and Robert A. Milton Endowed Chair in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.

“I am excited about the incredible opportunities at Vanderbilt, but at the same time, sad to leave my Georgia Tech and CMaT family behind,” Roy added. “I am profoundly grateful for all the support I have received over the years from the administrators, faculty, staff, and students at Georgia Tech.”

A pioneer in the field of immunoengineering – particularly in the development and use of biomaterials and cellular engineering tools to solve biomedical problems – Roy came to Georgia Tech in 2013 from the University of Texas-Austin. He’ll begin his new role at Vanderbilt on August 1.

Roy also is director of the Marcus Center for Cell Characterization and Manufacturing (MC3M), Center for Immunoengineering, and a researcher in two interdisciplinary research institutes at Georgia Tech – the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience (IBB), and the Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology (IEN).

 

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1681753360 2023-04-17 17:42:40 1684168621 2023-05-15 16:37:01 0 0 news Krish Roy, director of NSF CMaT, is leaving Georgia Tech to become dean of engineering at Vanderbilt University.

]]>
2023-04-17T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-17T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-17 00:00:00 Jerry Grillo

]]>
670561 670561 image <![CDATA[Krish Roy]]> Krishnendu "Krish" Roy

]]> image/jpeg 1681736834 2023-04-17 13:07:14 1681737025 2023-04-17 13:10:25
<![CDATA[A Look Inside Stem Cells Helps Create Personalized Regenerative Medicine ]]> 34602 Organelles – the bits and pieces of RNA and protein within a cell – play important roles in human health and disease, such as maintaining homeostasis, regulating growth and aging, and generating energy. Organelle diversity in cells not only exists between cell types but also individual cells. Studying these differences helps researchers better understand cell function, leading to improved therapeutics to treat various diseases.

In two papers out of the lab of Ahmet F. Coskun, a Bernie Marcus Early Career professor in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, researchers examined a specific type of stem cell with an intracellular toolkit to determine which cells are most likely to create effective cell therapies.

“We are studying the placement of organelles within cells and how they communicate to help better treat disease,” said Coskun. “Our recent work proposes the use of an intracellular toolkit to map organelle bio-geography in stem cells that could lead to more precise therapies.”

Creating the Subcellular Omics Toolkit

The first study — published in Scientific Reports, a Nature portfolio journal looked at mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that have historically offered promising treatments for repairing defective cells or modulating the immune response in patients. In a series of experiments, the researchers were able to create a data-driven, single-cell approach through rapid subcellular proteomic imaging that enabled personalized stem cell therapeutics.

The researchers then implemented a rapid multiplexed immunofluorescence technique in which they used antibodies designed to target specific organelles. By fluorescing antibodies, they tracked wavelengths and signals to compile images of many different cells, creating maps. These maps then enabled researchers to see the spatial organization of organelle contacts and geographical spread in similar cells to determine which cell types would best treat various diseases.

“Usually, the stem cells are used to repair defective cells or treat immune diseases, but our micro-study of these specific cells showed just how different they can be from one another,” said Coskun. “This proved that patient treatment population and customized isolation of the stem cells identities and their bioenergetic organelle function should be considered when selecting the tissue source. In other words, in treating a specific disease, it might be better to harvest the same type of cell from different locations depending on the patient’s needs.”

RNA-RNA Proximity Matters

In the next study published this week in Cell Reports Methods, the researchers took the toolkit a step further, studying the spatial organization of multiple neighboring RNA molecules in single cells, which are important to cellular function. The researchers evolved the tool by combining machine learning and spatial transcriptomics. They found that analyzing the variations of gene proximity for classification of cell types was more accurate that analyzing gene expression only. 

“The physical interactions between molecules create life; therefore, the physical locations and proximity of these molecules play important roles,” said Coskun. “We created an intracellular toolkit of subcellular gene neighborhood networks in each cell's different geographical parts to take a closer look at this.”

The experiment consisted of two parts: the development of computational methods and experiments at the lab bench. The researchers examined published datasets and an algorithm to group RNA molecules based on their physical location. This “nearest neighbor” algorithm helped determine gene groupings. On the bench, researchers then labeled RNA molecules with fluorescents to easily locate them in single cells. They then uncovered many features from the distribution of RNA molecules, such as how genes are likely to be in similar subcellular locations.

Cell therapy requires many cells with highly similar phenotypes, and if there are subtypes of unknown cells in therapeutic cells, researchers cannot predict the behavior of these cells once injected into patients. With these tools, more cells of the same type can be identified, and distinct stem cell subsets with uncommon gene programs can be isolated.

“We are expanding the toolkit for the subcellular spatial organization of molecules – a ‘Swiss Army Knife’ for the subcellular spatial omics field, if you will,” said Coskun. “The goal is to measure, quantify, and model multiple independent but also interrelated molecular events in each cell with multiple functionalities. The end purpose is to define a cell’s function that can achieve high energy, Lego-like modular gene neighborhood networks and diverse cellular decisions.”

This research is funded by Regenerative Engineering and Medicine at Georgia Tech, as well as the NSF Engineering Research Center for Cell Manufacturing Technologies (CMaT).

CITATION: Venkatesan, M., Zhang, N., Marteau, B., Yajima, Y., Ortiz De Zarate Garcia, N., Fang, Z., Hu, T., Cai, S., Ford, A. Olszewski, H., Borst, A., and Coskun, A. F.  Spatial subcellular organelle networks in single cells. Scientific Reports 13, 5374 (2023). doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-32474-y

CITATION: Fang, Z., Ford, A., Hu, T., Zhang, N., Mantalaris, A., Coskun, A.F.  Subcellular spatially resolved gene neighborhood networks in single cells. Cell Reports Methods. May 12, 2023. doi.org/10.1016/j.crmeth.2023.100476 

 

]]> Georgia Parmelee 1 1683905265 2023-05-12 15:27:45 1683908545 2023-05-12 16:22:25 0 0 news In two papers out of the lab of Ahmet F. Coskun, a Bernie Marcus Early Career professor in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, researchers examined a specific type of stem cell with an intracellular toolkit to determine which cells are most likely to create effective cell therapies.

]]>
2023-05-12T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-12T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-12 00:00:00 Georgia Parmelee

]]>
670790 670787 670788 670789 670790 image <![CDATA[Spatial organelle]]>

Spatial organelle networks are distinct in stem cells from young (UC) and adult (BM). Multiplexed proteomic labeling of organelle markers reveals organelle communication. 3D render images of multiple organelles in separate panels.

]]> image/jpeg 1683905196 2023-05-12 15:26:36 1683905250 2023-05-12 15:27:30
670787 image <![CDATA[Ahmet F. Coskun, a Bernie Marcus Early Career professor in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering]]> Ahmet F. Coskun, a Bernie Marcus Early Career professor in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering

]]> image/jpeg 1683904726 2023-05-12 15:18:46 1683904858 2023-05-12 15:20:58
670788 image <![CDATA[Zhou Fang, Georgia Tech Ph.D. Candidate]]>

Zhou Fang, Georgia Tech Ph.D. Candidate

]]> image/jpeg 1683905062 2023-05-12 15:24:22 1683905092 2023-05-12 15:24:52
670789 image <![CDATA[Nicholas Zhang, Georgia Tech Ph.D. candidate]]>

Nicholas Zhang, Georgia Tech Ph.D. candidate

]]> image/jpeg 1683905143 2023-05-12 15:25:43 1683905164 2023-05-12 15:26:04
<![CDATA[Multi-Institutional Team Wins $1 Million NSF Engines Development Award]]> 34760 A team of researchers from Georgia Tech, Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine, University of Georgia, the Center for Global Health Innovation, and the Technical College System of Georgia has been awarded $1 million over the course of two years from the U.S. National Science Foundation's Regional Innovation Engines, or NSF Engines, program. They are among the more than 40 unique teams to receive one of the first-ever NSF Engines Development Awards, which aim to help partners collaborate to create economic, societal, and technological opportunities for their regions.  

The team, “Advancing Health Equity and Diagnostic Technologies (GA) Development,” will use the award to support key institutional, corporate, government, education, and community partners to create an innovative ecosystem that will inspire, develop, and translate affordable and widely available point-of-care (POC) medical technologies to advance health equity throughout the southeast.

“The Southeastern U.S. has the lowest life expectancy in the nation, and there are significant health disparities along economic, educational, racial, and geographic divisions,” said Wilbur Lam, Georgia Tech professor, principal investigator, and innovation lead. “The team will work to build an ecosystem of partners to drive use-inspired research and technology translation in the area of POC diagnostics and wearables with strong community engagement to help address these areas and advance health equity.” 

The NSF Engines program is a transformational investment for the nation, ensuring the U.S. remains in the vanguard of competitiveness for decades to come. 

"These NSF Engines Development Awards lay the foundation for emerging hubs of innovation and potential future NSF Engines," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "These awardees are part of the fabric of NSF's vision to create opportunities everywhere and enable innovation anywhere. They will build robust regional partnerships rooted in scientific and technological innovation in every part of our nation. Through these planning awards, NSF is seeding the future for in-place innovation in communities and to grow their regional economies through research and partnerships. This will unleash ideas, talent, pathways and resources to create vibrant innovation ecosystems all across our nation." 

Led by Lam, the team aims to build an ecosystem to drive use-inspired research and technology translation for health equity and leverage relationships with underserved Georgia communities to inspire a technology roadmap and adopt new technologies.​ An annual event and comprehensive roadmap will drive sustainable technology translation, workforce development, and systemic education.  

The awardees span a broad range of states and regions, reaching geographic areas that have not fully benefited from the technology boom of the past decades. These NSF Engines Development Awards will help organizations create connections and develop their local innovation ecosystems within two years to prepare strong proposals for becoming future NSF Engines, which will each have the opportunity to receive up to $160 million.   

Launched by NSF's new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships and authorized by the "CHIPS and Science Act of 2022," the NSF Engines program uniquely harnesses the nation's science and technology research and development enterprise and regional-level resources. NSF Engines aspire to catalyze robust partnerships to positively impact regional economies, accelerate technology development, address societal challenges, advance national competitiveness and create local, high-wage jobs. 

View a map of the NSF Engines Development Awards. More information can be found on the NSF Engines program website.  

NSF MEDIA REQUESTS: media@nsf.gov  

GEORGIA TECH MEDIA REQUESTS: georgia.parmelee@gatech.edu  

]]> Laurie Haigh 1 1683816827 2023-05-11 14:53:47 1683817914 2023-05-11 15:11:54 0 0 news Research team to improve healthcare for a demographically and geographically diverse state and region

]]>
2023-05-11T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-11T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-11 00:00:00 670785 670785 image <![CDATA[NSF Engines Type 1 Development Award]]> image/jpeg 1683816032 2023-05-11 14:40:32 1683816803 2023-05-11 14:53:23
<![CDATA[Scurrying Centipedes Inspire Many-Legged Robots That Can Traverse Difficult Landscapes]]> 34541 Centipedes are known for their wiggly walk. With tens to hundreds of legs, they can traverse any terrain without stopping.

“When you see a scurrying centipede, you're basically seeing an animal that inhabits a world that is very different than our world of movement,” said Daniel Goldman, the Dunn Family Professor in the School of Physics. “Our movement is largely dominated by inertia. If I swing my leg, I land on my foot and I move forward. But in the world of centipedes, if they stop wiggling their body parts and limbs, they basically stop moving instantly.”

Intrigued to see if the many limbs could be helpful for locomotion in this world, a team of physicists, engineers, and mathematicians at the Georgia Institute of Technology are using this style of movement to their advantage. They developed a new theory of multilegged locomotion and created many-legged robotic models, discovering the robot with redundant legs could move across uneven surfaces without any additional sensing or control technology as the theory predicted.

These robots can move over complex, bumpy terrain — and there is potential to use them for agriculture, space exploration, and even search and rescue.

The researchers presented their work in the papers,Multilegged Matter Transport: A Framework for Locomotion on Noisy Landscapes,” in Science in May and “Self-Propulsion via Slipping: Frictional Swimming in Multilegged Locomotors,” in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in March.

A Leg Up

For the Science paper, the researchers were motivated by mathematician Claude Shannon’s communication theory, which demonstrates how to reliably transmit signals over distance, to understand why a multilegged robot was so successful at locomotion. The theory of communication suggests that one way to ensure a message gets from point A to point B on a noisy line isn’t to send it as an analog signal, but to break it into discrete digital units and repeat these units with an appropriate code.

“We were inspired by this theory, and we tried to see if redundancy could be helpful in matter transportation,” said Baxi Chong, a physics postdoctoral researcher. “So, we started this project to see what would happen if we had more legs on the robot: four, six, eight legs, and even 16 legs.”

A team led by Chong, including School of Mathematics postdoctoral fellow Daniel Irvine and Professor Greg Blekherman, developed a theory that proposes that adding leg pairs to the robot increases its ability to move robustly over challenging surfaces — a concept they call spatial redundancy. This redundancy makes the robot’s legs successful on their own without the need for sensors to interpret the environment. If one leg falters, the abundance of legs keeps it moving regardless. In effect, the robot becomes a reliable system to transport itself and even a load from A to B on difficult or “noisy” landscapes. The concept is comparable to how punctuality can be guaranteed on wheeled transport if the track or rail is smooth enough but without having to engineer the environment to create this punctuality.

“With an advanced bipedal robot, many sensors are typically required to control it in real time,” Chong said. “But in applications such as search and rescue, exploring Mars, or even micro robots, there is a need to drive a robot with limited sensing. There are many reasons for such sensor-free initiative. The sensors can be expensive and fragile, or the environments can change so fast that it doesn’t allow enough sensor-controller response time.”

To test this, Juntao He, a Ph.D. student in robotics, conducted a series of experiments where he and Daniel Soto, a master’s graduate in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, built terrains to mimic an inconsistent natural environment. He then tested the robot by increasing its number of legs by two each time, starting with six and eventually expanding to 16. As the leg count increased, the robot could more agilely move across the terrain, even without sensors, as the theory predicted. Eventually, they tested the robot outdoors on real terrain, where it was able to traverse in a variety of environments.

“It's truly impressive to witness the multilegged robot's proficiency in navigating both lab-based terrains and outdoor environments,” Juntao said. “While bipedal and quadrupedal robots heavily rely on sensors to traverse complex terrain, our multilegged robot utilizes leg redundancy and can accomplish similar tasks with open-loop control.”

Next Steps

The researchers are already applying their discoveries to farming. Goldman has co-founded a company that aspires to use these robots to weed farmland where weedkillers are ineffective.

“They’re kind of like a Roomba but outside for complex ground,” Goldman said. “A Roomba works because it has wheels that function well on flat ground. Until the development of our framework, we couldn’t confidently predict locomotor reliability on bumpy, rocky, debris-ridden terrain. We now have the beginnings of such a scheme, which could be used to ensure that our robots traverse a crop field in a certain amount of time.”

The researchers also want to refine the robot. They know why the centipede robot framework is functional, but now they’re determining the optimal number of legs to achieve motion without sensing in a way that is cost-effective yet still retains the benefits.

“In this paper, we asked, ‘How do you predict the minimum number of legs to achieve such tasks?’” Chong said. “Currently we only prove that the minimum number exists, but we don't know that exact number of legs needed. Further, we need to better understand the tradeoff between energy, speed, power, and robustness in such a complex system.”

CITATION:

Baxi Chong et al., Multilegged matter transport: A framework for locomotion on noisy landscapes.Science380,509-515(2023).DOI:10.1126/science.ade4985

]]> Tess Malone 1 1683297708 2023-05-05 14:41:48 1683751633 2023-05-10 20:47:13 0 0 news Intrigued to see if the many limbs could be helpful for locomotion in this world, a team of physicists, engineers, and mathematicians at the Georgia Institute of Technology are using this style of movement to their advantage. They developed a new theory of multilegged locomotion and created many-legged robotic models, discovering the robot with redundant legs could move across uneven surfaces without any additional sensing or control technology as the theory predicted.

]]>
2023-05-05T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-05T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-05 00:00:00 Tess Malone, Senior Research Writer/Editor

]]>
670781 670782 670781 image <![CDATA[Centipedes are known for their wiggly walk. With tens to hundreds of legs, they can traverse any terrain without stopping. ]]> image/jpeg 1683751523 2023-05-10 20:45:23 1683751523 2023-05-10 20:45:23 670782 image <![CDATA[The research team with their robots.]]> image/jpeg 1683751552 2023-05-10 20:45:52 1683751552 2023-05-10 20:45:52
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Addressing the Nation’s Call for Semiconductors]]> 28153 Semiconductors, or microchips, are vital to life in the modern world. They’re used in the microwave you heated your breakfast in this morning, the car you drove to work, the mobile phone you shouldn’t use while driving, the bank ATM you visited, and the screened device you’re reading this story on.

They’re in our TVs, refrigerators, and washing machines, helping us live comfortable lives. They also help us stay alive as part of the medical network, used in pacemakers, blood pressure monitors, and MRI machines, among other things. Also, our national economic and defense systems rely on them. Basically, semiconductors control and manage the flow of information in the machinery that keeps the world going.

And right now, at Georgia Tech, researchers are working to innovate chip technology to ensure that U.S. semiconductor development is globally competitive, reliable, sustainable, and resilient, today and in the future.

“If you look at semiconductors, or the whole area of computing, it spans across Georgia Tech — across many different schools and disciplines,” said Arijit Raychudhury, professor and Steve W. Chaddick Chair in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). “Starting with physics and chemistry, where we essentially learn how different types of materials will react, to materials science and engineering, to electrical engineering and computer engineering, to computer science.”

It's a diverse, multidisciplinary enterprise from bottom to top, Raychudhury noted. And there is still plenty of room at the bottom, as theoretical physicist Richard P. Feynman famously said more than 60 years ago, predicting that one day we’d be making things at the atomic level. We are. It’s a familiar realm to Victor Fung and his lab, where they are designing new materials for semiconductors from the ground up, atom by atom.

“We are interested in exploring how to translate the latest advances in AI and machine learning to aid in accelerating computational materials simulations and materials discovery,” said Fung, assistant professor in the School of Computational Science. “We’ve been developing methods which can accurately predict a wide range of materials’ properties, to greatly facilitate high-throughput materials screening.”

Fung’s lab is using AI to discover previously unstudied materials with the electronic properties to build into chips. This approach to creating “designer” semiconductors would be significantly faster and cover more of the materials space than current methods.

Improving the Landscape

Smaller, more efficient, and more powerful are all part of the constantly evolving landscape in semiconductor research and development. It’s a very expensive landscape. While many chips are about the size of a fingernail, they are among the most complex human-made objects on Earth. Just building a semiconductor fabrication factory costs billions of dollars.

For a chemical engineer like Michael Filler, that sounds like opportunity.

“Chemical engineers think about how we produce products on a massive scale,” said Filler, associate professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and associate director of the Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology (IEN).

Filler, whose research involves the growing of semiconductor components, like transistors, from seed particles, is aiming to help democratize the process of chip development, bringing down the cost substantially while maintaining performance. In a not too distant future, that could mean an individual at home printing a chip on a machine similar to a 3D printer.

“Imagine a laser printer that can literally spit out custom electronics in a matter of minutes,” Filler said. “We’re big believers in the individual’s ability to be creative and know what they want to build for their applications. Ultimately, we’re interested in giving makers and prototypers opportunities to customize electronics.”

He’s in the right place for the far-reaching research he has in mind, adding, “We are so blessed with great facilities at Georgia Tech. It would be hard to imagine working somewhere else, because very few places have the diversity and quality of tooling we have here.”

IEN, which facilitates much of the semiconductor research at Georgia Tech, is based in the Marcus Nanotechnology Building, with its state-of-the-art micro/nano fabrication facilities such as the shared cleanroom space and a laser machine lab for micromachining.

But it is the range of expertise and creativity among faculty and students who are making IEN and Georgia Tech a thought leader in semiconductor research. This is evidenced by Tech’s recent grant of $65.7 million from the Semiconductor Research Corporation and the Defense Research Projects Agency to launch two new interdisciplinary research centers.

Events like Georgia Tech Chip Day (May 2) and Nanowire Week, an international gathering happening in Atlanta in October, also speak to Tech’s growing influence in this area.

Answering the Call

The Covid-19 pandemic clarified just how difficult it can be to make more chips. A shortage of semiconductors affected the supply of phones, computers, and other commonly used items during the global shutdown. Increased demand, depleted reserves, and too few manufacturing plants and workers significantly crippled the supply chain.

“The high degree of geographic concentration in certain parts of the semiconductor supply chain has recently created a heightened risk of supply interruptions,” said Chip White, Schneider National Chair in Transportation and Logistics and professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE). “Such interruptions and resulting wild fluctuations in semiconductor demand can threaten the nation’s public health, defense, and economic security.”

With that in mind, translational supply chain research is going on in several places on campus, White said, including the Supply Chain and Logistics Institute and the NSF AI Research Institute for Advances in Optimization. White and his colleagues are developing software platforms for stress testing manufacturing supply chains. The goal is to identify vulnerabilities and risk mitigation procedures to design and operate next generation supply chains for critical industries such as the semiconductor industry, to improve global competitiveness and strike a balance between market forces and national security.

In an effort to address and feed the next generation demand for chips, the Biden administration recently launched a massive effort to outcompete China in semiconductor manufacturing, offering $39 billion in funding incentives for companies seeking to build plants in the U.S.

Another related area of importance in the ongoing development of semiconductors is growing the workforce of the future, and that includes a new wave of researchers. This is a role that Jennifer Hasler takes seriously.

“I have a strong interest and belief in mentoring,” said Hasler, ECE professor and founder of the Integrated Computational Electronics lab at Georgia Tech. She’s proven, theoretically at least, that the technology already exists to build a silicon-based version of the human cerebral cortex (which would cost billions of dollars to design and build), but one of her favorite roles is working with new, young faculty.

“It’s a personal thing for me, but it’s one of the coolest things I’m involved in,” she said. “When they come to Georgia Tech, they see how big this place is, bigger than a company. I like to say to them, ‘Let’s calm down, take a breath, you’re good, so let’s go make some cool stuff. Let’s get some momentum going.’”

For Raychowdhury, director of the new Center for the Co-Design of Cognitive Systems (part of the JUMP 2.0 program), developing the skilled workforce of the future means answering the call of the nation.

“This is one of the largest ECE departments in the country, with many, many talented students,” he said. “And given the need and shortage of skilled professionals in this particular area, I think it’s critical for us to create that kind of pipeline.” Last year, ECE undergraduate students started taking a new, two-semester course, sponsored by Apple, in which they actually build microprocessors from scratch.

“This is completely new,” Raychowdhury said. “It’s expensive to offer this course, but we plan to keep doing it and we’re in conversations with other companies that want to invest in workforce development. So, in addition to doing fantastic research, we want to be sensitive to the needs of the country and a new generation.”

 

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1683048316 2023-05-02 17:25:16 1683294426 2023-05-05 13:47:06 0 0 news Georgia Tech's multidisciplinary semiconductor researchers working to innovate chip technology to ensure U.S. competitiveness

]]>
2023-05-02T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-02T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-02 00:00:00 Writer: Jerry Grillo

]]>
670757 670713 670757 image <![CDATA[IEN cleanroom staff member holding a wafer]]> image/png 1683294311 2023-05-05 13:45:11 1683294366 2023-05-05 13:46:06 670713 image <![CDATA[Semiconductor Researchers]]> Left to right: Arijit Raychowdhury, Victor Fung, Jennifer Hasler, Michael Filler, Chip White

]]> image/jpeg 1683042732 2023-05-02 15:52:12 1683042828 2023-05-02 15:53:48
<![CDATA[Materials for Biomedical Systems Day Brings Researchers Together to Engineer Better Medicines]]> 34760 One of the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges for Engineering is to engineer better medicines. To help address this challenge, W. Hong Yeo leads the Materials for Biomedical Systems research initiative for the Georgia Tech Institute for Materials (IMat). The goal of the initiative is to enhance human health via multidisciplinary materials research.

“The existing healthcare challenges are so complicated and demanding, so the collaboration between academia, industry, and national labs is imperative, and synergistic multidisciplinary research is required,” explained Yeo, who is also an associate professor and Woodruff Faculty Fellow in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and holds a courtesy appointment in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering.

To further this initiative, Yeo and Emory University’s Young Jang organized the Materials for Biomedical Systems (MBS) Day at Georgia Tech. The workshop was held on March 30 at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center and attracted researchers and industry representatives from a variety of disciplines.

The focus of the morning session was on soft materials and biomaterials for medical systems. It began with a talk on Organogels x EGaIn for Soft & Self-Healing Bioelectronics from Carmel Majidi, a professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Additional speakers in the morning session included ProgenaCare Global’s Allison Ramey-Ward, Seoul National University’s Young Bin Choy, and Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology’s Jae-Woong Jeong. The morning concluded with a panel discussion, regarding the translation of biomaterials technologies to system developments and commercialization, moderated by the University of Pittsburgh’s Youngjae Chun.

The afternoon session of the day was focused on stem cells and regenerative medicine. It began with a talk on Bioengineered Hydrogels for Regenerative Medicine from Andrés García, executive director of the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience (IBB) and Regents’ Professor at Georgia Tech. Additional speakers in this session included Sung-Jin Park from Emory/Georgia Tech, William Hynes from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Ki Dong Park from Ajou University, Ho-Wook Jun from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Johnna Temenoff from Emory University/Georgia Tech. The session concluded with a panel discussion moderated by Johnny Lam from the Food and Drug Administration.

“I am so thankful for all of the participants, sponsors, and organizers who made such an amazing workshop that generated innovative ideas and new collaboration opportunities from across the field,” said Yeo. “We also discussed immediate commercialization paths and regulatory importance in developing biomaterials and medical systems. We will continue offering networking and research-sharing opportunities to facilitate knowledge exchange through this MBS initiative.”

After the workshop, multiple students participated in a poster contest to showcase their research in biomaterials and medical systems and network with attendees. MBS Day was co-sponsored by IMat and IBB.

]]> Laurie Haigh 1 1682690389 2023-04-28 13:59:49 1682690599 2023-04-28 14:03:19 0 0 news The workshop brought together researchers from various disciplines to ehnance human health via multidisciplinary materials research.

]]>
2023-04-28T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-28T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-28 00:00:00 Laurie Haigh
Research Communications

]]>
670656 670656 image <![CDATA[Carnegie Mellon's Carmel Majidi presents at Materials for Biomedical Systems Day]]> image/png 1682689736 2023-04-28 13:48:56 1682690335 2023-04-28 13:58:55
<![CDATA[2023 Symposium on Materials Innovations Brings Together Researchers and Industry Experts]]> 34760 Materials research at Georgia Tech is broad — from fundamental physics and chemistry to simulation, synthesis, processing, and characterization, to properties that impact structural, chemical, biomedical, electronic, optical, magnetic, thermal, and energy applications. The Institute for Materials (IMat) brings together faculty and students studying materials from across campus to accelerate the pace of research, discovery, deployment, and applications.

To further this mission, IMat and the School of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) co-hosted the 2023 Brumley D. Pritchett Lecture and IMat Symposium on Materials Innovations on March 31, 2023. The Symposium included talks from invited speakers and Georgia Tech faculty, a poster contest, and networking opportunities.

“The 2023 IMat Symposium on Materials Innovations was a great success,” said Eric Vogel, IMat’s executive director. “The talks were interesting, and the audience was engaged.”

The prestigious Brumley D. Pritchett lecture featured Giulia Galli, the Liew Family Professor of Electronic Structure and Simulations at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Chicago. Galli’s talk was on Complex Materials from First Principles: From Sustainable Energy Sources to Quantum Information Science.

The Symposium content focused on new advances in materials science and their applications in various industries. Guest speakers included Christophe Levy from Holcim Innovation Center and Carmel Majidi, a professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Levy started off the day with his talk on industrial innovations in the cement and concrete domain and Majidi discussed integrated soft materials for human-compatible machines and electronics.

Georgia Tech speakers included Associate Chair for Research and Woodruff Professor in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering Anna Erickson, IMat Science Advisor and Professor Martin Mourigal, Assistant Professor Vida Jamali, Associate Professor and Vasser-Woolley Georgia Research Alliance Distinguished Investigator in Sensors and Instrumentation Jason Azoulay, and Assistant Professor Victor Fung.

More than 20 students participated in the poster contest with presenters from the Schools of Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Physics, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Aerospace Engineering.

The winning poster and recipient of a $500 prize was submitted by Rahul Venkatesh. His poster was on “Data-Enabled Experimental Development of Polymer-Based Organic Electronics.” In addition to the winner, three finalists were also selected. Presenters of the finalist posters included Daniel Aziz, Carolina Colon, and Harsh Verma. Each received a prize of $250.

This was the second year IMat and MSE hosted the Symposium, and it provided attendees with valuable insights into the latest advances in the field of materials science. It also provided an opportunity for researchers and students to network and collaborate, paving the way for future breakthroughs in materials science.

]]> Laurie Haigh 1 1682618148 2023-04-27 17:55:48 1682625532 2023-04-27 19:58:52 0 0 news The Symposium included talks from invited speakers and Georgia Tech faculty, a poster contest, and networking opportunities.

]]>
2023-04-27T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-27T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-27 00:00:00 Laurie Haigh
Research Communications

]]>
670654 670654 image <![CDATA[2023 Brumley D. Pritchett Lecture Speaker Giulia Galli]]> image/jpeg 1682624519 2023-04-27 19:41:59 1682625492 2023-04-27 19:58:12
<![CDATA[IMat Initiative Lead Q&A: Richard Neu]]> 34760 Richard Neu leads the Materials in Extreme Environments research initiative for the Institute for Materials at Georgia Tech. In this role, he is working to engage and build an interdisciplinary research community to address the complex issues associated with new materials in extreme environments. These environments include high temperature, high pressure, corrosive, wear/erosion, cyclic loading, high-rate impacts, and radiation. Neu is also a professor in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering with a courtesy appointment in the School of Materials Science Engineering and director of the Mechanical Properties Characterization Facility.

In this brief Q&A, Neu discusses his research focus, how it relates to materials research, and the impact of this initiative.

What is your field of expertise and at what point in your life did you first become interested in this area?

My field of expertise is the mechanical behavior of materials, mainly structural alloys. As an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, I chose to study engineering mechanics, which is the discipline explaining the way materials behave under loads and displacements. This led me to conduct undergraduate research on the thermomechanical mechanical fatigue of railway wheels, which occurs from the brake shoe application on the tread resulting in frictional heating of the wheel's surface. On a long downward grade, the wheel treads can get red hot, since the brakes are continuously applied. The strength and elastic properties of the wheel steel are reduced, and permanent changes such as the formation of residual stresses and changes in the microstructure degrade the mechanical behavior after repeated braking. Understanding and predicting this response enables more durable wheel steels and designs.

In my early career, I investigated several problems that involved structural materials needing to survive extreme environments. These included the understanding of the mechanisms leading to hot bearings in railway freight cars, the thermomechanical response of the skin material for hypersonic aircraft, and the thermomechanical fatigue and creep of hot turbine sections in gas turbines for both propulsion and energy generation. These problems are changing because high strength, high creep resistance, and good fracture toughness are needed, while the material itself continues to evolve at these high temperatures. In addition, chemical reactions can occur, significantly affecting the microstructure and mechanical behavior of the material near the surface. The problem of understanding these materials operating in these extreme environments entails a multidisciplinary approach involving mechanics, metallurgy, manufacturing processes, tribology, and machine design.

What questions or challenges sparked your current materials research?

My current research does not deviate much from my early days of research. The most challenging problems in the mechanical behavior of materials involve pushing materials to their extremes. There is a continuing need to discover and design structural alloys and composites with improved high-temperature properties, with reduced degradation in the environment they must withstand, whether corrosive, cryogenic, high temperature, or more often, a combination of these. Today, these challenges include developing more efficient gas turbine systems that can burn alternative fuels such as hydrogen, rolling bearing and gear steels that have higher reliability, and establishing quality assurance for materials manufactured using additive manufacturing and other novel processes to ensure that they will survive these extreme environments.

Why is your initiative important to the development of Georgia Tech’s Materials research strategy?

Leading the initiative for Materials in Extreme Environments, I desired to bring together faculty and researchers working in this area and those working on applications that involve materials operating in extreme environments. This year we identified one important application area where Georgia Tech is taking the lead. Hydrogen is likely to be a major player in the future green energy economy. One challenge to realizing a hydrogen energy economy is the efficient and low-cost generation, storage, and transport of hydrogen. In alloys, the degradation due to hydrogen embrittlement is one of the concerns that must be addressed. Both the materials understanding in this environment and the design of newer materials and surface modifications are needed. Furthermore, this needs to be accomplished at a large scale and low cost.

What are the broader global and social benefits of the research you and your team conduct?

The work we do enables safer and lower life cycle costs of mechanical systems, critically important for all the highly loaded structural components of aircraft and other transportation systems, hypersonic aircraft and rocket systems, gas turbine systems, nuclear power generation systems, and immense wind turbine components, as well as materials used in medical devices that are implanted in humans. Our research provides the knowledge and engineering tools to achieve a safer world and superior mechanical systems that improve the quality of life.

What are your plans for engaging a wider GT faculty pool with IMat research?

We are engaging with external experts to understand the needs in materials for the hydrogen value chain. While much research today is focused on producing green hydrogen through lower cost electrolysis and using hydrogen for energy generation with fuel cells, a big challenge of storing and transporting the hydrogen from its production to where it will be used requires novel solutions and materials. This involves, for example, storing hydrogen under extreme pressures in an environment where hydrogen itself can react and degrade the mechanical properties of the materials. The time is right for a diverse group of faculty to work on the storage and transportation challenges to facilitate energy having a substantial reduction in the carbon footprint while also reducing the life cycle costs of the infrastructure.

]]> Laurie Haigh 1 1682598783 2023-04-27 12:33:03 1682616457 2023-04-27 17:27:37 0 0 news Neu leads the Materials in Extreme Environments research initiative for the Institute for Materials at Georgia Tech.

]]>
2023-04-27T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-27T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-27 00:00:00 Laurie Haigh
Research Communications

]]>
670646 670646 image <![CDATA[IMat Initiative Lead Richard Neu]]> image/jpeg 1682598713 2023-04-27 12:31:53 1682598772 2023-04-27 12:32:52 <![CDATA[Hydrogen: A Strategic Research Initiative]]>
<![CDATA[Micro-Grants Community-Based Research Teams Present their Work]]> 27338 The 2022-23 Micro-Grants Community-Based Research awardees presented their findings at the second annual symposium, held on April 18, 2023, in the auditorium of the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design, which is the region’s first Living Building. Ten teams presented to faculty, staff, students, and student family members. The topics were wide ranging, and dealt with both practical and theoretical issues. The work surpassed all expectations for quality and quantity.

Devised by the Kendeda Building Advisory Board and sponsored by the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems and the Kendeda Building, the Micro-Grants Research Program solicits proposals for very small scale ($50 to $500), short term, sustainability related, research studies to be conducted by members of the Georgia Tech community. Community investigators are encouraged to explore ways in which the Georgia Tech campus can continue to innovate, demonstrate, prove, and promote the adoption of best and next practices in regenerative design and operations. Researchers were also encouraged to use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for research design. All members of the Georgia Tech community were encouraged to apply. The program especially sought proposals from students and staff that had little or no prior research experience.

The program has four objectives:

  1. to expand scientific thinking and the understanding of the research process amongst those not (yet) directly involved in scientific research;
  2. to bolster the use of the campus as a living laboratory;
  3. to give voice to people and communities outside of research that have culturally novel perspectives on problems and their possible solutions, and to create new pathways for partnering with them; and
  4. to seed novel ideas and nurture nascent investigators.

The 2022-23 awardees and the titles of their projects are:

More details and links to all the presentations are available at this web page.

]]> Brent Verrill 1 1682454215 2023-04-25 20:23:35 1682454311 2023-04-25 20:25:11 0 0 news The 2022-23 Micro-Grants Community-Based Research awardees presented their findings at the second annual symposium, held on April 18, 2023, in the auditorium of the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design.

]]>
2023-04-25T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-25T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-25 00:00:00 Brent Verrill, Research Communications Program Manager, BBISS

]]>
<![CDATA[BBISS Microgrants Page]]>
<![CDATA[Mudskippers Could Be Key to Understanding Evolution of Blinking]]> 34541 Blinking is crucial for the eye. It’s how animals clean their eyes, protect them, and even communicate. But how and why did blinking originate? Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Seton Hill University, and Pennsylvania State University studied the mudskipper, an amphibious fish that spends most of its day on land, to better understand why blinking is a fundamental behavior for life on land.

Although mudskippers are distantly related to tetrapods, the group that includes humans and other four-limbed vertebrates, researchers believed studying the fish could unlock how blinking evolved as these animals began to move on land. 

The research team, which included several undergraduates, published their findings in the paper, “The Origin of Blinking in Both Mudskippers and Tetrapods Is Linked to Life on Land,” in Proceedings of the National Academies of Science.

“By comparing the anatomy and behavior of mudskippers to the fossil record of early tetrapods, we argue that blinking emerged in both groups as an adaptation to life on land,” said Tom Stewart, an assistant professor at Penn State and an author of the paper. “These results help us understand our own biology and raise a whole set of new questions about the variety of blinking behaviors we see in living species.”

Breaking Down Blinking

Mudskippers blink by sucking their eye downward into their eye socket. The evolution of this behavior did not require the evolution of a lot of new parts such as new muscles or special glands, though. Instead, mudskippers use their existing set of eye muscles in a new way.

“This is a very exciting result because it demonstrates that the evolution of a new, complex behavior can be achieved using a relatively rudimentary set of structures,” said Brett Aiello, a former postdoctoral fellow in the Agile Systems Lab and now assistant professor at Seton Hill.

Next, the research team set out to determine why mudskippers blink. In a series of experiments, they found that mudskippers blink for three main functions: to wet, clean, and protect the eye. These functions are also why humans and other land-dwelling vertebrates blink.

“We find that a single behavior can be deployed to accomplish three complex, distinct functions,” said Aiello. “These results not only help humans understand our own history, but also help us reevaluate the adaptations necessary for major transitions in the evolutionary history of vertebrates, like moving from water to land.”

Blinking isn’t just a unique research question, but also an important mechanism to understand, according to Saad Bhamla, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and author on the paper.

We all blink without thinking, and understanding why we blink is just such a beautiful puzzle right in front of our eyes,” Bhamla said. “Through our research on mudskippers and by conducting biophysical and morphological analyses, we expose how blinking serves a multitude of functions for adapting to life out of water.”

Engaging Undergraduates

To explore such open-ended questions, the researchers engaged the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) program, which allows undergraduates to conduct long-term, large-scale research projects as part of their coursework at Georgia Tech.

“The structure of the VIP course empowers students to really lean on their own creativity and drive the project in the directions that are most exciting to them,” said Aiello. “It helps our students gain the ability to solve unknown problems on the ground as they arise — a lot of people become scientists to push research somewhere where nobody else has tried to go before.”

The VIP structure is inherently multidisciplinary. While Aiello is a biologist, most students were engineers and brought their respective expertise. Manognya Sripathi was a biomedical engineering major with a minor in computer science and offered her unique experience to the mudskipper problem.

“I used my computer science skills to gather raw data and analyze and plot them using programs like MATLAB or Python,” Sripathi said. “I also used engineering skills to help build the experimental equipment, allowing us to apply engineering methods to study a biological problem in a unique way.”

Moving Beyond Mudskippers

Te research didn’t just expand knowledge of mudskippers — it also contributed to each student’s future aspirations. For example, Kendra Washington’s trajectory was influenced by the two semesters she spent in the lab.

“VIP drew me closer to the programming and device areas of my biomedical engineering major and solidified why I picked up a computer science minor,” she said. “I continued to pursue that fusion through later internships and research, and now work with hemodynamic monitoring. But in a sense, I still help characterize physiology through programming.”

VIP also expanded the students’ knowledge and scientific experience that have propelled them far beyond the lab. Hajime Minoguchi, a biomedical engineering graduate, now works as a systems integration research and development engineer thanks to his experience in the class.

“Working in an interdisciplinary team like this has allowed me to learn how to understand and communicate ideas between disciplines, which allowed me to be a more well-rounded engineer,” Minoguchi said. “My work requires a thorough understanding of biology, electrical circuitry, software, firmware, mechanical interactions, and physics. This VIP experience was instrumental for me in being successful at my current job.”

The research is far greater than the sum of its parts and brings a greater understanding of evolution, noted Simon Sponberg, an associate professor in the School of Physics and the School of Biological Sciences.

“Blinking is a reflection of a bigger question,” Sponberg said. “How did major evolutionary transitions occur that enabled organisms to inhabit basically every environment on this planet? What we learned is you don't need the evolution of a lot of specialized musculature or glands; evolution can tinker with the structures that are already there, allowing them to be used in a new way and for a new behavior.”

CITATION: Aiello BR, MS Bhamla, J Gau, JGL Morris, K Bomar, S da Cunha, H Fu, J Laws, H Minoguchi, M Sripathi, K Washington,G Wong, NH Shubin†, S Sponberg†, TA Stewart. The origin of blinking in mudskippers and tetrapods is linked to life on land.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2220404120

 

 

 

]]> Tess Malone 1 1682364196 2023-04-24 19:23:16 1682451495 2023-04-25 19:38:15 0 0 news Blinking is crucial for the eye. It’s how animals clean their eyes, protect them, and even communicate. But how and why did blinking originate? Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Seton Hill University, and Pennsylvania State University studied the mudskipper, an amphibious fish that spends most of its day on land, to better understand why blinking is a fundamental behavior for life on land.

]]>
2023-04-24T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-24T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-24 00:00:00 Tess Malone, Senior Research Writer/Editor

]]>
670616 670616 image <![CDATA[Indian Mudskipper]]> image/jpeg 1682372615 2023-04-24 21:43:35 1682372615 2023-04-24 21:43:35
<![CDATA[Bacteria Can Discard Damage to Survive Antibiotic Treatment]]> 28153 It’s the quiet bacteria that you’ve got to watch out for, the bacteria that can survive antibiotic treatments by forming dormant, drug-tolerant “persisters.” These persister bacteria can wake up after treatment and prolong infections.

Persisters were first described about 80 years ago in some of the first studies of the antibiotic penicillin. Later, it was discovered that these bacteria didn’t have genetic resistance to antibiotics – they basically go dormant, hibernating, essentially hiding from the treatment that has been designed to kill them. 

How they wake up again has remained a mystery. But researchers with the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University are working to solve it. Along the way they’ve developed a better understanding of how bacteria can resist the therapeutic power of antibiotics, which could lead to more effective treatments down the road.

“These persisters don’t have the genes that can inactivate an antibiotic, but they still survive treatment,” said Kyle Allison, whose lab recently published its work in the journal Molecular Systems Biology. In fact, their study made the cover of the print edition published this month.

“Persisters are thought to play a role in a lot of different kinds of chronic infections,” Allison said. “We approached them like an engineering problem. Rather than trying to invent or discover a brand-new antibiotic, perhaps all we need to do is understand why these bacteria survive.”

Most studies of persisters focus on figuring out how they form. But Allison reasoned that the therapeutically interesting question is: How do they wake up or resuscitate from their dormant state?

“It’s a challenge to study this because these are rare cells, and bacterial cells are very small, so they’re hard to track and it’s hard to monitor their behaviors,” said Allison. “So, we developed methods that can look at thousands of cells at high magnification over long periods of time. That enabled us to study resuscitation – the waking-up moment for these persister cells in a statistically rigorous way.”

Allison – whose partner in the study was lead author Xin Fang, a postdoc in his lab – said they expected the bacterial cells to wake up randomly, which would be consistent with past studies into the phenomenon. But the activity of individual persister bacteria cells had never been verified. Through their close inspection, using single-cell time-lapse microscopy, Allison and Fang noticed that persisters wake up at an accelerated rate after antibiotic treatment.

“This led to some interesting questions,” Allison said. “Was the antibiotic having an effect on the dormant persisters? They were thought to hibernate, to be oblivious to the antibiotic. But we saw that the antibiotic actually does have an effect – the more antibiotic they get during treatment, the slower they are to wake back up. We were even able to show that there is some damage in the persisters from the antibiotic treatment, and many persisters actually appear to discard that damage.”

Basically, it looked as if some persisters were actually sacrificing themselves, allowing the group to wake up and develop colonies. The persisters seemed to be enabling their own survival by partitioning – allowing some to die off so the rest can survive. 

And the researchers saw this behavior when they studied multiple, different pathogens (escherichia coli, salmonella enterica, pseudomonas aeruginosa, and klebsiella pneumoniae) that cause completely different types of infection and have different mechanisms for tolerating antibiotics.

“The fact that they all have this cellular partitioning when they wake up after antibiotic treatment was pretty surprising,” Allison said. “It indicates the possibility that this non-genetic mechanism allows bacteria to survive in patients.”

Allison has been interested in the subject of antibiotic resistance since he was in graduate school. While he can’t claim that this resuscitation phenomenon is widespread in patients, the fact that the researchers observed it happening in lab samples, and randomly chosen patient samples, “is probably pretty significant,” he said. “It hints strongly that this may be an important mechanism underlying treatment failure in bacteria that lack genetic resistance.”

The exploratory and unique nature of the research was made possible by an NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, which grants flexibility to junior scientists like Allison pursuing high-risk research.

CITATION: Xin Fang, Kyle Allison. “Resuscitation dynamics reveal persister partitioning after antibiotic treatment.” Molecular Systems Biology, April 2023.  doi.org/10.15252/msb.202211320

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1682370170 2023-04-24 21:02:50 1682450477 2023-04-25 19:21:17 0 0 news Dormant bacteria resuscitates in presence of antibiotic

]]>
2023-04-24T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-24T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-24 00:00:00 Jerry Grillo

]]>
670614 670614 image <![CDATA[Karmella.jpg]]> Karmella Haynes is exploring the dark matter of the genome.

]]> 1682369866 2023-04-24 20:57:46 1693229676 2023-08-28 13:34:36
<![CDATA[ECE Professor Omer Inan to be Featured Speaker at TEDxAtlanta 2023: WE RISE]]> 36172 Professor Omer Inan is set to take the stage at the upcoming TEDxAtlanta 2023: We Rise event on May 19.

As the Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Chair in bioscience and bioengineering in Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), Inan designs clinically relevant medical devices and systems and translates them from the lab to patient care applications. In his talk, Inan will be discussing his groundbreaking research on wearable healthcare technologies and the potential they hold for revolutionizing the field.

Inan is a member of the prestigious Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows (elected in 2022) for his “outstanding contributions to the non-invasive assessment of the mechanical aspects of cardiovascular health and performance using wearable devices.” Additional achievements include an Academy Award for Technical Achievement from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (The Oscars, 2021), the Georgia Power Professor of Excellence for the College of Engineering (2019), and the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program award (NSF CAREER, 2018).

TEDxAtlanta 2023: WE RISE brings together an impressive group of participants from diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. The speakers include entrepreneurs, activists, educators, artists, scientists, and many other changemakers who have risen above challenges to make a positive impact on the world.

The event's participants will share their stories and insights on how they have overcome adversity, embraced innovation, and challenged the status quo to make a difference in their communities and beyond. Through their talks, they will inspire and empower attendees to rise above their own challenges and take action towards creating a better future for all.

TEDxAtlanta 2023: WE RISE will take place on Friday, May 19 from 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. at the Rialto Center for the Arts (80 Forsyth Street Northwest Atlanta, GA 30303). Learn more and purchase tickets at tedxatlanta.com.

]]> dwatson71 1 1680812837 2023-04-06 20:27:17 1682429266 2023-04-25 13:27:46 0 0 news TEDxAtlanta 2023: WE RISE will take place on Friday, May 19 from 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. at the Rialto Center for the Arts (80 Forsyth Street Northwest Atlanta, GA 30303).

]]>
2023-04-06T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-06T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-06 00:00:00 Dan Watson

]]>
670472 670472 image <![CDATA[Omer Inan TEDxAtlanta 2023: We Rise]]> Professor Omer Inan is set to take the stage at the upcoming TEDxAtlanta 2023: We Rise event on May 19.

]]> image/png 1680812596 2023-04-06 20:23:16 1680812643 2023-04-06 20:24:03
<![CDATA[Researchers Discover Neural Clock That May Synchronize Visual Behavior]]> 28153 About half of the brain is devoted in some way to vision. Our eyes observe the visual field, and that information is sent to the back of the brain, where it is processed. Then very quickly – almost instantaneously – we recognize the objects in front us. And we can shake the hand of an approaching friend, or we can move out of the way of oncoming traffic.

It’s lot to take in. All that precise recognition in a single glance takes an enormous amount of computation and synchronization. Driving this activity are neurons firing and communicating across the vast space between our ears so we can focus quickly and reliably on the right features. How all this complicated collaboration comes together is not entirely understood.

But a team of Georgia Tech researchers trying to solve the mystery has discovered an internal “clock” that timestamps and synchronizes visual computation across different areas of the brain. The results of their studies help explain the remarkable precision of visual processing in a healthy brain.  Their findings also suggest new ways to think about brain activity when visual perception is neurologically impaired.

“It’s like what happens in a computer chip,” said Bilal Haider, assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, whose lab published their work recently in the journal Neuron. “All the instructions from open apps and software have to flow in a precise sequence so messages don’t get scrambled – and so your apps don’t crash!”

Electrified silicon chips are super-fast, so in a computer, the clock stamps and runs instructions millions of times a second. Haider and his team found that the visual processing clock, made of wet, squishy neurons, does pretty good, too.

“We found that the visual system runs instructions 60 times a second and makes sure each cycle of the clock is precisely timed across multiple visual regions of the brain,” Haider said. “We suspect that desynchronizing this clock could potentially underlie all sorts of visual processing deficits, which could mean scrambled, jumbled visual messages.”

Narrowing the Frequency

Neurons work well together when one group sends a message, and the other group is standing ready to receive it. Rhythmic brain oscillations are thought to play a key role in this process of communication and computation.

EEG-based neural oscillations are often observed in neurological diseases, noted the study’s lead author, Donghoon Shin, “but the specific function of neural oscillations remains an open question. Our paper provides a fascinating example at the intersection of neural oscillation, cooperation between brain areas, temporal coding, and visual perception.”

Shin, who was a graduate student in the Haider lab during the research, led the examination of narrowband gamma (NBG) oscillation, focusing on the relationship between oscillation timing and visual function.

Oscillations occur at different frequencies in the brain, with higher frequency gamma oscillations controlling communication between different regions of the brain. Previous studies of the visual system have proposed that broadband gamma oscillations facilitate brain-wide signal coordination underlying visual perception.

But the broadband frequency between different brain areas varies widely and doesn’t seem to provide the precise synchronization needed for optimum neural activity. Shin, Haider, and team performed new experiments that demonstrate how narrowband gamma oscillations can propagate and synchronize throughout an awake brain’s visual system with great precision.

The consistent rate of NBG oscillations (between 55 to 65 times per second, versus 30 to 80 times for broadband gamma) makes it easier for different brain areas to sync up, Shin said.

“More broadly, NBG oscillations across brain areas might be a way to ‘pay attention’ to the right features or locations for effective visual behavior,” Haider said. “So, a next step in the research would be to test the NBG clock, to see how it might be altered in neurological conditions where visual behavior is impaired and try to figure out if we need to ‘reset’ the visual clock to help improve behavior or attention.”

CITATION:  Donghoon Shin, Kayla Peelman, Joseph Del Rosario, Bilal Haider. “Narrowband gamma oscillations propagate and synchronize …”  Neuron https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.05.19.491028

 

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1681745635 2023-04-17 15:33:55 1682369414 2023-04-24 20:50:14 0 0 news Narrowband gamma oscillations across brain areas might be a way to ‘pay attention’ to the right features or locations for effective visual behavior

]]>
2023-04-17T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-17T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-17 00:00:00 Jerry Grillo

]]>
670564 670564 image <![CDATA[Donghoon and Bilal.jpg]]> image/jpeg 1681749072 2023-04-17 16:31:12 1681749072 2023-04-17 16:31:12
<![CDATA[Making Medicines: Vinayak Agarwal Awarded NSF CAREER Grant for Peptide Research]]> 35599 Natural products – small organic molecules made by living things like bacteria, fungi, and plants – are at the forefront of medical innovation. The majority of clinically used antibiotics and drugs are derived from these unique molecules, and innovations in their development, identification, and synthesis are driving the fight against antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

In the race to develop new pharmaceuticals, an increasing number of biochemists are looking to discover new natural products and uncover the mechanisms that produce and influence them. And Georgia Tech School of Chemistry and Biochemistry Assistant Professor Vinayak Agarwal is helping lead that charge. “I’m interested in how and why natural products are created in nature, what we can learn from their processes, and how we can harness nature's capabilities for interesting applications,” Agarwal says.

Now a $700,000 NSF CAREER grant will help him do so. The National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award is a five-year funding mechanism designed to help promising researchers establish a personal foundation for a lifetime of leadership in their field. Known as CAREER awards, the grants are NSF’s most prestigious funding for untenured assistant professors.

Agarwal’s award specifically focuses on his research into peptides, short strings of amino acids that make up proteins. “We’re making new types of peptides and modified peptides,” Agarwal explains. “Modifications in a lot of antibiotics that we use are actually peptides.” Over 100 peptide-based drugs are currently available in the US, where they’re used to treat conditions ranging from type-2 diabetes to MS. 

Changing the tides with peptides 

While peptides are naturally made in the body, they can also be synthesized in the lab, where they’re modified using different enzymes. By harnessing these enzymes, peptides can be better tailored to suit needs – they can be changed to interact with biologies in different ways, an essential aspect of creating new medicines. 

Discovering and studying the enzymes that modify peptides is a key part of Agarwal’s research, as is understanding the mechanisms that these enzymes use to recognize and bind to the peptides. This is called “enzymatic modification,” and it’s a lush playing field for discovering new chemical reactions. “We want to solve the need of the chemistry community when it comes to peptide modifications, providing new reactions to the community regarding peptide development and peptide modification,” Agarwal says.

While gene mining has revealed some enzymes that might be useful in modifying peptides, the reactions caused by these enzymes and the resulting structure of the peptide are not fully understood: in-situ research is needed.  Agarwal’s first goal is to discover new chemical reactions between peptides and enzymes by leveraging in vivo synthetic biology (inside living organisms) and in vitro biochemistry experiments (outside of living organisms). 

Agarwal also hopes to better understand how peptides and proteins interact, and why so many chemical reactions depend on them. “Peptide-protein interactions and modification of peptides is a central tenet of all biological processes,” Agarwal explains. “We want to know how and why peptides are chosen by nature as scaffolding for chemical reactions.” 

Hands-on research and the student connection

Leveraging in vivo synthetic biology and in vitro biochemistry experiments means a lot of hands-on research. “The team is making peptides in the lab using an E. coli bacteria,” Agarwal explains. “We provide genes to an E. coli bacteria, and it modifies the chemistries using specific enzymes.”

What does this research look like? Petri dishes. A lot of petri dishes. And a lot of opportunities for students. “One of our key goals is to use our interdisciplinary training to engage underserved students in research and lab experience. We want to educate, train, and diversify the next generation of scientists,” Agarwal says. “We are designing new courses in the laboratory which introduces undergraduates to new coursework and experiments in peptide science.”

Some of these opportunities are already bearing fruit: Agarwal recently collaborated with a team of undergraduates over a semester-long lab course, which included conducting laboratory research and publishing their findings.

Now, Agarwal plans to use this new CAREER grant to further expand opportunities for undergraduates, and will develop original curriculum starting with peptide-based lab research together with scientific communication and writing. 

“The training that students are going to get provides a broad experience in biological and chemical science,” Agarwal says. “We want our students to learn mechanisms for peptide modifications, but the training is broadly applicable. It will prepare them to move forward in STEM – and especially graduate studies – but will also prepare them for industry careers, government and regulatory science, graduate studies, and more. This kind of background is applicable in all fields.”

All in all, Agarwal expects the research to span across this decade and into the next. There’s excitement in that timeline, too – ten-plus years of teaching, discovery, and opportunities for students, at Georgia Tech and beyond.

“For me, the biggest thing is student progress, as well as curriculum development and training,” Agarwal says. “That’s my driving force.”

]]> sperrin6 1 1681836051 2023-04-18 16:40:51 1682093259 2023-04-21 16:07:39 0 0 news Agarwal’s award specifically focuses on his research into peptides, short strings of amino acids that make up proteins. “We’re making new types of peptides and modified peptides,” Agarwal explains. “Modifications in a lot of antibiotics that we use are actually peptides.”

 

]]>
2023-04-19T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-19T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-19 00:00:00 Written by Selena Langner

]]>
670575 670576 670575 image <![CDATA[Petri Dish Mosaic]]> image/png 1681836224 2023-04-18 16:43:44 1681836644 2023-04-18 16:50:44 670576 image <![CDATA[Agarwal Portrait]]> image/jpeg 1681836683 2023-04-18 16:51:23 1681836734 2023-04-18 16:52:14 <![CDATA[Chemistry, Chaos, Peptides, and (Infinite) Problems: Georgia Tech Researchers Pioneer New Frontiers with NSF CAREER Grants]]> <![CDATA[The Fundamental Questions: Jesse McDaniel Awarded NSF CAREER Grant for Research Into New Method of Predicting Chemical Reaction Rates, Leveraging Computer Modeling]]> <![CDATA[Chasing Chaos: Alex Blumenthal Awarded CAREER Grant for Research in Chaos, Fluid Dynamics]]> <![CDATA[Solving Infinite Problems: Anton Bernshteyn Awarded NSF CAREER Grant for Developing a New, Unified Theory of Descriptive Combinatorics and Distributed Algorithms]]>
<![CDATA[The Fundamental Questions: Jesse McDaniel Awarded NSF CAREER Grant for Research Into New Method of Predicting Chemical Reaction Rates, Leveraging Computer Modeling]]> 35599 Our world is powered by chemical reactions. From new medicines and biotechnology to sustainable energy solutions developing and understanding the chemical reactions behind innovations is a critical first step in pioneering new advances. And a key part of developing new chemistries is discovering how the rates of those chemical reactions can be accelerated or changed. 

For example, even an everyday chemical reaction, like toasting bread, can substantially change in speed and outcome — by increasing the heat, the speed of the reaction increases, toasting the bread faster. Adding another chemical ingredient — like buttering the bread before frying it — also changes the outcome of the reaction: the bread might brown and crisp rather than toast. The lesson? Certain chemical reactions can be accelerated or changed by adding or altering key variables, and understanding those factors is crucial when trying to create the desired reaction (like avoiding burnt toast!).

Chemists currently use quantum chemistry techniques to predict the rates and energies of chemical reactions, but the method is limited: predictions can usually only be made for up to a few hundred atoms. In order to scale the predictions to larger systems, and predict the environmental effects of reactions, a new framework needs to be developed.

Jesse McDaniel (School of Chemistry and Biochemistry) is creating that framework by leveraging computer modeling techniques. Now, a new NSF CAREER grant will help him do so. The National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award is a five-year grant designed to help promising researchers establish a foundation for a lifetime of leadership in their field. Known as CAREER awards, the grants are NSF’s most prestigious funding for untenured assistant professors. 

“I am excited about the CAREER research because we are really focusing on fundamental questions that are central to all of chemistry,” McDaniel says about the project.


Pioneering a new framework

“Chemical reactions are inherently quantum mechanical in nature,” McDaniel explains. “Electrons rearrange as chemical bonds are broken and formed.” While this type of quantum chemistry can allow scientists to predict the rates and energies of different reactions, these predictions are limited to only tens or hundreds of atoms. That’s where McDaniel’s team comes in. They’re developing modeling techniques based on quantum chemistry that could function over multiple scales, using computer models to scale the predictions. They hope this will help predict environmental effects on chemical reaction rates.

By developing modeling techniques that can be applied to reactions at multiple scales, McDaniel aims to expand scientist’s ability to predict and model chemical reactions, and how they interact with their environments. “Our goal is to understand the microscopic mechanisms and intermolecular interactions through which chemical reactions are accelerated within unique solvation environments such as microdroplets, thin films, and heterogenous interfaces,” McDaniel says. He hopes that it will allow for computational modeling of chemical reactions in much larger systems.  

Interdisciplinary research

As a theoretical and computational chemist, McDaniel’s chemistry experiments don’t take place in a typical chemistry lab — rather, they take place in a computer lab,  where Georgia Tech’s robust computer science and software development community functions as a key resource.

“We run computer simulations on high performance computing clusters,” McDaniel explains. “In this regard, we benefit from the HPC infrastructure at Georgia Tech, including the Partnership for an Advanced Computing Environment (PACE) team, as well as the computational resources provided in the new CODA building.” 

“Software is also a critical part of our research,” he continues. “My colleague Professor David Sherrill and his group are lead developers of the Psi4 quantum chemistry software, and this software comprises a core component of our multi-scale modeling efforts.”

In this respect, McDaniel is eager to to involve the next generation of chemists and computer scientists, showcasing the connection between these different fields. McDaniel’s team will partner with regional high school teachers, collaborating to integrate software and data science tools within the high school educational curriculum.

“One thing I like about this project,” McDaniel says, “is that all types of chemists — organic, inorganic, analytical, bio, physical, etc. — care about how chemical reactions happen, and how reactions are influenced by their surroundings.”

]]> sperrin6 1 1681837505 2023-04-18 17:05:05 1682023201 2023-04-20 20:40:01 0 0 news School of Chemistry and Biochemistry's Jesse McDaniel is creating a framework to predict chemical reaction rates, leveraging computer modeling techniques. Now, a new NSF CAREER grant will help him do so. “I am excited about the CAREER research because we are really focusing on fundamental questions that are central to all of chemistry,” McDaniel says about the project.

]]>
2023-04-19T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-19T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-19 00:00:00 Written by Selena Langner

]]>
670577 670578 670577 image <![CDATA[Chemistry Mosaic]]> image/png 1681837853 2023-04-18 17:10:53 1681837908 2023-04-18 17:11:48 670578 image <![CDATA[Jesse McDaniel]]> image/jpeg 1681837927 2023-04-18 17:12:07 1681837994 2023-04-18 17:13:14 <![CDATA[Chemistry, Chaos, Peptides, and (Infinite) Problems: Georgia Tech Researchers Pioneer New Frontiers with NSF CAREER Grants Primary tabs]]> <![CDATA[Making Medicines: Vinayak Agarwal Awarded NSF CAREER Grant for Peptide Research]]> <![CDATA[Chasing Chaos: Alex Blumenthal Awarded CAREER Grant for Research in Chaos, Fluid Dynamics]]> <![CDATA[Solving Infinite Problems: Anton Bernshteyn awarded NSF CAREER grant for developing a new, unified theory of descriptive combinatorics and distributed algorithms]]>
<![CDATA[In Memoriam: Oliver Brand]]> 34760 Oliver Brand, the executive director of the Georgia Tech Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology (IEN), passed away on April 13, 2023. He was a valued researcher, leader, colleague, and friend.

Described by friends and colleagues as a true gentleman scholar, Brand made a lasting impact on those he met.

“Oliver was a gentle soul. He led IEN with empathy and advocated vigorously for his team,” said Chaouki Abdallah, executive vice president for research at Georgia Tech. “When asked to participate in large research initiatives, he was inclusive and effective. He knew when to lead, and when to support. Our recent successes in capturing large semiconductor funding are largely due to Oliver’s expertise and his leadership. I will miss him.”

“Oliver was beloved by staff, students, and faculty alike at Georgia Tech and around the world. He was a delightful person who made every occasion brighter with his kindness, dedication, passion, and intellect,” added Julia Kubanek, vice president of interdisciplinary research at Georgia Tech. “His research contributions have been far-reaching, exemplifying true transdisciplinarity. He advocated tirelessly for the career interests and needs of researchers, especially his students as well as the research faculty and staff of IEN. He made IEN a true family and we will miss him enormously.”

Brand spent more than 20 years as a member of the Georgia Tech faculty and officially began his role as executive director of IEN in 2014. In addition to leading IEN, he was a professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), the director of the Coordinating Office for the NSF-funded National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) as well director of the Southeastern Nanotechnology Infrastructure Corridor, one of the 16 NNCI sites.

“Oliver's impact at Georgia Tech and ECE was exceptional, as very few individuals in any academic setting can match the magnitude of his influence,” said Arijit Raychowdhury, the Steve W. Chaddick School Chair of ECE. “While he was undoubtedly a distinguished figure in the research community, Oliver was equally renowned at ECE as a mentor and educator. He had a unique ability to instill his enthusiasm for learning and exploration in you, motivating you to strive for excellence not just professionally, but more importantly as a friend and human being.”

Brand was passionate about supporting and connecting those doing basic and applied research in the areas of electronics and nanotechnology, and under his direction, IEN grew to include more than 200 faculty members at Georgia Tech from multiple colleges and departments.

"During his tenure as executive director of IEN, Oliver skillfully guided the significant expansion of Georgia Tech's world-class research programs, core facilities, and educational activities in electronics and nanotechnology,” said Michael Filler, associate director for research programs in IEN. “He was instrumental in securing the coordinating office for the NSF-supported National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure. Most importantly, Oliver was cherished by the IEN community for his unassuming yet effective approach to team building and his unwavering commitment to supporting others."

Brand was a leading researcher in the area of Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) and, in particular, the development of micro-scale physical, chemical, and biological sensors. He used his expertise in this area to help create the NIH-funded Atlanta Center for Microsystems Engineered Point-of-Care Technologies (ACME POCT), a center focused on the development and translation of microsystems-engineered technologies including microchip-enabled devices, MEMs-based sensors, microfluidics, and smartphone-based systems. ACME POCT was instrumental in developing accurate Covid-19 tests as part of the NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics initiative, which was critical in slowing the spread of the virus.

“Oliver was a true pioneer in the field of microsystems engineering and nanotechnology. In more recent years, his interest expanded to the development of sensors for medical applications, and I had the good fortune of partnering with him on multiple collaborations,” said Wilbur Lam, a professor in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering and Brand’s co-director of ACME POCT. “During the last several years, thanks in large part to Oliver’s leadership, our Center served as the national test validation center to verify the performance of Covid-19 diagnostics for the NIH and FDA, and Oliver and our team helped the entire country in ‘testing the tests’ to combat the global pandemic.”

In a 2022 article published by the New York Times, Bruce Tromberg, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Engineering, called Brand and the rest of the team “absolutely heroic” for their contributions to the Covid-19 pandemic. The team also received the Outstanding Achievement in Research Program Development Award at the annual Georgia Tech Faculty and Staff Honors Luncheon in the spring of 2022 for their work in this area.

Throughout his career, Brand co-authored more than 120 publications in scientific journals and conference proceedings. He received the 2011 ECE Distinguished Mentor Award and the 2012 ECE Richard M. Bass/Eta Kappa Nu Outstanding Teacher Award, which is determined by the vote of the ECE senior class. He also served as general co-chair of the 2008 IEEE International Conference on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems, co-editor of the Wiley-VCH book series Advanced Micro and Nanosystems, was a member of the editorial board of Sensors and Materials, a co-recipient of the 2005 IEEE Donald G. Fink Prize Paper Award, and a senior member of IEEE.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Claudia, and his children Marina and Tim. He will be deeply missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.

 

]]> Laurie Haigh 1 1681989722 2023-04-20 11:22:02 1682016610 2023-04-20 18:50:10 0 0 news Brand, the executive director of the Georgia Tech Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology, passed away on April 13, 2023. He was a valued researcher, leader, colleague, and friend.

]]>
2023-04-20T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-20T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-20 00:00:00 Laurie Haigh
Research Communications

]]>
670592 670592 image <![CDATA[Oliver Brand]]> Oliver Brand

]]> image/jpeg 1681989593 2023-04-20 11:19:53 1681989700 2023-04-20 11:21:40
<![CDATA[Faces of Research: Meet Oliver Brand]]> <![CDATA[Researchers Test the Tests to Help Combat Covid-19]]> <![CDATA[Microelectronics Momentum Drives the Nation’s Semiconductor Resurgence]]>
<![CDATA[Kosal Talks Biotechnology and Security in SIPRI Video Series on Emerging Technology Risks]]> 27195 Margaret E. Kosal, associate professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, is featured in a new video series on biosecurity risks and emerging technology produced by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). 

The series features international experts from fields such as genetics, bioethics, international security, and microbiology and is part of SIPRI’s efforts to develop a bio-risk assessment toolkit for academics and researchers in the life sciences.  

Kosal, who earned a Ph.D. in chemistry, focuses her research on reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction and understanding the role of emerging technologies for security. She was the only expert chosen from the Western hemisphere. 

In her interview, Kosal discusses the key security challenges related to biosecurity and the importance of addressing them. 

“We need to start thinking about groups of technologies, about how these things converge, and so that, I would say, is one of the biggest challenges,” she said. 

Kosal’s involvement in the workshop and series illustrates the commitment of the Nunn School and Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts to impactful global engagement and interdisciplinary work bridging the social sciences and technology.  

Kosal emphasized the value of collaborative efforts such as SIPRI’s workshop in establishing global norms and reducing the risks surrounding emerging technologies.   

“It’s the culmination of these different efforts that build up as we go back, some of us go back to teaching, some go back to positions in governments or if they have chances to influence political actors. There’s a great value in this kind of work.” 

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1681491406 2023-04-14 16:56:46 1681491626 2023-04-14 17:00:26 0 0 news Nunn School Associate Professor Margaret E. Kosal is featured in a Stockholm International Peace Research Institute video series on biosecurity risks and emerging technology.

]]>
2023-04-02T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-02T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-02 00:00:00 Michael Pearson

]]>
<![CDATA[A Sharper Look at the M87 Black Hole ]]> 34528 This press release is shared jointly with the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) and NSF’s NOIRLab. It first appeared in the IAS newsroom.

A team of researchers, including astrophysicists from Georgia Tech, the Institute for Advanced Study, and NSF’s NOIRLab, has developed a new machine-learning technique to enhance the fidelity and sharpness of radio interferometric images. To demonstrate the power of their new approach, which is called PRIMO, the team created a new, high-fidelity version of the iconic Event Horizon Telescope's image of the supermassive black hole at the center of Messier 87, a giant elliptical galaxy located 55 million light-years from Earth.

The iconic image of the supermassive black hole at the center of M87—sometimes referred to as the “fuzzy, orange donut”—has gotten its first official makeover with the help of machine learning. The new image further exposes a central region that is larger and darker, surrounded by the bright accreting gas shaped like a “skinny donut.” The team used the data obtained by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration in 2017 and achieved, for the first time, the full resolution of the array.

“The new image of the M87 black hole showcases the remarkable power of the highest-resolution telescope on Earth working in tandem with modern machine learning algorithms; it demonstrates how technology continues to push the boundaries of our understanding of the universe,” said Feryal Özel, professor and chair of the School of Physics at Georgia Tech.

In 2017, the EHT collaboration used a network of seven pre-existing telescopes around the world to gather data on M87, creating an “Earth-sized telescope.” However, since it is infeasible to cover the Earth’s entire surface with telescopes, gaps arise in the data—like missing pieces in a jigsaw puzzle.

“With our new machine learning technique, PRIMO, we were able to achieve the maximum resolution of the current array,” says lead author Lia Medeiros of the Institute for Advanced Study. “Since we cannot study black holes up-close, the detail of an image plays a critical role in our ability to understand its behavior. The width of the ring in the image is now smaller by about a factor of two, which will be a powerful constraint for our theoretical models and tests of gravity.”

PRIMO, which stands for principal-component interferometric modeling, was developed by EHT members Lia Medeiros (Institute for Advanced Study), Dimitrios Psaltis (Georgia Tech), Tod Lauer (NOIRLab), and Feryal Özel (Georgia Tech). Their publication, “The Image of the M87 Black Hole Reconstructed with PRIMO,” is now available in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

“PRIMO is a new approach to the difficult task of constructing images from EHT observations,” said Lauer. “It provides a way to compensate for the missing information about the object being observed, which is required to generate the image that would have been seen using a single gigantic radio telescope the size of the Earth.”

PRIMO relies on dictionary learning, a branch of machine learning which enables computers to generate rules based on large sets of training material. For example, if a computer is fed a series of different banana images—with sufficient training—it may be able to determine if an unknown image is or is not a banana. Beyond this simple case, the versatility of machine learning has been demonstrated in numerous ways: from creating Renaissance-style works of art to completing the unfinished work of Beethoven. So how might machines help scientists to render a black hole image? The research team has answered this very question.

With PRIMO, computers analyzed over 30,000 high-fidelity simulated images of black holes accreting gas. The ensemble of simulations covered a wide range of models for how the black hole accretes matter, looking for common patterns in the structure of the images. The various patterns of structure were sorted by how commonly they occured in the simulations, and were then blended to provide a highly accurate representation of the EHT observations, simultaneously providing a high fidelity estimate of the missing structure of the images. A paper pertaining to the algorithm itself was published in The Astrophysical Journal on February 3, 2023.

“We are using physics to fill in regions of missing data in a way that has never been done before by using machine learning,” added Medeiros. “This could have important implications for interferometry, which plays a role in fields from exo-planets to medicine.”

The team confirmed that the newly rendered image is consistent with the EHT data and with theoretical expectations, including the bright ring of emission expected to be produced by hot gas falling into the black hole. Generating an image required assuming an appropriate form of the missing information, and PRIMO did this by building on the 2019 discovery that the M87 black hole in broad detail looked as predicted.

“Approximately four years after the first horizon-scale image of a black hole was unveiled by EHT in 2019, we have marked another milestone, producing an image that utilizes the full resolution of the array for the first time,” stated Psaltis. “The new machine learning techniques that we have developed provide a golden opportunity for our collective work to understand black hole physics.”

The new image should lead to more accurate determinations of the mass of the M87 black hole and the physical parameters that determine its present appearance. The data also provides an opportunity for researchers to place greater constraints on alternatives to the event horizon (based on the darker central brightness depression) and perform more robust tests of gravity (based on the narrower ring size). PRIMO can also be applied to additional EHT observations, including those of Sgr A*, the central black hole in our own Milky Way galaxy.

M87 is a massive, relatively nearby, galaxy in the Virgo cluster of galaxies. Over a century ago, a mysterious jet of hot plasma was observed to emanate from its center. Beginning in the 1950s, the then new technique of radio astronomy showed the galaxy to have a compact bright radio source at its center. During the 1960s, M87 had been suspected to have a massive black hole at its center powering this activity. Measurements made from ground-based telescopes starting in the 1970s, and later the Hubble Space Telescope starting in the 1990s, provided strong support that M87 indeed harbored a black hole weighing several billion times the mass of the Sun based on observations of the high velocities of stars and gas orbiting its center. The 2017 EHT observations of M87 were obtained over several days from several different radio telescopes linked together at the same time to obtain the highest possible resolution. The now iconic “orange donut” picture of the M87 black hole, released in 2019, reflected the first attempt to produce an image from these observations.

“The 2019 image was just the beginning,” stated Medeiros. “If a picture is worth a thousand words, the data underlying that image have many more stories to tell. PRIMO will continue to be a critical tool in extracting such insights.”

Development of the PRIMO algorithm was enabled through the support of the National Science Foundation Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship.

 

 

About Georgia Institute of Technology

The Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, is one of the top public research universities in the U.S., with more than 45,000 undergraduate and graduate students who study in person at the main campus in Atlanta, at Georgia Tech-Europe in France, at Georgia Tech-Shenzhen in China, as well as through distance and online learning. Students represent 50 states and more than 148 countries.

Georgia Tech's engineering and computing Colleges are the largest and among the highest-ranked in the nation, and the Institute also offers outstanding programs in business, design, liberal arts, and sciences.

With more than $1 billion annually in research awards across all six Colleges and the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), Georgia Tech is among the nation’s most research-intensive universities. It is an engine of economic development for the state of Georgia, the Southeast, and the nation.

Georgia Tech’s mission is to develop leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition. Its mission and strategic plan are focused on making a positive impact in the lives of people everywhere. Since 1885, the people of Georgia Tech have dared to imagine and then create solutions for a better future. The innovative culture and leadership continue — Progress and Service for all.

About the Institute for Advanced Study

The Institute for Advanced Study has served the world as one of the leading independent centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry since its establishment in 1930, advancing the frontiers of knowledge across the sciences and humanities. From the work of founding IAS faculty such as Albert Einstein and John von Neumann to that of the foremost thinkers of the present, the IAS is dedicated to enabling curiosity-driven exploration and fundamental discovery.

Each year, the Institute welcomes more than 200 of the world’s most promising post-doctoral researchers and scholars who are selected and mentored by a permanent Faculty, each of whom are preeminent leaders in their fields. Among present and past Faculty and Members there have been 35 Nobel Laureates, 44 of the 62 Fields Medalists, and 23 of the 26 Abel Prize Laureates, as well as many MacArthur Fellows and Wolf Prize winners.

 

]]> jhunt7 1 1681392439 2023-04-13 13:27:19 1681487174 2023-04-14 15:46:14 0 0 news A team of researchers, including astrophysicists from Georgia Tech, the Institute for Advanced Study, and NSF’s NOIRLab, has developed a new machine-learning technique to enhance the fidelity and sharpness of radio interferometric images. To demonstrate the power of their new approach, which is called PRIMO, the team created a new, high-fidelity version of the iconic Event Horizon Telescope's image of the supermassive black hole at the center of Messier 87, a giant elliptical galaxy located 55 million light-years from Earth.

]]>
2023-04-13T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-13T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-13 00:00:00 Jess Hunt-Ralston
Georgia Institute of Technology
jess@cos.gatech.edu
(404) 385-5207

Lee Sandberg
Institute for Advanced Study
lsandberg@ias.edu
(609) 455-4398

Tod Lauer
NSF’s NOIRLab
tod.lauer@noirlab.ed

 

]]>
670554 670516 670553 658925 658926 670445 670554 image <![CDATA[The new image generated by the PRIMO algorithm (EHT / Medeiros et al. 2023)]]> The new image generated by the PRIMO algorithm (EHT / Medeiros et al. 2023)

]]> image/jpeg 1681487141 2023-04-14 15:45:41 1681487141 2023-04-14 15:45:41
670516 image <![CDATA[At left, EHT 2019, the original image of the black hole published in 2019 — and at right, PRIMO: the improved version that uses the researchers’ machine learning algorithm. (Image: Event Horizon Telescope)]]> At left, EHT 2019, the original image of the black hole published in 2019 — and at right, PRIMO: the improved version that uses the researchers’ machine learning algorithm. (Image: Event Horizon Telescope)

]]> image/jpeg 1681392060 2023-04-13 13:21:00 1681392060 2023-04-13 13:21:00
670553 image <![CDATA[Overview of simulations that were generated for the training set of the PRIMO algorithm (EHT / Medeiros et al. 2023)]]> Overview of simulations that were generated for the training set of the PRIMO algorithm (EHT / Medeiros et al. 2023)

]]> image/jpeg 1681485961 2023-04-14 15:26:01 1681485961 2023-04-14 15:26:01
658925 image <![CDATA[Feryal Özel, professor and chair of the School of Physics at Georgia Tech.]]> image/jpeg 1655326554 2022-06-15 20:55:54 1681392226 2023-04-13 13:23:46 658926 image <![CDATA[Dimitrios Psaltis, professor in the School of Physics at Georgia Tech.]]> image/jpeg 1655327108 2022-06-15 21:05:08 1681392301 2023-04-13 13:25:01 670445 image <![CDATA[Dimitrios Psaltis (left) and Feryal Özel (right) recently hosted an EHT workshop on campus. (Photo: CK Chan)]]> image/jpeg 1680639771 2023-04-04 20:22:51 1680639771 2023-04-04 20:22:51
<![CDATA[Event Horizon Telescope Team Leverages Machine Learning for 'Optimizing Worldwide Astronomical Observations' ]]> <![CDATA[Feryal Özel Named School of Physics Chair]]>
<![CDATA[Rising Temperatures Alter ‘Missing Link’ of Microbial Processes, Putting Northern Peatlands at Risk]]> 35575 If you’re an avid gardener, you may have considered peat moss — decomposed Sphagnum moss that helps retain moisture in soil — to enhance your home soil mixture. And while the potting medium can help plants thrive, it’s also a key component of peatlands: wetlands characterized by a thick layer of water-saturated, carbon-rich peat beneath living Sphagnum moss, trees, and other plant life. 

These ecosystems cover just 3% of Earth’s land area, but “peatlands store over one-third of all soil carbon on the planet,” explains Joel Kostka, professor and associate chair of Research in the School of Biological Sciences at Georgia Tech.

This carbon storage is supported in large part by microbes. Two microbial processes in particular — nitrogen fixation and methane oxidation — strike a delicate balance, working together to give Sphagnum mosses access to critical nutrients in nutrient-depleted peatlands. 

The coupling of these two processes is often referred to as the “missing link” of nutrient cycling in peatlands. Yet, how these processes will respond to changing climates along northern latitudes is unclear.

“There are tropical peatlands — but the majority of peatlands are in northern environments.” notes Caitlin Petro, a research scientist who works with Kostka in Biological Sciences at Tech. “And those are going to be hit harder by climate change.”

Kostka and Petro recently led a collaborative study to investigate how this critical type of ecosystem (and the “missing link” of microbial processes that support it) may react to the increased temperature and carbon dioxide levels predicted to come with climate change. The team, which also includes researchers from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Florida State University, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, just published their work in the scientific journal Global Change Biology.

By testing the effects of increasing temperature and carbon dioxide on the growth of Sphagnum moss, its associated microbiome, and overall ecosystem health, Kostka and Petro say computational models will be better equipped to predict the effects of climate change.

“Down the road,” Kostka added, “we hope the results can be used by environmental managers and governments to adaptively manage or geoengineer peatlands to thrive in a warmer world.”

Raising the heat

To see how northern peatlands will react to climate change, the team, which also included School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Associate Professor Jennifer Glass, turned to the ORNL Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Changing Environments (SPRUCE) experiment — a unique field lab in northern Minnesota where the team warms peat bogs and experimentally changes the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

Starting in 2016, the team exposed different parts of SPRUCE’s experimental peatlands to a gradient of higher temperatures ranging from an increase of 0°C to 9°C, capturing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change models’ predicted 4°C to 6°C increase in northern regions by 2100.

The moss’s reaction was significant. Although nearly 100% of the bog’s surface was covered in moss at the beginning of the experiment, moss coverage dropped with each increase in temperature, plummeting to less than 15% in the warmest conditions.

Critically, the two microbial processes that had previously been consistently linked fell out of sync at higher temperatures. 

“Peatlands are extremely nutrient-poor and microbial nitrogen fixation represents a major nitrogen input to the ecosystem,” Kostka explained. Fixing nitrogen is the process of turning atmospheric nitrogen into an organic compound that the moss can use for photosynthesis, while methane oxidation allows the moss to use methane released from decomposing peat as energy. “Methane oxidation acts to fuel nitrogen fixation while scavenging a really important greenhouse gas before it is released to the atmosphere. This study shows that these two processes, which are catalyzed by the Sphagnum microbiome, become disconnected as the moss dies.”

“These processes occurring together are really important for the community,” Petro explained. Yet many microbes that are able to both fix nitrogen and oxidize methane were absent in the mosses collected from higher temperature enclosures. And while elevated carbon dioxide levels appeared to offset some of the changes in nitrogen cycling caused by warming, the decoupling of these processes remained.

“These treatments are altering a fairly well-defined and consistent plant microbiome that we find in many different environments, and that has this consistent function,” Petro explained. “It's like a complete functional shift in the community.” 

Though it’s not clear which of these changes — the moss dying or the altered microbial activity — is driving the other, it is clear that with warmer temperatures and higher carbon dioxide levels comes a cascade of unpredictable outcomes for peat bogs.

“In addition to the direct effects of climate warming on ecosystem function,” Petro adds, “it will also introduce all of these off-shooting effects that will impact peatlands in ways that we didn't predict before.”

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (DEB grant no. 1754756). The SPRUCE project is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, Biological, and Environmental Research (DOE BER) and the USDA Forest Service.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.16651

Citation: Petro, C., et al. Climate drivers alter nitrogen availability in surface peat and decouple N2 fixation from CH4 oxidation in the Sphagnum moss microbiome. Global Change Biology. (2023).

Aerial Photo: Hanson, P.J., M.B. Krassovski, and L.A. Hook. 2020. SPRUCE S1 Bog and SPRUCE Experiment Aerial Photographs. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TES SFA, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, U.S.A. https://doi.org/10.3334/CDIAC/spruce.012 (UAV image number 0050 collected on October 4, 2020).

]]> adavidson38 1 1680270895 2023-03-31 13:54:55 1681481592 2023-04-14 14:13:12 0 0 news Georgia Tech researchers show that rising temperatures in northern regions may damage peatlands: critical ecosystems for storing carbon from the atmosphere — and could decouple vital processes in microbial support systems.

]]>
2023-03-31T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-31T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-31 00:00:00 Writer: Audra Davidson
Communications Officer II, College of Sciences

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications, College of Sciences

]]>
670399 670396 670398 670399 image <![CDATA[An aerial view of the SPRUCE enclosures.]]> An aerial view of the SPRUCE enclosure.

]]> image/jpeg 1680287765 2023-03-31 18:36:05 1680287765 2023-03-31 18:36:05
670396 image <![CDATA[Sphagnum mosses were taken from different SPRUCE enclosures and incubated in glass jars for the study (Photo Jennifer Glass).]]> Sphagnum mosses were taken from different SPRUCE enclosures and incubated in glass jars for the study (Photo Jennifer Glass).

]]> image/jpeg 1680287566 2023-03-31 18:32:46 1680287566 2023-03-31 18:32:46
670398 image <![CDATA[A closeup of a member of the research team holding Sphagnum moss, one of the key drivers of carbon sequestration in peatlands. (Photo Jennifer Glass).]]> A closeup of a member of the research team holding Sphagnum moss, one of the key drivers of carbon sequestration in peatlands. (Photo Jennifer Glass).

]]> image/jpeg 1680287647 2023-03-31 18:34:07 1680287647 2023-03-31 18:34:07
<![CDATA[Joel Kostka Awarded $3.2 Million to Keep Digging into How Soils and Plants Capture Carbon — And Keep It Out of Earth’s Atmosphere]]> <![CDATA[Community Collaborations: Researchers and Alumni Aid in $2.6 Million Effort to Restore Salt Marshes in Historic Charleston]]> <![CDATA[Temperate Glimpse Into a Warming World]]> <![CDATA[Salt Marsh Grass On Georgia’s Coast Gets Nutrients for Growth From Helpful Bacteria in Its Roots]]>
<![CDATA[Hitting the Brakes or the Accelerator on Electrified Semitrucks]]> 27446 Electrical cables have been suspended over trams and trolley tracks for more than 140 years. They’ve electrified bullet trains in Japan and Amtrak railways that connect Washington D.C and Boston. Now the United States, Germany, and Sweden are testing the technology on highways, hoping to eliminate emissions from tractor-trailers. 

A new study from Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering looks closer at using overhead cable line (OCL) technology to power trucks, evaluating if they are wise environmental and economical choices.

For some countries, including the United States as a whole, Sweden and Germany, the team suggests OCL technology is ideal. It’s also beneficial at the state level for New York, Washington, and Georgia. But for other areas, it shouldn’t be implemented until the region’s electric grid is cleaner.

Read the full story on the College of Engineering website.

]]> Joshua Stewart 1 1681419679 2023-04-13 21:01:19 1681419917 2023-04-13 21:05:17 0 0 news

Study looks at the environmental and economic benefits of overhead cable-line technology for nation’s highways.

]]>
2023-04-13T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-13T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-13 00:00:00 Jason Maderer

College of Engineering

]]>
670538 670538 image <![CDATA[Siemens OCL Electric Truck]]> Siemens Mobility built an overhead contact line for electric trucks on a 6.2-mile stretch of Germany’s autobahn. (Photo courtesy: Siemens)

]]> image/jpeg 1681419690 2023-04-13 21:01:30 1681419690 2023-04-13 21:01:30
<![CDATA[Tool Helps Coastal Areas Find Ideal Spots for Water Level Sensors]]> 27446 As climate change leads to rising sea levels and more powerful storms, coastal communities increasingly are turning to networks of sensors to track water levels. The sensors — which are progressively getting cheaper and more capable — can help officials anticipate flood risks and respond in emergencies.

A tool developed by Georgia Tech researchers can help make the most of those networks, pinpointing the ideal locations for water level sensors to maximize the real-time data available to emergency managers.

In a test case in Chatham County, Georgia, the approach developed by civil engineer Iris Tien reduced 29,000 potential sensor locations to just 381. The idea, then, is that officials can use their local expertise and historical knowledge to pick where to install sensors among those spots.

Read the full story on the College of Engineering website.

]]> Joshua Stewart 1 1681410866 2023-04-13 18:34:26 1681419497 2023-04-13 20:58:17 0 0 news Iris Tien’s method reduces the possible locations for sensors by nearly 99% and accounts for flood risk, population vulnerability, and more.

]]>
2023-04-13T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-13T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-13 00:00:00 Joshua Stewart
College of Engineering

]]>
670529 670529 image <![CDATA[Tybee-Is-Marina-iStock-1277625074-t.jpg]]> An aerial view of the Tybee Island marina in Chatham County, Georgia.

]]> image/jpeg 1681410879 2023-04-13 18:34:39 1681420030 2023-04-13 21:07:10
<![CDATA[From the Pit to the Factory Floor: A Georgia Tech Alumnus Charts a New Path at Boeing]]> 27513 While deciding on career paths as an undergraduate, Boeing engineer Toni Cvitanic sampled courses in biology, chemistry, engineering, and computer science. But it wasn’t until joining an intercollegiate car-building competition—where he and other college students worked to design and fabricate formula-style racing cars and competed against other clubs— that his aspirations came into focus.

The son of a mathematics professor, Cvitanic marveled at how his math and science skills could steadily improve a race car’s performance. And yet, over time, he realized that the engineering question at hand was not audacious enough. The basic facts of each car—that it would have four wheels, an engine, a suspension—would not change from one model to the next, and any improvement would have to be incremental.

“I realized I wanted to work on new problems that haven’t been figured out,” he recalled. “Problems where you don’t necessarily know the solution or even how one might work.”

Instead of following in his father’s footstep, Cvitanic set his sights on engineering and began pursuing a Ph.D. in robotics from Georgia Tech.

In 2016, Cvitanic joined the Technology Transition Laboratory (TTL), born out of a longstanding university partnership between Boeing and Georgia Tech. For Cvitanic, joining the TTL meant working on projects with a much higher TRL, or technology readiness level, than most academic research—making the ideas much more likely to become applied on the factory floor at Boeing.

Cvitanic helped lead the TTL’s research into dual robotic machining, which could one day be used for automated precision machining and fabrication. The aim was to improve the accuracy of industrial robots—commonly used in automotive manufacturing—so they could meet more stringent aerospace tolerance requirements.

To meet tolerances within five-thousandths of an inch, or slightly wider than a human hair, Cvitanic’s team needed a new approach.

Working alongside three Boeing engineers who oversaw the work, they added sensors and a laser tracker to a pair of off-the-shelf Kuka industrial robots. While one robot held an aluminum work piece, the other would begin an assigned machining activity: either milling or drilling holes. As the Georgia Tech team observed the robots, they received real-time performance data and control feedback.

The significant process forces from both kinds of operations caused the arms of the robots to vibrate and flex, which in turn affected the final achievable tolerance of the work. With the data they gathered, the researchers began to model how specific robotic arm configurations, or poses, could counter resisting forces and improve precision. This led to improvements in the robots’ arm stiffness, and it also eliminated bending, both vital to offsetting the effects of high-force manufacturing. Ultimately, the team configured the robots to manufacture parts to aerospace tolerances, and they were able to meet the accuracy requirements achieved with machine tools and gantry-style crane systems, which are used in today’s manufacturing processes.

The Georgia Tech researchers made enough progress to host a successful live demonstration in front of a Boeing audience. The results furthered the Boeing-Georgia Tech university partnership and led to the creation of the Accurate Robotic Machining (ARM) project and the Boeing Manufacturing Development Center (BMDC) in 2017.  The center gives future students opportunities to work on projects from the concept stage to application.

After earning his doctorate, Cvitanic joined Boeing in October 2021. He parlayed the experience he gained and the relationships he built as a graduate student into a new role. As a manufacturing and simulation engineer based in Charleston, South Carolina, he works in Boeing’s Research and Technology organization. He regularly partners with the very engineers who helped guide his project work at Georgia Tech, and together, they explore scenarios in which advanced production systems can be implemented.

“Ultimately, I know I will see the impact of what I’m working on,” Cvitanic says of his role at Boeing. “That impact is gratifying.” 


 

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Walter Rich
Georgia Tech Research Communications
walter.rich@research.gatech.edu

]]> Walter Rich 1 1641408805 2022-01-05 18:53:25 1681409077 2023-04-13 18:04:37 0 0 news Instead of following in his father’s footstep, Cvitanic set his sights on engineering and began pursuing a Ph.D. in robotics from Georgia Tech. 

]]>
2022-01-05T00:00:00-05:00 2022-01-05T00:00:00-05:00 2022-01-05 00:00:00 Walter Rich

]]>
654086 654090 654091 654086 image <![CDATA[Boeing engineer Toni Cvitanic, Ph.D. ]]> image/jpeg 1641408581 2022-01-05 18:49:41 1641408581 2022-01-05 18:49:41 654090 image <![CDATA[Toni Cvitanic (right) with Kuka industrial robot with Vinh Nguyen]]> image/jpeg 1641408892 2022-01-05 18:54:52 1641411300 2022-01-05 19:35:00 654091 image <![CDATA[Toni Cvitanic (left) at Georgia Tech with Boeing executives]]> image/jpeg 1641409001 2022-01-05 18:56:41 1641411372 2022-01-05 19:36:12
<![CDATA[Research Teams Awarded $15M to Design Materials Inspired by Deep Sea Fish and to Explore Attention Control]]> 36123 Two teams from Georgia Tech have been awarded a combined $15 million from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for basic research projects as part of the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program. MURI seeks to fund research teams with creative and diverse solutions to complex problems and is a major part of the DoD’s research portfolio.

Alper Erturk (Lead PI), Carl Ring Family Chair and professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, and Yuhang Hu, associate professor and Woodruff Faculty Fellow in the Woodruff School and the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, were awarded $7.5 million for their project, BioInspired Material Architectures for Deep Sea (BIMADS). Randall Engle, professor in the School of Psychology, was awarded the same amount for his project titled Understanding and Building Overall Cognitive Capability Through Attention Control.

Erturk and Hu’s interdisciplinary project will explore the fundamental science behind the biological characteristics that allow deep sea fish to adapt and survive in high pressure ocean environments. They will then translate those findings to engineer bioinspired materials needed to realize the Navy’s advanced capabilities in deep sea environments.

“In the deep ocean, marine organisms have evolved to thrive in high pressure environments, and adapt to pressure changes while remaining functional,” Erturk said. “Our goal for this project is to discover, test, and translate biological mechanisms into synthetic materials and structures that can dynamically adapt to high pressures in the ocean.”

Specifically, the researchers will test and explore the origins of the biological mechanisms (both molecular and macroscopic) that underlie the ability for deep sea snailfish to adapt to high pressures, pressure changes, and pressure differentials across material interfaces. Using findings from the biological studies, the researchers will design synthetic materials and structures that will then be evaluated in high pressure chambers.

“Knowledge gained from these studies will provide insight toward the design of structures spanning from atmospheric dive suits to robotic fish for the deep ocean,” Hu said.

BIMADS brings together experts in marine biology, bioengineering, biomimetic materials, chemistry, mechanochemistry and multiphysics chemomechanical modeling, hydrogel synthesis, biohybrid material fabrication, and the design, mechanics, and dynamics of architected structures. In addition to Erturk and Hu, the team also includes Anna Balazs and Lance Davidson from the University of Pittsburgh, John Costello from Providence College, Shashank Priya from the University of Minnesota, and Andrew Sarles from the University of Tennessee.

Attention Control in Naval Training

Engle’s project will explore the brain’s mechanisms of attention control and investigate methods to potentially improve it or reduce its decline.

“We want to better understand the role that controlling attention and individual differences in that ability has in real-world, complex tasks such as flying a plane, driving a car, or even studying for a physics test,” Engle said. “We expect this work will help the Navy identify job trainees who are best able to attend to complex tasks, and also help to mitigate the effects of fatigue and mind wandering common to those tasks.”

According to Engle, the Navy trains about a thousand air traffic control professionals each year and spends over $100,000 per candidate. But nearly a quarter of candidates fail training, leading to significant financial waste.

Engle’s work with air traffic control trainees showed that current evaluations used to select candidates for training only predicts a small percentage of success. Engle found that, by using his measures of ability to control attention in evaluations, the Navy could more than double predictive success in candidate training. In addition, researchers found that Engle’s measures appeared to have less adverse impact and bias against women and minority candidates.

Engle’s collaborative research team includes researchers from MIT, the University of Chicago, Purdue University, and Michigan State University. Each team member is studying a different aspect of attention control.

 

]]> Catherine Barzler 1 1681332266 2023-04-12 20:44:26 1681332423 2023-04-12 20:47:03 0 0 news Two teams from Georgia Tech have been awarded a combined $15 million from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for basic research projects as part of the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program. MURI seeks to fund research teams with creative and diverse solutions to complex problems and is a major part of the DoD’s research portfolio.

 

]]>
2023-04-12T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-12T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-12 00:00:00 Catherine Barzler, Senior Research Writer/Editor

]]>
670514 670514 image <![CDATA[Randall Engle, Alper Erturk, and Yuhang Hu]]> Randall Engle, professor in the School of Psychology; Alper Erturk, Carl Ring Family Chair and professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering; and Yuhang Hu, associate professor in the Woodruff School and the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

]]> image/jpeg 1681331848 2023-04-12 20:37:28 1681332062 2023-04-12 20:41:02
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Battery Day Reveals Opportunities in Energy Storage Research ]]> 36413 Georgia Tech Battery Day opened with a full house on March 30, 2023, at the Global Learning Center in the heart of Midtown Atlanta. More than 230 energy researchers and industry participants convened to discuss and advance energy storage technologies via lightning talks, panel discussions, student poster sessions, and networking sessions throughout the day. Matt McDowell, associate professor in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Materials Science and Engineering as well as the initiative lead for energy storage at the Strategic Energy Institute and the Institute of Materials, started the day with an overview of the relevant research at Georgia Tech. His talk shed light on Georgia becoming the epicenter of the battery belt of the Southeast with recent key industry investments and the robust energy-storage research community present at Georgia Tech.

According to the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, since 2020, Georgia has had $21 billion invested or announced in EV-related projects with 26,700 jobs created. With investments in alternate energy technologies growing exponentially in the nation, McDowell revealed Georgia Tech is well-positioned to make an impact on the next generation energy storage technologies and extended an open invitation to industry members to partner with researchers. As one of the most research-intensive academic institutions in the nation, Georgia Tech has more than $1.3 billion in research and other sponsored funds and produces the highest number of engineering doctoral graduates in the nation.

“More than half of Georgia Tech's strategic initiatives are focused on improving the efficiency and sustainability of energy storage, supporting clean energy sources, and mitigating climate change," said Chaouki Abdallah, executive vice president for research at Georgia Tech. "As a leader in battery technologies research, we are bringing together engineers, scientists, and researchers in academia and industry to conduct innovative research to address humanity's most urgent and complex challenges, and to advance technology and improve the human condition."

Rich Simmons, director of research and studies at the Strategic Energy Institute moderated the first panel discussion that included industry panelists from Panasonic, Cox Automotive, Bluebird Corp., Delta Airlines and Hyundai Kia. The panelists analyzed the opportunities and challenges in the electric transportation sector and explained their current focus areas in energy storage. The panel affirmed that while EVs have been around for more than three decades, the industry is still in its infancy and there is a huge potential to advance technology in all areas of the EV sector.

The discussion also brought forth important factors like safety, lifecycle, and sustainability in driving innovations in the energy storage sector. The attendees also discussed supply chain issues, a hot topic in almost all sectors of the nation, and the need to develop a diversity of resources for more resilient systems. The industry panelists affirmed a strong interest in partnering on research and development projects as well as gaining access to university talent.

Gleb Yushin, professor in the School of Material Science and Engineering and co-founder of Sila Nanotechnologies Inc., presented his battery research and development success story at Georgia Tech. Sila is a Georgia Tech start-up founded in 2011 and has produced the world’s first commercially available high-silicon-content anode for lithium-ion batteries in 2021. Materials manufactured in its U.S. facilities will power electric vehicles starting with the Mercedes-Benz G-class series in 2023.

The program included lightning talks on cutting-edge research in battery materials, specifically solid-state electrolytes and plastic crystal embedded elastomer electrolytes (PCEEs) by Seung Woo Lee, associate professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. Santiago Grijalva, professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, discussed the challenges and opportunities for the successful use of energy storage for the grid.

Tequila Harris, initiative lead for Energy and Manufacturing and professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, spoke to energy materials and carbon-neutral applications. Presenting a case for roll-to-roll manufacturing of battery materials, Harris said that the need for quick, high yield manufacturing processes and alternative materials and structures were important considerations for the industry.

Materials, manufacturing, and market opportunities were the topic for the next panel moderated by McDowell and included panelists from Albemarle, Novelis, Solvay, Truist Securities, and Energy Impact Partners. Analyzing the current challenges, the panelists brought up hiring and workforce development, increasing capacity and building the ecosystem, decarbonizing existing processes, and understanding federal policies and regulations.

Lightning talks later in the afternoon by researchers at Georgia Tech touched on the latest developments in the cross-disciplinary research bridging mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, AI manufacturing, and material science in energy storage research. Topics included safe rechargeable batteries with water-based electrolytes (Nian Liu, assistant professor, School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering), AI-accelerated manufacturing (Aaron Stebner, associate professor, School of Materials Science and Engineering), battery recycling (Hailong Chen, associate professor, School of Materials Science and Engineering), and parametric life-cycle models for a solid-state battery circular economy (Ilan Stern, research scientist from GTRI).

Another industry panel on grid, infrastructure and communities moderated by Faisal Alamgir, professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering included panelists from Southern Company, Stryten Energy, and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. Improving the grid resiliency and storage capacity; proximity to the energy source; optimizing and implementing new technology in an equitable way; standardization of the evolving business models; economic development and resource building through skilled workforce; educating the consumer; and getting larger portions of the grid with renewable energy were top of mind with the panelists.

“Energy-storage-related R&D efforts at Georgia Tech are extensive and include next-gen battery chemistry development, battery characterization, recycling, and energy generation and distribution,” said McDowell. “There is a tremendous opportunity to leverage the broad expertise we bring to advance energy storage systems. Battery Day has been hugely successful in not only bringing this expertise to the forefront, but also in affirming the need for continued interaction with the companies engaged in this arena. Our mission is to serve as a centralized focal point for research interactions between companies in the battery/EV space and faculty members on campus.”

]]> pdevarajan3 1 1680615052 2023-04-04 13:30:52 1681313485 2023-04-12 15:31:25 0 0 news Georgia Tech Battery Day opened with a full house on March 30, 2023, at the Global Learning Center in the heart of Midtown Atlanta. More than 230 energy research and industry participants convened to discuss and advance energy storage technologies via lightning talks, panel discussions, student poster sessions, and networking sessions throughout the day.

]]>
2023-04-04T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-04T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-04 00:00:00 Priya Devarajan || SEI Communications Manager

]]>
670486 670495 670486 image <![CDATA[GT_BatteryDay2023_Image2]]> image/jpeg 1681136483 2023-04-10 14:21:23 1681136601 2023-04-10 14:23:21 670495 image <![CDATA[GT_BatteryDay2023_Image3]]> 2023 GT Battery Day Engaged Audience

]]> image/jpeg 1681218995 2023-04-11 13:16:35 1681219233 2023-04-11 13:20:33
<![CDATA[Founding Director of Integrated Cancer Research at Tech Publishes ‘A Patient’s Guide to Cancer: Understanding the Causes and Treatments of a Complex Disease’]]> 27195 There are times when John McDonald, emeritus professor in the School of Biological Sciences and founding director of Georgia Tech’s Integrated Cancer Research Center, is asked to share his special insight into cancer. 

“Over the years, I’ve gotten calls from non-scientist friends and others who have been diagnosed with cancer, and they call me to get more details on what’s going on, and what options are available,” said McDonald, also a former chief scientific officer with the Atlanta-based Ovarian Cancer Institute. 

That’s the primary motivation why McDonald wrote A Patient's Guide to Cancer: Understanding the Causes and Treatments of a Complex Disease, which was published by Raven Press LLC (Atlanta) and is now available at Amazon or Barnes and Noble in paperback and ebook editions. The book describes in non-technical language the processes that cause cancer, and details on how recent advances and experimental treatments are offering hope for patients and their families.

A book for the proactive patient 

McDonald said he couldn’t go into detail for every type of cancer, but provides a generally applicable background for the disease. For those who want more information, he provides links to other resources, including videos, that provide more detail on specific types of cancer. “There’s not much out there in one place for patients who want to understand the underlying causes of cancer, and the spectrum of therapies currently available,” he said. 

McDonald, who was honored in January by the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (CORE) as one of “Today’s Innovators,” also didn’t want A Patient’s Guide to Cancer to be a lengthy book, and it checks in at only 86 pages. 

McDonald believes that when patients talk to their physicians about cancer treatments,  they should ideally have a basic understanding of the underlying cause of their cancer, as well as a general awareness of the range of therapies currently available, and what may be coming down the road in the future. 

“My book is specifically designed to provide newly diagnosed cancer patients who are not scientists with this kind of background information, empowering them to play a more informed role in the selection of appropriate treatments for their disease”.

The current experimental treatment landscape; McDonald’s 2023 research goals

McDonald’s own cancer research has led to two related startup companies, co-founded with School of Biological Sciences colleagues. 

McDonald is working with postdoctoral researcher Nick Housley on using nanoparticles to deliver powerful drugs to cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue. The other company, founded in collaboration with Jeffrey Skolnick, Regents' Professor, Mary and Maisie Gibson Chair & Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Computational Systems Biology, uses machine learning to create personalized diagnostic tools for ovarian cancer.

He and his lab team are also preparing to submit a research paper that builds off their 2021 study on gene network interactions that could provide new chemotherapy targets for breast cancer. That paper focuses on the three major subtypes of breast cancer. McDonald and his colleagues will also soon submit another study detailing genetic changes that happen with the onset and progression of ovarian cancer.

When it comes to current experimental treatments, McDonald says he’s especially excited about  the potential of cancer immunotherapy, which uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells. But he writes in A Patient’s Guide to Cancer that because these drugs are also delivered systemically, healthy tissues can also be affected, potentially leading to autoimmunity or the self-destruction of our normal cells. 

“In the future, I believe many of the negative side-effects currently associated with the system-wide delivery of cancer drugs will be averted by the use of nanoparticles designed to target therapies specifically to tumors”.

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1681145304 2023-04-10 16:48:24 1681231778 2023-04-11 16:49:38 0 0 news Providing newly diagnosed cancer patients with basic understanding of the underlying cause of their cancer, a general awareness of the range of therapies currently available, and what may be coming down the road in the future. 

]]>
2023-04-03T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-03T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-03 00:00:00 Renay San Miguel

Communications Officer II/Science Writer

]]>
670488 670488 image <![CDATA[John McDonald, Emeritus Professor in the School of Biological Sciences, Georgia Tech]]> image/png 1681145806 2023-04-10 16:56:46 1681145862 2023-04-10 16:57:42
<![CDATA[GTRI Graduate Student Research Fellowship Program Continues to Expand for Third Year]]> 35832 The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) solves the most pressing national security problems, from spacecraft innovations to artificial forensics, and has historically sought to partner with Georgia Tech faculty to enhance those solutions. The GTRI Graduate Student Research Fellowship Program (GSFP) is a competitive program for high-caliber Georgia Tech graduate students. Selected academic researchers and graduate students work on research that is aligned with GTRI strategic technology priorities. The GSFP fosters and cultivates long-term relationships between academic faculty and GTRI researchers to fulfill the mission of creating leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition. Find out more about the labs at GTRI.

The first eight projects in the inaugural cohort, along with the seven projects chosen last year, have been a great success. In this third year, the fellowship is expanding to include an additional seven projects that will further the research collaboration across Georgia Tech’s schools and colleges.

“We really want connectivity to manifest through research collaborations, and it’s advantageous for us to reach into the broad wealth of and depth of talent across the academic schools,” said Mark Whorton, GTRI’s chief technology officer. “From the theoretical research done on campus into the applied research we do at GTRI, we're seeking to take those great capabilities and bring applications into the national security space.”

Across the seven selected fellowship awards for the upcoming academic year, researchers from GTRI labs will co-advise students along with a Georgia Tech faculty member. This year’s projects will lead to innovations in everything from electronic warfare systems, artificial intelligence/machine learning, autonomous systems, and protein sequencing to international policy.

Faculty Research Pairs and Proposals 

What: Reconfigurable Metasurfaces for High-Power Microwave Systems and Emerging EM Spectrum Operation Concepts

Who: Dr. Nima Ghalichechian, Dr. Joshua Kovitz, Walter Disharoon

Unit: School of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Advanced Concepts Laboratory (ACL)

Why It Matters: Reconfigurable metasurfaces have the potential to improve high-power microwave (HPM) systems, enabling applications such as adaptive beamforming and beam shaping, frequency tuning, and polarization timing for use in radar, communication systems, directed energy, and other electronic warfare systems. This research proposes to develop reconfigurable metasurfaces using vanadium dioxide (VO2) switch technologies for HPM systems, and demonstrate a reconfigurable reflectarray (RRA) and high-power limiter metasurface.

“Phase-change materials offer a completely new paradigm for the ubiquitous RF switch, a fundamental building block in sensor and electronic warfare systems,” said Kovitz and Ghalichechian. “As a part of this joint effort, we plan to design, fabricate, and test novel reconfigurable and high-power microwave structures based on these phase-change materials.”

What: Interactive Decision-making and Resilient Planning for Long-Horizon Collaborative Manipulation in Complex Military Environments

Who: Dr. Ye Zhao, Dr. Stephen Balakirsky, Maxwell Asselmeier

Unit: School of Mechanical Engineering; Aerospace Transportation & Advanced Systems Laboratory (ATAS)

Why It Matters: Collaborative manipulation, as a class of general-purpose autonomous systems, provides an expansive set of desirable capabilities to perform complex tasks in highly unstructured environments. These autonomous systems could operate in dangerous environments that are inaccessible to first responders, saving labor and reducing the risk to human life. This will open the opportunity of enabling human operators to focus on high-level, critical decisions.

This fellowship will support human-robot teaming with a robot that has a high level of autonomy along with a sense of touch,” said Balakirsky. “This combination will allow a human operator to provide tasking of dexterous manipulation tasks to the robot without the burden of teleoperation or constant process monitoring. This system has wide-ranging applications from search and rescue to manufacturing.”

What: Trustworthy Edge Systems for Video Analytics: Robustness, Safety, and Resilience

Who: Dr. Ling Liu, Dr. Margaret Loper, Connor Geurin

Unit: School of Computer Science; Information and Communications Laboratory (ICL)

Why It Matters: Video as an edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) service will be a crucial component in many cyber-physical systems and applications. However, most of the video analytics today are typically done in the Cloud, which incurs overwhelming demand for bandwidth. This research is centered on developing trustworthy edge systems for video analytics, including developing the theory, algorithms, and techniques for boosting the robustness of real-time object detection. This will ensure safety and resilience against different types of disruptions and compromises.

“The proliferation of mobile computing and Internet of Things has created a paradigm that pushes computing tasks and services from the network core to the network edge,” said Loper. “Pushing AI to the edge is seen as a promising solution for processing the massive amounts of small data generated by these devices. The findings of this research could fundamentally change how AI-enhanced edge systems will be designed, developed, and deployed, and could lead to a new generation of security and safety-enhanced edge systems.”

What: Model-based Reinforcement Learning for Policy-perspective Explainable and Trusted Artificial Intelligence

Who: Dr. Sehoon Ha, Dr. Robert Wright, Morgan Byrd

Units: School of Interactive Computing; Cybersecurity, Information Protection, and Hardware Evaluation Research Laboratory (CIPHER)

Why It Matters: The emergence of capable artificial intelligence (AI) that can make sequential strategic decisions via deep reinforcement learning (deep RL) has revolutionized various fields, including computer games and robotic control, but they have not yet impacted safety-critical domains such as power grid control, medical treatment, and autonomous driving and far from real-world deployment. This research investigates scalable model-based RL approaches for explainable and trusted AI to develop explainable AI learning frameworks that can be applied to these safety-critical domains.

“AI technologies are becoming more and more capable every day and are on the verge of revolutionizing many fields and industries,” said Wright. “However, AI models are prone to mistakes, and their reasoning can be very opaque, leading to a [reasonable] lack of trust. This effort investigates novel explainable AI approaches for Reinforcement Learning (RL) to improve trust and practicality. Our intent is to develop model-based RL algorithms that can explicitly describe why it is making its decisions, visualize or describe what it expects to happen, and provide counterfactual examples for why it chose not to make decisions.”

What: Two-dimensional Nanopore Sensors for Real-time, Single Molecule Protein Sequencing

Who: Dr. Eric Vogel, Dr. Katherine Young, Noah Baughman

Units: School of Materials Science and Engineering; Cybersecurity, Information Protection, and Hardware Evaluation Research Laboratory (CIPHER)

Why It Matters: There is a significant need to develop rapid protein sequencing technologies that can be used by the warfighter in the field to identify the impact of biological warfare agents or to provide physiological monitoring to enhance soldier performance. A technology to rapidly sequence the primary and secondary structure of proteins at the single-molecule level in real-time does not currently exist. The objective of this work is to develop a rapid protein sequencing prototype technology based on two-dimensional (e.g., graphene, MoS2) nanopore sensors that can be used by the warfighter in the field and enable future research programs which apply this prototype to perform full protein sequencing.

“There is a significant need to develop rapid protein sequencing technologies that can be used to identify the impact of biological warfare agents or to provide physiological monitoring to enhance human performance,” said Vogel and Young. “This fellowship will support the fundamental research necessary to develop nanopore electrochemical sensors based on two-dimensional materials to rapidly sequence the primary and secondary structure of proteins at the single-molecule level in real-time.”

What: Generating Geopolitics: AI, Disinformation, and the Future of National Security

Who: Dr. Jon Lindsay, Mr. Nicholas Nelson, Dennis Murphy

Units: School of Cybersecurity and Privacy, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, and School of Public Policy; Electronics, Optics, Systems Directorate (EOSD)

Why It Matters: The use of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) in national security has the potential to enhance our ability to protect national interests greatly. However, there are also potential challenges and risks associated with this technology, such as the potential for bias or misuse. This research will engage in a multidisciplinary study that will bridge the gap between disparate research fields and reintroduce relevant security-related concepts from the social sciences. This will result in the generation of scientifically-grounded potential use cases for the technology in the support and protection of national interests.

“As AI/ML capabilities and use cases continue to evolve, it is critical for defense and national security actors to better innovate, scale, deploy, and integrate AI and autonomy-based technologies to form agile, system-wide solutions,” Nelson and Lindsay said.

What: Unmasking the "Status dilemma/competition" of the triad powers (Russia, China, and United States) in offensive-defensive behavior

Who: Dr. Adam Stulberg, Dr. Theresa Kessler, Megan Litz

Units: Sam Nunn School of International Affairs; Advanced Concepts Laboratory (ACL)

Why it matters: Unveiling the misperceptions of offensive and defensive signaling is needed in a time when offensive and defensive capabilities are becoming ever more difficult to decipher as technology is evolving. The goal of this research is to shed light on how misinterpreting states’ status can lead to international conflict and expand the initial scholarship that is starting to gain traction within the political science and security studies communities. Understanding and attempting to codify intention would be of great interest to U.S. strategists and tactical planners and aid in answering vital questions of National Security regarding the status of triad powers. Information of this nature will benefit U.S. leadership, departments, and inter-agencies that navigate relations with Russia and China.

“This fellowship will support the codification of offensive and defensive signals between Russian, Chinese, and American powers using an open-source literature repository,” said Kessler. “This will help unveil misperceptions and decipher intention.”

 

Writers: Georgia Parmelee, Tess Malone (Georgia Tech Research); Charles Domercant, Anna Akins (GTRI)
GTRI Communications
Georgia Tech Research Institute
Atlanta, Georgia

 

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is the nonprofit, applied research division of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Founded in 1934 as the Engineering Experiment Station, GTRI has grown to more than 2,900 employees, supporting eight laboratories in over 20 locations around the country and performing more than $800 million of problem-solving research annually for government and industry. GTRI's renowned researchers combine science, engineering, economics, policy, and technical expertise to solve complex problems for the U.S. federal government, state, and industry.

 

]]> Michelle Gowdy 1 1681224769 2023-04-11 14:52:49 1681224769 2023-04-11 14:52:49 0 0 news The GTRI Graduate Student Research Fellowship Program (GSFP) is a competitive program for high-caliber Georgia Tech graduate students. Selected academic researchers and graduate students work on research that is aligned with GTRI strategic technology priorities. The GSFP fosters and cultivates long-term relationships between academic faculty and GTRI researchers to fulfill the mission of creating leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition.

]]>
2023-03-30T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-30T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-30 00:00:00 (Interim) Director of Communications

Michelle Gowdy

Michelle.Gowdy@gtri.gatech.edu

404-407-8060

]]>
<![CDATA[In Puerto Rico, Georgia Tech Researchers Team Up to Build ‘Landslide-Ready’ Communities]]> 34434 For three Georgia Tech researchers, a trip last fall to Puerto Rico to study how Hurricane Fiona changed the island was also personal.

In October 2022, Frances Rivera-Hernández headed to the island. On this trip, she was joined by research partners, Karl Lang, a fellow assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Rafael Bras, also of Georgia Tech.

Bras is the K. Harrison Brown Family Chair and a professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) with a joint appointment in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences — and, like Rivera-Hernández, a native of Puerto Rico. For a decade, he served as provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Georgia Tech, and today he continues to research ways to protect communities from disasters.

In October, the research team’s mission was to learn more about how Hurricane Fiona, which hit in September 2022, had devastated the island’s landscape — and how it had potentially created other long-term geohazards like unstable hill slopes, debris and rock falls, and landslides. 

Supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) funding, the researchers’ ultimate goal is to one day create a national center for the study of geohazards, “with Georgia Tech as the lead institution,” Bras said. “We surmise there will be several ‘hubs’, one of which would be Puerto Rico.”

While it was still a major, deadly storm, Fiona turned out to be less damaging than Hurricane Maria, the 2017 storm that was one of the worst to strike Puerto Rico. After Maria, both Rivera-Hernàndez and Bras had to deal with long-term power outages affecting cell phones before they could check in on loved ones. 

Fiona did give the researchers a chance to gather more data on surface hazards in the wake of a natural disaster. “We can use that information to better prepare communities,” Rivera-Hernández said. “That's another thing that we're working on with the geohazards, developing something called ‘Landslide Ready,’ which would be able to educate the public on if a landslide does happen, you know what you should do. But before that, we need to know. Where are they more frequently occurring? What's the cause? How much rain is needed to induce a landslide? We need science so we can better educate communities.”

‘Anything that has to do with Puerto Rico is personal’

Both Rivera-Hernández and Bras lived through hurricanes as they were growing up on the island, and both have seen the wide-reaching impact of major storms’ wind gusts, flooding, and landslides on friends and families. 

When Maria hit the island, Bras’ niece, who runs a farm growing culinary mushrooms, had to deal with a months-long power outage that affected refrigeration and distribution. 

“Maria was so catastrophic. I cannot begin to describe how catastrophic it was. It was equal opportunity that way.” Bras also had a friend on the island who worked as an executive for a major business in Puerto Rico. “And for a month, he didn't do anything but get up in the morning and drive around looking for water and food. At least he still had some money here, and he still had a car. He still could get gas for it, but he had to wait in lines for half a day to get gas. Everybody had to do it.”

Basic communications are always a problem during hurricanes, especially Maria, Rivera-Hernández said. “Fiona wasn't as bad. Hurricane Maria was really, really bad. People didn't have power for six months to a year. The magnitude and how many people it impacted was greater, compared to Fiona.”

No power means no cellphones, no gas for cars, and no way to use credit cards, an aftereffect of major hurricanes that has left its impact on island residents. “Yes, have a stash of cash,” said Rivera-Hernàndez. “I think Puerto Ricans are generally using more cash than on the mainland. That’s another example of something that was big at the time.  

“I think it took like a week or two just to communicate to people and Puerto Rico because the whole power system was out, which means the cell networks are completely out — it took a long time for people outside of Puerto Rico to even learn what’s going on because nothing was getting out.”

As a planetary geologist, Rivera-Hernández’s primary research interests are astrobiology and planetary science — think Mars rovers and ancient lake beds in Antarctica. Before this effort with Bras and Lang, she had never studied landslides before the two hurricanes hit the island. “Most of my work is focused on trying to better understand other planetary bodies. But when Rafael and I started talking about this, we decided this is something that's really important to us. It was a no-brainer.”

And as Rivera-Hernández, Bras, and Lang work together with students and a network of researchers to unlock remaining mysteries of landslides, the people their research could help the most in Puerto Rico are those living in the island’s interior, with its steep hillsides.

“I think that's an important point to make because those are often parts of the community that are very easily isolated,” Lang said, “and it's often the isolation that is deadly — for example, when power isn't restored to a hospital that's remote.”

Rural and remote risks

The effort to study Hurricane Maria’s geohazards has already earned the wider team — which includes researchers from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM) and the University of Colorado, Boulder — a National Science Foundation Track One Center Catalyst grant for their proposal: “Collaborative Center for Landslides and Ground Failure Geohazards.” “UPRM is instrumental in this effort,” Lang said. “The work would not be possible without them.”

More recently, a GEER (Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance) expedition associated with Hurricane Fiona has helped Bras, Lang, and two CEE students, Paola Vargas Vargas and Jorge Lozano Ramirez, remain on the island to continue their research and study evidence left by the storms. Sponsored by the NSF, GEER is an initiative developed by geotechnical earthquake engineering community members to study infrastructure damage from natural disasters, and it can be rapidly awarded after those disasters strike.

After Fiona, the trio of researchers were able to quickly apply for two more grants, one from the Heising-Simons Foundation and an NSF Rapid Response Research (RAPID) Award. That allowed them to revisit the island in November 2022 to gather more data. “They (NSF) try to be quick in responding to situations that were not foreseen,” Lang said. “We got the RAPID funded because landslides, as they happen, are being removed by people on the ground who need to clear the road. The RAPID supports us to collect information before it is lost.”

The sources of funding target various needs for the team. “What we've been doing is cobbling together different sources of money to be able to do both the scientific side, and then also setting up this broader community geohazards center.” Bras is currently working on an NSF Track II funding grant that would help establish that center.

The NSF Track I geohazard proposal and the RAPID Award “have clear societal relevance,” Lang added. “By mapping the location, volume and mechanism of landslide failure after a storm event we can better predict where and how landslides may occur after future storm events. Similarly, by recording how floods transport landslide-derived sediment, we can predict the area and volume of flood inundation.”

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1676479233 2023-02-15 16:40:33 1680294740 2023-03-31 20:32:20 0 0 news Frances Rivera-Hernández, Karl Lang, and Rafael Bras are leading an effort to gather data about landslides caused by hurricanes hitting the island. Joined by students, the researchers share an ultimate goal of creating a national geohazards center.

 

]]>
2023-02-15T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-15T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-15 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Contributor: Laurie E. Smith
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

]]>
665829 665821 665822 665830 665837 665831 665838 665829 image <![CDATA[From October '22 Puerto Rico trip: CEE grad student Paola Vargas-Vargas (left) and Stephen Hughes of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez calibrate an instrument in front of a landslide. (Photo Frances Rivera-Hernández)]]> image/jpeg 1676476700 2023-02-15 15:58:20 1676476700 2023-02-15 15:58:20 665821 image <![CDATA[(From L to R) EAS students and faculty during a November '22 Puerto Rico research trip: graduate students Sharissa Thompson, Dru Ann Harris, Tatiana Gibson, and assistant professors Frances Rivera-Hernández and Karl Lang. (Photo Frances Rivera-Hernández )]]> image/jpeg 1676474474 2023-02-15 15:21:14 1676474603 2023-02-15 15:23:23 665822 image <![CDATA[EAS graduate students sample water during a November trip to Puerto Rico: (From L to R) Sharissa Thompson, Tatiana Gibson, Dru Ann Harris. (Photo Frances Rivera-Hernández.)]]> image/jpeg 1676474851 2023-02-15 15:27:31 1676474851 2023-02-15 15:27:31 665830 image <![CDATA[From October '22 Puerto Rico trip: CEE graduate students Paola Vargas-Vargas (left) and Jorge Lozano Ramirez fly a drone to take pictures of a landslide. (Photo Frances Rivera-Hernández) ]]> image/jpeg 1676476959 2023-02-15 16:02:39 1676476959 2023-02-15 16:02:39 665837 image <![CDATA[Frances Rivera-Hernández]]> image/png 1676479627 2023-02-15 16:47:07 1676479627 2023-02-15 16:47:07 665831 image <![CDATA[Rafael Bras ]]> image/jpeg 1676477203 2023-02-15 16:06:43 1676477203 2023-02-15 16:06:43 665838 image <![CDATA[Karl Lang]]> image/png 1676479748 2023-02-15 16:49:08 1676479748 2023-02-15 16:49:08 <![CDATA[Georgia Tech Experts Weigh In on Massive Turkey-Syria Earthquake ]]> <![CDATA[Frances Rivera-Hernández Lands NASA and Scialog Grants for Planetary Research, Signatures of Life]]> <![CDATA[To the Moon, Back, and Beyond]]> <![CDATA[Rivera-Hernández Wins NASA Grant to Aid Current Mars Rover Missions — and Find ‘Martian Lakes’ for Future Rovers and Crews]]> <![CDATA[Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month: Faculty Perspectives on Representation, Mentoring, Leadership in STEM]]> <![CDATA[Georgia Tech Launches Global Change Program]]>
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech and Emory Pursuing AI-Assisted Social Justice in Tissue Biomanufacturing]]> 28153 Advanced tissue manufacturing technologies like 3D bioprinting are helping to address various critical healthcare needs, like the massive and growing shortage of body organs around the globe, improving the outcomes for millions of patients. 

And in recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has been integrated with induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technologies and with tissue bioprinting. This has created new opportunities in the development of functional, personalized tissue and organ products for a wide range of regenerative medicine applications.

“We have an opportunity to dramatically change healthcare and improve the human condition,” said Vahid Serpooshan, assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, whose lab specializes in the development and use of cutting edge 3D bioprinting technologies to create functional tissue models.

“The field is growing super-fast, but there has been a lack of social justice or inclusivity in tissue engineering and organ manufacturing,” Serpooshan added. “AI-enabled biomanufacturing needs large datasets. But a great majority of studies are based on data, stem cells, and other biological materials from a very narrow population group – mainly, white males – which doesn’t accurately represent the rich diversity of humanity.”

Consequently, a large segment of society from various racial and ethnic backgrounds are deprived from adequate solutions in tissue manufacturing and regenerative medicine. So, even while biomedical technologies are improving healthcare, they’re also exacerbating existing health disparities.

But now, through a program called AI.Humanity with a Social Justice Lens, interdisciplinary teams of researchers from Georgia Tech and Emory have begun taking hopeful steps toward addressing those disparities, with the goal of ensuring that new technologies work effectively for all patients. 

Reframing the Narrative

“Our explicit goal is to reframe the narrative of advanced biotechnology development and move the field in a positive direction,” said Aaron Levine, associate dean of research and outreach in Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. Levine is one of the investigators collaborating with Serpooshan, along with Saman Zonouz, associate professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Elizabeth Newman, assistant professor in Emory’s Department of Mathematics.

The initial plan is to utilize stem cells obtained from donors from diverse backgrounds (Black, Hispanic, and White), which are commercially available. Serpooshan’s lab will differentiate the iPSCs into cardiac muscle cells, which will be used as bioink to create patient-specific cardiac tissue using 3D bioprinting. Afterwards, tissue functions will be measured, and the subsequent collected data will be fed into an AI platform to modify bioprinting processes accordingly. 

“Our aim in this collaborative, interdisciplinary project is to utilize domain-specific AI-based approaches to develop reliable and dependable tissue bioprinting processes, which are optimized for patients of various racial and ethnic backgrounds,” said Zonouz, who is leading the AI research effort on the Georgia Tech side. “Next generation tissue engineering and additive bioprinting enables core societal health needs. however, its increasing reliance on complicated processes and highly networked computing assets opens doors to biases and failures.”

Zonouz, who has a joint appointment in the School of CyberSecurity and Privacy and runs the Cyber-Physical Security Lab at Georgia Tech, will work on ensuring that the bioprinting processes are dependable against various biases that can be caused by data sources – accidental failures as well as potentially malicious efforts to affect data.

“We see this as the first steps in a long-term effort to train an AI model that can eventually allow efficient derivation of functional cells. and biomanufacturing of functional tissue, from a diverse range of donors,” Levine said. “In the longer-term, this effort aims at reducing disparities and pushing toward a more just healthcare system,” Levine said.

While Serpooshan’s lab works in the tissue engineering space, Zonouz and Newman will provide their computing and math expertise, and Levine will focus on framing the project by exploring the nature of potential injustice and building a case for why AI could offer an effective response to an ethical challenge.

Focusing the Social Justice Lens

The idea for the project, which is entitled “AI-Assisted Social Justice in Tissue and Organ Biomanufacturing,” took root almost spontaneously at an event co-hosted by Georgia Tech and Emory in November 2022. Researchers from both universities were invited to network, brainstorm, find common interests, then turn that into a collaborative project.

Five teams were formed, and they had 45 minutes to consider problems and solutions and develop a pitch, with seed grant funding up for grabs. In the end, two teams were selected and granted $100,000 to get started on their work. In addition to the tissue engineering team, another group will work on developing AI that improves infrared technology, like that used in pulse oximeters or thermometers, which are calibrated to work well on lighter colored skin but are not as effective in providing accurate diagnoses for people with darker skin.

For the tissue and organ biomanufacturing focus, Levine is particularly well-positioned to share social justice issues and the research team’s efforts with a wider research community. He’s part of the leadership team for the NSF Engineering Research Center for Cell Manufacturing (CMaT) at Georgia Tech, where he guides ethics and policy research. He also is vice chair of the International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy’s ethics committee.

“I hope to connect this work to the broader cell manufacturing and cell therapy community,” Levine said. “Both to ensure that our efforts are relevant to ongoing research and development, and to facilitate future connections and applications of our approach.” 

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1675972187 2023-02-09 19:49:47 1680294342 2023-03-31 20:25:42 0 0 news Researchers are working to make data for research on tissue engineering and organ manufacturing more inclusive and representative.

]]>
2023-02-09T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-09T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-09 00:00:00 Writer: Jerry Grillo

]]>
665670 665670 image <![CDATA[AI research team]]> image/jpeg 1675970112 2023-02-09 19:15:12 1675970112 2023-02-09 19:15:12
<![CDATA[Conversations With Cabrera: Climate Action]]> 27338 In the latest installment of his unscripted video series, President Cabrera led a panel of Georgia Tech faculty including Marilyn Brown, Regents' and Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems in the School of Public Policy, Tim Lieuwen, Regents’ Professor and executive director of the Strategic Energy Institute, Andre Calmon, assistant professor at the Scheller College of Business, and Brian Stone, professor at the School of City & Regional Planning, in a discussion on the policies, technologies, and planning that can help us achieve the best quality of life while also maintaining a global climate that remains within healthy limits.

]]> Brent Verrill 1 1680122860 2023-03-29 20:47:40 1680124072 2023-03-29 21:07:52 0 0 news President Cabrera led a panel of Georgia Tech faculty to discuss policies, technologies, and planning that can promote the best quality of life while also maintaining our global climate.

]]>
2023-03-29T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-29T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-29 00:00:00 Brent Verrill, Research Communications Program Manager

]]>
670351 670351 image <![CDATA[cwc_climate_action_medium.png]]> L to R: Ángel Cabrera, Marilyn Brown, Tim Lieuwen, Andre Calmon & Brian Stone

]]> image/png 1680123285 2023-03-29 20:54:45 1680123285 2023-03-29 20:54:45
<![CDATA[Watch on YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[TRAPPIST-1 Exoplanets May Harbor Life — But Disruptions Due to Gravity and Climate Could Turn One of Its Earth-size Planets Into a “Snowball”]]> 34434 40 light years away from Earth, the TRAPPIST-1 system of exoplanets shows promise for containing atmospheres that may support life. Yet two recent studies from teams involving Georgia Tech School of Physics and School of Mathematics researchers show a few of the planets could spin themselves into chaotic day-night cycles, which could ultimately result in shared fates becoming uninhabitable snowballs.

“The first paper is about how the day-night cycles of the planets vary,” said Gongjie Li, assistant professor in the School of Physics and a co-author of both studies. “The second paper is about the effects of the day-night cycles on climate. It is the first (work) to combine rigid-body simulations with 3D global climate models.” In this instance, “rigid body” refers to extended planetary bodies, and this is different from traditional dynamical approaches that assume the planets are point masses. 

“We found that the chaotic variations in the day-night cycles led to fast snowball transitions for TRAPPIST-1f,” the fifth planet from the red dwarf star that is the system’s sun. “This can render the planet trapped in a permanent snowball state, and makes it less favorable to life that we know of,” Li said.

The team for the first study, published in The Astrophysical Journal in December 2022, “GRIT: A Package for Structure-Preserving Simulations of Gravitationally Interacting Rigid Bodies,” includes Li and two researchers from the Georgia Tech School of Mathematics: Associate Professor Molei Tao and graduate student Renyi Chen.

Li and Howard Chen, assistant professor at the Florida Institute of Technology, collaborated with Ravi Kumar Kopparapu, a planetary scientist for NASA; and Adiv Paradise, who developed a 3D climate model used for the second study, “Sporadic Spin-Orbit Variations in Compact Multi-planet Systems and their Influence on Exoplanet Climate.” That study was published this month in Astrophysical Journal Letters

Rotating into ‘crazy’ day-night cycles

The TRAPPIST-1 system, discovered in 2017 is often called “the miniature solar system with seven rocky planets.”  The system hosts the most Earth-sized planets found in the habitable zone of a single star to date. It is also, according to NASA, the most studied planetary system, second to our own. 

Three of the planets, TRAPPIST-e, f, and g, are considered to be in their sun’s habitable or “Goldilocks” zone, because their distance from their sun means temperatures aren’t too hot or cold. Liquid water may also flow near or on the surface of these planets. The research done by Li and her colleagues for the first study included formulas for computer simulations that take into account gravitational pulls from these planets and their sun, along with their tidal forces. 

The tidal forces in the TRAPPIST-1 system bring up a similarity to Earth’s moon. “The planets reside very close to their host star and experience strong tidal interactions with that star, and thus were expected to be tidally locked, similar to the case of our own Moon, with one face always towards Earth, and permanent dayside and nightside,” Li said. 

The formulas produced results that suggested the planets’ rotation could become asynchronous, or chaotic, in 10 years, as those dynamics significantly affect their rotation. Those factors “can kick the outermost three planets” — TRAPPIST-1f, 1g, and 1h — “out of a tidally locked stage, and into having crazy day-night cycles,” Li said.

A potentially habitable planet could become an uninhabitable snowball

The second research study combined those algorithms with a 3D climate model. “We include clouds, rainfall, and solar radiation in 3D in these models, and we coupled the spin-dynamics of the planets with 3D global climate models, the first time in the literature to do so.” said Chen, the lead author of the second paper.

The researchers knew that existing climate modeling had shown that tidally-influenced terrestrial exoplanets — particularly those orbiting M-dwarf stars like TRAPPIST-1 — have unique atmospheric dynamics and surface conditions that may boost their likelihood to host livable habitats. 

Yet imagine a planet showing a different “face” to its host star than it usually does. Different cooling and warming cycles would take over, especially for those exoplanets farthest away from TRAPPIST-1.

“TRAPPIST-1e is very warm, and the crazy day-night cycles don’t affect the climate much. However, TRAPPIST-1f is a lot colder, and a change in day-night cycles can make it a snowball.” The reason: when the planet rotates, the new hot dayside doesn’t have enough time for the existing ice to melt, and when the new nightside forms ice, it leaves the planet covered in snow.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), launched in December 2021, recently began focusing on the outermost TRAPPIST-1 planets. The Telescope’s instrument package includes ways to detect carbon dioxide, methane, and oxygen molecules in an exoplanet’s atmosphere, which may yet yield clues to life.

 “We do not know what the climate is like on those planets yet,” Li said. “However, future studies by JWST on the atmosphere compositions of the planets will help us know more about its climate, and test our results.”

Funding for the two TRAPPIST-1 studies is provided by NASA. 

Citations: Citation Renyi Chen et al 2021 ApJ 919 50
DOI 10.3847/1538-4357/ac0e97

Howard Chen et al 2023 ApJL 946 L32
DOI 10.3847/2041-8213/acbd33

About Georgia Tech

The Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, is one of the top public research universities in the U.S., developing leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition.

The Institute offers business, computing, design, engineering, liberal arts, and sciences degrees. Its more than 46,000 students, representing 50 states and more than 150 countries, study at the main campus in Atlanta, at campuses in France and China, and through distance and online learning.

As a leading technological university, Georgia Tech is an engine of economic development for Georgia, the Southeast, and the nation, conducting more than $1 billion in research annually for government, industry, and society.

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1680012693 2023-03-28 14:11:33 1680121294 2023-03-29 20:21:34 0 0 news Georgia Tech researchers from the School of Physics and Mathematics use complex math formulas and 3D climate modeling to study potential changes to TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets’ rotation and orbits.


 

]]>
2023-03-29T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-29T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-29 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

]]>
670326 670327 670328 670330 670326 image <![CDATA[TRAPPIST-1 Exoplanets (Photo NASA JPL).jpg]]> image/jpeg 1680014061 2023-03-28 14:34:21 1680014061 2023-03-28 14:34:21 670327 image <![CDATA[Gongjie Li.png]]> image/png 1680014639 2023-03-28 14:43:59 1680014639 2023-03-28 14:43:59 670328 image <![CDATA[Molei Tao.png]]> image/png 1680014867 2023-03-28 14:47:47 1680014867 2023-03-28 14:47:47 670330 image <![CDATA[Howard Chen.jpg]]> image/jpeg 1680033755 2023-03-28 20:02:35 1680033755 2023-03-28 20:02:35 <![CDATA[More Clues That Earth-Like Exoplanets Are Indeed Earth-Like]]> <![CDATA[Active Matter, Curved Spaces: Mini Robots Learn to ‘Swim’ on Stretchy Surfaces]]> <![CDATA[That’s No Exomoon: Astrophysicists Reveal Method For Finding Exoplanets’ Satellite Neighbors]]> <![CDATA[‘Stellar Flybys’ Crash Through Cosmic Debris, Kicking Up Clues to Planet Formation]]>
<![CDATA[Undergraduate Research at Georgia Tech: Psychology, Economics Team Up to Explore Spatial Navigation and Learning]]> 34528 Chances are we all know someone who gets lost easily and often: people who move to a new city or walk into an office building and have no idea where to go — and even after several trips they continue to take wrong turns and spend time searching. Others, however, seem to have a built-in GPS, finding their way and instinctively discovering shortcuts. What could account for these individual differences?

A recent paper by an interdisciplinary team of authors from the School of Psychology and the School of Economics at Georgia Tech discovered that through psychology and neuroscience, good navigators often use a bird’s eye view perspective to organize and remember different places in the environment and have a map-like representation of the environment in their mind. Bad navigators on the other hand, often use a route-based, or turn-by-turn, strategy to learn the environment, making their representation of the environment much less configural. 

Reinforcement learning

A comparison of reinforcement learning models of human spatial navigation,” recently published in Nature Scientific Reports, explores reinforcement learning (RL), a popular type of machine learning algorithm which the famous AlphaGo is built on, to further investigate these individual differences in spatial navigation.

Academic Professional and first author Qiliang He explained, “What RL can offer — whereas other traditional measurements can’t — is that RL can quantify how much a navigator relies on their ‘map-like’ representation and how much they rely on their ‘turn-by-turn’ knowledge to go from Point A to Point B. It’s a number between 0 to 1, with 0 indicating complete reliance on turn-by-turn knowledge and 1 indicating complete reliance on map-like knowledge.” He added that the study combines psychology and computer science/data science.

“The critical thing which RL brings to the table for human navigation research is it helps us interpret how ‘adaptive’ a person’s strategy is,” noted Assistant Professor of Psychology Thackery Brown. “For example, sometimes navigating a well-learned route is just as efficient as any other path we might come up with to reach a goal — in this case, the person navigating that route isn’t necessarily a bad navigator, but may actually be allocating their brain’s resources in the most efficient way.”

Brown added that in the study, RL was used to characterize how someone’s current navigational choices relate to 1, the quickest option to reach a goal and 2, how this option seems to build on their past experiences. “We can get a much richer understanding of why a navigator chooses the path that they do and how efficient it is in terms of their current understanding of the environment.”

Undergraduate researchers — and co-authors

The paper is unique in that it combines an interdisciplinary group of authors, and that co-authors include two undergraduate students. In addition to Brown and He, co-authors of the paper included undergraduates Lou Eschapasse, who is studying Neuroscience in the College of Sciences with a concentration in Biomedical Engineering in College of Engineering; and Neuroscience major Elizabeth H. Beveridge. The team also included then-graduate student Jancy Ling Liu, formerly mentored by Brown, who is now with the Georgia Tech School of Economics Ph.D. program.

“[The] two undergraduate students contributed significantly to the research, earning authorship in the paper,” said Tansu Celikel, professor and chair of the School of Psychology. “This is a great example of the research ecosystem available to undergraduates at Tech.”

“In our lab, we place great responsibility on the Georgia Tech undergrads who work with us, and they flourish under this real sense of ownership of the studies which we conduct,” said Brown. “In my time as a professor we have had many majors from across the breadth of programs at GT — and Elizabeth and Lou are perfect examples of how brilliant, motivated, and well-trained our students are in neuroscience, psychology, and the related disciplines.”  

“The undergraduate research assistants provided very helpful suggestions during the conceptualization stage of the project,” said He. “[They] collected most of the data, and participated in the writing and revision of this paper.”

Elizabeth Beveridge, one of the undergraduate research assistants, has published three papers with Brown and He, won the PURA (President's Undergraduate Research Award) twice, and has her thesis under invited revision in a prestigious psychology journal. Beveridge's fellow undergraduate research assistant, Lou Eschapasse, has published two papers, and has finished a follow-up study on neuroimaging.

“I think these are both great examples of the research ecosystem available to undergraduates at GT, even during the time when we couldn’t meet face to face,” said He.

“I always knew I wanted to get involved in research, so I reached out to Professor Brown during my fall semester of freshman year. As a neuroscience major, I have always been interested in memory and how we use those past experiences to make decisions,” Beveridge shared. “I feel so lucky to be named as a co-author, and I am extremely appreciative of Professor Brown and Qiliang He. They have been amazing mentors and taught me so much about research throughout college.”

Good navigators

The team's study was conducted between February 2020 and September 2020, at the time COVID was first reported in the United States. “We discussed this project via an online meeting platform during the pandemic and we deployed this project into apps that could work on participants’ Windows and Mac computers,” He said.

Besides using an objective way to quantify navigation strategy, He explained that they were also interested in how consistently people were using their ‘default’ strategy. “We hypothesize that good navigators not only use map-like strategy more often, but also adaptively change their strategy according to the environmental characteristics. We reason that the changing navigation strategy can be good but also cognitive demanding (i.e., using more cognitive resources, or to think harder).”

He explained that they predict that in a stable, predictable environment, good navigators tend to stick to one strategy to preserve cognitive resources. In an unpredictable environment, good navigators tend to vary their navigation strategy more often to meet the navigational needs at the expense of cognitive resources. “The consistency of using a specific navigation strategy can also be estimated by the RL model,” He added.

“Navigating is computationally very challenging for the brain (the stimuli, goals, and relevance of our prior knowledge to the choices we need to make are constantly shifting),” noted Brown. “And it might be tempting to assume certain navigational strategies are inherently better than others. But following a well-worn route can free up resources for us to hold conversations, plan our next tasks, or monitor for dangers in our environment.”

The findings are important, because they show most peoples’ navigation reflects a hybrid of different ways we learn from our past successes and failures (different RL models), and a person’s unique mixture of more turn-by-turn and map-like learning helps define individual differences in how well they do under different types of navigational demands, Brown added.

“The insights from the study could inform interventions to teach people to be better at navigating challenging situations and can even inform efforts in computer science and robotics to develop artificial agents which can learn to solve navigational problems in the ways people do.”

Citation: He, Q., Liu, J.L., Eschapasse, L. et al. A comparison of reinforcement learning models of human spatial navigation. Sci Rep 12, 13923 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-18245-1

About Georgia Tech 

The Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, is a top 10 public research university developing leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition. The Institute offers business, computing, design, engineering, liberal arts, and sciences degrees. Its nearly 44,000 students representing 50 states and 149 countries, study at the main campus in Atlanta, at campuses in France and China, and through distance and online learning. As a leading technological university, Georgia Tech is an engine of economic development for Georgia, the Southeast, and the nation, conducting more than $1 billion in research annually for government, industry, and society.

]]> jhunt7 1 1666878127 2022-10-27 13:42:07 1680014282 2023-03-28 14:38:02 0 0 news A recent paper from the School of Psychology and the School of Economics has found that good navigators often use a bird’s eye view perspective to organize and remember different places in the environment and have a map-like representation of the environment in their mind. 

]]>
2022-10-27T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-27T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-27 00:00:00 Writer:
Laurie E. Smith, College of Sciences

Editor and Contact:
Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

]]>
662644 623600 662331 662644 image <![CDATA[From left: Elizabeth H. Beveridge, Lou Eschapasse, Jancy Ling Liu]]> image/jpeg 1666884448 2022-10-27 15:27:28 1680014254 2023-03-28 14:37:34 623600 image <![CDATA[Thackery Brown and Qiliang He]]> image/png 1563820172 2019-07-22 18:29:32 1563820172 2019-07-22 18:29:32 662331 image <![CDATA[Brain Graphic]]> image/png 1666201093 2022-10-19 17:38:13 1666201093 2022-10-19 17:38:13 <![CDATA[Thackery Brown Probes the ‘Black Box Problems’ in Cognitive Neuroscience]]> <![CDATA[Virtual Reality Helps Reveal Honeycomb Grids in Human Brain for Navigation]]>
<![CDATA[Can Cosmic Collisions Be Predicted Before They Happen? ]]> 34528

This story by Whitney Clavin, California Institute of Technology, was first published in the Caltech newsroom.

On August 17, 2017, around 70 telescopes collectively turned their gaze to a fiery collision between two dead stars that took place millions of light-years away. The telescopes watched the event unfold in a rainbow of wavelengths, from radio waves to visible light to the highest-energy gamma rays. As the pair of ultra-dense neutron stars crashed into each other, they flung debris outward that glowed for days, weeks, and months. Some of the onlooking telescopes spotted gold, platinum, and uranium in the searing blast, confirming that most heavy elements in our universe are forged in this type of cosmic collision.

Were that the end of the story, this cosmic event would have been remarkable in itself, but three other detectors were present for astronomical gathering that day—two belonging to the National Science Foundation-funded LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) and one belonging to Europe's Virgo. LIGO and Virgo observe not light waves but gravitational waves, or shivers in space and time produced by massive accelerating objects. As neutron stars spiral together, they generate gravitational waves before they merge and explode with light. It was the LIGO–Virgo gravitational-wave network that alerted the dozens of telescopes around the world that something astonishing was taking place in the skies above. Without LIGO and Virgo, August 17, 2017, would have been a typical day in astronomy.

Since that time, the LIGO–Virgo network has detected only one other neutron star merger; in that case, which occurred in 2019, light-based telescopes were not able to observe the event. (LIGO-Virgo has also detected dozens of binary black hole mergers, but those are not expected to produce light in most instances.) With LIGO–Virgo scheduled to turn back on this May, astronomers are excitedly preparing for more explosive neutron star mergers. One pressing question on the minds of some LIGO team members is: Can they detect these events sooner—perhaps even before the dead stars collide?

To that end, the researchers are developing early-warning software to alert astronomers to neutron star mergers up to seconds or even a full minute before the impact.

"It's a race against time," says Ryan Magee, a Caltech postdoctoral scholar who is co-leading the development of early-warning software along with Surabhi Sachdev (MS '17, PhD '19), a professor at Georgia Tech. "We are missing precious time to understand what happens before and right after these mergers," he says.

Eleven Hours Later, the Source Is Found

Once LIGO detects a likely neutron star collision, the race begins for telescopes on the ground and in space to follow up and pinpoint its location. The LIGO–Virgo network, which consists of three gravitational-wave detectors, helps narrow in on the approximate location where the fireworks are happening while light-based telescopes are required to identify the exact galaxy in which the neutron stars reside.

For the August 17 event, known as GW170817, most of the light-based telescopes were not able to start searching for the source of the gravitational-wave event until nine hours later. The LIGO–Virgo team sent its first alert to the astronomical community 40 minutes after the neutron star collision and the first sky maps, outlining the event's rough location, 4.5 hours after the event. But by that time, the region of interest in the southern skies had dipped below the horizon and out of view of the southern telescopes capable of seeing it. Astronomers would have to anxiously wait until nine hours after the event to begin combing the skies. By about 11 hours after the neutron star collision, several ground-based optical telescopes had at last pinned down the location of the source of the waves: a galaxy called NGC 4993, which lies about 130 million light-years away.

Gearing Up for the Next Run

With 11 hours missing from the story of how neutron stars slam into each other and seed the universe with heavy elements, astronomers are eagerly awaiting more neutron star smashups. For LIGO–Virgo's upcoming run, which will also include observations made by Japan's KAGRA, the detectors have been undergoing a series of upgrades to make them even better at catching gravitational-wave events and thus neutron star mergers. The team expects to detect four to 10 neutron star mergers in next run and as many as 100 in the fifth observing run of the current advanced detector network, planned to begin in 2027. Future runs with more advanced detectors are planned for the 2030s.

One new feature to be employed at the next run is the early-warning alert system. The specialized software will complement the main software that has been routinely used to detect all the gravitational-wave events so far.

The main software, also called a search pipeline, looks for weak gravitational-wave signals buried in noisy LIGO data by matching the data to a library of known signals, or waveforms, that represent different types of events, such as black hole and neutron star mergers. If a match is found and confirmed, an alert is sent to the astronomical community. The early-warning software works in the same way but uses only truncated versions of the waveforms so that it can work faster.

"The detectors are constantly taking new data in an observing run, and we are comparing our waveforms to the data as they come in. If we use truncated waveforms, we don't have to wait for as much data to be collected to do our comparison," Magee says. "The trade-off is that the signal needs to be loud enough to be detected using truncated waveforms. It's important to still run the main pipelines alongside the early-warning pipeline to pick up the weaker signals and get the best final localizations." Magee, Sachdev, and their colleagues are working on an early-warning pipeline called GSTLAL; additional early-warning pipelines for LIGO–Virgo are also in the works.

Before the Fireworks

As neutron stars spiral around each other like a pair of ice dancers, they orbit faster and faster and give off gravitational waves of increasingly higher frequencies. The final dance between neutron stars lasts longer than those between black holes, up to several minutes in the frequency bands LIGO is most sensitive to, and this gives LIGO and Virgo more time to catch the lead-up to the stars' dramatic finale. In the case of GW170817, the pair of mingling neutron stars spent six minutes at the frequency ranges detectable by LIGO–Virgo before the two bodies ultimately coalesced.

The LIGO early-warning software's truncated waveforms are designed to catch snippets of this last dance; in fact, the researchers think the software will eventually catch a neutron star merger up to one minute before the collision. If so, that will give telescopes around the world more time to find and study the explosions.

"In the next run, we might be able to catch one of the neutron star mergers 10 seconds ahead of time," says Sachdev. "By the fifth run, we believe we can catch one with a full minute of warning."

For astronomers, one minute is a lot of time. Caltech professor of astronomy Gregg Hallinan, the director of Caltech's Owens Valley Radio Observatory, says that early warnings of imminent neutron star mergers will be particularly important for gamma-ray, X-ray, and radio telescopes because the collisions may burst at these wavelengths right at the very start. "Radio telescope arrays like the Long Wavelength Array at the Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO-LWA) and Caltech's future 2,000-antenna Deep Synoptic Array (DSA-2000) might be able to detect a radio flash that is theorized to occur at the time the neutron stars merge and in some models during the final inspiral before the merger," says Hallinan. "That will teach us about the immediate environments of these massively destructive events. What's more, seeing a radio flash could also help us quickly pin down the location of the mergers."

Shreya Anand, a Caltech graduate student, says that early optical and ultraviolet observations of the mergers can reveal new information about their evolution, such as how elements are formed in the fast-moving material ejected from the collisions.

Anand, who works in the group of Caltech professor of astronomy Mansi Kasliwal (MS '07, PhD '11), is busy developing software herself, not for early-warning systems but to search the skies for neutron star mergers and other cosmic events once an alert from LIGO is received. Kasliwal's group is currently developing software for the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) and the upcoming Wide-field INfrared Transient ExploreR (WINTER), two survey instruments based at Caltech's Palomar Observatory. ZTF and WINTER can follow up on a LIGO alert to find and observe a neutron star merger. Anand is developing software that would speed up this search.

"Our algorithms figure out how to best cover different patches of sky and for how long to ensure the maximum chance of finding the target," she says. "We are missing interesting physics in the early phases of the mergers. The early-warning software from the LIGO team and the software for our telescope searches will speed up our chances of finding an event early. This will ultimately give us a more complete picture of what is going on."

The early-warning study led by Magee appears in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The study led by Sachdev also appears in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The research is funded by the National Science Foundation.

 

]]> jhunt7 1 1679085204 2023-03-17 20:33:24 1679943892 2023-03-27 19:04:52 0 0 news In collaboration with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), Surabhi Sachdev is co-leading the development of early-warning software to nab neutron-star mergers faster. "In the next run, we might be able to catch one of the neutron star mergers 10 seconds ahead of time," says Sachdev, an assistant professor in the School of Physics. "By the fifth run, we believe we can catch one with a full minute of warning."

]]>
2023-03-18T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-18T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-18 00:00:00 Georgia Tech:
Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

Caltech:
Whitney Clavin
(626) 395‑1944
wclavin@caltech.edu

]]>
670292 670203 670292 image <![CDATA[Two black holes merging (LIGO)]]> This illustration shows the merger of two black holes and the gravitational waves that ripple outward as the black holes spiral toward each other. In reality, the area near the black holes would appear highly warped, and the gravitational waves would be difficult to see directly. (LIGO)

]]> image/jpeg 1679681106 2023-03-24 18:05:06 1679943692 2023-03-27 19:01:32
670203 image <![CDATA[LIGO researchers Surabhi Sachdev, Ryan Magee, and Shreya Anand.]]> LIGO researchers Surabhi Sachdev, Ryan Magee, and Shreya Anand.

]]> image/jpeg 1679338443 2023-03-20 18:54:03 1679943715 2023-03-27 19:01:55
<![CDATA[Driving Change: Georgia Tech Experts Lead in Electrification of America’s Roads]]> 36418 Idling at a crossroads no longer, the automotive industry is embracing electrification like never before. With more electric vehicles purchased in 2022 than any year prior, consumers are beginning to follow their lead. Yet, while opportunity abounds, new challenges will require an innovative approach to ensure a sustainable and accessible electric future for all.

With historic investments from major players in the EV space, including Rivian, Kia, and Hyundai, the state of Georgia is uniquely positioned to serve as a leader in this effort. As the state's leading research institute, Georgia Tech is on the cutting edge of the movement. 

The transportation sector is the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the U.S. at nearly 30%, with passenger vehicles accounting for around 80% of the sector's total output1 as of 2019. Electric vehicles are widely regarded as a budding solution to reduce emissions, but even as both demand and production continue to increase, EVs currently account for around 1% of the cars on America's roadways. 

From the supply chain to the infrastructure needed to support alternative-fuel vehicles alongside consumer hesitancy, achieving the goals set by both the public and private sectors — including the Biden Administration's target of EVs making up at least 50% of new car sales by 2030 — will not be easy. Through research and development, policy, and collaboration, Tech experts are working toward finding solutions that will serve as catalysts during this transitionary period for the environment and the way Americans drive.

Check out the full story. 

]]> sgagliano3 1 1679406933 2023-03-21 13:55:33 1679935527 2023-03-27 16:45:27 0 0 news Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular, and with economic and environmental impacts colliding, Georgia Tech experts are leading the way in the development of next-generation solutions.  

]]>
2023-03-21T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-21T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-21 00:00:00 Steven Gagliano - Communications Officer 

Institute Communications

]]>
670207 670207 image <![CDATA[Driving Change: Georgia Tech experts are leading the way in EV innovation ]]> Top: Rich Simmons, Marilyn Brown, Gleb Yushin

Bottom: Valerie Thomas, Hailong Chen, Tim Lieuwen

]]> image/jpeg 1679407608 2023-03-21 14:06:48 1679408518 2023-03-21 14:21:58
<![CDATA[Full Feature]]>
<![CDATA[Creative Destruction: Williams Lab Probes the Evolution of Proteins]]> 28153 Proteins have been around a lot longer than we have – as building blocks of biological evolution, our existence depends on them. And now, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are applying a 20th-century theoretical concept to study how proteins evolve, and it might lead to the answer of one of humanity’s oldest questions: How did we become us?

Inside a typical human cell are tens of thousands of proteins. We need so many because proteins are the skilled laborers of the cell with each one performing a specific job. Some lend firmness to muscle cells or neurons. Others bind to specific, targeted molecules, ferrying them to new locations. And there are others that activate the process of cell division and growth.

A protein’s specific function depends on its shape, and to achieve its functional shape – it’s native state – a protein folds.  A protein begins its life as a long chain of amino acids, called a polypeptide. The sequence of amino acids determines how the protein chain will fold and form a complex, 3D structure that allow the protein to perform an intended task.

In the lab of Loren Williams, researchers are using “creative destruction” as a model for protein fold evolution and innovation. The term, coined by Austrian economist and political scientist Joseph Schumpeter in the 1940s, describes the deliberate dismantling of an established thing, like the wired telephone, to develop a new thing, like the smart phone.

“We have protein structures that have evolved over almost four billion years, and we don’t really understand where they came from or how they came to be what they are,” said Claudia Alvarez-Carreño, a postdoctoral researcher in the Williams lab, which is called the Center for the Origin of Life, or COOL. “It’s a very complex process forming these structures, and there are many hypotheses on how they could have emerged in early evolution.”

Out with the Old, In with the New

Alvarez-Carreño is the lead author of the paper, “Creative Destruction: New Protein Folds from Old,” published recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, or PNAS. She and her co-authors (Williams, Rohan Gupta, and Anton Petrov) excavated the deepest evolutionary history found within the translation machinery – which resides within all cells in the ribosome and is the birthplace of all proteins.

The researchers provide evidence supporting the common origins of some of the simplest, oldest, and most common protein folds. It suggests a form of creative destruction at work, explaining how simple protein folds spawn more complex folds.

They discovered that once a protein can fold and achieve its 3D structure, when it is combined with another protein which has folded into a different 3D structure, that combination can easily become a new structure. “So maybe it’s not as difficult as we thought to go from one structure to another,” said Williams, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “And maybe this can explain the diversity of protein structures that we see today.”

In Schumpter’s creative destruction model, developing “daughter products” involves the destruction of ancestral products. “Daughter products can inherit features of ancestors but can in essence be different from them,” they write in the paper. In the smart phone example ancestral wired phones, computers, cameras, global positioning, and other technologies that are merged to create a daughter, i.e. the smart phone.

The daughter inherits many features of the ancestors. These features, which interact in specific ways in the daughter, create new functional niches that were not accessible, or even possible, in the ancestors.

“So, the creative destruction of protein folds might account for a lot of the diversity we see,” Williams said.

Molecular Mergers

Ever since the simplest and most ancient protein folds emerged on Earth billions of years ago, the number of folds has expanded to form the universe of protein function we see in modern biology.

But the origins of protein folds and the evolutionary mechanisms at play pose central questions in biology that Williams and his team considered. For instance, how did protein folds arise, and what led to the diverse set of protein folds in contemporary biological systems, and why did nearly four billion years of fold evolution produce fewer than 2,000 distinct folds?

The researchers believe that creative destruction can be generalized to explain a lot of this.

In creative destruction, they explain, one open reading frame – the span of DNA sequence that encodes a protein  – merges with another to produce a fused polypeptide. The merger forces these two ancestors into a new structure. The resulting polypeptide can achieve a form that was inaccessible to either of the independent ancestors, before the merger. But these new folds are not totally independent of the old. That is, a daughter fold inherits some things from the ancestral fold.

This, broadly speaking, is what Williams and his team observed, and they think their creative destruction model has some application in studying disease – proteins that fold improperly can impact the health of the cells and the human comprised of those cells.

“For example, we think this process is important in the biology of cancer – there are many, many proteins that have fused and, we believe have refolded, in cancers,” said Williams. “And there’s the world of protein aggregation diseases, like Parkinson’s or Alzheimers, and proteins that have not folded correctly, or have refolded.”

But right now, Williams and his team are most interested in how their creative destruction model helps them understand some of the deepest questions of our evolution.

“Like, where did we come from,” Williams said. “Creative destruction could help us understand where the proteins in our body came and how we came to be what we are.”

CITATION: Claudia Alvarez-Carreño, Rohan J. Gupta, Anton S. Petrov and Loren Dean Williams. “Creative destruction: New protein folds from old.” PNAS Journal.

https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2207897119

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1678129626 2023-03-06 19:07:06 1679329448 2023-03-20 16:24:08 0 0 news Georgia Tech researchers apply an economics theory to study the building blocks of biological evolution

]]>
2023-03-06T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-06T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-06 00:00:00 Writer: Jerry Grillo

]]>
666471 666471 image <![CDATA[Claudia and Loren]]> image/jpeg 1678129294 2023-03-06 19:01:34 1678129294 2023-03-06 19:01:34
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Part of $5 Million Grant-Funded Center to Advance Robotics in Poultry Processing]]> 36123 This news release first appeared in the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture newsroom, and has been tailored for Georgia Tech readers.

Researchers at Georgia Tech, the University of Arkansas System, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Fort Valley State University in Georgia were awarded a $5 million grant to increase use of artificial intelligence and robotics in chicken processing to reduce waste in deboning and detect pathogens.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture will establish the Center for Scalable and Intelligent Automation in Poultry Processing. The center, led by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, will join researchers from five institutions in three states in efforts to adapt robotic automation to chicken meat processing.

Douglas Britton, manager of the Agricultural Technology Research Program at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), said his team was very excited to work on this project with experts at the four other institutions.

“The ultimate goal is to drive transformational innovation into the poultry and meat processing industry through automation, robotics, AI, and VR technologies,” Britton said. “Building on years of work in the GTRI Agricultural Technology Research Program, we are pleased to see that the USDA-NIFA has chosen this team to continue these efforts.”

Georgia Tech is a major partner in the project, and was awarded $2 million to focus on automating the processing lines that turn chickens into meat, said Jeyam Subbiah, professor and head of the food science department for the Division of Agriculture and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas, and director of the project. The grant is for four years.

The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the Division of Agriculture, will receive $2.2 million from the grant primarily to focus on food safety automation for poultry processing plants.

The remaining grant money will be divided between Julia McQuillan, Willa Cather professor of sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Brou Kuoakou, associate dean for research at Fort Valley State University in Georgia.

Jeff Buhr, a USDA Agricultural Research Service scientist, will contribute his expertise in broiler physiology to guide robotic deboning of meat, Subbiah said.

Georgia is the nation’s top broiler producer. Arkansas is number 3, according to 2021 figures from USDA.

Meeting the challenge

The recent impetus to automate chicken processing began with the Covid-19 pandemic, Subbiah said. The illness spread quickly among workers on the processing line. Since the worst of the pandemic, the poultry industry, like many others, has been having trouble hiring enough workers.

“Poultry processing lines began 70 to 80 years ago,” Subbiah said. “Since then, there have been only incremental changes in technology. Today, there’s a need for transformative change.”

Humans can feel when a knife hits a bone. In contrast, existing automation in poultry processing, like deboners, wastes a lot of meat.

“Human deboners leave about 13 percent of meat on the bones,” Subbiah said. “Automated deboners leave 16 to 17 percent. On an industrial scale, that’s a significant loss in value. We will use artificial intelligence and virtual reality to improve precision and reduce wastage.”

Automation can relieve labor shortages, Subbiah said. It also allows plants to locate in rural areas with a smaller labor force but nearer poultry houses and with lower property costs.

Initially, people working remotely may help advance robotic processing. Subbiah envisions workers logging on from home with virtual-reality goggles and haptics gloves to control robots located miles away.

While working remotely, the labor force will teach artificial intelligence how to cut up chickens of varying sizes and shapes.

“Automated machines right now are programmed to debone or cut up chickens based on an average size and shape. But no chicken is that size or shape,” Subbiah said. “Robot-wielded knives cut meat poorly. The machines have to learn how to adjust to the reality of random sizes and shapes.”

Georgia Tech’s participating scientists are all part of GTRI:

“We are thrilled to partner with our colleagues here in the Division of Agriculture, as well as our colleagues at Georgia Tech and the other participating institutions on this exciting project,” said David Caldwell, head of the Division of Agriculture’s poultry science department and director of the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science.

“We expect the findings from these coordinated research projects will be impactful for our stakeholders in the commercial poultry industry here in Northwest Arkansas and throughout the entire industry,” Caldwell said. “This project will help keep moving technology forward in processing and food safety of poultry.”

For more information about the project, see the original press release on the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture website.

]]> Catherine Barzler 1 1678475834 2023-03-10 19:17:14 1678478062 2023-03-10 19:54:22 0 0 news 2023-03-10T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-10T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-10 00:00:00 Catherine Barzler, Senior Research Writer and Editor

]]>
666607 666607 image <![CDATA[Chicken grocery store]]> image/jpeg 1678467205 2023-03-10 16:53:25 1678467205 2023-03-10 16:53:25
<![CDATA[Kan Wang Selected for Research Faculty Teaching Fellows Program]]> 27513 Kan (Kevin) Wang, senior research engineer, in the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute (GTMI) was selected to be part of the Research Faculty Teaching Fellows Program (Fall 2023/Spring 2024). The program aims to enhance the interaction across the Institute’s teaching and research activities. It offers research faculty the opportunity to become first-time instructors, and for those who have taught in the past, the ability to turn their cutting-edge research programs into instructional programs that enhance the teaching missions in the academic units.

Wang proposed a new course, Resilience of Biomanufacturing Supply Chains, which won his placement into the program.

“This Research Faculty Teaching Fellows Program will allow me to introduce important research topics in my research area to more Industrial Systems and Engineering (ISyE) students,” said Wang. “Case studies developed in my research projects and presented in the course will show students how to apply the knowledge learned from this course in actual industrial scenarios.”

Wang is also hoping that this teaching opportunity could help him better organize his own knowledge and research ideas in this area, and lead to new ideas that may develop into new collaborations between him and ISyE faculty. These collaborations could result in new research proposals and/or peer-reviewed papers. Plus, students taking his course would be provided opportunities to join new research projects in his lab.

According to Wang, cell therapy manufacturing is a nascent industry that will have critical workforce needs in five to ten years. He wants to expose more industrial engineering students into this emerging new industry.

]]> Walter Rich 1 1678397245 2023-03-09 21:27:25 1678397245 2023-03-09 21:27:25 0 0 news 2023-03-09T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-09T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-09 00:00:00 Walter Rich

]]>
666591 666591 image <![CDATA[Kan (Kevin) Wang]]> image/jpeg 1678397156 2023-03-09 21:25:56 1678397156 2023-03-09 21:25:56
<![CDATA[Bringing Understanding to Chaotic Dynamics with Billiards, Flowers, and ... Mushrooms? ]]> 34434 Words like billiards, flowers, and stadium get mentioned a lot alongside Leonid Bunimovich’s name. Yet in this context, none of these terms refer to pool tables, botany, or places where World Cup games are played — along with Bunimovich mushrooms, which you (fortunately and hopefully) won’t find on any pizzas or salads.

Instead, these terms refer to the visualization of mathematical concepts — and they’ve made Bunimovich, a Regents’ Professor in the School of Mathematics at Georgia Tech, quite well-known among his peers.

The researcher’s concepts are used by physicists and mathematicians around the world to describe ways to study dynamical systems, Bunimovich’s chief research area. Dynamical systems theory uses mathematical tools to model many components of a phenomena that exists and needs to be explained, and whose state changes over time. 

“A current state of the object is described by some characteristics — positions and velocities of particles, for example, or concentrations of some types of viruses,” Bunimovich explains. Their evolution can be regular — fixed and relatively easy to predict, or complex (chaotic = quasi-random) and not so easy to predict, or both. 

Dynamical systems can model changes over time of numbers in data, bringing some clarity to economic theories. They can model phenomena in health and medicine, weather patterns, planetary bodies, and quantum mechanics; any complex system with lots of moving parts that needs to be observed, understood, and predicted.

Knowing how those particles bounce off walls of a Bunimovich stadium, and each other, and their trajectories, can help mathematicians and physicists provide better predictability to those movements.

Bunimovich is modest about his fame in the field. “Mostly the billiards give people a vision of chaotic dynamics. All these Bunimovich stadiums, mushrooms, flowers, provide such visual examples which demonstrate that some unimaginable before types of evolutions (changes) may occur, and how it happens.” He says an old saying proves his point: it is better to see just once than hear a hundred times.

Figuring out those patterns helped researchers develop chaos theory, “one of the major discoveries of the 20th century,” Bunimovich explains. Chaos theory examines random or unpredictable behaviors in dynamical systems run by fixed deterministic rules, and it is applied to a range of scientific and mathematical disciplines.

Updating math concepts for the 21th century

Bunimovich notes that he wasn’t the first to use the concept of billiards to study dynamical systems. Y.G. Sinai, Bunimovich’s former adviser currently at Princeton University, wrote a 1970 paper introducing the concept of dynamical billiards, where a point particle bounces around inside a rectangular shape with a removed circle as in a billiards game, but without losing its speed. 

Sinai was himself a student of A.N. Kolmogorov, one of the greatest Russian mathematicians who conducted pioneering research in probability, theory of functions, turbulence theory, and complexity theory. It was Kolmogorov “who particularly built a bridge between random and deterministic worlds, and random and deterministic systems,” Bunimovich said.

Dan Margalit, a fellow professor in the School of Mathematics at Georgia Tech, adds that Bunimovich is credited with taking these concepts introduced by other Russian mathematicians and updating them for 21th century uses in probability and quantum theory, as well as physics. “The basic idea is that you have a billiard table of a certain shape, and you want to know if I shoot a frictionless billiard ball in some direction, will it eventually travel over the whole table,” Margalit said.

Another way to visualize dynamical systems is through Bunimovich mushroom billiards, which get their name from their caps-and-stems shapes that form in visualizations that depict particle movements. “It is a general belief, although not proved, that typical dynamical systems have regions with regular motion/dynamics, or stable islands, situated in chaotic seas where dynamics is chaotic,” he said. “Mushrooms are the only large class of billiards where such coexistence was proved. Moreover, they are very visual and easy to build, which has been done in various physics labs.”

The origins of a Bunimovich stadium and Bunimovich elliptical flowers

The trajectories of any particle resembling a billiard ball also play a part in Bunimovich’s development of a stadium, which he introduced in a 1974 paper. The American Mathematical Society defines a Bunimovich stadium as “a rectangle capped by semicircles in which a particle moves at constant speed along straight lines, reflecting off the boundary in a way that the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection.” 

Bunimovich’s stadium showed that generally, chaotic dynamics was much more common for all dynamical systems than previously thought. “It is just a more deep understanding of chaos, and a stadium allows for rigorous mathematical proof of discovery which physicists did not believe until they made experiments and saw it.”

A recent Bunimovich discovery: elliptical flower billiards, which may help with experimental studies in physics labs as well as mathematical ones, according to the abstract of Bunimovich’s 2021 paper on the subject. Elliptical flower billiards take into account other factors that may impact the trajectories of the billiards.

“Elliptic flowers are the only ones where the coexistence of chaotic and non-chaotic regions is rigorously proved, and non-chaotic regions do not have a very specific shape like in mushroom billiards,” Bunimovich said. These changes of shape can help researchers make better sense of classical systems, whose variables are strictly defined and can be precisely measured, and quantum systems, where the action happens at the atomic or subatomic level.

‘Mathematics and physics can be beautiful’

Nils Berglund, a professor of mathematics at the University of Orleans in France, has produced YouTube videos showing Bunimovich elliptical flowers billiards, which he calls “examples of systems that can be proved to have mixed dynamics, with both regular and chaotic trajectories.” The resulting animations are colorful representations of Bunimovich’s innovations and those of other mathematicians. 

“With these animations, I am trying to show that mathematics and physics can be beautiful,” Berglund shares on his channel. “They are all based on real models in physics and math, typically describing the evolution in time of some system: a particle or a wave in a closed domain, a growing interface, a population of animals.”

Bunimovich’s elliptical flower discovery isn’t quite two years old, so he doesn’t expect that a lot of physicists know about it yet. “But I fully expect they will build elliptical flowers in physics labs, as it was with the stadium and mushrooms.”

Bunimovich’s unique creations offer others like Berglund a chance to inject some 21th century creativity into math and physics problems. But to Bunimovich, it’s all in line with traditional scientific processes, beginning with observations. 

“All science is a collection of studies that started with just observations of evolution in time of various objects — for example, the motion of planets and the sun. A general, and basically true opinion is that mathematicians prove only the things which physicists did already know or which did not have any physical or scientific meaning. But there are exceptions when mathematicians discover some phenomena which physicists never imagined to exist.”

These studies of purely deterministic dynamical systems provide some foundation for theories, but they still involve probabilities; a mix of the known and the unknown. 

“This topic is at the border of philosophy,” Bunimovich said.

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1676057593 2023-02-10 19:33:13 1678383108 2023-03-09 17:31:48 0 0 news Georgia Tech mathematician Leonid Bunimovich’s eponymous innovations bring fame within his discipline as he visualizes dynamical systems — with an ultimate goal of predicting and finding probabilities within unknown evolution, and helping mathematicians and physicists with the ‘vision of chaotic dynamics’. 

 

]]>
2023-02-10T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-10T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-10 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

 

]]>
665713 665712 665711 665714 665713 image <![CDATA[A screenshot from a Nils Berglund video of a Bunimovich stadium in action. (Courtesy Nils Berglund)]]> image/png 1676056036 2023-02-10 19:07:16 1676058785 2023-02-10 19:53:05 665712 image <![CDATA[Leonid Bunimovich]]> image/png 1676055893 2023-02-10 19:04:53 1676055893 2023-02-10 19:04:53 665711 image <![CDATA[Screenshot from a Nils Berglund video showing a Bunimovich elliptical flower billiard. (Courtesy Nils Berglund)]]> image/png 1676055735 2023-02-10 19:02:15 1676055735 2023-02-10 19:02:15 665714 image <![CDATA[Leonid Bunimovich holding a model of a Bunimovich mushroom used in an experimental device in a physics lab.]]> image/png 1676057095 2023-02-10 19:24:55 1676058705 2023-02-10 19:51:45 <![CDATA[Nils Berglund YouTube video of Bunimovich elliptical flower billiards]]>
<![CDATA[New Quantum State Discovered in Trimer-Honeycomb Material]]> 34528 A group of physicists, including two Georgia Tech researchers, have discovered a new quantum state. The study, published in the journal Nature, uncovered novel looping currents flowing along the edges of octahedral cells in a crystal of Mn3Si2Te6, which allowed for a billion percent increase in the material’s electric conductivity. The findings could lead to a new paradigm for quantum devices and superconductors.

The team consisted of Georgia Tech theoretical physicists Sami Hakani and Itamar Kimchi, along with experimental physicists Feng Ye (Oak Ridge National Lab), Lance DeLong (University of Kentucky), and, from the University of Colorado at Boulder: Gang Cao, Yifei Ni, Yu Zhang, and Hengdi Zhao. The group was drawn to the research after their previous study investigated the same material.

“Because this material did not fit any preexisting models, we had to develop new ideas to understand it,” said Georgia Tech graduate student Hakani, who played a key role in developing the theory. “These new ideas will help us study related materials that could be used for next-generation magnetic field devices.”

An Exception to the Rule

The physicists first became interested in the Mn3Si2Te6 material due to its unique electrical properties — in particular, a property called colossal magnetoresistance, an extreme enhancement in a material’s electrical conductivity when a magnetic field is applied.

In most materials, applying a magnetic field does not change that material’s conductivity. However, in another class of materials, applying a magnetic field does change conductivity; this is called magnetoresistance, and it can scale to “giant” and “colossal” changes in conductivity. In instances of colossal magnetoresistance, a material can change from behaving like an insulator (like Styrofoam) to being as conductive as a metal wire.

This change is not altogether unusual. Materials displaying giant magnetoresistance are not uncommon and are often used in computers; however, in all of these known materials, the material does not change its behavior in a way that significantly depends on the direction of the applied magnetic field. This new trimer-honeycomb material does.

“The phenomenon defies all existing theoretical models and experimental precedents,” said Kimchi, theoretical physicist and assistant professor in the School of Physics at Georgia Tech. And that’s where he and Hakani come in.

Uncovering Looping Currents

“As theoretical physicists, we develop new kinds of mathematical models,” said Kimchi. “When it’s qualitatively difficult to understand how anything can make sense in experimental data — when there’s something qualitatively shocking — we try to come up with that basic picture.”

Using the information uncovered by the experimental physicists, Hakani and Kimchi set out to understand why the extreme change in conductivity only happens when the magnetic field is applied perpendicularly to the honeycomb-like surface of the material.

“Our idea smelled promising, but, unfortunately, we quickly realized that currents between the magnetic manganese ions would be forbidden by symmetry, which was discouraging,” said Kimchi. “However, Sami then did the symmetry analysis for the octahedrally arranged tellurium ions, and, for them, currents were symmetry-allowed and could work out!”

Viewed from above, the material looks like a series of two-dimensional honeycombs. From the side, however, the material is composed of “sheets,” like a layer cake. Within each “sheet” of honeycomb, electrons can move in circular paths around each octahedral cell. These looping, circular-moving currents within the material are responsible for the material’s unique behavior. 

On its own, without a magnetic field present, electrons move both counterclockwise and clockwise around the honeycomb “cells,” like cars going in both directions around a roundabout. Just like in uncontrolled traffic, “traffic jams” make it difficult for electrons to move quickly throughout the material. Without a way to streamline traffic, the material acts more like an insulator.

However, if a magnetic field is applied perpendicular to the honeycomb-like surface, a “flow of traffic” is established, and electrons navigate the loops more quickly. The material then acts as a conductor, showing a seven-magnitude increase in conductivity — equivalent to an increase of a billion percent.

A New Paradigm

The transformation from insulator to conductor can also be driven by applying electrical currents in the material, but in that case, it doesn’t happen instantaneously. It can take seconds or even minutes for the material to switch from insulator to conductor.

The team believes that this tunability and slower type of switching, coupled with the material’s sensitivity to currents, could lead to new applications and discoveries in current-controlled quantum devices, a field of devices that range from sensors to computers to secure communication.

The next step? Working to better understand the newly discovered quantum state, and finding other materials where the quantum state might exist.

“Looking forward, we hope to understand not only what makes this material special, but also which microscopic ingredients are needed for related materials to become useful quantum technologies in our future,” said Hakani.

]]> jhunt7 1 1677009616 2023-02-21 20:00:16 1678377844 2023-03-09 16:04:04 0 0 news A group of physicists, including two Georgia Tech researchers, have discovered a new quantum state in trimer-honeycomb material. The transformation allows for a billion percent increase in the material’s conductivity and could lead to a new paradigm for quantum devices. The discovery builds on a previous study that first investigated the material, also known as Mn3Si2Te6, for its unusual and unique qualities.

]]>
2023-02-23T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-23T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-23 00:00:00 By: Selena Langner
Writer, College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

Media Contact: Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications, College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

]]>
666018 666017 666018 image <![CDATA[Loop Currents, Electrons, and Honeycombs]]> image/jpeg 1677010062 2023-02-21 20:07:42 1677010062 2023-02-21 20:07:42 666017 image <![CDATA[School of Physics researchers Sami Hakani (left) and Itamar Kimchi.]]> image/jpeg 1677009865 2023-02-21 20:04:25 1677009865 2023-02-21 20:04:25
<![CDATA[Researchers Land RCSA Funding to Study Mars Samples, Develop SMART Collaborations]]> 34434 Two Georgia Tech researchers recently landed Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) funding, which includes its core programs, the coveted Cottrell Scholars and Scialog® honors. Elisabetta Matsumoto and Frances Rivera-Hernández are the latest College of Sciences faculty to receive RCSA support for their work.

RCSA’s mission is to advance early stage, high-potential, basic scientific research. The association provides funding for research and sponsors conferences to support a diverse and inclusive community of early career faculty, innovative ideas for basic research, integration of research and science teaching, interdisciplinary research, and building the foundation for the academic leadership of the future.

The Scialog® program invests in interdisciplinary, innovative, basic research on problems of high complexity that are timely and of significant value to society.

Its goal is to foster new collaborations across multiple disciplines to spark innovative ideas, stimulate significant advances on chosen topics, and attract higher levels of funding.

SMART collaborations

Elisabetta Matsumoto, an associate professor in the School of Physics, was part of the Cottrell Scholars Collaborative program, in which participants are encouraged to form teams and develop collaborative projects with potential national impact in science education. 

Matsumoto’s collaborative project, Supporting Making to Align Research and Teaching (SMART), builds off an existing Cottrell project aiming to increase awareness of making, an emerging instructional practice where students learn a discipline (and enjoy enhanced creativity and self-expression) by creating shared physical and digital artifacts. 

The goal of this project is to support and document faculty training and adoption of making methods, as well as to generate examples of making activities in disciplines, such as chemistry and astronomy, that have not adopted this technique.

Mars samples

Frances Rivera-Hernández, an assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is participating in the second year of the Scialog® Signatures of Life in the Universe program (the Heising-Simons Foundation is a program co-sponsor). 

The team’s goal is to catalyze cutting-edge research with the potential to transform our understanding of the habitability of planets, of how the occurrence of life alters planets and leaves signatures, and of how to detect such signatures beyond Earth.

Rivera-Hernández’s project with Laurie Barge, a research scientist in the Planetary Sciences division of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is titled Mars Sample Return: Connecting Martian Environmental Chemistry to Returned Samples. It is funded by NASA.

A rich history of RCSA support 

RCSA is a longtime supporter of College of Sciences research. Several faculty members from a variety of disciplines have been named Cottrell Scholars or joined the Scialog program over the past 29 years. 

Two School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences associate professors, Jennifer Glass and Chris Reinhard, were part of the first year of the Signatures of Life in the Universe program in 2021. Glass was chosen for her research proposal, Methane from Nontraditional Abiotic Sources and Potential for False Biosignature Positives, while Reinhard proposal was Stochastic Simulation of Evolving Planetary Biospheres.

Also in 2021, Vinayak Agarwal, an assistant professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the School of Biological Sciences, was named a Cottrell Scholar for his proposal, Unlocking Marine Eukaryotic Natural Product Biosynthetic Schemes in Research and Education.

Elisabetta Matsumoto’s first time as a Cottrell Scholar was in 2020 for her research on tying together the science and mathematics behind knitting, which was featured in  The New York Times

Also in 2020, Gongjie Li, professor in the School of Physics, and Amanda Stockton, professors in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, were named Scialog® Signatures of Life in the Universe Fellows

Chad Risko, a former Ph.D. student in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, was named a Cottrell Scholar in 2018 with the goal of developing a course-based undergraduate research experience focusing on the application of computing and data science in chemistry. Risko was a Ph.D. student of former Regents Professor Jean-Luc Brédas.

Brian Hammer, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences, was part of a 2015 collaborative effort for the Scialog® Molecules Come to Life Team Award for the project, Rebooting the Gut Microbial Ecosystem Using Bacterial Dueling.

Previous Georgia Tech recipients of the Cottrell Scholar Award also include David Collard (1994), professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and senior associate dean in the College of Sciences; Michael Schatz (1999) and Tamara Bogdanović (2016), both professors of the School of Physics.

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1677080164 2023-02-22 15:36:04 1678377817 2023-03-09 16:03:37 0 0 news Elisabetta Matsumoto and Frances Rivera-Hernández have won funding and support from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA), continuing a long history of backing for leading-edge research honored by Cottrell Scholars and Scialog® programs.

 

]]>
2023-02-22T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-22T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-22 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

 

]]>
666110 665837 666110 image <![CDATA[Elisabetta Matsumoto with a scarf that represents cellular automata, a mathematical construct depicting a system's evolution over time. (Photo Elisabetta Matsumoto)]]> image/png 1677170308 2023-02-23 16:38:28 1677170308 2023-02-23 16:38:28 665837 image <![CDATA[Frances Rivera-Hernández]]> image/png 1676479627 2023-02-15 16:47:07 1676479627 2023-02-15 16:47:07 <![CDATA[Elisabetta Matsumoto Is 2020 Cottrell Scholar for Research on the Math and Science Behind Knitting]]> <![CDATA[Jennifer Glass, Chris Reinhard Join Scialog Colleagues in the Search for ‘Signatures of Life in the Universe’]]> <![CDATA[Vinayak Agarwal Wins 2021 Cottrell Scholar Award for Ocean Studies]]>
<![CDATA[Mycorrhizal Types Control Biodiversity Effects on Productivity]]> 35575 This news release first appeared in the Chinese Academy of Sciences newsroom, and has been tailored for Georgia Tech readers.

Mycorrhizal symbiosis — a symbiotic relationship that can exist between fungi and plant roots — helps plants expand their root surface area, giving plants greater access to nutrients and water. Although the first and foremost role of mycorrhizal symbiosis is to facilitate plant nutrition, scientists have not been clear how mycorrhizal types mediate the nutrient acquisition and interactions of coexisting trees in forests.  

To investigate this crucial relationship, Lingli Liu, a professor at the Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IBCAS) led an international, collaborative team, which included School of Biological Sciencesprofessor Lin Jiang. The team studied nutrient acquisition strategies of arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) and ectomycorrhizal (EcM) trees in the Biodiversity–Ecosystem Functioning (BEF) experiment in a subtropical forest in China, where trees of the two mycorrhizal types were initially evenly planted in mixtures of two, four, eight, or 16 tree species.   

The researchers found that as the diversity of species increased, the net primary production (NPP) of EcM trees rapidly decreased, but the NPP of AM trees progressively increased, leading to the sheer dominance (>90%) of AM trees in the highest diversity treatment. 

The team's analyses further revealed that differences in mycorrhizal nutrient-acquisition strategies, both nutrient acquisition from soil and nutrient resorption within the plant, contribute to the competitive edge of AM trees over EcM ones.  

In addition, analysis of soil microbial communities showed that EcM-tree monocultures have a high abundance of symbiotic fungi, whereas AM-tree monocultures were dominated by saprotrophic and pathogenic fungi.  

According to the researchers, as tree richness increased, shifts in microbial communities, particularly a decrease in the relative abundance of Agaricomycetes (mainly EcM fungi), corresponded with a decrease in the NPP of EcM subcommunities, but had a relatively small impact on the NPP of AM subcommunities.  

These findings suggest that more efficient nutrient-acquisition strategies, rather than microbial-mediated negative plant-soil feedback, drive the dominance of AM trees in high-diversity ecosystems.  

This study, based on the world’s largest forest BEF experiment, provides novel data and an alternative mechanism for explaining why and how AM trees usually dominate in high-diversity subtropical forests.

These findings also have practical implications for species selection in tropical and subtropical reforestation—suggesting it is preferable to plant mixed AM trees, as they have a more efficient nutrient-acquisition strategy than EcM trees.  

This study was published as an online cover article in Sciences Advances on Jan. 19 and was funded by the Strategic Priority Research Program of CAS and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

]]> adavidson38 1 1677186081 2023-02-23 21:01:21 1678377769 2023-03-09 16:02:49 0 0 news An international, collaborative team of researchers shed light on how fungi and plant roots work together to gather nutrients — and how the diversity of plant species may impact the process.

]]>
2023-02-23T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-23T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-23 00:00:00 Georgia Tech Editor: Audra Davidson
Communications Officer II
College of Sciences

]]>
666119 666119 image <![CDATA[Fungi growing on plants in a forest]]> image/png 1677186313 2023-02-23 21:05:13 1677186313 2023-02-23 21:05:13 <![CDATA[Tree mycorrhizal association types control biodiversity-productivity relationship in a subtropical forest]]> <![CDATA[Center for Teaching and Learning Recognizes Sciences Faculty for Educational Excellence]]>
<![CDATA[Sciences Lands Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence Grant]]> 34528 Four faculty in the College of Sciences have received new funding to help foster student belonging at Georgia Tech. The team’s six-year grant is part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) Inclusive Excellence 3 initiative, and is one of 104 new grants funded through an overall initiative that’s allocating $60 million over six years and several phases.

“HHMI’s challenge to us addresses a critical need in U.S. higher education, and it is aligned with Georgia Tech’s strategic plan,” says David Collard, senior associate dean in the College and lead researcher for effort at Tech. “The grant to Georgia Tech will support a team effort in pursuing a number of complementary projects.”

Collard is joined by College of Sciences co-investigators Jennifer Leavey, assistant dean for Faculty Mentoring; Carrie Shepler, assistant dean for Teaching Effectiveness; and Professor Lewis Wheaton, inaugural director of the Center for Promoting Inclusion and Equity in the Sciences at Georgia Tech. Collard and Shepler also serve as faculty members in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Leavey and Wheaton in the School of Biological Sciences.

Inclusive Excellence 3

As the third phase of the HHMI program, Inclusive Excellence 3, known as IE3, challenges U.S. colleges and universities to “substantially and sustainably build their capacity for student belonging, especially for those who have been historically excluded from the sciences.”

IE3 is also distinct from previous HHMI science education initiatives because it begins with a learning phase and, during that phase, learning communities envision how to move cooperatively into an implementation phase.

The grant will uniquely challenge groups to work collaboratively to address one of three broad efforts. At Georgia Tech, the Colleges of Sciences team will work with institutions across the country to help empower colleges and universities to develop and support systems that cultivate teaching and learning with DEIJA — diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and access — at the heart of academics.

At Georgia Tech, each IE3 team member will concentrate on a distinct area of work.

Inclusive teaching

Leavey will focus on “working with collaborators from other institutions to share faculty development strategies focused on inclusive teaching, such as the Inclusive STEM Teaching Fellows program ,” she shares, “which the College of Sciences piloted last spring along with the Center for Teaching Learning, the College of Engineering, the College of Computing, and the Office of Institute Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.” 

Leavey adds that, a semester after its launch, the Fellows program is already generating interest across campus and at collaborating institutions.

Inclusive impact

Shepler will work to assist faculty in determining the impact of their inclusive teaching efforts.

“Throughout the project, our aim is to make sure that students have a voice in defining what it means for them to experience teaching that centers diversity, equity, inclusivity, justice, and accessibility,” Shepler says.

Now, she’s working with collaborators to develop an iterative process to help institutions create formative assessment methodologies for teaching and learning, that both facilitate and prioritize DEIJA in a manner that is consistent with institutional values and missions.

The work coincides with a goal of the College of Sciences’ new Teaching Effectiveness, Advocacy, and Mentoring — TEAM — committee, which Shepler leads, to “develop or adapt new processes for the evaluation of teaching that are inclusive and equitable for all faculty.”

C-PIES

Meanwhile, Wheaton’s work as the director of the Center for Promoting Inclusion and Equity in the Sciences — C-PIES, for short — will inform and supplement Leavey and Shepler’s goals for the grant.

Wheaton will also lead a competitive C-PIES Faculty Fellows program that focuses on innovative teaching and research ideas that can transform student learning using principles in DEIJA, he shares.

“The Center will sponsor approximately five C-PIES Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellows in this effort,” he explains. “I am excited to work with our faculty on ways we can develop new approaches to engage our students. This is an exciting direction that will provide the tools to develop assessment of DEIJA in our curriculum, leading to a culture that emphasizes and facilitates a growth mindset of continued development.”

Transforming tomorrow

Ultimately, the researchers hope to leverage the Inclusive Excellence Grant to transform teaching and learning for faculty and students of today — and of tomorrow.

“Though much of the HHMI work will focus on faculty, particularly those in instructional roles, the potential impact of these efforts is on the learning experiences of future generations of students,” adds Collard, the grant lead. “I look forward to seeing how the project develops — and how it fosters changes that support student, and faculty, success.”

 

]]> jhunt7 1 1677700742 2023-03-01 19:59:02 1678377678 2023-03-09 16:01:18 0 0 news Four faculty in the College of Sciences have received new funding to help foster student belonging at Georgia Tech. The team’s six-year grant is part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) Inclusive Excellence 3 initiative, and is one of 104 new grants funded through an overall initiative that’s allocating $60 million over six years and several phases.

]]>
2023-03-01T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-01T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-01 00:00:00 Contact: Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

]]>
666339 658777 662255 660552 655575 666339 image <![CDATA[Jennifer Leavey, Carrie Shepler, David Collard and Lewis Wheaton lead a new Inclusive Excellence Grant.]]> image/jpeg 1677700858 2023-03-01 20:00:58 1677700858 2023-03-01 20:00:58 658777 image <![CDATA[19 Faculty Members Completed the Inclusive STEM Teaching Fellows Institute]]> image/jpeg 1654805234 2022-06-09 20:07:14 1654886147 2022-06-10 18:35:47 662255 image <![CDATA[Jennifer Leavey Headshot]]> image/jpeg 1666103139 2022-10-18 14:25:39 1666103139 2022-10-18 14:25:39 660552 image <![CDATA[Lewis Wheaton (Photo: Jess Hunt-Ralston)]]> image/jpeg 1661458762 2022-08-25 20:19:22 1680031849 2023-03-28 19:30:49 655575 image <![CDATA[David Collard, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and senior associate dean in the College of Sciences.]]> image/jpeg 1645137729 2022-02-17 22:42:09 1645137729 2022-02-17 22:42:09
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Researchers Use Table Tennis to Understand Human-Robot Dynamics in Agile Environments]]> 27863 A team of researchers, led by Matthew Gombolay, an assistant professor in the School of Interactive Computing and director of the Cognitive Optimization and Relational (CORE) Robotics Lab at Georgia Tech, are using the sport of table tennis to showcase that humans may not always trust a robot's explanation of its intended action.

They have developed what is called a ‘cobot,’ which uses table tennis to demonstrate the potential areas a robot can work closely with human partners to complete tasks.

Robot Technology and Ability to Work With Humans

The robot, Barrett WAM arm equipped with a camera and paddle, was trained through a machine learning process called imitation learning. The researchers developed a system to give the robot positive reinforcement for successful volleys, and negative reinforcement for unsuccessful ones.

“We have also trained our robot to be a safe table tennis partner,” said Gombolay. “We leveraged prior work on table tennis and “learning from demonstration techniques” in which a human can teach a robot a skill such as, how to hit a table tennis shot or simply having the human demonstrate the task to the robot."

The project demonstrates the potential for robots to work closely with humans in physical and social capacities, a significant step forward for collaborative robotics, according to Gombolay. The development of intelligent systems that can work collaboratively with humans has numerous applications, from manufacturing, healthcare, to education.

The Work Towards Safe and Trustworthy Human-Robot Interaction

In some cases, researchers found the lack of trust of human participants from explanations given by the robot and were less likely to collaborate with it as a result. A potential reason being a lack of trust that the robot may not have the same goals or motivations as the human partner. Participants in the study were more likely to trust a robot's explanation when they felt that the robot shared their goals and motivations.

“If we can figure out how to safely enable humans and robots to work together in extreme cases, that should give us insights into how to support interaction in a broad variety of settings,” said Gombolay who’s co-study highlights the importance of developing robots that can communicate effectively with humans in a way that builds trust and confidence. This is particularly important in settings where the consequences of a mistake or miscommunication can be severe, such as in healthcare or emergency situations.

“While the choice to work with a robot is ultimately an objective behavior and may vary based upon context or how risky the interaction is, it is ultimately this trust factor that is a key driving force behind your decision-making and behavior,” said Gombolay. “In practice, we often find that people design and deploy impressive robotic solutions, but that robot was not designed to engender the appropriate level of trust from the human end-users.”

Outcome of the Research

The researchers suggest that a possible solution may be to design robots that are more transparent in their decision-making processes. By providing human partners with a clear understanding of how the robot arrived at a particular decision or action, it may be possible to build trust and confidence in the robot's abilities.

“The greater goal of the project is to understand how to design robots for fast-paced, proximate interactions in manufacturing, logistics warehouses, restaurant kitchens, and even in homes. We need to know how to design physically safe systems, of course, but we also need to know what users find intuitive and trustworthy – what makes users feel safe,” said Gombolay. “Otherwise, these robots will never make it out of the lab to coexist with people. I believe our work answers key questions in helping design robots for interaction with people, particularly involving how robots convey their intentions to their human counterparts. But, of course, the research opens even more exciting opportunities than existed before.”

An approach that could eventually be a wave in effective collaboration between humans and robots in a variety of settings.

-Breon Martin

Publication

You can find more information on this project in the recently published paper, “The Effect of Robot Skill Level and Communication in Rapid, Proximate Human-Robot Collaboration,” which include co-authors from the CORE Lab: Kin Man Lee, Arjun Krishna, Zulfiqar Zaidi, Rohan Paleja, Letian Chen, Erin Hedlund-Botti, and Mariah Schrum.

The paper will be featured in the 18th Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction (HRI), March 13-16, 2023, in Stockholm, SE.

About Matthew Gombolay

Matthew Gombolay is an assistant professor in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Tech. Gombolay is also the director of the Cognitive Optimization and Relational (CORE) Robotics Lab, which seeks to place the power of robots in the hands of everyone by developing new computational methods and human factors insights that enable robots to learn from interaction with diverse, non-expert end-users.

In less than four years, Gombolay’s lab produced more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, including a best paper award at the 2022 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), a best paper finalist at the 2020 Conference on Robot Learning (CoRL), and a best student paper finalist at the 2020 American Controls Conference (ACC). Gombolay is a NASA Early Career Fellow and a DARPA Riser and has raised millions in research funding, including support from government agencies (i.e., NSF, NIH, NASA, ONR, and NRL) and industry partners (i.e., Lockheed Martin, Ford, Konica Minolta, and Google) alike. Gombolay has served on Organizing Committees of HRI’21, HRI’22, CoRL’23, and multiple workshops, and he is an Associate Editor of Autonomous Robots and the ACM Transactions on HRI.

]]> Christa Ernst 1 1678286841 2023-03-08 14:47:21 1678286866 2023-03-08 14:47:46 0 0 news 2023-03-08T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-08T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-08 00:00:00 Breon Martin

]]>
666534 666534 image <![CDATA[Matt Gombolay and CORE]]> image/png 1678286491 2023-03-08 14:41:31 1678286491 2023-03-08 14:41:31
<![CDATA[Sanger Sequencing Initiative Offers In-House Alternative For Sample Testing ]]> 34602 Most biological research is grounded in DNA sequencing, a way to determine the order of organic molecules in DNA. The process is typically conducted by large-scale biotech companies, but the drawbacks can be time, cost, and environmental impact. 

Georgia Tech’s Molecular Evolution Core (MEC) has solved that problem for Tech researchers through its Sanger Sequencing Initiative (SSI), which offers the same service conveniently on campus. 

“What makes a researcher or a lab want to switch over to us? We provide the same if not superior-quality data to them,” says Nicole Diaz, SSI’s founder and manager, and a fourth-year student in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. “We use an optimized process that is less industrialized. And the service we offer is more personal, so if researchers have any issues, we are able to be a lot more flexible than the big companies.” 

Launched in 2020, SSI has evolved into a full-fledged, student-run program to collect and process samples for research labs.  

Researchers can submit samples in drop boxes at one of six locations in the BioQuad – Krone Engineered Biosystems Building, Molecular Sciences And Engineering, Ford Environmental Science & Technology Building, Marcus Nanotechnology Research Center, Cherry L. Emerson Building, and the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences at Georgia Tech. 

Samples are charged at $5 per tube for less than 20 samples. That price is reduced to $4 per tube with more than 20 samples. After 96 samples are processed, the price goes down to $3.50 per tube. 

And with just three billing cycles based on the academic calendar—fall, spring, and summer—labs can easily reach the lowest discounted price for all samples by the end of the semester regardless of how many samples are submitted at a time, Diaz says. 

Turnaround time is within three days. 

The added benefit of working directly with SSI is its commitment to providing a sustainable sampling process. 

“The carbon footprint is lowered by keeping samples local instead of shipping them across the country to have them sequenced,” Diaz says. “So, researchers have access to dropboxes just outside the door of their lab in the buildings here in the BioQuad.” 

Lab technicians are culled from federal work study, student assistants, student volunteers, or those seeking internship credit. 

“It’s great to have a foundation and building blocks where I won’t be nervous when I encounter this down the road,” says, Aaron Kent, a first-year chemical engineering student.  

SSI not only services labs at Georgia Tech, but it can also support labs for institutions in the Georgia Research Alliance, a consortium of public and private universities in Georgia including Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine and the University of Georgia. 

A Novel Idea During Covid-19 

Sanger sequencing has been conducted in the Molecular Evolution Core (MEC) since 2018 under the direction of research technologist Naima Djeddar. Anton Bryskin, Regents researcher and MEC technical director, wanted to expand the mission of the MEC and tap into an undervalued resource on campus—undergraduate students. 

“I knew that undergraduate students at Georgia Tech are very special,” Bryskin says. “It was never thought that undergraduate students might do a part of the work typically done by researchers or technicians.” 

With support from M.G. Finn, professor and chair in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and chief advisor of the MEC, the Sanger Sequencing Initiative (SSI) was launched in 2020. The height of COVID-19 proved to be a valuable time for the program. Between sample processing sessions for Tech’s COVID-19 surveillance testing program, student workers were pulled to process sequencing samples for SSI. 

“It was great because these students had already been trained on clinical practices,” Diaz says. “So, we didn't have to go back and train them on what it would be like in the lab because they already had the maximum training that was necessary.” 

Diaz joined the Initiative in its inception as a federal work study student. Since then, she’s led the growth and development of SSI, from processing samples to marketing to hiring to building out a lab management system for operations alongside operations manager of the MEC TipCycling program and fourth-year biomedical engineering student Helya Taghian. 

Not only have undergraduate students gained valuable lab experience, Diaz said, but SSI has become a multidisciplinary effort. The staff is composed of students from biomedical, industrial, and chemical and biomolecular engineering, as well as computer science and design majors. 

“We have a stacked team,” she says. 

Diaz says the team is working to incorporate more automation into the process, including tracking metrics for sample processing and developing a bioinformatics solution to optimize workflow and data quality. Third-party app integration to centralize the SSI workflow was tackled by the MEC web development team—comprised of computer science (CS) undergraduates led by fourth-year CS student Bakr Redwan—whom devised a custom Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). This LIMS system will serve as SSI’s hub for all operations including processing, billing, inventory, and communications. 

SSI currently process samples for several labs across campus, including for Finn, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Professor Mark Styczynski, and newly elected National Academy of Engineering Professor Mark Prausnitz, and hopes to expand to more labs in the future. 

“We want to be an example program for other universities to use, implement in different capacities, and offer the same opportunities to their undergraduate students,” Diaz says. 

To learn more about the Sanger Sequencing Initiative, including how to submit samples or join the program, visit their website

]]> Georgia Parmelee 1 1677703982 2023-03-01 20:53:02 1677880624 2023-03-03 21:57:04 0 0 news 2023-03-01T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-01T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-01 00:00:00 Author: Kelly Petty

]]>
666342 666343 666345 666342 image <![CDATA[DNA samples are loaded into the Sanger processing machine.]]> image/jpeg 1677703697 2023-03-01 20:48:17 1677703697 2023-03-01 20:48:17 666343 image <![CDATA[First-year chemical engineering student Aaron Kent examines a sample.]]> image/jpeg 1677703729 2023-03-01 20:48:49 1677703729 2023-03-01 20:48:49 666345 image <![CDATA[SSI founder and fourth-year biomedical engineering student Nicole Diaz shows how samples are kept in cold storage in the Sanger lab.]]> image/jpeg 1677703790 2023-03-01 20:49:50 1677703790 2023-03-01 20:49:50
<![CDATA[Robot Provides Unprecedented Views Below Antarctic Ice Shelf ]]> 34528 The following story by James A. Dean, Cornell Chronicle, first appeared in the Cornell University newsroom.

High in a narrow, seawater-filled crevasse in the base of Antarctica’s largest ice shelf, cameras on the remotely operated Icefin underwater vehicle relayed a sudden change in scenery.

Walls of smooth, cloudy meteoric ice abruptly turned green and rougher in texture, transitioning to salty marine ice.

Nearly 1,900 feet above, near where the surface of the Ross Ice Shelf meets Kamb Ice Stream, a U.S.-New Zealand research team recognized the shift as evidence of “ice pumping” – a process never before directly observed in an ice shelf crevasse, important to its stability.

“We were looking at ice that had just melted less than 100 feet below, flowed up into the crevasse and then refrozen,” said Justin Lawrence, visiting scholar at the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science. “And then it just got weirder as we went higher up.”

The Icefin robot’s unprecedented look inside a crevasse, and observations revealing more than a century of geological processes beneath the ice shelf, are detailed in “Crevasse Refreezing and Signatures of Retreat Observed at Kamb Ice Stream Grounding Zone,” published March 2 in Nature Geoscience.

The paper reports results from a 2019 field campaign to Kamb Ice Stream supported by Antarctica New Zealand and other New Zealand research agencies, led by Christina Hulbe, professor at the University of Otago, and colleagues. Through support from NASA’s Astrobiology Program, a research team led by Britney Schmidt, associate professor of astronomy and earth and atmospheric sciences at Cornell, was able to join the expedition and deploy Icefin. Schmidt’s Planetary Habitability and Technology Lab has been developing Icefin for nearly a decade, beginning at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Combined with recently published investigations of the fast-changing Thwaites Glacier – explored the same season by a second Icefin vehicle – the research is expected to improve models of sea-level rise by providing the first high-resolution views of ice, ocean and sea floor interactions at contrasting glacier systems on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Thwaites, which is exposed to warm ocean currents, is one of the continent’s most unstable glaciers. Kamb Ice Stream, where the ocean is very cold, has been stagnant since the late 1800s. Kamb currently offsets some of the ice loss from western Antarctica, but if it reactivates could increase the region’s contribution to sea-level rise by 12%.

“Antarctica is a complex system and it’s important to understand both ends of the spectrum – systems already undergoing rapid change as well as those quieter systems where future change poses a risk,” Schmidt said. “Observing Kamb and Thwaites together helps us learn more.”

NASA funded Icefin’s development and the Kamb exploration to extend ocean exploration beyond Earth. Marine ice like that found in the crevasse may be an analog for conditions on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, the target of NASA’s Europa Clipper orbital mission slated for launch in 2024. Later lander missions might one day search directly for microbial life in the ice.

Icefin carries a full complement of oceanographic instruments on a modular frame more than 12 feet long and less than 10 inches in diameter. It was lowered on a tether through a borehole the New Zealand team drilled through the ice shelf with hot water.

During three dives spanning more than three miles near the grounding zone where Kamb transitions to the floating Ross shelf, Icefin mapped five crevasses – ascending one – and the sea floor, while recording water conditions including temperature, pressure and salinity.

The team observed diverse ice features that provide valuable information about water mixing and melt rates. They included golf ball-like dimples, ripples, vertical runnels and the “weirder” formations near the top of the crevasse: globs of ice and finger-like protrusions resembling brinicles (brine icicles).

Ice pumping observed in the crevasse likely contributes to the relative stability of the Ross Ice Shelf – the world’s largest by area, the size of France – compared to Thwaites Glacier, the researchers said.

“It’s a way these big ice shelves can protect and heal themselves,” said Peter Washam, a polar oceanographer on the Icefin science team and the paper’s second author. “A lot of the melting that happens deep near the grounding line, that water then refreezes and accretes onto the bottom of the ice as marine ice.”

On the sea floor, Icefin mapped parallel sets of ridges that the researchers believe are impressions left behind by ice shelf crevasses – and a record of 150 years of activity since the Kamb stream stagnated. As its grounding line retreated, the ice shelf thinned, causing the crevasses to lift away. The ice’s slow movement over time shifted the crevasses seaward of the ridges.

“We can look at those sea floor features and directly connect them to what we saw on the ice base,” said Lawrence, the paper’s lead author, now a program manager and planetary scientist at Honeybee Robotics. “We can, in a way, rewind the process.”

In addition to Lawrence, Washam and Schmidt, Cornell co-authors of the research are Senior Research Engineers Matthew Meister, who led the Icefin engineering team, and Andrew Mullen; Research Engineer Daniel Dichek; and Program Manager Enrica Quartini. Schmidt’s team also includes Research Engineer Frances Bryson, and at Georgia Tech, doctoral students Benjamin Hurwitz and Anthony Spears.

Also contributing were partners from New Zealand at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA); University of Auckland; University of Otago; and Victoria University of Wellington.

NASA supported the research through the Planetary Science and Technology from Analog Research program’s Project RISE UP (Ross Ice Shelf and Europa Underwater Probe), and the Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology program. Additional support came from New Zealand’s Antarctic Science Platform, the U.S. Antarctic Program and Victoria University of Wellington’s Hot Water Drilling initiative.

 

]]> jhunt7 1 1677877228 2023-03-03 21:00:28 1677878709 2023-03-03 21:25:09 0 0 news The Icefin robot’s unprecedented look inside a crevasse, and observations revealing more than a century of geological processes beneath the ice shelf, are detailed in “Crevasse Refreezing and Signatures of Retreat Observed at Kamb Ice Stream Grounding Zone,” published March 2 in Nature Geoscience.

]]>
2023-03-03T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-03T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-03 00:00:00 Cornell University:
Writer: James A. Dean, Staff Writer, Cornell Chronicle
Media Contact: Jeff M. Tyson, Media Relations, Cornell University

Georgia Institute of Technology:
Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

 

]]>
666419 666420 666421 666419 image <![CDATA[IceFin maps the Ross Ice Shelf near Kamb Ice Stream. (Icefin/NASA PSTAR RISE UP/Schmidt/Quartini)]]> image/jpeg 1677877324 2023-03-03 21:02:04 1677878274 2023-03-03 21:17:54 666420 image <![CDATA[Members of Britney Schmidt’s Icefin team (Icefin/NASA PSTAR RISE UP/Schmidt)]]> image/jpeg 1677877391 2023-03-03 21:03:11 1677877391 2023-03-03 21:03:11 666421 image <![CDATA[IceFin underwater robot (Icefin/NASA PSTAR RISE UP/Schmidt/Lawrence)]]> image/jpeg 1677877470 2023-03-03 21:04:30 1677877470 2023-03-03 21:04:30 <![CDATA[Georgia Tech Ocean Science and Engineering (OSE) Interdisciplinary Graduate Program]]> <![CDATA[Georgia Tech School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences to Offer Three New Undergraduate Degrees — Including Interdisciplinary Env]]> <![CDATA[A Torpedo-like Robot Named Icefin is Giving Us the Full Tour of the 'Doomsday' Glacier]]> <![CDATA[New robotic vehicle provides a never-before-seen look under Antarctica]]> <![CDATA[Researchers Chosen to Examine Antarctic Glacier at Risk of Collapsing]]> <![CDATA[Robotic Submarine Snaps First-Ever Images at Foundation of Notorious Antarctic Glacier]]> <![CDATA[NASA Pushes Exploration of Oceans in Our Solar System in Georgia Tech-Led Alliance]]>
<![CDATA[Regents’ Professor Andrés J. García Receives Founders Award from Society for Biomaterials]]> 27195 Andrés J. García, Regents’ Professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, has been awarded the Founders Award from the Society for Biomaterials. The award recognizes long-term, landmark contributions from an individual within the area of biomaterials.  

García serves as executive director of the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience, one of Georgia Tech's ten interdisciplinary research institutes within the Georgia Tech Research enterprise. His cross-disciplinary research has resulted in new biomaterial platforms that elicit targeted cellular responses and tissue repair in various biomedical applications, innovative technologies to study and exploit cell adhesive interactions, and new mechanistic insights into the interplay of mechanics and cell biology.  

Since he began as an assistant professor at Georgia Tech in 1998, his research has generated intellectual property and licensing agreements with start-up and multi-national companies. He has also co-founded three start-up companies. Having been involved with the Society for Biomaterials since he was a graduate student, García was honored and humbled by the recognition. Upon learning of the award Garcia said, “Receiving this award reflects all my wonderful trainees and collaborators and the highly supportive environment that Georgia Tech provides. As always, I am incredibly proud and appreciative of being a member of Georgia Tech.” 

For the Founders Award, awardees are selected from submitted nominations that include two supporting letters of recommendation. Awardees may then submit a research or review manuscript for consideration for the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research. 

“Andrés has made countless contributions in the field of bioengineering over the course of his career,” said Devesh Ranjan, Eugene C. Gwaltney, Jr. School Chair. “He is well-deserving of this honor from the Society of Biomaterials and the Woodruff School is proud of all his accomplishments.”

This is not the first time the Society for Biomaterials has recognized García’s work. He received the Young Investigator Award in 2004 and Clemson Award for Basic Science in 2012 from the organization and he served as President from 2018-2019. 

Along with the awards he has received over the last two decades, García has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, elected to the National Academy of Medicine, and named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the highest professional distinctions awarded in those fields. He has also submitted multiple patents and has published routinely in high-profile publications.  

About the Society of Biomaterials 

The Society of Biomaterials is a multidisciplinary collective of academic, healthcare, governmental, and business professionals. They are committed to promoting advancements in all aspects of biomaterial science, education, and professional standards, to enhance people’s health and quality of life. Their award program seeks to recognize significant contributions to the field of biomaterials science from industry, academia, regulatory agencies, and students. 

]]> Colly Mitchell 1 1677791576 2023-03-02 21:12:56 1677791701 2023-03-02 21:15:01 0 0 news 2023-03-02T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-02T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-02 00:00:00 By Chloe Arrington

]]>
666384 666384 image <![CDATA[Andrés J. García - Executive Director, Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience, The Petit Director's Chair in Bioengineering and Bioscience, Regents' Professor, George Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering]]> image/jpeg 1677791680 2023-03-02 21:14:40 1677791680 2023-03-02 21:14:40
<![CDATA[Researchers to Lead Paradigm Shift in Pandemic Prevention with NSF Grant]]> 34434 This story, written by Bryant Wine, originally appeared on the College of Computing website.

Georgia Tech scientists, including a researcher from the School of Biological Sciences, have formed the core of an interdisciplinary, inter-organizational team which seeks to prevent disease outbreaks by integrating the study of human behavior with computational data-driven models. 

Calling themselves BEHIVE (BEHavioral Interaction and Viral Evolution), the group recently received a $1 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant toward multidisciplinary team formation and novel outbreak prevention research.

“Our goal is to bring together all these terrific researchers from different disciplines to help bring a paradigm shift in the science of pandemic prediction and prevention,” said B. Aditya Prakash, associate professor with Georgia Tech’s School of Computational Science and Engineering (CSE). 

“While epidemic forecasting is compared to weather forecasting, there is an important difference. Unlike weather, our actions and behavior can change the course of an epidemic.”

Prakash is the principal investigator of the $1 million NSF grant. Fellow BEHIVE members include:

Prakash emphasized BEHIVE’s primary goal to use its interdisciplinary organization to bridge research methodologies between hard and soft sciences. 

He explained that human behavior was underutilized in epidemic science before Covid-19, largely due to data scarcity and underdeveloped computational technologies. Behavioral dynamics encountered during the pandemic, such as social distancing, mask wearing, and vaccine hesitancy, has provided new research and data that now can be considered in models and simulations.

Here, BEHIVE will develop high fidelity computational models by designing new artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques that bridge human behavior knowledge and traditional epidemiological theory and models.

“It is still an open question of how we can best incorporate human behavior knowledge into the study of pandemics. That is the challenge,” Prakash said. “Our main idea is to better integrate knowledge from psychology and the humanities into pandemic science using novel computational methods.”

BEHIVE originated when team members met through various workshops held in 2020 and 2021. Prakash was an invited organizer of the National Symposium on Predicting Emergence of Virulent Entities by Novel Technologies (PREVENT). 

PREVENT reported that interdisciplinary collaboration was an obstacle in predicting and preventing pandemics. For example, some vocabularies often don’t mean the same thing across disciplines, so a consistent methodology to establish a common language must be developed.

BEHIVE is custom built to solve these challenges PREVENT revealed. Along with a wealth of knowledge learned through past epidemics, each BEHIVE researcher brings to the group experience working across interdisciplinary lines. 

Among the Georgia Tech researchers alone, Keskinocak interfaced with policymakers and the public on measures to slow Covid-19's spread. 

Prakash’s lab led several high-profile Covid-19 forecasting initiatives, including collaboration with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Weitz teamed with fellow Georgia Tech researchers in the College of Sciences, College of Computing, and the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering to create a predoctoral training program that integrates computational modeling and data analytics into bioscience.

Keskinocak, Prakash, and Weitz together are also faculty in the Institute for Data Engineering and Science (IDEaS), one of Georgia Tech’s ten interdisciplinary research institutes. IDEaS connects research centers and efforts in foundational areas such as machine learning, high-performance computing, and algorithms.

BEHIVE’s $1 million grant is funded through NSF’s Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention (PIPP) initiative. This program supports high-risk, high-payoff convergent research that aims to identify, model, predict, track, and mitigate the effects of future pandemics.

According to Prakash, the PREVENT symposium’s summary report also helped highlight the need for an initiative like PIPP.

PIPP is a two-phased initiative in which NSF selects to fund 25 to 30 project teams, including BEHIVE, for eighteen months through phase one. However, this does not necessarily limit PIPP’s influence to chosen project teams within academia.

BEHIVE intends to partner with industry, governmental, and non-profit organizations to expand its interdisciplinary, interorganizational network. 

BEHIVE’s nucleus of Georgia Tech researchers connects the group with the CDC, Georgia Department of Public Health, and numerous hospitals across the state. BEHIVE’s other researchers also serve in leading roles at non-profits, such as the Pathcheck Foundation, and top hospitals like the Mayo Clinic.

Along with developing interdisciplinary methodologies, new disease prevention models, and partnering with external organizations, BEHIVE hopes to develop educational training programs. This would ensure their effort last generations to bring about the necessary paradigm change to prevent future pandemics.

“Our initial projects and research the next eighteen months will help us get a sense of research gaps and enlarge our perspective” Prakash said. “We’re approaching PIPP as a science, and we want to lay the foundation of the science by bringing in many people from different fields for the future.”

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1663946280 2022-09-23 15:18:00 1677787863 2023-03-02 20:11:03 0 0 news 2022-09-22T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-22T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-22 00:00:00 Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

]]>
661500 661500 image <![CDATA[Integrating the study of human behavior with computational data-driven models. (Georgia Tech graphic)]]> image/png 1663946512 2022-09-23 15:21:52 1663946526 2022-09-23 15:22:06
<![CDATA[Active Matter, Curved Spaces: Mini Robots Learn to ‘Swim’ on Stretchy Surfaces]]> 35599 When self-propelling objects interact with each other, interesting phenomena can occur. Birds align with each other when they flock together. People at a concert spontaneously create vortices when they nudge and bump into each other. Fire ants work together to create rafts that float on the water’s surface. 

While many of these interactions happen through direct contact, like the concert-goers’ nudging, some interactions can transmit through the material the objects are on or in — these are known as indirect interactions. For example, a bridge with pedestrians on it can transmit vibrations, like in the famous Millennium Bridge “wobbly bridge” instance.

While the results of direct interactions (like nudging) are of increasing interest and study, and the results of indirect interactions through mechanisms like vision are well-studied, researchers are still learning about indirect mechanical interactions (for example, how two rolling balls might influence each other's movement on a trampoline by indenting the trampoline’s surface with their weight, thus exerting mechanical forces without touching).

Physicists are using small wheeled robots to better understand these indirect mechanical interactions, how they play a role in active matter, and how we can control them. Their findings, "Field-mediated locomotor dynamics on highly deformable surfaces" are recently published in the The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

In the paper, led by Shengkai Li, former Ph.D. student in the School of Physics at Georgia Tech, now a Center for the Physics of Biological Function (CPBF) fellow at Princeton University, researchers illustrated that active matter on deformable surfaces can interact with others through non-contact force — then created a model to allow control of the collective behavior of moving objects on deformable surfaces through simple changes in the engineering of the robots. 

Co-authors include Georgia Tech School of Physics co-authors Daniel Goldman, Dunn Family Professor; Gongjie Li, assistant professor; and graduate student Hussain Gynai — along with Pablo Laguna and Gabriella Small (University of Texas at Austin), Yasemin Ozkan-Aydin (University of Notre Dame), Jennifer Rieser (Emory University), Charles Xiao (University of California, Santa Barbara).

The significance of this research spans from biology to general relativity. “The mapping to general relativistic systems is a breakthrough in bridging together the field of general relativistic dynamics and that of active matter,” Li, of Georgia Tech, explained. “It opens a new window to better understand the dynamical properties in both fields.”

"Our work is the first to introduce the view that an active matter system can be recast as a dynamical space-time geometry — and thus gain an understanding of the system by borrowing the tools of Einstein’s theory of general relativity,” added Laguna.

Setting the stage

The researchers built robots that drove at a constant speed over flat, level ground. When encountering a surface with dips and curves, these robots maintained that constant speed by reorienting themselves and turning. The amount that the robot turned was a result of how steep the slope or curve was. 

When these robots were placed on a circular, trampoline-like surface, the researchers were able to monitor how the robots turned in response to the changing surface, because the robots created new dips in the surface as they moved, depressing it with their weight. An overhead system tracked the robots’ progress across the trampoline, recording their courses.

The researchers began by testing how just one robot might move across the trampoline, and found that they could construct a mathematical model to predict how the vehicle would move. By using tools from general relativity to map the orbits to the motion in a curved spacetime, they showed that one could qualitatively change the precession by making the vehicle lighter. This model explains the orbital property: how the movement of the “loops” shown here in the team’s video (the precession of the aphelion) depend on the initial condition and the trampoline’s central depression. 

“We were excited and amused that the paths the robot took — precessing ellipses —  looked a lot like those traced by celestial bodies like Mars and explained by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity,” said Goldman, of Georgia Tech Physics.

Multi-robot interactions

When more robots were added to the trampoline, the researchers found that the deformations caused by each robot’s weight changed their paths across the trampoline. See what happens at this point in the video.

The researchers hypothesized that increasing the speed of the robots by changing the tilt of the robot’s body might help mitigate the collisions they observed. After several tests with two vehicles, they were able to confirm their theory

The researchers’ solution held when more robots were added to the surface, as well.

Then, the researchers varied the robots’ speed instantaneously, adjusting the tilt by using a microcontroller and in-the-moment readings from an internal measurement unit.

Finally, the researchers used their observations to create a model for the multi-robot case. “To understand how the elastic membrane deformed when multiple vehicles were present, we envisioned the membrane as many infinitesimal, connected springs forming the surface; the springs can deform when vehicles move over them,” Li, of Princeton University, explained. 

In the simulation created using the researchers' spring model, the two vehicles move and merge, attracting each other indirectly through the deformation of the elastic membrane beneath, sometimes resulting in collision,  just like when the team placed multiple robots on a trampoline.

The overall model works to guide designs of engineering schemes — like speed and tilt of the researchers' robots — to control the collective behavior of active matter on deformable surfaces (for example, whether the robots collide on the trampoline or not).

From robotics to general relativity: interdisciplinary applications

For researchers using biomimicry to build robots, the team’s work could help inform robotics designs that avoid or utilize aggregation. For example, the SurferBot, a simple vibrobot, can skim the water’s surface, and was originally inspired by honeybees working their way out of water. Other systems that could potentially inspire biomimicking robots include ducklings swimming after their mother. By incorporating this work on aggregation into their design, the research could also help these robots work together to collectively accomplish tasks.

Researchers add that the work could also advance the understanding of general relativity.

“Our conventional visualization of general relativity is of marbles rolling on an elastic sheet,” explained Li, the paper’s lead author. “That visual demonstrates the idea that matter tells spacetime how to curve, and spacetime tells matter how to move. Since our model can create steady-state orbits, it can also overcome common issues in previous studies: with this new model, researchers have the ability to map to exact general relativity systems, including phenomena like a static black hole.”

 

Editorial note: A previous version of this story linked to a related recent study by the research team, “Robotic swimming in curved space via geometric phase”. This has been updated to "Field-mediated locomotor dynamics on highly deformable surfaces".

]]> sperrin6 1 1663941692 2022-09-23 14:01:32 1677787797 2023-03-02 20:09:57 0 0 news Physicists are using small wheeled robots to better understand indirect mechanical interactions, how they play a role in active matter, and how we can control them. Their findings are recently published in the The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

]]>
2022-09-26T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-26T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-26 00:00:00 By: Selena Langner
Writer, College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

]]>
661551 661489 661488 661551 image <![CDATA[Field-mediated locomotor dynamics on highly deformable surfaces]]> image/jpeg 1664224508 2022-09-26 20:35:08 1664224508 2022-09-26 20:35:08 661489 image <![CDATA[General Relativity Visualization]]> image/png 1663941200 2022-09-23 13:53:20 1663941200 2022-09-23 13:53:20 661488 image <![CDATA[Daniel Harris’s SurferBot]]> image/png 1663941073 2022-09-23 13:51:13 1663941073 2022-09-23 13:51:13
<![CDATA[Joel Kostka Awarded $3.2 Million to Keep Digging into How Soils and Plants Capture Carbon — And Keep It Out of Earth’s Atmosphere]]> 34434 Joel Kostka will soon receive $3.2 million from the Department of Energy (DOE) to build upon research that has ranged from northern Minnesota peat bogs to coastal Georgia wetlands, all to learn how climate change impacts soils and plants that trap greenhouse gasses — and whether some of those plants could end up as eco-friendly biofuels.

Kostka, a professor and associate chair of research in the School of Biological Sciences with a joint appointment in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, will receive funding as part of a wider $178 million dollar DOE effort to advance sustainable technology breakthroughs that can improve public health, help address climate change, improve food and agricultural production, and create more resilient supply chains. The 37 new projects also include efforts to engineer plants and microbes into bioenergy and improve carbon storage. 

Kostka’s wetlands research will continue in the salt marshes off Georgia’s coast, where his team has already conducted studies on the microbial life that benefits Spartina cordgrass in those areas, helping to strengthen resilience of the plant to sea level rise and catastrophic storms.

The DOE’s funding initiative is split into four groups. Kostka’s studies will focus on the role of microbiomes — all the microorganisms living in a particular environment — in the biogeochemical cycling of carbon in terrestrial soils and wetlands by using genomics-based and systems biology. 

Other research areas involve renewable bioenergy and biomaterials production; quantum-enabled bioimaging and sensing for bioenergy, and research to characterize gene function in bioenergy crop plants.

“Our project seeks to understand the controls of soil organic matter degradation and the release of greenhouse gasses, both of which are largely mediated by microbes” Kostka said. “And then also, as we've been studying for many years now, how climate drivers — principally the warming of ecosystems and carbon dioxide enrichment in the atmosphere — limit greenhouse gas release to the atmosphere. How might changes in plant and microbial communities lead to climate feedbacks, thereby accelerating the release of greenhouse gasses from soil carbon stores?”

That question has driven much of Kostka’s research team in the past as they focused on how soil microbes break down biomasses like woody plants and peat mosses, at an Oak Ridge National Laboratory facility in northern Minnesota called Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Changing Environments (SPRUCE). Kostka’s team is using genomics to study all the genes that code for microbial enzymes that decompose biomass in soil and how plants, which are also changing with climate, impact microbiomes by providing carbon sources that fuel microbial activities. In particular, the work is focused on lignocellulose or lignin, which gives plants their rigidity or structure and arguably comprises the most abundant renewable carbon source on the planet.

“We're just at the point now where we finally have the tools to unlock the black box of soil microbiology and chemistry,” Kostka said. “Recent advances in sophisticated analytical chemistry methods used to quantify microbial metabolites along with improved metagenome sequencing approaches enable us to better uncover metabolic pathways.”

Kostka will serve as principal investigator of the research team for the grant. That team includes School of Biological Sciences researchers Caitlin Petro, research scientist, and Katherine Duchesneau, a third-year Ph.D. student; co-principal investigator Kostas Konstantinidis, Richard C. Tucker Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Rachel Wilson, research scientist, Florida State University; Malak Tfaily, associate professor, University of Arizona; and Chris Schadt, senior staff scientist, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. 

Unlocking the “enzyme latch” hypothesis

As part of his new research, Kostka will revisit what scientists call the “enzyme latch” hypothesis. This could help uncover the mechanisms by which soils and plants capture harmful greenhouse gasses, and what prompts their release into the atmosphere.

The idea behind this hypothesis is that when soils are wet, they lack oxygen, which suppresses a specific class of enzymes, oxidases, that catalyze the beginning steps in the microbial breakdown of organic compounds produced by plants in soil. When oxidases are suppressed, the breakdown products of lignin, phenolic compounds, accumulate and poison the rest of the microbial carbon cycle.  Thus a single class of enzymes may be responsible for keeping greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and methane captured within the soil.

“The climate linkage here is that it's thought that as the climate warms, we'll get more greenhouse gas production, because simply it'll be warmer, and microbial enzymes work faster at higher temperature. But then also, in wetlands in particular, the hypothesis is that as wetlands warm, they're going to dry out. And so when a wetland dries out, you're going to get more injection of oxygen-rich air into the soil, which would then accelerate the breakdown of organic matter.”

When that happens, it could also mean different plants having an impact on carbon storage and the breakdown of biomass. “As wetlands dry out, plant communities in northern peatlands where most of Earth’s soil carbon is stored, are expected to shift from a dominance of mosses, which do better when it's wet — to woody plants, shrubs, and trees that do better with less water, when it's drier. That would in turn potentially spark the release of more reactive carbon compounds from plant roots — mosses don’t have roots — which would likely accelerate organic matter decomposition and the production of more greenhouse gas in a feedback loop with climate.”

Kostka’s research may also help to develop new approaches for converting woody biomass into potential alternative energy sources. “To make our society more sustainable, we have to basically recycle everything, or reuse as much as we can. And that includes the biomass from plants that can be grown on more arid lands that are less suitable for food crops,” he said, referring to plant-based materials that can be used to produce biofuels and bioenergy. “And so the DOE is leading research efforts to understand the controls of biomass degradation in plants such as switchgrass and poplar.” 

Kostka and Konstantinidis will develop a database of genes that code for the breakdown of lignocellulose and lignin, compounds that largely make up plant biomass and for which metabolic pathways of degradation have been elusive. Kostka and his colleagues will also have access to the extensive resources of the DOE Genomic Sciences program, including a collaboration with the agency’s Joint Genome Institute.

“We hope that information generated from our project can be used to improve methods for breaking down woody biomass so that it can be used in a sustainable way to produce biofuels,” Kostka said. 

Public abstract of Department of Energy grant DE-SC0023297

About Georgia Tech

The Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, is a top 10 public research university developing leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition. The Institute offers business, computing, design, engineering, liberal arts, and sciences degrees. Its nearly 44,000 students representing 50 states and 149 countries, study at the main campus in Atlanta, at campuses in France and China, and through distance and online learning. As a leading technological university, Georgia Tech is an engine of economic development for Georgia, the Southeast, and the nation, conducting more than $1 billion in research annually for government, industry, and society.

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1664473133 2022-09-29 17:38:53 1677787271 2023-03-02 20:01:11 0 0 news School of Biological Sciences Professor Joel Kostka’s decade of research in Minnesota peatlands has received a boost from a new Department of Energy grant, set to explore how science can address climate change with emphasis on the breakdown of lignin, plant-derived compounds that store much of Earth’s soil carbon, and may be used as sustainable energy sources

 

]]>
2022-10-04T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-04T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-04 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston

]]>
661683 661682 661685 661686 661706 661707 661810 661683 image <![CDATA[A research enclosure at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's SPRUCE facility in northern Minnesota. (Photo Joel Kostka)]]> image/jpeg 1664480926 2022-09-29 19:48:46 1664480926 2022-09-29 19:48:46 661682 image <![CDATA[Joel Kostka takes soil samples at the SPRUCE facility in Minnesota. ]]> image/png 1664480465 2022-09-29 19:41:05 1664480744 2022-09-29 19:45:44 661685 image <![CDATA[A soil core sample from the SPRUCE facility. (Photo Joel Kostka)]]> image/jpeg 1664481583 2022-09-29 19:59:43 1664481583 2022-09-29 19:59:43 661686 image <![CDATA[The entrance to Marcell Experimental Forest, part of the SPRUCE facility shared by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the U.S. Forest Service. (Photo Joel Kostka)]]> image/png 1664482302 2022-09-29 20:11:42 1664482302 2022-09-29 20:11:42 661706 image <![CDATA[Plants in the SPRUCE experimental area are dominated by peat mosses of the genus Sphagnum, which is an ecosystem engineer that produces much of the degrading biomass or “peat” in soils of northern peatlands. (Photo Joel Kostka)]]> image/jpeg 1664548370 2022-09-30 14:32:50 1664548370 2022-09-30 14:32:50 661707 image <![CDATA[Ph.D. student Tianze Song from the School of Biological Sciences prepares soil samples for metagenomics investigations during the annual soil core collection of the SPRUCE experiment. (Photo Joel Kostka)]]> image/jpeg 1664548595 2022-09-30 14:36:35 1664548595 2022-09-30 14:36:35 661810 image <![CDATA[The Kostka Lab research group.]]> image/jpeg 1664897950 2022-10-04 15:39:10 1664897950 2022-10-04 15:39:10 <![CDATA[Salt Marsh Grass On Georgia’s Coast Gets Nutrients for Growth From Helpful Bacteria in Its Roots]]> <![CDATA[Temperate Glimpse Into a Warming World]]> <![CDATA[ScienceMatters - Season 3, Episode 8 - Digging Up Climate Clues in Peat Moss]]> <![CDATA[Microbial Research may be the Key to Salt Marsh Restoration]]> <![CDATA[Getting to the Root of Plant-Soil Interactions: Optical Instrument to Give Clearest 3D Images Yet of Rhizosphere]]> <![CDATA[Deepwater Horizon and the Rise of the Omics: A Decade of Breakthroughs in Microbial Science]]> <![CDATA[CMDI: Mighty Microbial Dynamics for a Healthier People and Planet]]>
<![CDATA[Mathematicians Discover Highly Efficient Method for Solving ‘Hard Minimal Problems’]]> 35599 A team led by Georgia Tech mathematician Anton Leykin has developed a powerful new technique for solving problems related to 3D reconstruction. The research team’s open access paper, "Learning to Solve Hard Minimal Problems", has also won the prestigious best paper award at CVPR 2022, the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Conference (CVPR) — selected from a pool of over 8,000 papers submitted this year.

The team’s research idea revolved around developing a new way to solve a family of problems known as hard minimal problems, which are essential for 3D reconstruction. “A minimal problem is a smallest geometric problem one can consider in the 3D reconstruction context,” Leykin explained. “For example, recovering a 3D scene consisting of 5 points from 2 views (2-dimensional images of 5 points in the plane) without knowing the relative position and orientation of the second camera with respect to the first.”

In other words, the problem focuses on “solving” how to see in three dimensions by analyzing multiple two-dimensional perspectives — this is how humans and self-driving cars see in 3D. One way to understand this is by imagining our eyes as cameras. Both eyes capture two-dimensional images, each from a slightly different perspective. By considering the perspective of the image sent by each eye, our brains create a 3D rendering of these two-dimensional images. While our brains might do this with seeming ease in the case of our vision, solving these problems mathematically can be more difficult. 

Petr Hruby, currently a Ph.D. student at the ETH Zurich Department of Computer Science, with a recent Master’s degree from Czech Technical University, serves as the paper’s lead author. He is joined by co-authors Leykin, a professor in the School of Mathematics at Georgia Tech; Timothy Duff, NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Washington (Georgia Tech Ph.D. in Algorithms, Combinatorics, and Optimization, 2021); and Tomas Pajdla, professor at the Czech Technical University in Prague Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics. The core of the team started working together during the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM) semester on Nonlinear Algebra in 2018, of which Leykin was the primary organizer. 

After their first project won the best student paper award at the 2019 International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), the team decided to pursue research in hard minimal problems. 

Since the technique the researchers developed is general, Leykin said it can be applied to many other situations with similar mathematical problems. In addition, the software pieces derived from the researchers’ findings are in the public domain, and can be used by a broad computer vision community.

Solve-and-Pick vs. Pick-and-Solve

Solving minimal problems can be difficult, because they often have many spurious solutions (solutions that might solve the equation, but are ultimately unhelpful or unexpected).

Previously, the state-of-the-art technique for solving minimal problems used a “solve-and-pick” approach. Solve-and-pick involves first determining all of the possible solutions to a problem, and then picking the optimal solutions — this is done by removing non-real solutions, using inequalities, and evaluating how well they support the solution. But, when there are many spurious solutions, this type of optimization can be costly and time-consuming.

Instead of using this traditional solve-and-pick approach, the researchers investigated the opposite: a “pick-and-solve” technique that learns, for a given data sample, how to first pick a promising starting point and then continue it to a meaningful solution. This approach is unique in that it avoids computing large numbers of spurious solutions.

By selecting a suitable starting point and solving from that point (instead of solving from all points), the method can quickly find and track a path to the solution more quickly, learning how to find that target solution more efficiently.

“Instead of finding all possible solutions and then deciding which one is relevant, we aimed at ‘guessing’ which path leads to one physically meaningful solution — as long as the guess is correct with high probability, this becomes practically useful,” said Leykin. “For a ‘hard’ minimal problem, this is like finding a needle in a haystack — we need to guess one correct path out of several hundreds.”

To do so, the research combined concepts spanning several fields of mathematics: algebra, geometry, numerical analysis, and statistics. Computer science and engineering components also played a vital role: “We had to use neural networks for one particular task and, of course, implement the algorithms efficiently,” Leykin said. Since the minimal problem solvers are executed as subroutines millions, billions, or trillions of times, efficiency was essential.

Solving the hard problems

To test their method, the researchers developed a solver using their pick-and-solve technique for a well-known problem in the field. They benchmarked and studied their engineering choices with another familiar problem.

Finally, they applied their technique to a harder problem – reconstructing a 3D view using four 2D points in three views. The researchers’ implementation of their method solves this problem in about 70 microseconds on average – ten times faster than any other method.

The team hopes that their solution could change how these problems are approached and solved in the future. “Previously, ‘hard’ minimal problems were avoided in practical applications, since there were no fast reliable solvers for them,” Leykin said. “We hope that, over time, our work will convince the industry to reconsider – the ‘hard’ problems are not that hard after all!”

Leykin will soon deliver a colloquium on the work with the School of Mathematics. Learn more.

Citation:
Hruby, Petr & Duff, Timothy & Leykin, Anton & Pajdla, Tomas. (2021). Learning to Solve Hard Minimal Problems.

]]> sperrin6 1 1665410034 2022-10-10 13:53:54 1677787196 2023-03-02 19:59:56 0 0 news A team led by Georgia Tech mathematician Anton Leykin has developed a powerful new technique for solving problems related to 3D reconstruction. The research team’s paper has also won the prestigious best paper award at CVPR 2022. The team hopes that their method — which can solve some of these problems significantly faster than any previous technique — could change how these problems are approached and solved in mathematics, computer science, and industrial applications.

]]>
2022-10-10T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-10T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-10 00:00:00 By: Selena Langner
Writer, College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

]]>
661974 661975 661974 image <![CDATA[Anton Leykin, Professor in the School of Mathematics]]> image/jpeg 1665410176 2022-10-10 13:56:16 1665424192 2022-10-10 17:49:52 661975 image <![CDATA[Multiple 2D photographs taken from different locations can be used to create a 3D image — solving minimal problems allows the 3D image to be rendered. Source: "Continuous ratio optimization via convex relaxation with app..." doi: 10.1109/CVPR.2009.5206608]]> image/jpeg 1665412713 2022-10-10 14:38:33 1665424096 2022-10-10 17:48:16
<![CDATA[New International Center Will Support Collaborative Solutions to Improve Health of World’s Oceans]]> 34602 In a significant response to urgent climate-related threats, a new international center headquartered at Georgia Aquarium, endorsed by the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, will support versatile, collaborative solutions to improve the health of the world’s oceans.

The Ocean Visions ­­– UN Decade Collaborative Center for Ocean-Climate Solutions (OV – UN DCC), a partnership with Ocean Visions, Georgia Aquarium, and Georgia Institute of Technology, is the only center of its kind in the United States.

The climate crisis is one of the greatest threats facing public health, natural resources and the economy worldwide, and ocean ecosystems are not only at risk, but also offer the potential of climate mitigation solutions.

The primary focus of the Center is to help co-design, develop, test, fund and deliver scalable and equitable ocean-based solutions to reduce the effects of climate change and build climate-resilient marine ecosystems and coastal communities. There are also tremendous opportunities to accelerate carbon clean-up and advance sustainable ocean economies.

“A diverse approach is critical to address today’s serious threats to ocean health,” said Brian Davis, Ph.D., president and CEO of Georgia Aquarium. “As a mission-focused conservation leader, Georgia Aquarium is keen to host this multinational center that will connect innovative researchers with the resources to create and launch projects that may solve ocean-climate issues.”

In affiliation with the Ocean Decade, run by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Center’s work will contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to achieve by 2030 that are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

“In response to the need for partnership and investment in ocean science, and to help urgently mitigate the impact of climate change on the ocean, the Ocean Decade movement thanks Ocean Visions, Georgia Aquarium, and Georgia Institute of Technology for this generous support and long-term commitment,” said Julian Barbière, Ocean Decade Global Coordinator and Head of the Marine Policy and Regional Coordination Section, IOC-UNESCO. “Such exemplary leadership by our Decade Collaborative Centers, spearheaded by the OV – UN DCC in the U.S.  is an important step towards developing effective ocean-climate solutions.”

The ocean nurtures 80% of all life on Earth. Billions of people rely on food from the ocean, and world economies depend upon it for fishing, tourism, shipping, energy and more. It is the world’s largest carbon sink, vital to curbing the impacts of climate change. Healthy marine habitats defend coastal communities from intensifying storms and flooding.

“The ocean crisis and the climate crisis are two sides of the same coin, and we cannot have a healthy ocean without resolving the climate crisis and the greenhouse gas pollution causing it,” said Brad Ack, executive director and chief innovation officer at Ocean Visions, a nonprofit that develops solutions to complex ocean challenges.

“This work will take bold imagination, greatly expanded innovation, and many more people from around the world engaged in this effort collectively. This new Center will give us a framework to build the innovation ecosystem we desperately need,” said Emanuele Di Lorenzo, Ph.D., chairman and co-founder of Ocean Visions.

The ocean has buffered humanity from the worst effects to date of climate disruption by directly absorbing about 30 percent of humanity’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and trapping more than 90 percent of the excess heat in the biosphere caused by CO2 pollution. However, both of these climate-buffering functions have come at a high cost – unraveling marine ecosystems and crippling the ability of the ocean to support the billions of people and other creatures dependent upon it.

The Ocean Visions – UN Decade Collaborative Center will work with an emerging global network of experts and collaborators associated with projects and programs to design, test and deploy viable solutions, such as Ocean Visions’ Global Ecosystem for Ocean Solutions, 1000 Ocean Startups and Stride.

For example, one issue being solved is securing investment in ocean solutions. The Center is helping advance the development of a new open-source tool called The Ocean Impact Navigator, which consists of 30 prioritized key performance indicators (KPIs), grouped in six main impact areas. It captures effects that innovators are driving across ocean health, climate change, human wellbeing and equity.

“This Center signals an urgent, strategic commitment to finding climate solutions,” said Susan Lozier, Ph.D., dean of the College of Sciences and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair at Georgia Tech and President of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). “Ocean health is also human health, and we must find effective ways to protect waters around the planet.”

“At this Center, the best and brightest minds—including our researchers, staff and students—will ensure that our ocean will remain vital for generations to come,” added Tim Lieuwen, Ph.D., executive director of the Strategic Energy Institute at Georgia Tech who also serves as Regents’ Professor and David S. Lewis Jr. Chair in the Institute's Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering. “The solutions are there, and we look forward to working alongside Georgia Aquarium and Ocean Visions to find them, with the support of the Ocean Decade movement.”

For more information about the Ocean Visions ­­– UN Decade Collaborative Center for Ocean-Climate Solutions, visit the website at oceanvisions.org/undcc/.

 

###

About Ocean Visions – UN Decade Collaborative Center for Ocean-Climate Solutions

The Ocean Visions – UN Decade Collaborative Center for Ocean-Climate Solutions is an innovative partnership between Ocean Visions, Georgia Tech and Georgia Aquarium, with headquarters at the Aquarium in Atlanta. The Center, endorsed by the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, leads and supports processes to co-design, develop, test, fund and deploy scalable and equitable ocean-based solutions to reduce or reverse the effects of climate change, enhance food security and build climate-resilient marine ecosystems and coastal communities. The Center’s work contributes to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to achieve by 2030 that are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

About the Ocean Decade:

Proclaimed in 2017 by the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) (‘the Ocean Decade’) seeks to stimulate ocean science and knowledge generation to reverse the decline of the state of the ocean system and catalyse new opportunities for sustainable development of this massive marine ecosystem. The vision of the Ocean Decade is ‘the science we need for the ocean we want’. The Ocean Decade provides a convening framework for scientists and stakeholders from diverse sectors to develop the scientific knowledge and the partnerships needed to accelerate and harness advances in ocean science to achieve a better understanding of the ocean system, and deliver science-based solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The UN General Assembly mandated UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) to coordinate the preparations and implementation of the Decade.

About Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium is a leading 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Atlanta, Ga. that is Humane Certified by American Humane and accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It is also a Center for Species Survival by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Georgia Aquarium is committed to working on behalf of all marine life through education, preservation, exceptional animal care, and research across the globe. Georgia Aquarium continues its mission each day to inspire, educate, and entertain its millions of guests about the aquatic biodiversity throughout the world through its hundreds of exhibits and tens of thousands of animals across its eight major galleries. For more information, visit georgiaaquarium.org.

About Georgia Tech:

The Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, is a public research university developing leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition. The Institute offers business, computing, design, engineering, liberal arts and sciences degrees. Its nearly 44,000 students representing 50 states and 149 countries, study at the main campus in Atlanta, at campuses in France and China and through distance and online learning. As a leading technological university, Georgia Tech is an engine of economic development for Georgia, the Southeast and the nation, conducting more than $1 billion in research annually for government, industry and society.

This press release is shared jointly with the Georgia Aquarium and Ocean Visions newsrooms. Learn more: oceanvisions.org/undcc

]]> Georgia Parmelee 1 1665517453 2022-10-11 19:44:13 1677787177 2023-03-02 19:59:37 0 0 news In a significant response to urgent climate-related threats, a new international center headquartered at Georgia Aquarium, endorsed by the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, will support versatile, collaborative solutions to improve the health of the world’s oceans. The Ocean Visions ­­– UN Decade Collaborative Center for Ocean-Climate Solutions (OV – UN DCC), a partnership with Ocean Visions, Georgia Aquarium, and Georgia Tech, is the only center of its kind in the United States.

]]>
2022-10-12T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-12T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-12 00:00:00 Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

]]>
662018 662009 662018 image <![CDATA[Image: Joseph Barrientos ]]> image/jpeg 1665583192 2022-10-12 13:59:52 1665583192 2022-10-12 13:59:52 662009 image <![CDATA[The Georgia Aquarium]]> image/jpeg 1665529626 2022-10-11 23:07:06 1665587006 2022-10-12 15:03:26
<![CDATA[AI-ALOE Brings AI-based Ecological Research Power To Local Technical College]]> 36348 During the summer, Duncan Hughes, an Environmental Technology instructor at North Georgia Technical College (NGTC) introduced his students to the web application Virtual Ecological Research Assistant, better known as VERA. It allowed students to construct conceptual models and ecological systems, as well as run interactive model simulations on the brook trout, a species of freshwater fish.

Hughes and his students sought to answer questions about reproduction and food supply, as they worked to add new complexities to the VERA application from different species of trout, circumstances, to changes. According to the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), an international effort, led by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, brook trout are found in three types of aquatic environments: rivers, lakes, and marine areas and their living requirements in these environments.

“Originally when we populated the brook trout, we noticed the brown trout shared the same life history and ecological information, but we were able to find enough information from the Encyclopedia of Life to differentiate those species,” said Hughes. “I had my students run through the process of building these components through an instructional-based format by having them manipulate some of the parameters and probabilities.”

VERA was developed by the Design & Intelligence Lab at Georgia Tech in collaboration with EOL. The technology is being used by students as an assisting tool and is publicly accessible. The data being collected from their usage is part of the research conducted at the NSF AI Institute for Adult Learning and Online Education (AI-ALOE).

“Users can jump into our program and conduct ‘what if’ experiments by adjusting simulation parameters. This is our way of providing an accessible and informal learning tool,” said Ashok Goel, director and co-principal Investigator of AI-ALOE and computer science professor at Georgia Tech. “Using VERA as an assessment tool is excellent. These students are using VERA in a way we are not.”

Goel was recently joined by Georgia Tech graduate researcher Andrew Hornback, research scientist Sandeep Kakar, and staff member Daniela Estrada at NGTC to learn more about the work in VERA and challenges Hughes and his students faced while using the application.

“The main struggle is limitation with the EOL and database,” said Hughes. “There are some species that we just can’t find, and sometimes it is glitchy and doesn’t work right away, but it is not insurmountable.”

Another challenge Hughes’ students found was not being able to find what they wanted to complete certain tasks, such as stream and environmental patterns of comparative fish ecosystems.

With that being known, AI-ALOE is working to address these issues and more to build and cater to specific student and teacher needs. At this time, the Design & Intelligence Laboratory is in the process of expanding VERA in the capability of its on-demand agent-based simulation generator, which would enable users to divide components into separate habitats.

“It was very interesting to see the results because antidotally through much research we were able to set up all these relationships and let them run the model, and the results were exactly what we would have hypothesized what they would be given those perimeters,” said Hughes.

 

The technical college has plans to introduce VERA to another classroom this semester held by Natural Resource Management instructor, Kevin Peyton.

About VERA

Interested in trying out VERA? Create an account at https://vera.cc.gatech.edu/. You can also find VERA’s user guide as well as a step-by-step tutorial at http://epi.vera.cc.gatech.edu/docs/exercise.

About AI-ALOE

The NSF AI Institute for Adult Learning and Online Education (AI-ALOE) is developing an AI-based transformative model for online adult learning through research and data collection.

About NGTC

North Georgia Technical College is a residential, public, multi-campus institution of higher education serving the workforce development needs of Northeast Georgia and part of the Technical College System of Georgia.

]]> Breon Martin 1 1666715598 2022-10-25 16:33:18 1677786860 2023-03-02 19:54:20 0 0 news During the summer, Duncan Hughes, an Environmental Technology instructor at North Georgia Technical College (NGTC) introduced his students to the web application Virtual Ecological Research Assistant, better known as VERA. It allowed students to construct conceptual models and ecological systems, as well as run interactive model simulations on the brook trout, a species of freshwater fish.

]]>
2022-10-25T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-25T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-25 00:00:00 Breon Martin

AI Communications Officer

breon.martin@gatech.edu

]]>
662560 662559 662560 image <![CDATA[Brook Trout]]> image/jpeg 1666715569 2022-10-25 16:32:49 1666715569 2022-10-25 16:32:49 662559 image <![CDATA[AI-ALOE visits NGTC for VERA update]]> image/jpeg 1666715477 2022-10-25 16:31:17 1666715477 2022-10-25 16:31:17
<![CDATA[IceCube Neutrinos Give Us First Glimpse Into the Inner Depths of an Active Galaxy]]> 34434 This news release first appeared in the University of Wisconsin-Madison's IceCube Neutrino Observatory newsroom, and has been tailored for Georgia Tech readers.

For the first time, an international team of scientists, including a professor in the School of Physics, have found evidence of high-energy neutrino emission from NGC 1068, also known as Messier 77, an active galaxy in the constellation Cetus and one of the most familiar and well-studied galaxies to date. 

First spotted in 1780, this galaxy, located 47 million light-years away from us, can be observed with large binoculars. The results, published in the journal Science, were shared Nov. 3 in an online scientific webinar that gathered experts, journalists, and scientists from around the globe.

The detection was made at the National Science Foundation-supported IceCube Neutrino Observatory, a massive neutrino telescope encompassing 1 billion tons of instrumented ice at depths of 1.5 to 2.5 kilometers below Antarctica’s surface near the South Pole. This unique telescope, which explores the farthest reaches of our universe using neutrinos, reported the first observation of a high-energy astrophysical neutrino source in 2018. The source, TXS 0506+056, is a known blazar located off the left shoulder of the Orion constellation and 4 billion light-years away.

These findings represent a significant improvement on a prior study on NGC 1068 published in 2020, according to Ignacio Taboada, a physics professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the spokesperson of the IceCube Collaboration.

“Part of this improvement came from enhanced techniques and part from a careful update of the detector calibration,” says Taboada. “Work by the detector operations and calibrations teams enabled better neutrino directional reconstructions to precisely pinpoint NGC 1068 and enable this observation. Resolving this source was made possible through enhanced techniques and refined calibrations, an outcome of the IceCube Collaboration’s hard work.”

“One neutrino can single out a source. But only an observation with multiple neutrinos will reveal the obscured core of the most energetic cosmic objects,” says Francis Halzen, a professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and principal investigator of IceCube. He adds, “IceCube has accumulated some 80 neutrinos of teraelectronvolt energy from NGC 1068, which are not yet enough to answer all our questions, but they definitely are the next big step towards the realization of neutrino astronomy.”

Unlike light, neutrinos can escape in large numbers from extremely dense environments in the universe and reach Earth largely undisturbed by matter and the electromagnetic fields that permeate extragalactic space. Although scientists envisioned neutrino astronomy more than 60 years ago, the weak interaction of neutrinos with matter and radiation makes their detection extremely difficult. Neutrinos could be key to our queries about the workings of the most extreme objects in the cosmos.

“Answering these far-reaching questions about the universe that we live in is a primary focus of the U.S. National Science Foundation,” says Denise Caldwell, director of NSF’s Physics Division.

As is the case with our home galaxy, the Milky Way, NGC 1068 is a barred spiral galaxy, with loosely wound arms and a relatively small central bulge. However, unlike the Milky Way, NGC 1068 is an active galaxy where most radiation is not produced by stars but due to material falling into a black hole millions of times more massive than our Sun and even more massive than the inactive black hole in the center of our galaxy.

NGC 1068 is an active galaxy—a Seyfert II type in particular—seen from Earth at an angle that obscures its central region where the black hole is located. In a Seyfert II galaxy, a torus of nuclear dust obscures most of the high-energy radiation produced by the dense mass of gas and particles that slowly spiral inward toward the center of the galaxy.

“Recent models of the black hole environments in these objects suggest that gas, dust, and radiation should block the gamma rays that would otherwise accompany the neutrinos,” says Hans Niederhausen, a postdoctoral associate at Michigan State University and one of the main analyzers of the paper. “This neutrino detection from the core of NGC 1068 will improve our understanding of the environments around supermassive black holes.”

NGC 1068 could become a standard candle for future neutrino telescopes, according to Theo Glauch, a postdoctoral associate at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), in Germany, and another main analyzer.

“It is already a very well-studied object for astronomers, and neutrinos will allow us to see this galaxy in a totally different way. A new view will certainly bring new insights,” says Glauch.

The improved analysis points the way toward superior neutrino observatories that are already in the works.

“It is great news for the future of our field,” says Marek Kowalski, an IceCube collaborator and senior scientist at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron, in Germany. “It means that with a new generation of more sensitive detectors there will be much to discover. The future IceCube-Gen2 observatory could not only detect many more of these extreme particle accelerators but would also allow their study at even higher energies. It’s as if IceCube handed us a map to a treasure trove.”

With the neutrino measurements of TXS 0506+056 and NGC 1068, IceCube is one step closer to answering the century-old question of the origin of cosmic rays. Additionally, these results imply that there may be many more similar objects in the universe yet to be identified.

“The unveiling of the obscured universe has just started, and neutrinos are set to lead a new era of discovery in astronomy,” says Elisa Resconi, a professor of physics at TUM and another main analyzer.

“Several years ago, NSF initiated an ambitious project to expand our understanding of the universe by combining established capabilities in optical and radio astronomy with new abilities to detect and measure phenomena like neutrinos and gravitational waves,” says Caldwell. “The IceCube Neutrino Observatory’s identification of a neighboring galaxy as a cosmic source of neutrinos is just the beginning of this new and exciting field that promises insights into the undiscovered power of massive black holes and other fundamental properties of the universe.”

 

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory is funded and operated primarily through an award from the National Science Foundation to the University of Wisconsin–Madison (OPP-2042807 and PHY-1913607). The IceCube Collaboration, with over 350 scientists in 58 institutions from around the world, runs an extensive scientific program that has established the foundations of neutrino astronomy. https://icecube.wisc.edu/collaboration/institutions

IceCube’s research efforts, including critical contributions to the detector operation, are funded by agencies in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The IceCube EPSCoR Initiative (IEI) receives additional support through NSF-EPSCoR-2019597. IceCube construction was also funded with significant contributions from the National Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS & FWO) in Belgium; the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the German Research Foundation (DFG) in Germany; the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat, and the Swedish Research Council in Sweden; and the University of Wisconsin–Madison Research Fund in the U.S.

“Evidence for neutrino emission from the nearby active galaxy NGC 1068,” The IceCube Collaboration: R. Abbasi et al., Science 378, 6619 (2022), DOI:10.1126/science.abg3395

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1667573522 2022-11-04 14:52:02 1677786755 2023-03-02 19:52:35 0 0 news Ignacio Taboada, School of Physics professor, is the spokesperson for an international team of scientists using a massive Antarctica-based neutrino telescope to detect the particles coming from a supermassive black hole 47 million light-years from Earth.

 

]]>
2022-11-07T00:00:00-05:00 2022-11-07T00:00:00-05:00 2022-11-07 00:00:00 Georgia Tech Editor: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

Media Contacts:

IceCube Press
press@icecube.wisc.edu
608-515-3831

NSF Media Affairs
media@nsf.gov
703-292-7090

]]>
662851 662853 662854 662852 662851 image <![CDATA[Hubble image of the spiral galaxy Messier 77, also known as NGC 1068. (Photo credit NASA/ESA/A. van Der Hoeven)]]> image/jpeg 1667573876 2022-11-04 14:57:56 1667573876 2022-11-04 14:57:56 662853 image <![CDATA[The IceCube Neutrino Laboratory (Photo credit Martin Wolf, IceCube/NSF)]]> image/jpeg 1667574101 2022-11-04 15:01:41 1667574101 2022-11-04 15:01:41 662854 image <![CDATA[A neutrino detector about to be placed in the Antarctic ice. (Photo credit Mark Krasberg, IceCube/NSF)]]> image/jpeg 1667574218 2022-11-04 15:03:38 1667574218 2022-11-04 15:03:38 662852 image <![CDATA[Ignacio Taboada, School of Physics professor, Center for Relativistic Astrophysics member, and spokesperson for IceCube South Pole Neutrino Observatory. ]]> image/png 1667573964 2022-11-04 14:59:24 1680030804 2023-03-28 19:13:24 <![CDATA[IceCube neutrinos give us first glimpse into the inner depths of an active galaxy]]> <![CDATA[Ghostly Neutrino Particles Provide a Peek at Heart of Nearby Galaxy (Wall Street Journal registration required)]]> <![CDATA[Ignacio Taboada Elected Spokesperson for IceCube South Pole Neutrino Observatory]]> <![CDATA[IceCube Neutrinos Point to Long-Sought Cosmic Ray Accelerator]]>
<![CDATA[Joseph Montoya Named California Academy of Sciences Fellow]]> 34434 Joseph Montoya, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and director of the Ocean Science and Engineering interdisciplinary graduate program, is one of 11 new Academy Fellows in the California Academy of Sciences (CAS), based in San Francisco.

The Fellows are a governing group of more than 450 distinguished scientists and other leaders who have made notable contributions to scientific research, education, and communication, according to the CAS: “Nominated by their colleagues and selected by the CAS Board of Trustees, the Academy Fellows are partners and collaborators in the pursuit of the Academy’s mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration.” 

“This was quite a surprise to me, and a really welcome connection with the CAS, which I came to know well as a student across the bay at (the University of California at) Berkeley,” Montoya said. “I was of course deeply honored to be named a CAS Fellow.”

“On behalf of the School of Biological Sciences, I congratulate Joe on his selection as a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences,” said Todd Streelman, professor and chair of the School of Biological Sciences. “The Academy recognized Joe’s long-term impact in studying nitrogen cycles and energy flow in the world’s seas and rivers. We’re thrilled that the Academy has shone a spotlight on Joe and his lab group’s work.”

Montoya is a biological oceanographer with research interests at the interface of biology and geochemistry. His lab specializes in studies of the marine nitrogen cycle, using a combination of direct rate measurements and stable isotope natural abundance methods to explore the role of biological dinitrogen (N2) fixation in structuring the flow of nitrogen and energy through planktonic ecosystems. The metabolic capability to use atmospheric nitrogen to support biological production plays a key role in supporting diverse ecosystems in many offshore and coastal waters.

“I’m excited at the chance to interact with old and new colleagues studying the marine nitrogen cycle who are also CAS Fellows,” Montoya said. “The CAS will give us new opportunities for developing collaborations and sharing our work with the public, as well as with other scientists.”

The Montoya Lab has also been deeply involved in studies of the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on offshore ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico. His group’s research program is highly interdisciplinary, incorporating work in plankton biology, marine chemistry, and isotope biogeochemistry both at sea and in the lab.

Streelman also noted how the CAS highlighted Montoya’s work in diversity, equity, and inclusion, citing Montoya’s strong interest in education and outreach, and role as a founding member of the Georgia Tech College of Sciences Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council.

“I firmly believe that we have a duty as scientists and educators to share our work broadly and to ensure that our scientific community is open, welcoming, and supportive,” Montoya said. 

Montoya received an A.B. in Biology at the University of California and a Ph.D. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University. He served on the faculty of the Departments of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard before joining the Georgia Tech faculty in 1998.

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1667497967 2022-11-03 17:52:47 1677786428 2023-03-02 19:47:08 0 0 news Researcher’s “long-term impact on studying nitrogen cycles and energy flow” in the world’s seas, plus dedication to diversity and outreach, win kudos from CAS

]]>
2022-11-07T00:00:00-05:00 2022-11-07T00:00:00-05:00 2022-11-07 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston

]]>
662832 662832 image <![CDATA[Joseph Montoya (Photo courtesy of Andreas Teske, ECOGIG)]]> image/png 1667498421 2022-11-03 18:00:21 1667498421 2022-11-03 18:00:21 <![CDATA[Joseph Montoya Named Director of Ocean Science and Engineering]]> <![CDATA[College of Sciences Faculty Diversity Council]]> <![CDATA[Georgia Tech Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council Formed to Further Address Campus Disparity, Bias, and Inequity]]> <![CDATA[Scientists Discover the Biggest Seaweed Bloom in the World]]>
<![CDATA[Researchers Find Education Intervention Doesn't Live Up to Promise]]> 34602 This story by Mike Scott is shared with the Case Western Reserve University newsroom.

New research suggests the “growth mindset” strategy favored by some educators to improve student performance hasn’t lived up to its promise—resulting in time and effort dedicated to growth mindsets in the classroom without meaningful gains in grades or test scores.

More than 30 years ago, noted psychologist Carol Dweck proposed that students with a growth mindset—those who believe their intelligence can “grow” with effort— focus more on learning, work hard, seek challenges and are resilient to setbacks.

Teaching students to hold a growth mindset, Dweck has said, will lead to greater academic achievement.

But recent research from Brooke Macnamara, of Case Western Reserve University, and Alexander Burgoyne, of the Georgia Institute of Technology examining all relevant studies on the topic, found little to no positive effect of growth mindset interventions on student performance.

Growth Mindset Popularity

Since Dweck’s theory first emerged in the 1980s and especially following her 2006 book, “Mindset: The new psychology of success,” an entire industry of nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies has emerged.

Some of those organizations distribute the interventions to schools, teachers, parents and students, claiming the motivational materials boost academic achievement.

Despite growth mindset’s popularity in schools and other settings, the interventions may be largely ineffective and may even be harmful by pulling resources away from more promising efforts, the researchers said.

“Taken together, the research suggests that time and money might be better spent elsewhere,” said Macnamara, an associate professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve and the study’s lead author. “Those resources could be used to update class materials, develop more promising interventions, or make systemic changes.”

Their findings, based on analyzing previous studies of interventions designed to give students a growth mindset, were published recently in the journal Psychological Bulletin.

The Research

Macnamara and Burgoyne examined every study they could find—more than 60—that compared the academic achievement of students receiving a growth mindset intervention to a control group.

They also evaluated the quality of each intervention study and whether the study authors had potential financial conflicts of interest.

The researchers found that:

Why might low-quality studies yield more promising results?

“We found that teachers frequently knew which students had been assigned to receive the intervention,” Burgoyne said. “Expectations can influence study outcomes. Teachers may expect students who receive growth mindset training to work harder, which could, in turn, influence how they interact with those students and grade them.”

“Couple that with financial incentives and popular-press hype,” Burgoyne said, “and you have a recipe for the widespread adoption of growth mindset interventions in schools without much solid evidence to back it up.”

“The concept of growth mindset is appealing; it’s a feel-good idea,” Macnamara said. “But the claims of growth mindset interventions do not stand up to rigorous scientific inquiry.”

 

Citation: Macnamara, B. N., & Burgoyne, A. P. (2022). Do growth mindset interventions impact students’ academic achievement? A systematic review and meta-analysis with recommendations for best practices. Psychological Bulletin. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/bul0000352

]]> Georgia Parmelee 1 1667829724 2022-11-07 14:02:04 1677786407 2023-03-02 19:46:47 0 0 news New research suggests the “growth mindset” strategy favored by some educators to improve student performance hasn’t lived up to its promise—resulting in time and effort dedicated to growth mindsets in the classroom without meaningful gains in grades or test scores.

]]>
2022-11-07T00:00:00-05:00 2022-11-07T00:00:00-05:00 2022-11-07 00:00:00 Mike Scott
Media Relations
Case Western Reserve University

]]>
662935 662935 image <![CDATA[Hands raised]]> image/jpeg 1667831505 2022-11-07 14:31:45 1667831505 2022-11-07 14:31:45
<![CDATA[Going Back to Basics Yields a Printable, Transparent Plastic That’s Highly Conductive]]> 27446 It was a simple idea — maybe even too simple to work.

Research scientist James Ponder and a team of Georgia Tech chemists and engineers thought they could design a transparent polymer film that would conduct electricity as effectively as other commonly used materials, while also being flexible and easy to use at an industrial scale.

They’d do it by simply removing the nonconductive material from their conductive element. Sounds logical, right?

The resulting process could yield new kinds of flexible, transparent electronic devices — things like wearable biosensors, organic photovoltaic cells, and virtual or augmented reality displays and glasses.

“We had this initial idea that we have a conductive element that we're covering with a nonconductive material, so what if we just get rid of that,” said Ponder, who earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at Georgia Tech and returned as a research scientist in mechanical engineering. “It's a simple idea, and there were so many points where it could have failed for different reasons. But it does work, and it works better than we expected.”

Read more about the team's flexible, highly conductive polymer on the College of Engineering website.

]]> Joshua Stewart 1 1669906371 2022-12-01 14:52:51 1677786308 2023-03-02 19:45:08 0 0 news Chemists and engineers collaborate on process that washes away nonconductive side chains from a robust polymer backbone to create a powerful conductive plastic.

]]>
2022-12-01T00:00:00-05:00 2022-12-01T00:00:00-05:00 2022-12-01 00:00:00 Joshua Stewart
College of Engineering

]]>
663560 663560 image <![CDATA[Conductive transparent polymer]]> image/jpeg 1669906068 2022-12-01 14:47:48 1669906068 2022-12-01 14:47:48
<![CDATA[Researchers and Alumni Aid in $2.6 Million Effort to Restore Salt Marshes in Historic Charleston]]> 35575 For marine scientist, climate activist, and Tech alumnus Albert George (MS HSTS 2009), the fight against climate change is also a fight for home. 

Now, what started as a citizen science initiative led by George has turned into a $2.6 million National Fish and Wildlife Association effort to restore degraded salt marshes in Charleston, South Carolina. As part of the project, Joel Kostka, professor and associate chair of Research in the School of Biological Sciences, will lead a team of researchers to not only monitor these restoration efforts, but gain insights into why the marshes degraded in the first place — and how to prevent it from happening in the future.

Over the past three years, Kostka, who has a joint appointment in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, has worked with SCDNR and Robinson Design Engineers, a local firm co-led by Tech alum Joshua Robinson (CEE 2005), to develop engineering and design plans for the restoration of the salt marshes.

“That project went really well,” shared Kostka, “and now we have developed engineering and design plans for the actual restoration as we are moving forward with the next phase.”

Work for the current phase of the project is set to begin soon. Over the next four years, community volunteers will work to plant marsh grasses, restore oyster reefs, and excavate the tidal creeks that supply the marsh with sea water. 

“Because if we don't do this work,” George shared, “then basically it means a place that I grew up in and a place that I call home will no longer exist.”

Read more about the collaborative effort and the community that started it all in the College of Sciences newsroom.

]]> adavidson38 1 1670355660 2022-12-06 19:41:00 1677786252 2023-03-02 19:44:12 0 0 news What started as a citizen science initiative led by a Georgia Tech alum has led to a $2.6 million National Fish and Wildlife Foundation effort to restore degraded salt marshes in historic Charleston. As part of the project, which is being spearheaded by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, School of Biological Sciences Professor and Associate Chair of Research Joel Kostka will lead a team of researchers to monitor restoration efforts — and to better understand why the marsh died off in the first place.

]]>
2022-12-07T00:00:00-05:00 2022-12-07T00:00:00-05:00 2022-12-07 00:00:00 Writer:
Audra Davidson, College of Sciences

Editor and Contact:
Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

]]>
662947 662947 image <![CDATA[An aerial view of the restoration site in historic Maryville.]]> image/jpeg 1667841055 2022-11-07 17:10:55 1667841055 2022-11-07 17:10:55 <![CDATA[Historic Maryville marsh damaged by drought getting new life with volunteers in the muck]]> <![CDATA[Joel Kostka Awarded $3.2 Million to Keep Digging into How Soils and Plants Capture Carbon — And Keep It Out of the Atmosphere]]> <![CDATA[Salt Marsh Grass On Georgia’s Coast Gets Nutrients for Growth From Helpful Bacteria in Its Roots]]>
<![CDATA[Healing Breath: Researchers Dramatically Improve Inhalable mRNA Therapy]]> 28153 Messenger RNA, or mRNA, has been used to immunize millions of people in just the past few years, leading the world out of a pandemic, and allowing researchers to consider other therapeutic targets for these flexible, effective drugs.

Among the most likely targets for future mRNA therapies are the lungs, given the large number of pulmonary diseases, such as the coronavirus, influenza, asthma, cystic fibrosis, and others. 

Now a team of multi-disciplinary investigators from five universities, led by Georgia Tech faculty researchers, has provided a potential path toward that future. In a study published Nov. 28 in the journal Nature materials, they describe polymeric nanoparticle formulations designed specifically for inhalable mRNA delivery, via an easy-to-use nebulizer.

“Nanoparticles made of polymers have specific strengths, and the lung happens to be a place where they are very good for delivery,” said Phil Santangelo, professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. 

In previous work, Santangelo’s lab also has developed mRNA payloads transported by lipid nanoparticles. But polymeric nanoparticles which are designed to carry drugs to their destinations have a higher loading capacity and are compatible with many compounds. 

“In the lung, they’re just flat out better,” Santangelo added. “And we can use them with a wider range of nebulizers. That may not be as important for testing in rodents, but it is when you’re talking about getting this into a person.”

Delivering the Goods

Polymers are large molecules comprised of small, repeating molecular building blocks called monomers. For this study, the researchers focused on synthetic, biodegradable polymers called poly(beta-amino-ester)s, or PBAEs. In a ground-breaking study released last year, Santangelo’s team demonstrated the strength of PBAE formulations in delivering mRNA that can express the CRISPR Cas13a protein in lung tissue, where it was effective in stopping SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus).

In the latest work, the researchers used a process called combinatorial synthesis – a method for preparing large numbers of chemical compounds – to screen 166 different PBAE formulations. One of these, P76, emerged as the best candidate for protein expression, that is, delivering the therapeutic goods efficiently into the lungs of animals, from mice to non-human primates, which makes P76 species agnostic. 

Turns out, the polymer is also compatible with a variety and combination of cargos, which is not typically the case with the delivery of RNAs. But P76 has demonstrated its ability to transport disparate RNAs. So, in addition to being species agnostic, the polymer is mostly cargo agnostic, too.

Using P76, the researchers could effectively encapsulate mRNA together with crRNA, which is a guide strand that basically tells the Cas13a protein who it should target. The key to making it all work so well was incorporating organic compounds called thiols into the mix (turning a PBAE into a PBATE), “dramatically increasing the utility of the polymer for any CRISPR-based therapeutic candidate,” the authors of the study wrote.

“With this new polymer, compared to the old one from our previous work, we get much better protein expression,” Santangelo said. “We can actually decrease dosage by a factor of four, or 400%, and have the same therapeutic effectiveness. That is significant. It’s a striking improvement.”

Santangelo’s lab collaborated with two Georgia Tech faculty members from the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Professor M.G. Finn and Associate Professor James Gumbart, who also is a member of the School of Physics. The University of Georgia, University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and Mississippi State University were also part of the study, which involved more than 25 authors. 

Their work in Nature Materials was published on the heels of another nebulizer-based study from the Santangelo team that was published in the journal Advanced Science. That work detailed the development of a more efficient, inhalable mRNA medicine to prevent respiratory virus infections like the coronavirus. 

In both papers, which were supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the researchers demonstrated the utility of polymeric formulations for delivering the potent cargo into the lungs.

“With these studies we basically wanted to make people aware of new versions of a class of molecules that have lots of advantages over the old ones,” Santangelo said. “And the reality is, I think, for the nebulization and delivery to the lung, they have big advantages. These polymers make a lot of sense.”

And potentially, a lot of cents, too, with the global mRNA therapeutics market expected to exceed $26 billion by 2028.

 

CITATION: Laura Rotolo, Daryll Vanover, Nicholas C. Bruno, Hannah E. Peck, Chiara Zurla, Jackelyn Murray, Richard K. Noel, Laura O’Farrell, Mariluz Araínga, Nichole Orr-Burks, Jae Yeon Joo, Lorena C. S. Chaves, Younghun Jung, Jared Beyersdorf, Sanjeev Gumber, Ricardo Guerrero-Ferreira, Santiago Cornejo, Merrilee Thoresen, [PGR1] Alicia K. Olivier, Katie M. Kuo, James C. Gumbart, Amelia R. Woolums, Francois Villinger, Eric R. Lafontaine, Robert J. Hogan, M. G. Finn, and Philip J. Santangelo. “Species-agnostic polymeric formulations for inhalable messenger RNA delivery to the lung.” (Nature Materials, Nov. 28, 2022) doi.org/10.1038/s41563-022-01404-0

COMPETING INTERESTS: Rotolo, Vanover, Bruno, and Santangelo have a provisional patent filing related to this work. Vanover, Zurla, and Santangelo are cofounders of Tether Therapeutics and this study could affect their personal financial statuses. All other authors declare no competing interests.

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1670535966 2022-12-08 21:46:06 1677786160 2023-03-02 19:42:40 0 0 news Messenger RNA, or mRNA, has been used to immunize millions of people in just the past few years. Among the most likely targets for future mRNA therapies are the lungs, given the large number of pulmonary diseases, such as the coronavirus, influenza, asthma, cystic fibrosis, and others. Now, a team of multi-disciplinary investigators from five universities, led by Georgia Tech faculty researchers, has provided a potential path toward that future.

]]>
2022-12-08T00:00:00-05:00 2022-12-08T00:00:00-05:00 2022-12-08 00:00:00 Writer: Jerry Grillo

]]>
663758 663759 663758 image <![CDATA[Nebulizer]]> image/jpeg 1670535672 2022-12-08 21:41:12 1670535672 2022-12-08 21:41:12 663759 image <![CDATA[daryll and phil]]> image/jpeg 1670535725 2022-12-08 21:42:05 1670535725 2022-12-08 21:42:05
<![CDATA[Faculty Honored as National Academy of Inventors Fellows]]> 34528 Three faculty from Georgia Tech have been chosen as 2022 National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellows, the highest professional distinction for academic inventors.

The new class of fellows includ