Petit Institute Announces 2013 Suddath Symposium Award Winners

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The Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience awarded the 2013 Suddath Symposium Awards to three graduate students for their grand achievements in biological or biochemical research at the molecular or cellular level.

"The applicant pool was extremely competitive and we received the most number of applications ever this year," said Nick Hud, associate director for the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience and professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

The first place award was given to Melissa Kinney who is pursuing her PhD in biomedical engineering in the lab of Todd McDevitt, PhD.  Kinney was selected from amongst numerous submissions in the most competitive selection process to date for the award.  Her research is focused on understanding the complexity of embryonic stem cell interactions within three dimensional microenvironments in order to control spatial and temporal aspects of pluripotent cell fate and morphogenesis and ultimately enable the derivation of complex, functional tissues for the replacement or regeneration of damaged tissue.  Kinney was a NSF Pre-Doctoral Fellow 2009-2012, and more recently was awarded an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship. She currently has six publications, one more currently in revision, and is the coauthor of a textbook chapter on pluripotent stem cells, and co-inventor on a patent.
“I am very honored to receive the prestigious Suddath award,” said Kinney.  “I am thankful to the reviewers for recognizing my accomplishments and grateful for all of the opportunities and resources that have been provided through my advisor, Todd McDevitt, as well as through Georgia Tech’s BME department and the Petit Institute.”

Kinney will receive a $1,000 as the first place awardee and will give a research presentation to the Petit Institute community at the 2013 Suddath Symposium to be held on February 21, 2013 at Georgia Tech.  She will also have her name added to the Suddath Award recognition plaque at the Petit Institute.

“Melissa is a stellar student in all regards - diligent, creative, inquisitive and persistent.  Her innate leadership skills and intuitions consistently have and will guide her intellectual pursuits as she continues to develop into a successful, young independent scientist," said her advisor, Todd McDevitt, PhD.

Berkley Gryder received the 2nd place award for his research in bioorganic chemistry, biochemistry and drug design in the lab of Yomi Oyelere, PhD. He has developed gold nanoparticle conjugates to target prostate cancer, novel proteasome inhibitors for treating cancers and M. tuberculosis infections, triazole-based histone deacetylase inhibitors for cancer and antimalarial treatment, and duel-acting conjugates that bind hormone receptors for drug delivery.  During his time at Georgia Tech, Gryder has been a CD4 GAANN fellow, and most recently a School of Chemistry and Biochemistry GAANN fellow.  Over the past 3 years, these projects have resulted in 5 publications (with 4 more in preparation) and 3 patent applications.

James Kratzer, a doctoral student in the school of Biology, was recognized for a 3rd place award for his leadership in the lab of Eric Gaucher, PhD, where he conducts research in the field of evolutionary synthetic biology, protein engineering, ancestral sequence reconstruction and directed evolution.  Kratzer was a member of the TI:GER program in biotechnology and he played a major role in the establishment of General Genomics, a startup company that has recently received funding from Peter Thiel’s Breakout Labs.

Kratzer and Gryder will each receive cash awards.


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