<![CDATA[Georgia Tech to Strengthen Nation’s Faculty Development in Geospace Science]]> 36583 Georgia Tech’s Colleges of Engineering and Sciences have been chosen by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to hire a new faculty member focused on solar-terrestrial science and space weather research. The NSF is prioritizing a national need in geospace physics and selected Georgia Tech from a pool of national universities.

“Space weather has many societal implications, including dangers to the power grid, the aviation sector, satellite lifetimes, communications, and navigation,” said Morris Cohen, professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and the grant’s co-principal investigator. “However, the number of qualified graduating students interested in this area is not sufficient to meet the future demand. This is especially true as the generation of professionals trained during the space race of the 1960s and ‘70s continues to retire.”

NSF will fund the position for five years and $1.5 million. The grant is led by Susan Lozier, dean of the College of Sciences and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair. She and Cohen are joined by Raheem Beyah, dean of the College of Engineering and Southern Company Chair, and Glenn Lightsey, the John W. Young Chair in the Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering (AE)

The two Colleges relied heavily on their strength in space research and Georgia Tech’s culture of multidisciplinary collaborations in the NSF application. These traits will allow Georgia Tech to conduct a unique search process. Instead of one unit making the hire as is typical in higher education, leaders from four schools will team up with the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) for the search process. It’s an approach that addresses a nationwide problem in the field. 

“Decades ago, space physics largely fell within electrical engineering,” Beyah said. “These days, it’s highly interdisciplinary and typically has no true home — faculty are often scattered across aerospace engineering, applied physics, and earth sciences.”

Beyah said that a few universities have a large cluster of space physics faculty as a result. Many others have none. He said this limits the pipeline of future space science professionals because a substantial fraction of students has little or no exposure to the field. 

Georgia Tech is right in the middle, with a presence in solar-terrestrial science and space weather research but not a large cluster of faculty members. The new hire will allow Tech to reach more students interested in the field. Georgia Tech also pointed to its Vertically Integrated Projects program as a mechanism to get many new students involved in the new hire’s research. 

According to Loziersolar-terrestrial science and space weather encompass at least four buckets: advanced theory and simulations that span the extremes of physics; big data and machine learning; innovative tools to collect new types of measurements; and operational needs in industry and defense, which motivate translation of research into real-world practice. 

“This breadth has hampered faculty growth in this area, as it has other interdisciplinary research fields like quantum computing and neuroscience,” Lozier said. “These areas straddle pure science and engineering, which often are separate in university hierarchy. We believe these interdisciplinary aspects of geospace science should be celebrated. More importantly, we believe they can be turned into a strength.”

Representatives from AE, ECE, GTRI, the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and the School of Physics will form the hiring committee. The hire will complement Georgia Tech’s February announcement of a new Space Research Initiative. Once the NSF-funded position is filled, the Colleges will collectively fund and search for a second faculty member in the field. 

]]> lvidal7 1 1716408298 2024-05-22 20:04:58 1716578649 2024-05-24 19:24:09 0 0 news With NSF support, Colleges of Sciences and Engineering will collaborate to hire a researcher focused on solar-terrestrial science and space weather.

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2024-05-22T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-22T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-22 00:00:00 Jason Maderer  
Director of Communications  
College of Engineering

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674059 674059 image <![CDATA[Aurora from Space]]> image/jpeg 1716408750 2024-05-22 20:12:30 1716408750 2024-05-22 20:12:30
<![CDATA[Honoring Faculty Promotions, Spring 2024]]> 36583 273 academic and research faculty members from across the Institute received promotions during the spring semester. We are thankful for their contributions and honored to celebrate their accomplishments.

Academic Faculty

Faculty members newly awarded tenure are indicated with an asterisk (*). 

Promoted to Professor
Promoted to Associate Professor
Awarded Tenure (visit our Celebrating Tenure page for more information)*
Promoted to Principal Academic Professional
Promoted to Principal Lecturer
Promoted to Senior Academic Professional
Promoted to Senior Lecturer
Promoted to Librarian IV
Promoted to Librarian II

Research Faculty

Promoted to Principal Research Scientist
Promoted to Principal Research Associate
Promoted to Principal Research Engineer
Promoted to Principal Extension Professional
Promoted to Senior Research Scientist
Promoted to Senior Research Associate
Promoted to Senior Research Engineer
Promoted to Senior Research Technologist
Promoted to Senior Extension Professional
Promoted to Research Scientist II
Promoted to Research Associate II
Promoted to Research Engineer II
Promoted to Research Technologist II
Promoted to Extension Professional II
]]> lvidal7 1 1716491799 2024-05-23 19:16:39 1716492047 2024-05-23 19:20:47 0 0 news 273 academic and research faculty members from across the Institute received promotions during the spring semester. We are thankful for their contributions and honored to celebrate their accomplishments.

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2024-05-23T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-23T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-23 00:00:00 665542 665542 image <![CDATA[Tech Tower]]> image/jpeg 1675786600 2023-02-07 16:16:40 1680535335 2023-04-03 15:22:15 <![CDATA[Celebrating Tenure: Spring 2024]]>
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Mathematicians at the Forefront of Research with ICERM at Brown ]]> 34434 Georgia Tech’s School of Mathematics is dedicated to exploring the frontiers of computational and experimental research in its discipline, so much so that one of the leading math research centers in the country now has a School of Mathematics professor serving as the chair of its board of trustees.

Rachel Kuske’s new role with the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM) is just one Georgia Tech connection to the Center, based at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. 

More than 20 School of Mathematics faculty members and graduate students have participated in recent ICERM programs, including a series of seminars during Fall 2022’s semester on harmonic analysis and convexity, mathematical processes that help researchers navigate large collections of data.

“The participation of School of Mathematics members at different levels in ICERM, one of several leading math research institutes in the U.S., is representative of the School’s leadership in the broader research community,” said Kuske, a former School of Mathematics chair. “Georgia Tech’s multi-faceted involvement benefits our research groups as well as research advances and development of talent in the wider research community.”

John Etnyre, a professor specializing in low-dimensional topology, is also involved in various ICERM activities, and helped co-organize a semester-long program on braid theory in Spring 2022. “ICERM is an excellent research center,” Etnyre said. “They provide a great environment to collaborate with others, as well as great conference facilities. They are certainly one of the best mathematical research centers in the world, and they are unique in their focus on bringing computation and experimentation into mathematics.”

Mathematics labs and more

ICERM’s mission is to expand the use of computational and experimental methods in mathematics, support theoretical advances related to computation, and address problems posed by the existence and use of the computer through mathematical tools, research and innovation.

ICERM pursues these goals by supporting what Kuske calls “mathematics labs,” which are typically human resource-intensive, and highly collaborative nationally and globally. 

“ICERM’s goals include catalyzing new directions in research and collaborations, as well as exploiting and expanding the interface between mathematics, computations, and experiments, computational and otherwise,” she said. These intersections have historically been represented in ICERM’s scientific board, with Kuske citing Dana Randall, ADVANCE Professor of Computing in the School of Computer Science, and an adjunct professor in the School of Mathematics, as an example.

Kuske views chairing ICERM’s Board of Trustees as a way to “provide an opportunity to contribute in several directions, including making sure that present and future resources, policies, and procedures support ICERM’s mission.” These include increasing diverse and inclusive participation in mathematical sciences and relevant areas, raising public awareness of the impact of mathematics, and continued service and leadership in the research community.

Etnyre said an important computational aspect to topology — the study of surfaces that can be twisted, bent, or otherwise deformed but never broken — has been around for a while, “but its importance has been increasing over the years,” he said. For example, software called SnapPea/SnapPy “is a program where you can input a three-dimensional space and it will compute a myriad of data about the space. It also has a list of thousands of spaces and data about them. When trying to determine if something you are interested in is true or not, it is always helpful to be able to check its validity on such a large sample of spaces.”

More recently, Etnyre says several teams of people have been using machine learning algorithms to explore relations involving knot theory, the study of closed curves in three dimensional spaces. “There are many other ways in which computation and experimentation is important in topology, and it was great that the ICERM program was able to expose these techniques to a large number of researchers during our program.”

Knot theory and an associated subdiscipline, braid theory, help bring structure to large, complex data problems. Possible applications include finding out more about DNA recombination, Etynre said.  “There are also connections with physics through string theory and gauge theory. There are connections between braids and many areas in mathematics. That was really the focus of the program at ICERM last spring,” referring to the Spring 2022 program he helped co-organize at the center.

Collaboration on convexity 

Galyna Livshyts, associate professor in the Georgia Tech School of Mathematics; Ben Jaye, assistant professor, and postdoctoral researcher and visiting assistant professor Naga Manasa Vempati recently completed the semester-long program on harmonic analysis and convexity at ICERM. Livshyts said the center is one of several institutions around the world that provide such lengthy research opportunities for various areas in mathematics.

“The harmonic analysis and convexity research program presented us with the opportunity to collaborate with other researchers in the area during this time,” Livshyts said. “Also, ICERM often hosts various interesting and stimulating workshops. ICERM is located in the buzzing town of Providence, and it has excellent facilities to allow people to discuss mathematics, and also provide some great views.”

The following Georgia Tech School of Mathematics faculty and students have participated in various recent ICERM programs:

The Combinatorial Algebraic Geometry virtual workshop in early February 2021 included Trevor Gunn, Arvind Ramaswami, Matthew Baker, Cvetelina Hill, and Alperen Ozdemir.

Matthew Baker, Justin Chen, Tianyi Zhang, Anton Leykin, Josephine Yu, and Josiah Park also took part in Collaborate@ICERM projects in 2021.

School of Mathematics students Yvon Verberne, Sudipta Kolay, Justin (Yi-Chang) Chen and Jiaqi Yang were named ICERM Postdoctoral Fellows for 2021-22. 

Professor John Entyre co-organized the Spring 2022 Braids semester program at ICERM, and Professor Dan Margalit participated in Braids in Symplectic and Algebraic Geometry. Postdoctoral students Miriam Kuzbary and Hannah Turner took part in the entire Braids program. Graduate student Sally Collins and undergraduate student Sarah Pritchard participated in the Braids in Low-Dimensional Topology conference in April. 

Georgia Tech faculty and students taking part in the Harmonic Analysis and Convexity program in September 2022 at ICERM include Manuel Fernandez, Orli Herscovici, Galyna Livshyts, Naga Manasa Vempati, Shixuan Zhang, Ben Jaye.

Mohit Singh and Swati Gupta are scheduled to participate in an ICERM program, Combinatorics and Optimization, March 27-31, 2023. 

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1671651461 2022-12-21 19:37:41 1716388672 2024-05-22 14:37:52 0 0 news School of Mathematics Professor Rachel Kuske has been named board chair for Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM) at Brown University, strengthening a long-standing partnership between Georgia Tech and a top mathematics lab for numbers-crunching researchers.

 

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2022-12-21T00:00:00-05:00 2022-12-21T00:00:00-05:00 2022-12-21 00:00:00 Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

 

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664040 664041 664040 image <![CDATA[Rachel Kuske]]> image/png 1671651830 2022-12-21 19:43:50 1671651830 2022-12-21 19:43:50 664041 image <![CDATA[John Etnyre]]> image/png 1671658721 2022-12-21 21:38:41 1671658721 2022-12-21 21:38:41 <![CDATA[Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics ]]> <![CDATA[Georgia Tech School of Mathematics ]]> <![CDATA[Georgia Tech Geometry and Topology Group Wins $2.1 Million NSF Grant]]> <![CDATA[New 'Vibrant Pack Energy Harvesters' to Harness Big Bridge Vibrations]]> <![CDATA[Four College of Sciences Instructors Receive Class of 1934 Teaching Achievement Awards]]>
<![CDATA[Asthma's New Treatment Frontier]]> 35599 Asthma impacts more than 40 million Americans, and 10% of the world’s population. However, current anti-inflammatory treatments only partially control the disease’s symptoms. Now, Liang Han, an associate professor in the School of Biological Scienceshas been awarded a $2.47M grant by the National Institute of Health to study the role our nervous system plays in asthma — and the potential for new treatments. The grant will fund five years of research, with work beginning this spring.

“Asthma is typically considered an allergic inflammatory disease,” Han says, “and so the majority of research has previously focused on immune responses. But there is emerging evidence that the nervous system plays a critical role in the disease.”

Han highlights that our lungs are full of sensory nerves, which help monitor their internal state, and play an important role in regulating our breathing patterns and respiratory system. Vagal sensory neurons help send information from the lungs to the brain. Recent data collected by Yanyan Xing, a former postdoctoral researcher in the Han lab and now a scientist at Empress Therapeutics, suggested that blocking a group of vagal sensory neurons stopped the development of asthma symptoms in mice.

“Since these sensory neurons are responsible for responses like coughing, bronchoconstriction, and mucus secretion, all of which are asthma symptoms, we want to investigate whether blocking these neurons can help inhibit asthma in humans,” Han says. “If so, this might prove a promising treatment avenue for asthma.” 

The nervous system connection

In her lab at Georgia Tech, Han’s research team investigates the role the nervous system plays in creating and behavioral responses, and how that contributes to chronic diseases.  “We want to understand how the nervous system receives, transmits, and interprets various stimuli to induce physiological and behavioral responses,” she explains.

This year, Han also received a $550k grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate the neural circuit controlling itch sensation. The research has the potential to uncover new treatments for sensory conditions like chronic itch.

]]> sperrin6 1 1716301273 2024-05-21 14:21:13 1716385849 2024-05-22 13:50:49 0 0 news Asthma impacts more than 10% of the world’s population, but current anti-inflammatory treatments only partially control the disease. Now, with a $2.47M grant, Liang Han is exploring the role our nervous systems play, potentially leading to new treatments.

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2024-05-21T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-21T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-21 00:00:00 Written by Selena Langner

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674049 674049 image <![CDATA[The Han Lab: (from left to right) Liang Han, Katy Lawson, Rossie Nho, William Hancock]]> The Han Lab: (from left to right) Liang Han, Katy Lawson, Rossie Nho, William Hancock

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<![CDATA[Undergraduate Student Research Round-up: Summer Across the College of Sciences]]> 34434 As the mercury climbed across Atlanta this summer, student research heated up across the College of Sciences, thanks to special summer programs for undergraduates from around the globe that help undergraduates get a head start on research experience for STEM careers in academia, industry, and beyond.

This year’s initiatives included National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF REU) programs, a new initiative to engage Georgia community college students, summer workshops in computational chemistry and quantitative biosciences, and more.

Through the workshops, students learned to navigate new methods of research that involve data analysis and computational aspects of disciplines like chemistry and biology — as well as communicate connections across concepts like group theory, topology, combinatorics, and number theory.

Meanwhile, the NSF REU programs across the College’s six Schools of Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Physics, Psychology, and Mathematics, as well as the Undergraduate Neuroscience Program, allowed early-year students to get their first taste of in-depth research with unique expertise and equipment available at Georgia Tech. 

Other students took advantage of special fellowships to attend summer conferences in their chosen disciplines, where they networked with fellow young scientists and mathematicians while soaking up knowledge from peers and mentors. 

Here’s a roundup of some of the 2022 summer undergraduate student research programs and events led by the College of Sciences at Georgia Tech:

The Summer Theoretical and Computational Chemistry (STACC) Workshop 

Undergraduates eager to try calculations in areas such as quantum dynamics, electronic structure theory, and classical molecular dynamics — and who want to know more about new data science and machine learning tools — got their chance during this two-week early summer computational chemistry workshop.

“Theoretical and computational studies provide a necessary complement to experimental investigations because they are able to obtain the atomistic level of detail that is near impossible to probe with experiment,” said Joshua Kretchmer, assistant professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. 

“It is becoming more and more routine to use these techniques, even outside of pure theory research groups, as computers have become more powerful and more easy-to-use software is being developed to perform these calculations,” Kretchmer said. “It is thus important for students to be exposed to these techniques early on in their undergraduate education so they have a basic understanding of how and when the slew of different computational techniques are best utilized.”

2022 was the first year for the STACC Workshop, and Kretchmer added that the students “seem to be engaged and excited by the material, both in terms of learning the technical skills necessary to utilize high-performance computers and the unique aspects that can be learned about chemical systems from computer simulations.”

Those thoughts were echoed by University of South Florida student Nicholas Giunto. “After simulating and calculating these various processes, I realized how theoretical chemistry can do so much more than just simulate these scenarios. This technique of chemistry can be used in many other fields of science as well,” Giunto said. “This workshop has broadened my perspective of chemistry, and taught me a whole new field of science that is innovative and prudent.”

For more information, check out the STACC website here

Summer College Research Internship 

Thanks to a grant from the Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Dean’s Chair, community college students in Georgia were paired up with a Georgia Tech College of Sciences lab — at no cost to the students — for the inaugural Summer College Research Internship (SCRI).

The idea for SCRI grew from Shania Khatri’s experiences conducting research for the first time. Khatri, a fourth-year Biological Sciences major scheduled to graduate in December 2022, began research in high school through a program at a local university that placed students, especially those historically underrepresented in STEM, in labs to complete their own summer research projects. 

“I felt firsthand how important mentorship was in building confidence in STEM, promoting belonging, and ultimately influencing my decision to pursue higher education and research,” Khatri said. “Research shows that students who complete high school and undergraduate programs are more likely to pursue STEM majors and consider doctoral degrees, underscoring that mentorship early in careers can improve achievement and retention of these students.”

SCRI students helped design experiments, collected and analyzed data, and presented the results of their work. They worked closely with their Ph.D. student mentors, learning from them as well as the broader community of their host labs. They also heard weekly lectures from College of Science faculty as they learned about the broader research environment at Georgia Tech. 

“The accepted students have strong scholastic potential, and we hope that we can excite them about the research happening at Georgia Tech and potentially recruit them to join our programs, either as transfer students or future graduate students,” said William Ratcliff, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences and co-director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences Program. Ratcliff also co-leads the SCRI with Todd Streelman, professor and chair of the School of Biological Sciences at Tech.

Three students from two-year community college programs in Georgia were chosen for the inaugural SCRI, Ratcliff said. With diverse interests, all three researched in labs within the Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection (CMDI)

“While this was not part of our review criteria, two of the three students are members of groups that are underrepresented in science according to National Institutes of Health criteria, so this is a great opportunity to broaden participation in academic research,” Ratcliff added.

“When discussing diversity in STEM and retention of underrepresented minorities, community college students should be at the forefront of the discussion,” Khatri said. “It is my hope that through this program the students will gain confidence in their own abilities, and learn skills of science communication, data analysis, critical thinking, collaborative work, and problem solving that will aid them in any career path.”

More information on the Summer College Research Internship is available here

Child Lab Day

Child Lab Day is the capstone assignment for students in the School of Psychology course PSYC 2103 Human Development. Christopher Stanzione, senior lecturer and associate chair for undergraduate studies for the School, said his students conducted cognitive, language, and conceptual assessments in June on children ranging in age from four months to nine years old. 

“This is a great applied experience for the Georgia Tech students,” Stanzione said. “All semester we study these concepts, but to see development in action is special. They’ll likely see the gradual change between concepts by administering the assessments to kids of different ages.”

The first Child Lab Day was in 2019. This summer, students majoring in psychology, biomedical engineering, computer science, biology, neuroscience, and economics took part in this second one. “They loved it,” Stanzione said.

National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF REUs)

For the first time, this year all six schools across the College of Sciences — plus the Neuroscience program at Tech — led Research Experiences for Undergraduates, a National Science Foundation initiative. 

Each student was associated with a specific research project, and worked closely with school faculty and other researchers. Students were given stipends and, in many cases, assistance with housing and travel to help cover the experience.

“Since most of the undergraduate participants are recruited from institutions that do not have extensive research infrastructure, the immersive research experience available to them in these programs can be transformational,” said David Collard, professor and senior associate dean in the College, who previously led the REU program in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry for more than a decade. 

“A measure of success of the REU programs in the College of Sciences is that many of the undergraduate participants subsequently go on to complete their Ph.D., some at Georgia Tech, and others elsewhere,” Collard added.

The following are the details for each College of Sciences school’s REU program. Learn more about future Summer Research Programs for Undergraduates here.

School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences REU:

Georgia Tech Broadening Participation in Atmospheric Science, Oceanography, and Geosciences

Working under the supervision of a School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (EAS) faculty member, participants focused on a single research project, but also gained a broad perspective on research in Earth and atmospheric sciences by participating in the dynamic research environment. This interdisciplinary REU program had projects ranging from planetary science to meteorology to oceanography. In addition to full time research, undergraduate researchers participated in a number of professional development activities, seminars with faculty and research scientists, presentation and research poster symposiums, and social activities with other summer REU students.

Schools of Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering REU:

Aquatic Chemical Ecology (ACE) at Georgia Tech

The Aquatic Chemical Ecology REU gave students the opportunity to perform research with faculty from five Georgia Tech schools. 

Students participated in research with one or more faculty members, learned about careers in science and engineering, and saw how scientists blend knowledge and skills from physics, chemistry, and biology to investigate some of the most challenging problems in environmental sciences. 

This was the first REU experience for Jenn Newlon, a rising senior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. In fact, “I’d actually never heard of an REU before I came here,” she said. “It’s been a really good experience. I never really saw this side of research in my institution. While I did get to do undergraduate research, it was more of, ‘do this in a lab, this is what happens.’ I had to present my findings every week to my PI (principal investigator), who gave really good feedback. And all the people in my lab were really kind and helpful.”

Schools of Psychology, Biological Sciences REU:

Neuroscience Research Experience for Undergraduates

The first week of the inaugural Neuroscience/Psychology REU was a Neuroscience Bootcamp, where students engaged in hands-on activities to learn about brain anatomy, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), encephalography, and other techniques.  Then the student researchers spent time working on projects in the laboratories of mentors in either the School of Psychology, School of Biological Sciences, or with researchers at Georgia State University. They also attended professional development and social activities with other REU students.

“There is tremendous interest in neuroscience, and we have seen an incredible expansion of technology in our ability to record from the human nervous system,” said Lewis Wheaton, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences and co-director of the Neuroscience/Psychology REU. 

“At the same time, many students do not have access to these technologies at their academic institutions because of expense,” Wheaton said. “We feel that it is vital to ensure that students who do not have access to these technologies at their universities get exposure to the tools and approaches to understand the human brain. I am excited to further focus on providing opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities to engage in this research.”

A unique feature of the Neuroscience REU program is that it allows some students to come back for a two-year experience, “which can really provide a great opportunity to enhance their research, and put these students in a stronger position to advance their careers,” Wheaton added.

“It is also great that we can show them the research and educational environment at Georgia Tech and in the broader Atlanta area,” said Eric Schumacher, professor in the School of Psychology and co-director of the Neuroscience/Psychology REU. “This is an opportune time to showcase our two schools and the Institute, given that both schools are working with the College and Institute to offer a cross-disciplinary Neuroscience Ph.D. program soon.” 

That was the impression that Alexa Toliver came away with. The fourth year student at Arizona State University is majoring in neurobiology, “but I always wanted to do neuroscience research,” she said during the recent REUs poster session at the Ford Environmental Science and Technology Building. “It was a little new, but it was a great opportunity and I never felt uncomfortable with any of the topics. This was the only neuroscience REU that I could find, and I applied to it and I got it, so I was excited.”

School of Physics REU:

Georgia Tech Broadening Participation in Physics

Working under the supervision of a physics faculty member, participants focused on a single research project but also gained a broad perspective on research in physics by participating in the dynamic research environment. 

Available projects for the REU spanned the field of physics ranging from quantum materials, quantum simulation/sensing, astrophysics, physics of living systems, and non-linear dynamics. 

In addition to full time research, undergraduate researchers participated in a number of professional development seminars, research horizon lunches, and social activities with other summer REU students.

Brendan D’Aquino, a rising senior at Northeastern University in Boston, had planned to use his computer science background to get an industry job after graduation. Then he attended the 2022 School of Physics REU. 

“After doing an internship last year at a software company that does physics, I kind of realized I wanted to make the switch,” D’Aquino said. “So I applied to the program. I got to work here. And I thought it was super cool. So this was my first time doing research. I kind of had grad school in the back of my mind for a while. But 10 weeks here kind of makes me more sure that I want to get into that in the future.”

School of Mathematics REU:

The School of Mathematics has a rich tradition of offering summer undergraduate research programs. The projects have been mentored by faculty and postdocs covering a range of topics, such as graph coloring, random matrices, contact homology, knots, bounded operators, harmonic analysis, and toric varieties. 

Previous Math REU students have published many papers, won a number of awards, and have been very successful in their graduate school applications.

“The main purpose of our REU is to give students research experience which should help them decide if they want to do math research for a living, and in particular, go to a math grad school,” said Igor Belegradek, professor and director of Teaching Effectiveness in the School of Mathematics. Belegradek also coordinates the Math REU. “Also, if there is a publication or poster at a conference, their grad school application will definitely become more competitive.”

Sometimes that application is sent to Georgia Tech. “We did have a few students who were accepted to our grad school after attending an REU with us,” Belegradek said. “It definitely helps put Georgia Tech Mathematics on the map. This summer we have 22 REU students, and only two of them are from Georgia Tech.”

Mathematics topics for the 2022 REU included aspects of graph coloring, Legendrian contact homology, Eigenvectors from eigenvalues and Gaussian random matrices, and applications of Donaldson's Diagonalization theorem.

Read more about the 2021 Mathematics REUs here.

In July, the School of Mathematics also hosted its biennial Topology Students Workshop, organized by Professor Dan Margalit since 2012. 

Events included a public lecture on campus, “Juggling Numbers, Algebra, and Topology”, accessible for curious people of all ages and backgrounds.

“One goal of mathematics is to describe the patterns in the world, from weather to population growth to disease transmission,” event organizers said. The workshop used mathematics to describe juggling patterns, count the different kinds of patterns, and create new patterns, “making surprising connections to group theory, topology, combinatorics, and number theory.”

The 36th Annual Symposium of the Protein Society 

From microproteins, protein condensates, synthetic biology and biosensors, to the latest developments in machine learning and imaging technologies, to addressing health disparities, the Protein Society Symposium, held in San Francisco in early July, provided a state-of-the-art view of the most exciting areas of research in biology and medicine.

Four students of Raquel Lieberman’s School of Chemistry and Biochemistry lab attended, thanks to Protein Society travel fellowships: 

Kenney and Ma won Best Poster awards at the symposium, and Saccuzzo won an honorable mention.

“The conference was amazing! We saw so many great speakers and presentations about protein science, and it was a great way to meet scientists from all over the world,” Kenney said. “I’m so grateful for this experience, especially as I begin to apply to graduate school and think about my future career in science. It was a great experience, and one that has truly deepened my appreciation for science and research.”

“To have each of these superstars selected for travel fellowships puts them in an elite cohort of trainees at this 500-plus person meeting,” Lieberman said. “I am so excited for them to present their thesis research and to get feedback from colleagues in our field from all over the world. I’m sure new ideas, collaborations, and other opportunities will emerge from this experience. It’s just the boost they and I need after a challenging couple of years as experimental biochemists.”

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1656338207 2022-06-27 13:56:47 1716384202 2024-05-22 13:23:22 0 0 news National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF REUs), Georgia community college initiative, and workshops centered on new scientific methods and communicating key concepts offer ample opportunities for students — current, prospective, and visiting — to hone their research skills in the College of Sciences.

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2022-08-03T00:00:00-04:00 2022-08-03T00:00:00-04:00 2022-08-03 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston

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659821 659829 659832 659205 659917 659916 659192 659816 659200 659201 659202 659203 659821 image <![CDATA[Students conduct poster sessions during 2022's Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in the Ford Environmental Science and Technology building. (Photo Renay San Miguel)]]> image/jpeg 1659380709 2022-08-01 19:05:09 1659380709 2022-08-01 19:05:09 659829 image <![CDATA[Brendan D'Aquino, rising senior at Northeastern University, explains his research during the summer 2022 School of Physics REU. (Photo Renay San Miguel)]]> image/jpeg 1659382259 2022-08-01 19:30:59 1659382259 2022-08-01 19:30:59 659832 image <![CDATA[Alexa Toliver, fourth-year student at Arizona State University, explains her neuroscience research during the summer 2022 Research Experience for Undergraduates. (Photo Renay San Miguel)]]> image/jpeg 1659382662 2022-08-01 19:37:42 1659382662 2022-08-01 19:37:42 659205 image <![CDATA[KeAndre Williams (right), a School of Economics major, conducts a test during Child Lab Day June 14. (Photo Christopher Stanzione)]]> image/jpeg 1656616150 2022-06-30 19:09:10 1656616150 2022-06-30 19:09:10 659917 image <![CDATA[Children ages four months to nine years old took part in assessment tests conducted by School of Psychology students during Child Lab Day at Georgia Tech. (Photo Christopher Stanzione)]]> image/jpeg 1659630269 2022-08-04 16:24:29 1659630269 2022-08-04 16:24:29 659916 image <![CDATA[Students in the School of Psychology's Human Development class conduct assessment tests during Child Lab Day. (Photo Christopher Stanzione)]]> image/jpeg 1659630048 2022-08-04 16:20:48 1659630048 2022-08-04 16:20:48 659192 image <![CDATA[Shania Khatri]]> image/png 1656611758 2022-06-30 17:55:58 1656611758 2022-06-30 17:55:58 659816 image <![CDATA[Lydia Kenney (left) and Mihn Thu (Alice) Ma show off their best poster awards won at the Protein Society Symposium in July. (Photo courtesy Raquel Lieberman)]]> image/png 1659379424 2022-08-01 18:43:44 1659379452 2022-08-01 18:44:12 659200 image <![CDATA[Lydia Kenney]]> image/png 1656614066 2022-06-30 18:34:26 1656614066 2022-06-30 18:34:26 659201 image <![CDATA[Minh Thu (Alice) Ma]]> image/png 1656614171 2022-06-30 18:36:11 1656614171 2022-06-30 18:36:11 659202 image <![CDATA[Emily Saccuzzo ]]> image/png 1656614270 2022-06-30 18:37:50 1656614270 2022-06-30 18:37:50 659203 image <![CDATA[Gwendell Thomas ]]> image/png 1656614348 2022-06-30 18:39:08 1656614348 2022-06-30 18:39:08 <![CDATA[How I Spent My Summer 2021: NSF REUs Welcome Undergraduate Researchers]]> <![CDATA[College of Sciences Summer Research Programs for Undergraduates]]> <![CDATA[2021 and Beyond: Research Opportunities for Undergraduate Students]]> <![CDATA[From REU to Ph.D. at Georgia Tech]]>
<![CDATA[From Roots to Resilience: Investigating the Vital Role of Microbes in Coastal Plant Health]]> 36123 Georgia’s saltwater marshes — living where the land meets the ocean — stretch along the state’s entire 100-mile coastline. These rich ecosystems are largely dominated by just one plant: grass.

Known as cordgrass, the plant is an ecosystem engineer, providing habitats for wildlife, naturally cleaning water as it moves from inland to the sea, and holding the shoreline together so it doesn’t collapse. Cordgrass even protects human communities from tidal surges.

Understanding how these plants stay healthy is of crucial ecological importance. For example, one known plant stressor prevalent in marsh soils is the dissolved sulfur compound, sulfide, which is produced and consumed by bacteria. But while the Georgia coastline boasts a rich tradition of ecological research, understanding the nuanced ways bacteria interact with plants in these ecosystems has been elusive. Thanks to recent advances in genomic technology, Georgia Tech biologists have begun to reveal never-before-seen ecological processes.

The team’s work was published in Nature Communications

Joel Kostka, the Tom and Marie Patton Distinguished Professor and associate chair for Research in the School of Biological Sciences, and Jose Luis Rolando, a postdoctoral fellow, set out to investigate the relationship between the cordgrass Spartina alterniflora and the microbial communities that inhabit their roots, identifying the bacteria and their roles.

“Just like humans have gut microbes that keep us healthy, plants depend on microbes in their tissues for health, immunity, metabolism, and nutrient uptake,” Kostka said. “While we’ve known about the reactions that drive nutrient and carbon cycling in the marsh for a long time, there’s not as much data on the role of microbes in ecosystem functioning.”

Out in the Marsh

A major way that plants get their nutrients is through nitrogen fixation, a process in which bacteria convert nitrogen into a form that plants can use. In marshes, this role has mostly been attributed to heterotrophs, or bacteria that grow and get their energy from organic carbon. Bacteria that consume the plant toxin sulfide are chemoautotrophs, using energy from sulfide oxidation to fuel the uptake of carbon dioxide to make their own organic carbon for growth.

“Through previous work, we knew that Spartina alterniflora has sulfur bacteria in its roots and that there are two types: sulfur-oxidizing bacteria, which use sulfide as an energy source, and sulfate reducers, which respire sulfate and produce sulfide, a known toxin for plants,” Rolando said. “We wanted to know more about the role these different sulfur bacteria play in the nitrogen cycle.”

Kostka and Rolando headed to Sapelo Island, Georgia, where they have regularly conducted fieldwork in the salt marshes. Wading into the marsh, shovels and buckets in hand, the researchers and their students collected cordgrass along with the muddy sediment samples that cling to their roots. Back at the field lab, the team gathered around a basin filled with creek water and carefully washed the grass, gently separating the plant roots.

Next, they used a special technique involving heavier versions of chemical elements that occur in nature as tracers to track the microbial processes. They also analyzed the DNA and RNA of the microbes living in different compartments of the plants.

Using a sequencing technology known as shotgun metagenomics, they were able to retrieve the DNA from the whole microbial community and reconstruct genomes from newly discovered organisms. Similarly, untargeted RNA sequencing of the microbial community allowed them to assess which microbial species and specific functions were active in close association with plant roots.

Using this combination of techniques, they found that chemoautotrophic sulfur-oxidizing bacteria were also involved in nitrogen fixation. Not only did these bacteria help plants by detoxifying the root zone, but they also played a crucial role in providing nitrogen to the plants. This dual role of the bacteria in sulfur cycling and nitrogen fixation highlights their importance in coastal ecosystems and their contribution to plant health and growth.

"Plants growing in areas with high levels of sulfide accumulation tend to be smaller and less healthy," said Rolando. "However, we found that the microbial communities within Spartina roots help to detoxify the sulfide, enhancing plant health and resilience."

Local to Global Significance

Cordgrasses aren’t just the main player in Georgia marshes; they also dominate marsh landscapes across the entire Southeast, including the Carolinas and the Gulf Coast. Moreover, the researchers found that the same bacteria are associated with cordgrass, mangrove, and seagrass roots in coastal ecosystems across the planet.

"Much of the shoreline in tropical and temperate climates is covered by coastal wetlands,” Rolando said. “These areas likely harbor similar microbial symbioses, which means that these interactions impact ecosystem functioning on a global scale."  

Looking ahead, the researchers plan to further explore the details of how marsh plants and microbes exchange nitrogen and carbon, using state-of-the-art microscopy techniques coupled with ultra-high-resolution mass spectrometry to confirm their findings at the single-cell level.

"Science follows technology, and we were excited to use the latest genomic methods to see which types of bacteria were there and active,” Kostka said. “There's still much to learn about the intricate relationships between plants and microbes in coastal ecosystems, and we are beginning to uncover the extent of the microbial complexity that keeps marshes healthy.”

 

Citation: Rolando, J.L., Kolton, M., Song, T. et al. Sulfur oxidation and reduction are coupled to nitrogen fixation in the roots of the salt marsh foundation plant Spartina alternifloraNat Commun 15, 3607 (2024).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-024-47646-1

Funding: This work was supported in part by an institutional grant (NA18OAR4170084) to the Georgia Sea Grant College Program from the National Sea Grant Office, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce, and by a grant from the National Science Foundation (DEB 1754756).

]]> Catherine Barzler 1 1715799132 2024-05-15 18:52:12 1716312613 2024-05-21 17:30:13 0 0 news Understanding how salt marsh grass stays healthy is of crucial ecological importance, and studying the ways bacteria interact with these plants is key. Thanks to recent advances in genomic technology, Georgia Tech biologists have begun to reveal never-before-seen ecological processes.

]]>
2024-05-15T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-15T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-15 00:00:00 674019 674020 674022 674021 674023 674019 image <![CDATA[Screenshot 2024-05-15 at 1.26.57 PM.jpg]]> Georgia Tech researchers surveying field sites in the salt marshes of Sapelo Island, Georgia.

]]> image/jpeg 1715800209 2024-05-15 19:10:09 1715800209 2024-05-15 19:10:09
674020 image <![CDATA[IMG_0277.jpeg]]> Joel Kostka, the Tom and Marie Patton Distinguished Professor and associate chair for Research in the School of Biological Sciences.

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674022 image <![CDATA[PastedGraphic-3[60].jpg]]> Georgia Tech postdoctoral fellow Jose Rolando (right) and graduate student Gabrielle Krueger prepare samples for chemical analysis in the field at Sapelo Island, Georgia.

]]> image/jpeg 1715801461 2024-05-15 19:31:01 1715802529 2024-05-15 19:48:49
674021 image <![CDATA[PastedGraphic-6[93].jpg]]> Researchers washing cordgrass roots for microbial analysis.

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674023 image <![CDATA[PastedGraphic-4.jpg]]> Georgia Tech graduate student Tianze Song collects porewater samples for chemical analysis in the marsh on Sapelo Island, Georgia.

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<![CDATA[College of Sciences Announces New Minors, Ph.D. Program and Curriculum Additions]]> 36583 This fall, the College of Sciences will debut three new minors, a new Ph.D. program, and a new “4+1” B.S./M.S. degree program. 

The announcement follows curriculum updates for the 2023-24 academic year, including the launch of the Minor in the Science of Mental Health and Well-Being in the School of Psychology and the creation of three new bachelor of science degrees in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. 

“We are excited to announce these additions to the College’s portfolio of academic opportunities for our students,” says David M. Collard, senior associate dean in the College of Sciences and professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “The updates reflect our College’s growth and respond to our students’ interest in pursuing advanced study.”

The additions for the 2024-2025 academic year include: 

“4+1” B.S./M.S. Degree Program

The College offers several options for undergraduate students to earn both a bachelor of science degree and a master of science degree as a part of a “4+1” program. Students may apply to the B.S./M.S Degree Program after being at Georgia Tech for about one year. This allows them to tailor their undergraduate and graduate academic requirements to complete both degrees in a timely manner. 

Computation and Cognition Minor 

The Minor in Computation and Cognition is a highly interdisciplinary program that combines advanced computational training with the study of human cognition. Students will learn about the computational mechanisms underlying human cognition and use computational methods to better understand human cognition. Established by the School of Psychology in collaboration with the College of Computing and with support from the Schools of Physics and Mathematics, the minor is open to all students starting this fall.

There are several new courses in the School of Psychology supporting this minor, including PSYC 4690 (Sensation and Perception: A Computational Perspective) and PSYC/PHYS 4745 (Physics of Cognition). These two classes are offered as special topics this fall but will have permanent course numbers in Spring 2025. More new courses in computation and cognition are planned for the next year and beyond.  

Neuroscience and Neurotechnology Ph.D. Program, Neuroscience Minor

The new Ph.D. and minor offerings build on the recently launched Neuro Next Initiative in Research and the Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience, respectively. 

The new Neuroscience and Neurotechnology Ph.D. Program is a joint effort across the Colleges of Science, Computing and Engineering. It is focused on educating students to advance the field of neuroscience through an interdisciplinary approach, with scientists and engineers of diverse backgrounds — ultimately integrating neuroscience research and technological development to study all levels of nervous system function. The program expects to enroll its first graduate students in Fall 2025.

Approved by the Board of Regents in 2017, the interdisciplinary B.S. in Neuroscience degree enrolled more than 400 undergraduate students in 2022, and has been the fastest growing undergraduate major at Georgia Tech. The Minor in Neuroscience is set to become available during the 2024-25 academic year.  

Quantum Sciences and Technology Minor

In response to the explosion of research, development, investment, and hiring in quantum information science taking place across academia, national labs, and private industry, the School of Physics is now hosting a new Minor in Quantum Sciences and Technology

Available starting this fall, the program is open to all students, regardless of major, who are interested in learning more about quantum information theory, applications of quantum information to measurement, quantum materials, quantum computation, quantum algorithms, quantum communication, or any other quantum science related topics. The coursework includes basic training in quantum mechanics and quantum information, and a choice of quantum-related electives in physics, math, chemistry, computer science, and electrical engineering. 

The minor was established by the School of Physics in partnership with the School of Mathematics and the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry in addition to the Colleges of Computing and Engineering.

]]> lvidal7 1 1715796352 2024-05-15 18:05:52 1716223725 2024-05-20 16:48:45 0 0 news This fall, the College of Sciences will debut three new minors, a new Ph.D. program, and a new “4+1” B.S./M.S. degree program. 

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2024-05-15T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-15T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-15 00:00:00 Writer: Lindsay C. Vidal

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673414 673414 image <![CDATA[A view of Tech Tower from Crosland Tower. Photo: Georgia Tech]]> A view of Tech Tower from Crosland Tower. Photo: Georgia Tech

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<![CDATA[Georgia Tech to Offer Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Neurotechnology, New Minor]]> <![CDATA[School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences to Offer Three New Undergraduate Degrees — Including Interdisciplinary Environmental Science Major]]> <![CDATA[New Minor in the Science of Mental Health and Well-Being Launches in the School of Psychology]]>
<![CDATA[Worms Inspire Wiggly Robots That Navigate All Landscapes]]> 34541 Worms and snakes seem to wiggle their way across varying environments without needing to learn the terrain. In more complex landscapes, they move even faster, using obstacles to propel themselves forward like a person pulling themselves up a ladder.  

“They don’t alter their body-bending pattern no matter how dense the obstacles are,” said Tianyu Wang, a robotics Ph.D. student in the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines and the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. “We were curious if this process was passively controlled, meaning they don’t have to ‘think’ about how to deal with obstacles — we consider this a kind of ‘mechanical intelligence.’”

To determine if this passive control hypothesis was correct, a team of roboticists, physicists, and engineers led by Daniel Goldman, the Dunn Family Professor in the School of Physics, and Hang Lu, professor and Cecil J. “Pete” Silas Chair in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, developed a limbless robot. This robot helped them better understand the biology that makes worms and snakes so agile. The result is a robot that could be vital for missions in which humans and wheeled robots are limited, such as search and rescue, industrial maintenance, and planetary exploration.

Read more about what they discovered at Georgia Tech Research News.

]]> Tess Malone 1 1715636887 2024-05-13 21:48:07 1715704289 2024-05-14 16:31:29 0 0 news To determine if this passive control hypothesis was correct, a team of roboticists, physicists, and engineers led by Daniel Goldman, the Dunn Family Professor in the School of Physics, and Hang Lu, professor and Cecil J. “Pete” Silas Chair in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, developed a limbless robot. This robot helped them better understand the biology that makes worms and snakes so agile. The result is a robot that could be vital for missions in which humans and wheeled robots are limited, such as search and rescue, industrial maintenance, and planetary exploration.

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2024-05-13T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-13T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-13 00:00:00 Tess Malone, Senior Research Writer/Editor

tess.malone@gatech.edu

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<![CDATA[Jean Lynch-Stieglitz Named School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Chair]]> 36583 The College of Sciences is pleased to announce the appointment of Jean Lynch-Stieglitz as chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, effective September 2024.

Lynch-Stieglitz is currently a professor in the School, and her research focuses on the behavior of the Earth’s oceans and climate over the last 100,000 years. 

“I am delighted to serve as chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences,” says Lynch-Stieglitz. “I look forward to contributing to our School’s continued development and its atmosphere of inclusivity, innovation and excellence.”

“Jean’s clear vision and strong commitment to the School were apparent throughout the selection process,” says Susan Lozier, dean of the College of Sciences and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair. “She is an exceptional scholar and instructor, and I look forward to working with her in the years ahead to continue elevating the School's teaching and research missions.”

“I thank the search committee for their time and efforts,” adds Lozier. “I also want to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Greg Huey for leading the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences since 2014. Greg has done a tremendous job steering the School as chair, and I have appreciated his commitment throughout his service.” 

Meet Jean Lynch-Stieglitz

Lynch-Stieglitz joined Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences as an associate professor in 2004. She served as the Schools’ associate chair from 2015-22 and as an ADVANCE Professor for the College of Sciences from 2022-23. She is currently serving as a Jefferson Science Fellow at the Department of State.

Her research centers on changes in ocean circulation and climate since the height of the last ice age. Work in this area has helped in understanding the full range of behavior possible for the ocean/climate system, and which parts of this system may be vulnerable to change in the future. Her research combines geochemical methods for gathering data on the state of the past ocean with the analytical tools and approaches of modern oceanography. 

Lynch-Stieglitz currently serves on the Board of Reviewing Editors at Science Magazine and was editor of Earth and Planetary Science Letters from 2012-2015. She was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2015 and a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in 2019 in recognition of her work on ocean circulation changes over the transition out of the last ice age. She was also named Cesare Emiliani Lecturer by AGU in 2018, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the field of paleoceanography. 

She received a Bachelor of Science in Geology and in Physics from Duke University and a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from Columbia University. She was a faculty member at Columbia University's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory from 1996-03. 

Learn more about Jean Lynch-Stieglitz.

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 47,000 undergraduate and graduate students represent 54 U.S. states and territories and more than 143 countries. They study at the main campus in Atlanta, at campuses in France and China, or 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.

]]> lvidal7 1 1715618068 2024-05-13 16:34:28 1715696047 2024-05-14 14:14:07 0 0 news The College of Sciences is pleased to announce the appointment of Jean Lynch-Stieglitz as chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, effective September 2024.

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2024-05-13T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-13T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-13 00:00:00 Writer: Lindsay C. Vidal

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670961 670961 image <![CDATA[Jean Lynch-Stieglitz]]> Jean Lynch-Stieglitz

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<![CDATA[Jean Lynch-Stieglitz's Research Website]]> <![CDATA[Weaker Ocean Currents Lead to Decline in Nutrients for North Atlantic Ocean Life During Prehistoric Climate Change, Research Shows]]> <![CDATA[Jean Lynch-Stieglitz Receives Jefferson Science Fellowship]]>
<![CDATA[Tropical Revelations: Unearthing the Impacts of Hydrological Sensitivity on Global Rainfall]]> 28153 Georgia Tech researcher Jie He set out to predict how rainfall will change as Earth’s atmosphere continues to heat up. In the process, he made some unexpected discoveries that might explain how greenhouse gas emissions will impact tropical oceans, affecting climate on a global scale.

“This is not a story with just one punch line,” said He, assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, whose most recent work appeared in the journal Nature Climate Change. “I didn’t really expect to find anything this interesting—there were a few surprises.”

He is principal investigator of the Climate Modeling and Dynamics Group, which combines expertise in physics, mathematics, and computer science to study climate change. The team’s latest study, a collaboration with Mississippi State University and Princeton University, examines hydrological sensitivity in the planet’s three tropical basins: the central portions of both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and most of the Indian Ocean, an equatorial belt girding the Earth between the Tropic of Cancer (north) and Tropic of Capricorn (south).

Hydrological sensitivity (HS) refers to the precipitation change per degree of surface warming. Hydrological sensitivity is a key metric researchers use in evaluating or predicting how rainfall will respond to future climate change. Positive HS indicates a wetter climate, while negative HS indicates a drier climate.

“The projection of hydrological sensitivity and future precipitation has been widely investigated, but most studies look at global averages — nobody had yet looked closely at each individual basin,” He said. “And the real impact on global climate change will come from the regional scale.”

In other words, what happens in tropical waters has far-reaching effects.

Long Reach of the Tropics

He wanted to specifically examine the tropical basins because they already have a well-known influence on remote locations: El Niños and La Niñas. These weather patterns that shift every couple of years are examples of tropical oceanic precipitation changes that have a global impact.

“These precipitation changes create heating and cooling in the atmosphere that set off atmospheric waves affecting remote climates across the globe,” He said. During El Niño winters, for example, the southeastern U.S. typically gets more precipitation than usual.

But El Niños and La Niñas are naturally occurring, whereas the tropical precipitation changes He identified are projected as outcomes of human-induced global warming — a simulation, part of a climate model.

Climate models are an essential tool for He and other researchers, who use them to simulate possible future scenarios. These are computer programs that rely on complex math equations to project the atmospheric interactions of energy and matter likely to occur across the planet.

What surprised He was the substantial difference in HS between tropical basins. Essentially, in He’s model the Pacific tropical basin has an HS more than twice as large as the Indian basin, with the Atlantic basin projected as a negative value.

“It was surprising because these differences can’t be explained by the mainstream theories on tropical precipitation changes,” He said. “In other words, none of the theories we knew would have predicted it.”

Modeling the Sensitive Future

The effects of such diverging hydrological sensitivity would be widespread, according to He. For example, his experiments suggest that the continental U.S. will get wetter, and the Amazon will become drier.

“If these model projections are true, these effects will materialize as the climate continues to warm,” said He, who can’t predict exactly how long it will be before these effects can be detected in actual observations of our three-dimensional world.

That’s because they only have reliable observations of oceanic tropical precipitation since 1979. Precipitation changes over decades are strongly affected by internal climate variability — that is, climate change that isn’t caused by humans. When human-induced precipitation changes are significantly greater than internal climate variability, we should be able to detect the wide-ranging effects of diverging hydrological sensitivity.

But the challenges of continuing climate change do not allow the luxury of waiting until every aspect of climate projection becomes a reality, He noted, adding, “We are relying on climate projections to some extent to guide our adaptation and mitigation plans. Therefore, it is important to study and understand the climate projections.”

Based on the scenario projected by climate models used in He’s research, the effects of El Niños and La Niñas on remote climates will become stronger.

“What we can imply is that this strengthening would be partly due to the diverging HS among tropical basins,” He concluded.

While the future effects of HS on El Niños and La Niñas weren’t discussed in this study, He believes it would make a very interesting research subject going forward.

 

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1715225888 2024-05-09 03:38:08 1715692877 2024-05-14 13:21:17 0 0 news Georgia Tech researcher Jie He investigated how rainfall will change as Earth’s atmosphere heats up, leading to unexpected discoveries about hydrological sensitivity in tropical basins. 

]]>
2024-05-08T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-08T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-08 00:00:00 Jerry Grillo

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673964 673964 image <![CDATA[Jie He]]> Jie He, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, wants to predict how rainfall will change in the presence of continuing climate change. — Photo by Jerry Grillo

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<![CDATA[Weaker Ocean Currents Lead to Decline in Nutrients for North Atlantic Ocean Life During Prehistoric Climate Change, Research Shows]]> 35599 Georgia Tech researchers have finished investigating how the prehistoric weakening of a major ocean current led to a decline in ocean nutrients and negative impacts on North Atlantic ocean life. The results support predictions about how our oceans might react to a changing climate — and what that means for ocean life.

The North Atlantic ocean is a hub of biological activity, due in large part to the Gulf Stream, which supplies a rich current of nutrients. Scientists have speculated that our changing climate may lead to a decline of nutrients and biological activity in the North Atlantic due to a weakening of the ocean circulation — but this theory has previously been supported only by models. 

Now, by studying sediments buried at the Gulf Stream’s origin, the team has conducted a first-of-its-kind investigation into the impact of a similar climate-induced decline nearly 13,000 years ago, when Earth exited the last ice age.

The paper, “A Diminished North Atlantic Nutrient Stream During Younger Dryas Climate Reversal” was published in Science this week. Led by Jean Lynch-Stieglitz, a professor in the School of Earth of Atmospheric Sciences, the team also included Lynch-Stieglitz’s past students: Tyler Vollmer, Shannon Valley, and Eric Blackmon, along with Sifan Gu (Jiao Tong University School of Oceanography), and Thomas Marchitto (University of Colorado, Boulder).

“The research tests a concept that has previously only been explored in theory and models,” Lynch-Stieglitz says. “The large-scale Atlantic overturning circulation provides the nutrients that underly biological productivity in the North Atlantic.” 

Since the current is expected to continue weakening over the next century as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, researchers anticipate that the North Atlantic will receive fewer and fewer nutrients.

“This concept has real-world implications for the future health of the oceans and fisheries,” Lynch-Stieglitz explains. Impacts range from a decline in fish populations to potentially impacting the amount of CO2 the ocean can uptake. 

“The dramatic climate changes the Earth has experienced in the past can help us understand what parts of the Earth system are vulnerable to change, and help us evaluate ideas about the impacts of the ongoing climate change,” she adds.

An unlikely mystery

The team studied the Younger Dryas, a period of time during the transition out of the last ice age when there was a weakening of the Atlantic circulation. By examining how the nutrient stream changed when circulation weakened in the past, the researchers hoped to better understand what we may expect from today's warming oceans.

However, the team didn’t initially set out with this goal in mind — the work began as an undergraduate research project with an intriguing mystery. Eric Blackmon, then a student in Lynch-Stieglitz’s lab, was interested in investigating the disappearance of a species of plankton from the North Atlantic Ocean during the last ice age.

“The outcome of this study was puzzling,” Lynch-Stieglitz recalls. The team decided to use a rarely used technique to better understand the results. The method of reconstructing seawater oxygen concentration produced an unusually clear record of how oxygen concentration in the seawater had changed through time. 

“Our team realized that when combined with an earlier reconstruction of seawater chemistry, the technique provided key information on the history and mechanisms of nutrient delivery into the North Atlantic Ocean,” Lynch-Stieglitz says. “We set out to answer a small question, and along the way discovered our data has broader implications than we anticipated.”

Beautiful tiny shells

With this new technique, the team analyzed layers of sediment in the Florida Straits, a narrow passage between the Florida Keys and Cuba, where the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean meet. By coring into these layers and taking a cylindrical sample, “the layers of accumulating sediments provide an environmental history at the site,” Lynch-Stieglitz explains. In this instance, “we looked at how the shells of single-celled organisms called foraminifera changed with time.” Because foraminifera live on the ocean floor, their shells accumulate within each layer of sediment, preserving important chemical signatures that can be used to reconstruct the chemistry of the ocean in which they resided.

“It is pretty amazing that ocean chemistry of the past can be reconstructed in such detail using beautiful, tiny shells,” Lynch-Stieglitz says.

The research showed that during the Younger Dryas, as the overturning circulation weakened, nutrients in the Gulf Stream decreased and the amount of oxygen in the Florida Straits increased. The team also found that as the nutrient stream decreased, the amount of biological productivity in the North Atlantic decreased as well.

“The study represents an important development of the carbon isotope-based proxy for past oxygen concentrations,” Lynch-Stieglitz says. “The record is very clean, and the magnitude and timing of the changes in dissolved oxygen are mirrored to an astonishing degree in the phosphate reconstruction.”

Beyond climate

Beyond these findings about how the ocean works, the team’s study of foraminifera also provides new ways to understand how nutrients are cycled around the ocean, and how we investigate this. These windows into how Earth’s oceans changed in the past provide a critical tool for testing models, letting us better predict how our oceans and the resources they provide may respond to climate change in the future.

“The physical changes in the earth system can have profound changes on life in the ocean, and far-reaching impacts,” Lynch-Stieglitz notes. “Climate change is about more than climate,” 

 

 

This study was supported by National Science Foundation grant OCE-1459563 (J.L.-S.) and National Science Foundation grant OCE-1851900 (J.L.-S.).

DOI: science.org/doi/10.1126/science.adi5543

]]> sperrin6 1 1715349866 2024-05-10 14:04:26 1715364861 2024-05-10 18:14:21 0 0 news In a first-of-its kind study, Georgia Tech researchers have investigated how the prehistoric weakening of a major ocean current led to a decline in ocean nutrients and negative impacts on North Atlantic ocean life. The results support predictions about how our oceans might react to a changing climate — and what that means for ocean life.

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2024-05-10T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-10T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-10 00:00:00 Written by Selena Langner

 

]]>
673977 673975 673976 673977 image <![CDATA[Taking a sediment core from the Florida Straits.]]> image/jpeg 1715350068 2024-05-10 14:07:48 1715350068 2024-05-10 14:07:48 673975 image <![CDATA[“It is pretty amazing that ocean chemistry of the past can be reconstructed in such detail using beautiful, tiny shells,” Lynch-Stieglitz says.]]> image/jpeg 1715350068 2024-05-10 14:07:48 1715350068 2024-05-10 14:07:48 673976 image <![CDATA[Foraminifera shells accumulated within each layer of sediment, preserving important chemical signatures.]]> image/jpeg 1715350068 2024-05-10 14:07:48 1715350068 2024-05-10 14:07:48 <![CDATA[A diminished North Atlantic nutrient stream during Younger Dryas climate reversal]]>
<![CDATA[Researchers Awarded $2.6 Million NIH Grant to Use AI to Advance Exoskeleton Assistance Post Stroke]]> 35575 Faculty from the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, including Associate Professors Gregory Sawicki and Aaron Young, have been awarded a five-year, $2.6 million Research Project Grant (R01) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

“We are grateful to our NIH sponsor for this award to improve treatment of post-stroke individuals using advanced robotic solutions,” said Young, who is also affiliated with Georgia Tech's Neuro Next Initiative.

The R01 will support a project focused on using optimization and artificial intelligence to personalize exoskeleton assistance for individuals with symptoms resulting from stroke. Sawicki and Young will collaborate with researchers from the Emory Rehabilitation Hospital including Associate Professor Trisha Kesar.

“As a stroke researcher, I am eagerly looking forward to making progress on this project, and paving the way for leading-edge technologies and technology-driven treatment strategies that maximize functional independence and quality of life of people with neuro-pathologies," said Kesar.

The intervention for study participants will include a training therapy program that will use biofeedback to increase the efficiency of exosuits for wearers.   

Kinsey Herrin, senior research scientist in the Woodruff School and Neuro Next Initiative affiliate, explained the extended benefits of the study, including being able to increase safety for stroke patients who are moving outdoors. “One aspect of this project is testing our technologies on stroke survivors as they're walking outside. Being outside is a small thing that many of us take for granted, but a devastating loss for many following a stroke.”  

Sawicki, who is also an associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences and core faculty in Georgia Tech's Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, is also looking forward to the project. "This new project is truly a tour de force that leverages a highly talented interdisciplinary team of engineers, clinical scientists, and prosthetics/orthotics experts who all bring key elements needed to build assistive technology that can work in real-world scenarios."

]]> adavidson38 1 1715361895 2024-05-10 17:24:55 1715362661 2024-05-10 17:37:41 0 0 news Mechanical engineering researchers Gregory Sawicki and Aaron Young recently received $2.6 million from NIH to pursue a project focused on using optimization and artificial intelligence to personalize exoskeleton assistance for individuals with symptoms resulting from stroke.

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2024-05-10T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-10T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-10 00:00:00 Chloe Arrington
Communications Officer II
George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

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673980 673980 image <![CDATA[Greg-Sawicki-and-Aaron-Young_0.jpg]]> Mechanical Engineering and Biological Sciences Associate Professor Gregory Sawicki (left) and Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Aaron Young.

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<![CDATA[Universal Controller Could Push Robotic Prostheses, Exoskeletons Into Real-World Use]]> <![CDATA[1,000 Steps for 100 Days in High Heels May Help Improve Walking]]> <![CDATA[Georgia Tech Partners on $15M NSF Grant to Explore Muscle Dynamics]]>
<![CDATA[Science Square Ushers in New Era of Research]]> 35798 Against the breathtaking backdrop of Midtown, Georgia Tech recently hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of Science Square's first phase. In collaboration with its partner, Trammell Crow Company (TCC), the Institute celebrated the opening of this cutting-edge space dedicated to scientific discovery.

Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera underscored the transformative power of partnerships like the one with TCC that has enabled Tech to create this space for innovation and collaboration, declaring, “Talent alone is not sufficient. We need to create spaces where ideas and talent can translate into solutions, businesses, startups, and economic opportunity!”

The purpose-built tower stands ready to welcome science and medical researchers. It’s a new dawn for Atlanta, said Katherine Lynch, TCC’s vice president, who emphasized the importance of this being the city’s first innovation district: “Today, we celebrate an important milestone: the opening of Science Square — the premier innovation district in the Southeast!” Lynch also spoke of Science Square’s pivotal role of providing Atlanta with the unique opportunity to “attract and retain these companies that would otherwise seek commercial lab space in other cities and states.”

The ceremony also paid tribute to the legacy of Professor Robert Nerem, a trailblazer in biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech. His vision led to the establishment of Project ENGAGES, which focuses on supporting high school students from underserved communities who are underrepresented in STEM. In a grand gesture of commitment to education, TCC presented a generous donation to the high school science education program. Lakeita Servance, assistant director of Outreach Initiatives at Georgia Tech, expressed gratitude for the endowment, saying, "We are immensely thankful that the Trammell Crow Company has decided to provide an endowment to Project ENGAGES to ensure the legacy of the program continues for many more years.”

In bringing the ceremony to a close, Atlanta City Councilman Byron Amos highlighted Science Square’s numerous benefits, including the development of an environment conducive to both work and recreation, funds allocated for community training initiatives, and the potential creation of 3,000 jobs. Noting that his District 3 is home to Science Square, Amos said, “Science Square has been what the relationship between the institution, a community, state and local elected leaders, and a developer really should look like. It has set the bar high for future plans".

]]> Ayana Isles 1 1714657300 2024-05-02 13:41:40 1715118273 2024-05-07 21:44:33 0 0 news Georgia Tech recently hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of Science Square's first phase. In collaboration with its partner, Trammell Crow Company (TCC), the Institute celebrated the opening of this cutting-edge space dedicated to scientific discovery.

]]>
2024-05-02T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-02T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-02 00:00:00 Ayana Isles

Senior Media Relations Representative

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673916 673916 video <![CDATA[Science Square Opens in Atlanta]]> Georgia Tech and the Trammell Crow Company have launched the first phase of Science Square, a pioneering mixed-use development dedicated to biological sciences and medical research. A ribbon-cutting ceremony April 25 heralded the opening to the Atlanta community and all businesses, universities, and organizations that conduct work in these fields.

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<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Breaks Ground on Science Square]]> <![CDATA[New Science and Medical Research Hub Opens in Atlanta]]>
<![CDATA[ Generating Buzz: Climate Change Takes Center Stage]]> 34528

April is Earth Month, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2023 was the warmest year on record for our planet. As the global conversation around the climate and humans’ effect on it continues, Georgia Tech researchers are taking a leading role in quantifying the issues posed by climate change and crafting solutions for the road ahead. 

The latest episode of Generating Buzz follows the College of Sciences’ Frontiers in Science event, giving listeners an opportunity to hear from experts, including dean and renowned oceanographer Susan Lozier, Associate Professor Alex Robel, Professor Valerie Thomas, and Associate Vice President of Sustainability Jennifer Chirico as they explore the intersection of science, policy, and human nature. 

Listen to the conversation in the Georgia Tech newsroom.

]]> jhunt7 1 1715117987 2024-05-07 21:39:47 1715118021 2024-05-07 21:40:21 0 0 news The latest episode of Generating Buzz follows the College of Sciences’ Frontiers in Science event, giving listeners an opportunity to hear from experts.

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2024-04-30T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-30T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-30 00:00:00 673960 673960 image <![CDATA[Ice caps]]> Ice caps

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<![CDATA[FishStalkers Offers Campus Research Opportunities for Online Students ]]> 34528 From her home more than 800 miles away, Georgia Tech online master's student Jasmine Tata is monitoring fish in aquariums at Georgia Tech.

Tata is a New York-based QA analyst and project manager. She started the Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS) program in Fall 2022 and joined FishStalkers last year.

The student-led research program is part of the School of Biological Sciences' McGrath Lab. Its researchers use machine learning, computer vision, and other technologies to better understand the evolution of animal behaviors.

One of the lab's research projects studies Lake Malawi cichlids to explore connections between observed behavior and brain function.

The FishStalkers are vital to the project. They collect video, depth, and other data from individual fish using Raspberry Pi single-board computers. This information, coupled with open-source code they developed, allows the group to track, monitor, and classify the behaviors of a fish as it builds and maintains its bower, which is a sand structure these cichlids use to attract mates.

Read the full story in the College of Computing newsroom.

]]> jhunt7 1 1715116486 2024-05-07 21:14:46 1715117562 2024-05-07 21:32:42 0 0 news From her home more than 800 miles away, Georgia Tech online master's student Jasmine Tata is monitoring fish in aquariums at Georgia Tech. The student-led research program is part of the School of Biological Sciences' McGrath Lab. Its researchers use machine learning, computer vision, and other technologies to better understand the evolution of animal behaviors.

]]>
2024-05-04T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-04T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-04 00:00:00 673959 673959 image <![CDATA[Researchers are studying Lake Malawi cichlids to explore connections between observed behavior and brain function.]]> Researchers are studying Lake Malawi cichlids to explore connections between observed behavior and brain function.

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<![CDATA[Physicists Pioneer New Quantum Sensing Platform]]> 35599 Quantum sensors detect the smallest of environmental changes — for example, an atom reacting to a magnetic field. As these sensors “read” the unique behaviors of subatomic particles, they also dramatically improve scientists’ ability to measure and detect changes in our wider environment.

Monitoring these tiny changes results in a wide range of applications — from improving navigation and natural disaster forecasting, to smarter medical imaging and detection of biomarkers of disease, gravitational wave detection, and even better quantum communication for secure data sharing.

Georgia Tech physicists are pioneering new quantum sensing platforms to aid in these efforts. The research team’s latest study, “Sensing Spin Wave Excitations by Spin Defects in Few-Layer Thick Hexagonal Boron Nitride” was published in Science Advances this week. 

The research team includes School of Physics Assistant Professors Chunhui (Rita) Du and Hailong Wang (corresponding authors) alongside fellow Georgia Tech researchers Jingcheng Zhou, Mengqi Huang, Faris Al-matouq, Jiu Chang, Dziga Djugba, and Professor Zhigang Jiang and their collaborators. 

An ultra-sensitive platform

The new research investigates quantum sensing by leveraging color centers — small defects within crystals (Du’s team uses diamonds and other 2D layered materials) that allow light to be absorbed and emitted, which also give the crystal unique electronic properties. 

By embedding these color centers into a material called hexagonal boron nitride (hBN), the team hoped to create an extremely sensitive quantum sensor — a new resource for developing next-generation, transformative sensing devices. 

For its part, hBN is particularly attractive for quantum sensing and computing because it could contain defects that can be manipulated with light — also known as "optically active spin qubits."

The quantum spin defects in hBN are also very magnetically sensitive, and allow scientists to “see” or “sense” in more detail than other conventional techniques. In addition, the sheet-like structure of hBN is compatible with ultra-sensitive tools like nanodevices, making it a particularly intriguing resource for investigation.

The team’s research has resulted in a critical breakthrough in sensing spin waves, Du says, explaining that “in this study, we were able to detect spin excitations that were simply unattainable in previous studies.” 

Detecting spin waves is a fundamental component of quantum sensing, because these phenomena can travel for long distances, making them an ideal candidate for energy-efficient information control, communication, and processing.

The future of quantum

“For the first time, we experimentally demonstrated two-dimensional van der Waals quantum sensing — using few-layer thick hBN in a real-world environment,” Du explains, underscoring the potential the material holds for precise quantum sensing. “Further research could make it possible to sense electromagnetic features at the atomic scale using color centers in thin layers of hBN.”

Du also emphasizes the collaborative nature of the research, highlighting the diverse skill sets and resources of researchers within Georgia Tech. 

“Within the School of Physics, Professor Zhigang Jiang's research group provided the team with high-quality hBN crystals. Jingcheng Zhou, who is a member of both Professor Hailong Wang’s and my research teams, performed the cutting-edge quantum sensing measurements,” she says. “Many incredible students also helped with this project.”

Du is a leading scientist in the field of quantum sensing — this year, she received a new grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, along with a Sloan Research Fellowship for her pioneering work on developing state-of-the-art quantum sensing techniques for quantum information technology applications. The prestigious Sloan award recognizes researchers whose “creativity, innovation, and research accomplishments make them stand out as the next-generation of leaders in the fields.” 


 

 

DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adk8495

This work is supported by the U. S. National Science Foundation (NSF) under award No. DMR-2342569, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under award No. FA9550-20-1-0319 and its Young Investigator Program under award No. FA9550-21-1-0125, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) under grant No. N00014-23-1-2146, NASA-REVEALS SSERVI (CAN No. NNA17BF68A), and NASA-CLEVER SSERVI (CAN No. 80NSSC23M0229).

 

]]> sperrin6 1 1714660072 2024-05-02 14:27:52 1715103688 2024-05-07 17:41:28 0 0 news Georgia Tech physicists are investigating quantum sensing and leveraging cutting-edge techniques — embedding color centers in a 2D layered material called hexagonal boron nitride (hBN). The researchers’ results have created a new resource for developing next-generation, ultra-sensitive quantum electronic devices.

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2024-05-02T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-02T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-02 00:00:00 Written by Selena Langner

Contact: Jess Hunt-Raston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

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673921 673922 673921 image <![CDATA[Credit: Unsplash]]> image/jpeg 1714660107 2024-05-02 14:28:27 1714660107 2024-05-02 14:28:27 673922 image <![CDATA[From left to right: Hailong Wang, Jingcheng Zhou, Chunhui (Rita Du)]]> image/jpeg 1714660107 2024-05-02 14:28:27 1714660107 2024-05-02 14:28:27
<![CDATA[Secretary of Energy Announces a Tri-City Alliance With Georgia Tech for Scalable, Equitable, and Innovative Clean Energy Solutions]]> 36413 On a recent visit to the Georgia Tech campus, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm announced that a tri-city alliance of Atlanta, Decatur, and Savannah in partnership with Georgia Tech will receive funding to drive clean energy solutions.

The funding is part of DOE’s Energy Future Grants program, and the Atlanta-Decatur-Savannah partners will receive $500,000 during the planning phase to develop initiatives, policies, and tools to promote green energy deployment in their communities. In total, the grants will provide $27 million in financial and technical assistance to support strategies that increase resiliency and improve access to affordable clean energy. The team will compete with other recipients for additional funding in subsequent phases of the program.

The Georgia Energyshed (G-SHED) team, led by Richard Simmons of the Strategic Energy Institute, will partner with the tri-city team in this project. The modeling and simulation-driven analysis from G-SHED will be used by the Tri-City Alliance project to develop deployment-ready blueprints of clean energy innovations focused on community benefits.

The G-SHED team, formed through another DOE grant, is developing a metropolitan energy planning organization informed by an integrated modeling effort that includes technical, social, and community inputs. Georgia Tech is collaborating with the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Southface Institute in this project. 

Granholm said announcing the funding at Georgia Tech was fitting because its tools “are going to be magnificent for this project for communities to decide the best path for them based on data.” Atlanta Mayor Andrew Dickens, U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, and several other dignitaries were present during the announcement. Secretary Granholm toured parts of the Georgia Tech campus including the Carbon Neutral Energy Solutions building during her visit.

“It’s exciting when the Secretary of Energy makes a special trip to campus to announce a new Award. I appreciate Secretary Granholm and the Department of Energy for enabling this innovative energy partnership with Atlanta, Decatur, and Savannah,” said Tim Lieuwen, executive director of the Strategic Energy Institute.

]]> pdevarajan3 1 1714575094 2024-05-01 14:51:34 1714749188 2024-05-03 15:13:08 0 0 news On a recent visit to the Georgia Tech campus, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm announced that a tri-city alliance of Atlanta, Decatur, and Savannah in partnership with Georgia Tech will receive funding to drive clean energy solutions.

]]>
2024-04-24T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-24T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-24 00:00:00 Priya Devarajan || SEI Communications Program Manager

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673903 673902 673903 image <![CDATA[Tim SOE Visit Photo-LR.jpg]]> From the Left: SEI Executive Director Tim Lieuwen, U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, Georgia Tech Student Azell Francis, Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Mayor Andrew Dickens

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673902 image <![CDATA[Secretary Granholm Visit April 2024 - Image2]]> From the Left: Richard Simmons (SEI), Jordann Shields (SEI), Chandra Farley (City of Atlanta), John R Seydel (City of Atlanta), Catherine Mercier-Baggett (Southeast Sustainability Directors Network), Rachel Usher (SSDN), Tony Powers (City of Decatur), Andrea Arnold (City of Decatur), Tim Lieuwen (SEI)

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<![CDATA[Cellular Study Uncovers 'Whole-Body' Impacts of Endurance Exercise]]> 34528 In a group of papers released May 1 in the journal Nature, scientists are one step closer to a whole-body map of the body’s cellular responses to endurance exercise — identifying striking “all tissue effects” of training, even in tissues from organs not normally associated with movement.

The findings are the latest product of the Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity Consortium (MoTrPAC), a ten-year effort launched in 2016 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to uncover how exercise improves and maintains our health at the molecular level.

Georgia Institute of Technology bioanalytical chemist Facundo Fernández and Emory University biochemist Eric Ortlund lead one of the Consortium’s Chemical Analysis Sites, joining researchers across the country to collect and translate data from animals and more than 2,000 volunteers into comprehensive maps of the cellular changes throughout the body in response to exercise.

The $226 million MoTrPAC NIH Common Fund investment also hopes to help people with chronic illnesses identify specific physical activities to improve individual health, and to potentially unearth therapeutic targets — medicines that might mimic the positive effects of exercise.

MoTrPAC’s latest group of papers details data from studies in rats, uncovering how endurance exercise affects biological molecules and “all tissues of the body,” as well as tissues and gene expression, along with striking tissue differences between male and female organisms.

Read more:

 

Facundo M. Fernandez, is Regents’ Professor and Vasser Woolley Foundation Chair in Bioanalytical Chemistry at Georgia Tech. He also serves as associate editor of the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (JASMS).

Eric Ortlund is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Emory University and a member of the Discovery and Developmental Therapeutics Research Program at Winship Cancer Institute.

Study co-authors from Georgia Tech also include David A. Gaul (School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, along with Samuel G. Moore (Petit Institute of Bioengineering and Biosciences). Emory University co-authors also include Tiantian Zhang and Zhenxin Hou (Department of Biochemistry).

 

Funding: The MoTrPAC Study is supported by multiple NIH grants and institutes, as well as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, and NORC at the University of Chicago.

NIH grants include: U24OD026629 (Bioinformatics Center), U24DK112349, U24DK112342, U24DK112340, U24DK112341, U24DK112326, U24DK112331, U24DK112348 (Chemical Analysis Sites), U01AR071133, U01AR071130, U01AR071124, U01AR071128, U01AR071150, U01AR071160, U01AR071158 (Clinical Centers), U24AR071113 (Consortium Coordinating Center), U01AG055133, U01AG055137 and U01AG055135 (PASS/Animal Sites); as well as NHGRI Institutional Training Grant in Genome Science 5T32HG000044; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institute of Health F32 postdoctoral fellowship award F32HL154711; National Institute on Aging P30AG044271 and P30AG003319.

 

]]> jhunt7 1 1714682454 2024-05-02 20:40:54 1714682699 2024-05-02 20:44:59 0 0 news Exercise is good for you. To understand why, MoTrPAC scientists are creating a whole-body map of molecular responses to endurance training — finding striking “all tissue effects” in a new set of studies, featured on this month’s cover of the journal Nature.

]]>
2024-05-02T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-02T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-02 00:00:00 Press Contacts:

Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences
Georgia Tech

Anthony (Tony) Van Witsen
Health Sciences Writer
Woodruff Health Sciences Center
Emory University

Andréa Harris, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., S.C.P.M.
Health Science Policy Analyst
Office of Strategic Coordination – The Common Fund
Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives
Office of the Director, NIH

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673933 636490 673933 image <![CDATA[The May 2024 cover of the journal Nature, featuring MoTrPAC findings.]]> image/jpeg 1714682479 2024-05-02 20:41:19 1714682479 2024-05-02 20:41:19 636490 image <![CDATA[Facundo M. Fernandez and Eric Ortlund ]]> image/jpeg 1593099266 2020-06-25 15:34:26 1714682596 2024-05-02 20:43:16 <![CDATA[Emory, Georgia Tech Participating in MoTrPAC Exercise Research Study]]>
<![CDATA[Why Can’t Robots Outrun Animals?]]> 35575 Robots that can run, jump, and even talk have shifted from the stuff of science fiction to reality in the past few decades. Yet even in robots specialized for specific movements like running, animals are still able to outmaneuver the most advanced robotic developments. 

Georgia Tech’s Simon Sponberg recently collaborated with researchers at the University of Washington, Simon Fraser University, University of Colorado Boulder, and Stanford Research Institute to answer one deceptively complex question: Why can’t robots outrun animals? 

“This work is about trying to understand how, despite have some really amazing robots, there still seems to be a gulf between the capabilities of animal movement and what we can engineer,” says Sponberg, who is Dunn Family Associate Professor in the School of Physics and School of Biological Sciences

Recently published in Science Robotics, their study systematically examines a suite of biological and robotic runners to figure out how to further advance our best robotic designs. 

“In robotics design we are often very component focused — we are used to having to establish specifications for the parts that we need and then finding the best component solution,” said Sponberg, who also serves on the executive committee for Georgia Tech's Neuro Next Initiative. “This is of course not how evolution works. We wondered if we systematically analyzed the performance of animals in the same component way that we design robots, if we might see an obvious gap.” 

The gap turns out not to be in the function of individual robotic components, but rather the ability of those components to work together in the seamless way biological components do, highlighting a field of opportunity for new research in robotic development. 

“This means that the frontier is not necessarily figuring out how to design better motors or sensors or controllers,” says Sponberg, “but rather how to integrate them together — this is where biology really excels.” 

Read more about man versus machine and the future of bioinspired robotics here.

]]> adavidson38 1 1713987118 2024-04-24 19:31:58 1714681523 2024-05-02 20:25:23 0 0 news Georgia Tech Researcher Simon Sponberg collaborates to ask why robotic advancements have yet to outpace animals — and look at what we can learn from biology to engineer new robotic designs.

]]>
2024-05-02T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-02T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-02 00:00:00 Audra Davidson
Research Communications Program Manager
Neuro Next Initiative

]]>
673838 673838 image <![CDATA[mCLARI_Spider.jpg]]> Can this small robot outrun a spider? Photo Credit: Animal Inspired Movement and Robotics Lab, CU Boulder.

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<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Partners on $15M NSF Grant to Explore Muscle Dynamics]]> <![CDATA[On The Edge: Georgia Tech Professors Awarded Curci Grants for Emerging Bio Research]]> <![CDATA[How Insects Evolved to Ultrafast Flight (And Back)]]>
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech to Offer Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Neurotechnology, New Minor]]> 34528 The University System of Georgia Board of Regents has approved a new Neuroscience and Neurotechnology Ph.D. Program at Georgia Tech.

The interdisciplinary degree is a joint effort across the Colleges of Sciences, Computing, and Engineering. The program expects to enroll its first graduate students in Fall 2025, pending approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The Institute Curriculum Committee has also approved a new Minor in Neuroscience, set to become available in the Georgia Tech 2024-2025 Catalog.

B.S. in Neuroscience

The Ph.D. and Minor offerings build on the recently launched Neuro Next Initiative in Research, and the established Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience, respectively.

Approved by the Board of Regents in 2017, the interdisciplinary B.S. in Neuroscience degree in the College of Sciences enrolled more than 400 undergraduate students in 2022, and has been  the fastest growing undergraduate major at Georgia Tech.

The B.S. in Neuroscience is also key to a strong ecosystem of undergraduate neuroscience education across the state, which includes peer programs at Mercer University, Augusta University, Georgia State University, Agnes Scott College, and Emory University.

Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Neurotechnology

The new doctoral degree will provide a path for the rapidly growing pipeline of in-state neuroscience undergraduate students and young alumni — while also welcoming a wider slate of graduate researchers to campus.

The Ph.D. Program’s mission is focused on educating students to advance the field of neuroscience through an interdisciplinary approach, with scientists and engineers of diverse backgrounds — ultimately integrating neuroscience research and technological development to study all levels of nervous system function.

Biological Sciences Professor Lewis A. Wheaton, who chaired the Ph.D. Program Planning Committee, shares that a cohort model will fuse “experimental and quantitative skill development, creating opportunities for students to work in science and engineering labs to promote collaborations, while also fostering a program and community that’s unique to the state and against national peer offerings.”

Expanding innovation — and impact

Wheaton explains that the new Ph.D. aims to equip graduates for a wide range of employment opportunities and growing specializations, including computational neuroscience, neurorehabilitation, cultural and social neuroscience, neuroimaging, cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, developmental neuroscience, and neurolinguistics.

The new degree will also help meet the country’s growing demand for a neuro-centric workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for medical scientists (including neuroscientists) tracked around 13% between 2012 and 2022, faster than the average for all tracked occupations.

Wheaton, who also serves as director of the Cognitive Motor Control Lab and director of the Center for Promoting Inclusion and Equity in the Sciences (C-PIES) at Georgia Tech, adds that the program will equip neuroscientists to conduct research that can significantly improve lives.

Seeking students

The Planning Committee anticipates a tentative February 1, 2025 application deadline for Fall 2025 enrollments — and encourages students with the following interests to learn more and apply in the coming school year:

Director search

The participating Colleges will soon conduct a search for a program director, engaging a tenured member of the Georgia Tech faculty to serve as the new program’s administrator. A graduate program committee composed of five faculty members and mentors across the Colleges of Sciences, Computing, and Engineering, will also be created.
 

 

During their April 2024 meeting, Regents also announced budget approvals and tuition changes for Georgia's 26 member institutions.

The Ph.D. Program Planning Committee included the following faculty:

 

]]> jhunt7 1 1714678870 2024-05-02 19:41:10 1714681259 2024-05-02 20:20:59 0 0 news The new Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Neurotechnology is expected to enroll its first graduate students in Fall 2025. The interdisciplinary degree is a joint effort with the Colleges of Sciences, Computing, and Engineering. Sciences will also offer a new Minor in Neuroscience, beginning Fall 2024.

]]>
2024-05-02T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-02T00:00:00-04:00 2024-05-02 00:00:00 Programs:

Press Contact:
Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

Neuro Next Initiative:

Sarah Peterson
Program Manager
GT Neuro

Audra Davidson
Research Communications Program Manager
Neuro Next Initiative at Georgia Tech

 

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673931 673931 image <![CDATA[Georgia Tech (Allison Carter)]]> image/jpeg 1714680532 2024-05-02 20:08:52 1714680532 2024-05-02 20:08:52 <![CDATA[Georgia Tech to Launch Interdisciplinary Neurosciences Research Program]]> <![CDATA[New Minor in the Science of Mental Health and Well-Being Launches]]> <![CDATA[New Georgia Tech Environmental Science Degree Launches ]]>
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech’s Space Research Initiative Hosts Yuri’s Day Symposium ]]> 34760 April 12 is a significant date in the history of exploration, as it marks the first space flight of a human, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961. This year on April 12, the Georgia Tech Space Research Initiative (Space RI) hosted an event highlighting the Institute’s interdisciplinary space research. The Yuri’s Day Symposium was Space RI’s first public event.

A multidisciplinary initiative, the Space RI brings together faculty, researchers, and students from across campus who share a passion for space exploration. Their combined research explores a broad array of space-related topics, all considered from a human perspective.

“Launching Georgia Tech’s Space Research Initiative reinforces our commitment to advancing our understanding of space and our universe,” said Executive Vice President for Research Chaouki Abdallah. “It is also a testament to Georgia Tech's unwavering dedication to pushing the limits of what is possible and to fostering innovations that benefit humankind.”

The symposium was organized by Glenn Lightsey, interim executive director of the Space RI, and the Space RI steering committee, which consists of representatives from the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) and the Colleges of Engineering, Computing, and Sciences, the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, and the Scheller College of Business. The day began with remarks from Research leadership and an overview of the Space RI and its mission. “This is an exciting time for space exploration at Georgia Tech and across the world,” Lightsey said. “Space research is a critical part of solving our world’s most challenging problems and improving life for everyone on Earth.”

Space research and exploration yield many societal benefits that improve life on Earth and even foster economic growth. These advances include rapidly evolving technologies, improvements in medicine, and the development of enhanced materials — such as self-healing materials and those designed for extreme environments. Additionally, space research provides essential tools, data, and insights for climate scientists.

Sessions and panels throughout the day covered space science, space media, NASA’s Moon to Mars program, GTRI’s space research program, commercial space initiatives, and space in popular culture. A.C. Charania, NASA’s chief technologist and a Georgia Tech alumnus, delivered the keynote address. He shared insights into his work at NASA and Moon to Mars.

Following the symposium, the Space RI hosted a “star party” at the Georgia Tech Observatory. People of all ages gathered at the event, where they could use the observatory’s telescope to observe the moon, Jupiter, and the Orion Nebula, an immense cloud of dust and gas from which new stars are born.

“It was a clear night, and we were able to view the lunar terminator — the boundary where the sun is setting on the moon — which accentuates craters and mountains,” said Lightsey. “It was exciting to officially launch our initiative on a day when the world celebrated space exploration and the star party was a fantastic way to end our event.”

In July 2025, the Space RI will transition into one of Georgia Tech’s Interdisciplinary Research Institutes. Learn more about the initiative at space.gatech.edu.

Sign up to receive space news and event updates from the Space RI.

]]> Laurie Haigh 1 1714494190 2024-04-30 16:23:10 1714594301 2024-05-01 20:11:41 0 0 news The event brought together faculty, researchers, and students to celebrate the Institute’s interdisciplinary space research.

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2024-04-30T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-30T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-30 00:00:00 Laurie Haigh
Research Communications

]]>
673892 673892 image <![CDATA[Space Research Photo]]> image/jpeg 1714494546 2024-04-30 16:29:06 1714498807 2024-04-30 17:40:07 <![CDATA[New Multidisciplinary Initiative Marks Golden Age for Space Research]]>
<![CDATA[One in a Million ]]> 36418 In the weeks after Commencement, Andrew Rogers, a master's medical physics candidate, will begin looking for a place to live in Texas for his residency, take a family vacation to Alaska, and return to his hometown of Augusta, Georgia, to pack for his big move.  

But a busy travel schedule is nothing new for Rogers. Diagnosed with hepatoblastoma at the age of 3, he spent over a decade traveling between Augusta, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, with lengthy hospital stays in between, undergoing treatment for the rare childhood liver cancer.  

Given a prognosis with a "one-in-a-million" chance of survival, Rogers had two liver transplants before the cancer spread to his lungs and brain. In total, he endured 50 surgeries before his 13th birthday, and it was during the countless trips to Atlanta that he dreamed of two things — attending Georgia Tech and making a difference for kids facing similar struggles.  

Unlike chemotherapy or other procedures, Rogers found radiation therapy to be a painless experience, in part thanks to the radiation therapists administering the treatment.  

"They may not have thought much of it at the time, but in those moments, by playing with me, making me laugh, making me a Spiderman radiation mask, they helped me forget — even for a second — that I had cancer and helped me enjoy life. I think about that every day. I hope to one day change a child's life like my therapists did for me,” he said.  

Now 18 years cancer-free, Rogers earned a bachelor's degree in radiation therapy from Augusta University. A program director told him about Georgia Tech's medical physics program, and, since arriving at the Institute in 2021, he has sought hands-on experience in the field. Completing the clinical portion of the program through a partnership with the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Rogers learned each role within the rotation.  

"From booting up machines and checking on patients to everything else, I just started wanting to come in every day. I'd go in for free just because I love what I'm doing," he said.  

Rogers wasn't immune to the stresses of everyday college life, but he approached them with a positive perspective.  

"My parents told me that there's always a light at the end of every tunnel, and it's always going to be worth it in the end. So, I will keep telling myself and everybody else that when they're going through a hard time, keep pushing,” he said. “Things may be painful and stressful now, but think about what you will achieve in the future and the people you will help get through battles of their own. That will always keep me motivated." 

Rogers isn't done with medical appointments, but with each yearly checkup, he never tires of hearing the words he hopes to deliver in his career: "All clear." 

]]> sgagliano3 1 1714419536 2024-04-29 19:38:56 1714582915 2024-05-01 17:01:55 0 0 news Andrew Rogers was given a week to live at 3 years old. Now cancer-free, he wants to make sure no child with cancer goes through it alone.  

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2024-04-30T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-30T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-30 00:00:00 Steven Gagliano - Institute Communications

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673885 673881 673885 video <![CDATA[One in a Million]]> Andrew Rogers was given a week to live at 3 years old. Now cancer-free, he wants to make sure no child with cancer goes through it alone.

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673881 image <![CDATA[Andrew Rogers in the hospital with his dad by his side. ]]> image/png 1714420832 2024-04-29 20:00:32 1714421351 2024-04-29 20:09:11
<![CDATA[Special Edition of 'AI Magazine' Spotlights Georgia Tech's NSF AI Institutes]]> 36348 The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence released its Spring 2024 special issue of AI Magazine (Volume 45, Issue 1). This issue highlights research areas, applications, education initiatives, and public engagement led by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and USDA-NIFA-funded AI Research Institutes. It also delves into the background of the NSF’s National AI Research Institutes program, its role in shaping U.S. AI research strategy, and its future direction. Titled “Beneficial AI,” this issue showcases various AI research domains, all geared toward implementing AI for societal good.

The magazine, available as open access at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/23719621/2024/45/1a one-year effort, spearheaded and co-edited by Ashok Goel, director of the National AI-ALOE Institute and professor of computer science and human-centered computing at Georgia Tech, along with Chaohua Ou, AI-ALOE’s managing director and assistant director, Special Projects and Educational Initiatives Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at Georgia Tech, and Jim Donlon, the NSF's AI Institutes program director.

In this issue, insights into the future of AI and its societal impact are presented by the three NSF AI Institutes headquartered at Georgia Tech:

The magazine provides a comprehensive overview of how each of the 25 institutes is shaping the future of AI research.

About 'AI Magazine'

AI Magazine is an artificial intelligence magazine by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI). It is published four times each year, and is sent to all AAAI members and subscribed to by most research libraries. Back issues are available online (issues less than 18 months old are only available to AAAI members).

The purpose of AI Magazine is to disseminate timely and informative articles that represent the current state of the art in AI and to keep its readers posted on AAAI-related matters. The articles are selected to appeal to readers engaged in research and applications across the broad spectrum of AI. Although some level of technical understanding is assumed by the authors, articles should be clear enough to inform readers who work outside the particular subject area. 

To learn more, click here.

]]> Breon Martin 1 1711664686 2024-03-28 22:24:46 1714501657 2024-04-30 18:27:37 0 0 news The AAAI's Spring 2024 Special Issue of AI Magazine, titled "Beneficial AI," showcases research, applications, and education initiatives led by NSF and USDA-NIFA-funded AI Research Institutes, including insights from Georgia Tech's AI-ALOE, AI4OPT, and AI-CARING, highlighting their contributions to AI for societal good and future impact.

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2024-03-28T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-28T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-28 00:00:00 Breon Martin

AI Research Communications Manager

Georgia Tech

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673547 673547 image <![CDATA[AI Magazine 2024 Volume 45 Issue 1 Cover.png]]> The cover image was generated by Midjourney, a generative artificial intelligence program and service created and hosted by the San Francisco–based independent research lab Midjourney, Inc. Midjourney generates images from natural language descriptions, called prompts, similar to OpenAI's DALL-E and Stability AI's Stable Diffusion, responding to a prompt that included notions of, “people from various professions (teachers, nurses, farmers, engineers, and artists), working together to create and guide AI to facilitate collaboration, innovation, and problem-solving for the common good.” While this is a challenging concept for man or machine to represent in a single image, this issue’s articles describing the U.S. National AI Research Institutes will paint richer portraits.

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<![CDATA[AI Magazine: NSF's National AI Institutes | Volume 45, Issue 1]]>
<![CDATA[James Stroud Named Early Career Fellow by Ecological Society of America ]]> 34528 James T. Stroud has been named an Early Career Fellow by the Ecological Society of America.

He joins the ranks of nine newly appointed ESA Fellows and ten 2024-2028 ESA Early Career Fellows, elected for "advancing the science of ecology and showing promise for continuing contributions" and recently confirmed by the organization's Governing Board.

Stroud, an Elizabeth Smithgall Watts Early Career Assistant Professor in the School of Biological Sciences, is an integrative evolutionary ecologist who investigates how ecological and evolutionary processes may underlie patterns of biological diversity at the macro-scale.

He primarily studies lizards and his research is highly multidisciplinary, combining field studies with macro-ecological and evolutionary comparative analyses. Stroud’s current interests are particularly focused on measuring natural selection in the wild, often taking advantage of non-native lizards as natural experiments in ecology and evolution.

Earlier this month, Stroud presented his recent work at the inaugural College of Sciences Frontiers in Science: Climate Action Conference and Symposium, joining more than 20 faculty experts and 100 stakeholders from across all six colleges at Georgia Tech to discuss climate change, challenges, and solutions.

Stroud joined the Georgia Tech faculty in August 2023. He earned a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Florida International University.

"I am thrilled to recognize the exceptional contributions of our newly selected Fellows and Early Career Fellows,” says ESA President Shahid Naeem. “Their groundbreaking research, unwavering commitment to mentoring and teaching and advocacy for sound science in management and policy decisions have not only advanced ecological science but also inspired positive change within our community and beyond. We celebrate their achievements and eagerly anticipate the profound impacts they will continue to make in their careers."

ESA will formally acknowledge and celebrate its new Fellows for their exceptional achievements during a ceremony at ESA’s 2024 Annual Meeting in Long Beach, California.

 

About ESA Fellowships

ESA established its Fellows program in 2012 with the goal of honoring its members and supporting their competitiveness and advancement to leadership positions in the Society, at their institutions, and in broader society. Past ESA Fellows and Early Career Fellows are listed on the ESA Fellows page.

About ESA

The Ecological Society of America, founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 8,000 member Society publishes six journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in ecological science. Visit the ESA website at https://www.esa.org.

 

]]> jhunt7 1 1714494257 2024-04-30 16:24:17 1714494767 2024-04-30 16:32:47 0 0 news Stroud, an Elizabeth Smithgall Watts Early Career Assistant Professor in the School of Biological Sciences, joins nine newly appointed Fellows and ten Early Career Fellows, elected for "advancing the science of ecology and showing promise for continuing contributions" in the field.

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2024-04-30T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-30T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-30 00:00:00 Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

Mayda Nathan
Ecological Society of America

 

]]>
673890 673891 673890 image <![CDATA[James Stroud examines an anole (Day’s Edge Productions)]]> image/jpeg 1714494317 2024-04-30 16:25:17 1714494317 2024-04-30 16:25:17 673891 image <![CDATA[James Stroud lassos a lizard.]]> image/jpeg 1714494357 2024-04-30 16:25:57 1714494357 2024-04-30 16:25:57 <![CDATA[Long-Term Lizard Study Challenges the Rules of Evolutionary Biology]]> <![CDATA[Ecological Society of America announces 2024 Fellows]]> <![CDATA[As Temperatures Climb, Flying Insects Slower to Migrate to Cooler Elevations ]]> <![CDATA[2024 Frontiers in Science: Climate Action]]> <![CDATA[Quanta Magazine | Evolution: Fast or Slow? Lizards Help Resolve a Paradox.]]> <![CDATA[Scientific American | ‘Living Fossil’ Lizards Are Constantly Evolving — You Just Can’t See It]]> <![CDATA[The Conversation | Climate change is already forcing lizards, insects and other species to evolve – and most can’t keep up ]]> <![CDATA[The Stroud Lab at Georgia Tech]]>
<![CDATA[NSF Awards Fellowships to 60 Georgia Tech Graduate Students ]]> 27469 The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded 61 Georgia Tech students with Graduate Research Fellowships (GRF). The fellowships, valued at $159,000 each, include funding for three years of graduate study and tuition.

This year’s winners represent areas of study ranging from aerospace engineering to ocean sciences. The purpose of the GRF initiative, the oldest of NSF’s programs, is to develop experts who will contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering. Their awards total more than $9.5 million in funding, the most Georgia Tech has ever had in the program.

This year’s recipients are: 

  • Mihir Natansh Bafna  

  • Rebecca Kate Banner 

  • Bareesh Bhaduri 

  • Jessica A. Bonsu 

  • Noah S.S. Campbell 

  • Adrian Alfonso Candocia  

  • Cailey M Carpenter  

  • Katherine Elizabeth Cauffiel  

  • Michael John Cho  

  • Claudia Chu 

  • Eric Anthony Comstock 

  • Sarah Deiters 

  • Adit Desai 

  • Ramy Ghanim 

  • Hannah E. Gilbonio 

  • Callie L. Goins  

  • Ashley Alexus Goodnight 

  • Margaret Gordon 

  • Jared Nathaniel Grinberg  

  • Sean Healy 

  • Alec F. Helbling 

  • Geoffrey M. Hopping 

  • Madeline Hoyle 

  • Joy Michelle Jackson 

  • Maeve Alexandra Janecka  

  • Aulden Jones 

  • Donguk Daniel Kim 

  • Tara Hashemian Kimiavi 

  • Michael Klamkin 

  • Velin H. Kojouharov 

  • Luke Allen Kurfman 

  • Aidan S. Labrozzi 

  • Hee Jun Lee 

  • Zikang Leng 

  • Huston Locht 

  • Emma J. Menardi 

  • Yash V. Mhaskar 

  • Madeline Rose Morrell 

  • Siddharth R. Nathella 

  • Jennifer Nolan 

  • Sydney A. Oliver 

  • Isabelle A. Osuna 

  • Jorja Y. Overbey 

  • Robert Patrick Pesch 

  • Michelle T. Seeler 

  • Riya Sen 

  • Matthew So

  • Theodore St. Francis

  • Jorik Stoop 

  • Maggie Emma Straight  

  • Amanda L. Tang 

  • Albert Ting 

  • Darin Tsui 

  • Julia E. Vallier 

  • Jacqueline F. van Zyl 

  • Angel E. Vasquez 

  • Abhijeet Krishnan Venkataraman 

  • Alix Wagner 

  • Matthew Y. Wang 

  • Samuel E. Wilcox 

  • Elias G. Winterscheidt 

 

]]> Kristen Bailey 1 1713363416 2024-04-17 14:16:56 1714436471 2024-04-30 00:21:11 0 0 news Their awards total more than $9.5 million in funding, the most Georgia Tech has ever had in the program.

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2024-04-17T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-17T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-17 00:00:00 Kristen Bailey

Institute Communications

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673732 673732 image <![CDATA[Researchers in Nga Lee (Sally) Ng's lab]]> Researchers in Nga Lee (Sally) Ng's lab. Photo by Joya Chapman

]]> image/jpeg 1713363290 2024-04-17 14:14:50 1713363401 2024-04-17 14:16:41
<![CDATA[NSF Graduate Research Fellowships]]>
<![CDATA[Faculty, Staff Honored for Outstanding Work]]> 27469 The following members of the Tech community were honored at the 2024 Faculty and Staff Honors Luncheon on Friday, April 26.

 

Georgia Tech Chapter Sigma Xi Awards

Best Faculty Paper Award

Christopher Rozell
Julian T. Hightower Chair and Professor
Electrical and Computing Engineering

Sankaraleengam Alagapan
Research Scientist II
Electrical and Computing Engineering

Shu Jia
Associate Professor
Biomedical Engineering

Young Faculty Award

Juan-Pablo Correa-Baena
Assistant Professor
Materials Science and Engineering

Yue Chen
Assistant Professor
Biomedical Engineering 

Sustained Research Award

Facundo Fernandez
Regents’ and Vasser-Wooley Professor
Chemistry and Biochemistry

 

Institute Research Awards

Outstanding Achievement in Research Enterprise Enhancement

Anton Bryksin
Regents’ Professor 
Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences 

Outstanding Achievement in Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Research

Mary Frank Fox
Dean’s Distinguished Professor
Public Policy 

Outstanding Achievement in Early Career Research Award

Lindsey Rose Bullinger
Assistant Professor
Public Policy 

Outstanding Achievement in Research Innovation Award

Emmanouil (Manos) M. Tentzeris
Ed and Pat Joy Chair in Antennas
Electrical and Computer Engineering 

Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Advisor Award

Moinuddin Qureshi
Professor
Computer Science 

Outstanding Faculty Research Author Award

Feryal Özel
Chair and Professor
Physics 

Outstanding Achievement in Research Engagement and Outreach Award

Shreyes N. Melkote
Professor
Mechanical Engineering 

Outstanding Achievement in Research Program Development Award
UNCAGE-ME

Ryan P. Lively
Professor
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Krista Walton
Associate Vice President for Research Operations and Infrastructure
Research

David Sholl
Professor
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Leslie Schlag
Grants Administrator Lead
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Christopher W. Jones
Professor and John F. Brock III School Chair
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Rochelle Moses
Program and Operations Manager
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 

Outstanding Achievement in Research Program Impact Award
Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory

Dimitri Mavris
Regents' Professor and Director
Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory

Michelle R. Kirby
Senior Research Engineer
Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory

Elena Garcia
Advanced Methods Division Chief
Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory

Olivia J. Pinon Fischer
Principal Research Engineer
Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory 

 

ANAK Awards

Outstanding Faculty ANAK Award

Jacqueline Garner
Senior Lecturer
Scheller College of Business 

Outstanding Staff ANAK Award

Carolina Amero
Senior Director – Auxiliary Services
Campus Services

 

Staff Performance Awards

Acting With Ethics First Award
Library Finance

Verstell Agee
Financial Analyst
Library 

Cheryl Parker
Financial Manager II
Library

Embracing All Voices Award

Monica Jackson
Employer Connections Coordinator
Career Center

One Giant Leap Award

Brent O’Guin
Tech Strategist and Architect Senior
OIT – Enterprise App and Data 

One Small Step Award

Andrew James George
Public Services Associate II
Library 

Rachel Watts
Training Generalist Senior
Workplace Learning and Professional Development 

Service to the Community Award

Melody Foster
Unit Administrative Officer
Mechanical Engineering 

Cultivate Well-Being Award

Jamaal D. Taylor
General Safety Manager
Environmental Health and Safety  

Leading By Example in Sustainability Award

Ashley E. Carr
Finance and Operations Specialist
Procurement and Business Services 

Putting Students First Award

Marc Ebelhar
Graduate Student Success Specialist
Office of Graduate Education 

Rising Wreck Award

Casey Hayes
Systems Development Engineer Senior
OIT – Enterprise App and Data

Karena Ha Nguyen
Assistant Director of Postdoctoral Services
Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Education

Naima Barton
Assistant Director of Administrative Operations
Office of the Provost 

Leadership in Action Award

Brittany McCormick
Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications
Scheller College of Business

Monifa Skelton-Wells
Academic Program Manager
Mechanical Engineering

Excellence Award

Michelle Powell
Director
Strategic Consulting  

Capstone Design Expo

Nichelle Compton
Event Coordinator II
Mechanical Engineering

Andrea Dominguez
Program Support Coordinator
Mechanical Engineering

Amit S. Jariwala
Senior Academic Professional
Mechanical Engineering

Cary Ogletree
Building and Delivery Service Manager
Mechanical Engineering

Ashley Ritchie
Communications Manager
Mechanical Engineering

Spirit of Georgia Tech Award

Peter Lee
Creative Services Manager
Scheller College of Business

Laxminarayanan Krishnan
Laboratory Manager I
Bioengineering and Biosciences

Sherree King
Store Clerk III
Housing and Residence Life

Sarah Collins
Graphic Designer Senior
College of Engineering

 

Center for Teaching and Learning Awards

Junior Faculty Teaching Award

Anirban Mazumdar
Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering

Daniel Molzahn
Assistant Professor
Electrical and Computer Engineering

Lindsey Rose Bullinger
Assistant Professor
Public Policy 

Curriculum Innovation Awards

Francesco Fedele
Associate Professor
Civil and Environmental Engineering 

Geoffrey G. Eichholz Faculty Teaching Award

Christopher Stanzione
Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies
Psychology

Mary Hudachek-Buswell
Associate Chair and Senior Lecturer
Computing Instruction

Innovation and Excellence in Laboratory Instruction Award

Anh Le
Academic Professional 
Chemistry and Biochemistry

Innovation in Co-Curricular Education Award

Carla Gerona
Associate Professor
History and Sociology 

GTDC

Lawrence Rubin
Co-Director of GTDC and Associate Professor
International Affairs

Zachary Taylor
Co-Director of GTDC and Associate Professor
Public Policy

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award

Colin Harrison
Senior Academic Professional
Biological Sciences

Teaching Excellence Award in Online Teaching

A.J. Medford
Associate Professor
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Undergraduate Educator Award

Michael Evans
Senior Academic Professional 
Chemistry and Biochemistry 

Education Partnership Award

Saad Bhamla
Assistant Professor
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Janet Standeven
Assistant Professor
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Elio Challita
Postdoctoral Researcher
Engineering and Applied Science, Harvard University 

 

International Initiatives Award

Steven A. Denning Faculty Award for Global Engagement

Shuichi Takayama
Price Gilbert Jr. Chair
Biomedical Engineering 

 

Faculty Honors Committee Awards

Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award
Junior Faculty

Saad Bhamla
Assistant Professor
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 

Senior Faculty

Ravi Kane
Garry Betty/ V Foundation Chair and GRA Eminent Scholar
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 

Class of 1934 Outstanding Service Award

Susan Margulies
Professor
Biomedical Engineering

Outstanding Professional Education

Shalu Suri
Co-Director of NSF Cell Manufacturing Technologies ERC Engineering Workforce Development
Biomedical Engineering

Class of 1934 Outstanding Interdisciplinary Activities Award

Bruce Walker
Professor
Psychology 

Class of 1934 Outstanding Innovative Use of Education Technology Award

Pamela Pollet
Senior Research Scientist
Chemistry and Biochemistry 

Class of 1940 W. Roane Beard Outstanding Teacher Award

Daniel Molzahn
Assistant Professor
Electrical and Computer Engineering 

Class of 1940 W. Howard Ector Outstanding Teacher Award

Faisal M. Alamgir
Professor 
Materials Science and Engineering 

 

Class of 1934 Distinguished Professor Award

Dimitri Mavris
Regents' Professor, Boeing Professor of Advanced Aerospace Systems Analysis, and Langley Distinguished Professor in Advanced Aerospace Systems Architecture
Aerospace Engineering

]]> Kristen Bailey 1 1714356497 2024-04-29 02:08:17 1714424676 2024-04-29 21:04:36 0 0 news The annual Faculty and Staff Honors Luncheon took place Friday, April 26.

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2024-04-28T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-28T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-28 00:00:00 Kristen Bailey

Institute Communications

]]>
673875 673875 image <![CDATA[Faculty and Staff Honors Luncheon]]> Faculty and Staff Honors Luncheon

]]> image/jpeg 1714350551 2024-04-29 00:29:11 1714350666 2024-04-29 00:31:06
<![CDATA[Faculty and Staff Honors Luncheon]]>
<![CDATA[Energy Materials: Driving the Clean Energy Transition]]> 34760 Energy is everywhere, affecting everything, all the time. And it can be manipulated and converted into the kind of energy that we depend on as a civilization. But transforming this ambient energy (the result of gyrating atoms and molecules) into something we can plug into and use when we need it requires specific materials.

These energy materials — some natural, some manufactured, some a combination — facilitate the conversion or transmission of energy. They also play an essential role in how we store energy, how we reduce power consumption, and how we develop cleaner, efficient energy solutions.

“Advanced materials and clean energy technologies are tightly connected, and at Georgia Tech we’ve been making major investments in people and facilities in batteries, solar energy, and hydrogen, for several decades,” said Tim Lieuwen, the David S. Lewis Jr. Chair and professor of aerospace engineering, and executive director of Georgia Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute (SEI).

That research synergy is the underpinning of Georgia Tech Energy Materials Day (March 27), a gathering of people from academia, government, and industry, co-hosted by SEI, the Institute for Materials (IMat), and the Georgia Tech Advanced Battery Center. This event aims to build on the momentum created by Georgia Tech Battery Day, held in March 2023, which drew more than 230 energy researchers and industry representatives.

“We thought it would be a good idea to expand on the Battery Day idea and showcase a wide range of research and expertise in other areas, such as solar energy and clean fuels, in addition to what we’re doing in batteries and energy storage,” said Matt McDowell, associate professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE), and co-director, with Gleb Yushin, of the Advanced Battery Center.

Energy Materials Day will bring together experts from academia, government, and industry to discuss and accelerate research in three key areas: battery materials and technologies, photovoltaics and the grid, and materials for carbon-neutral fuel production, “all of which are crucial for driving the clean energy transition,” noted Eric Vogel, executive director of IMat and the Hightower Professor of Materials Science and Engineering.

“Georgia Tech is leading the charge in research in these three areas,” he said. “And we’re excited to unite so many experts to spark the important discussions that will help us advance our nation’s path to net-zero emissions.”

Building an Energy Hub

Energy Materials Day is part of an ongoing, long-range effort to position Georgia Tech, and Georgia, as a go-to location for modern energy companies. So far, the message seems to be landing. Georgia has had more than $28 billion invested or announced in electric vehicle-related projects since 2020. And Georgia Tech was recently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the top public university for energy research.

Georgia has become a major player in solar energy, also, with the announcement last year of a $2.5 billion plant being developed by Korean solar company Hanwha Qcells, taking advantage of President Biden’s climate policies. Qcells’ global chief technology officer, Danielle Merfeld, a member of SEI’s External Advisory Board, will be the keynote speaker for Energy Materials Day.

“Growing these industry relationships, building trust through collaborations with industry — these have been strong motivations in our efforts to create a hub here in Atlanta,” said Yushin, professor in MSE and co-founder of Sila Nanotechnologies, a battery materials startup valued at more than $3 billion.

McDowell and Yushin are leading the battery initiative for Energy Materials Day and they’ll be among 12 experts making presentations on battery materials and technologies, including six from Georgia Tech and four from industry. In addition to the formal sessions and presentations, there will also be an opportunity for networking.

“I think Georgia Tech has a responsibility to help grow a manufacturing ecosystem,” McDowell said. “We have the research and educational experience and expertise that companies need, and we’re working to coordinate our efforts with industry.”

Marta Hatzell, associate professor of mechanical engineering and chemical and biomolecular engineering, is leading the carbon-neutral fuel production portion of the event, while Juan-Pablo Correa-Baena, assistant professor in MSE, is leading the photovoltaics initiative.

They’ll be joined by a host of experts from Georgia Tech and institutes across the country, “some of the top thought leaders in their fields,” said Correa-Baena, whose lab has spent years optimizing a semiconductor material for solar energy conversion.

“Over the past decade, we have been working to achieve high efficiencies in solar panels based on a new, low-cost material called halide perovskites,” he said. His lab recently discovered how to prevent the chemical interactions that can degrade it. “It’s kind of a miracle material, and we want to increase its lifespan, make it more robust and commercially relevant.”

While Correa-Baena is working to revolutionize solar energy, Hatzell’s lab is designing materials to clean up the manufacturing of clean fuels.

“We’re interested in decarbonizing the industrial sector, through the production of carbon-neutral fuels,” said Hatzell, whose lab is designing new materials to make clean ammonia and hydrogen, both of which have the potential to play a major role in a carbon-free fuel system, without using fossil fuels as the feedstock. “We’re also working on a collaborative project focusing on assessing the economics of clean ammonia on a larger, global scale.”

The hope for Energy Materials Day is that other collaborations will be fostered as industry’s needs and the research enterprise collide in one place — Georgia Tech’s Exhibition Hall — over one day. The event is part of what Yushin called “the snowball effect.”

“You attract a new company to the region, and then another,” he said. “If we want to boost domestic production and supply chains, we must roll like a snowball gathering momentum. Education is a significant part of that effect. To build this new technology and new facilities for a new industry, you need trained, talented engineers. And we’ve got plenty of those. Georgia Tech can become the single point of contact, helping companies solve the technical challenges in a new age of clean energy.”

]]> Laurie Haigh 1 1708534541 2024-02-21 16:55:41 1714417062 2024-04-29 18:57:42 0 0 news Energy materials facilitate the conversion or transmission of energy. They also play an essential role in how we store energy, reduce power consumption, and develop cleaner, efficient energy solutions.

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2024-02-21T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-21T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-21 00:00:00 Jerry Grillo

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673164 673164 image <![CDATA[Georgia Tech Energy Materials Day 2024]]> image/png 1708534719 2024-02-21 16:58:39 1708534718 2024-02-21 16:58:38
<![CDATA[Cosmic Curiosity: Georgia Tech Hosts Science and Engineering Day to Open Atlanta Science Festival]]> 36123 Georgia Tech opened the 11th annual Atlanta Science Festival (ASF) with record attendance for Science and Engineering Day. Despite the drizzly weather, about 4,000 people of all ages from throughout metro Atlanta — more than double the number of attendees in 2023 — visited campus on Saturday, March 9, 2024, for the space-themed event. They explored more than 45 exhibitions and hands-on activities related to art, robotics, nanotechnology, chemical and systems engineering, and biology, as well as other STEAM areas. 

Visitors began their investigations at “Earth” (the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design), where they picked up a galactic passport specially designed to guide them from building to building — each designated with the name of a planet — and the demonstrations housed within.

At “Mars” (Marcus Nanotechnology Building), attendees measured their height in nanometers, experimented with fruit batteries, and took a window-tour of the largest cleanroom in the Southeast, where semiconductors are developed. Inside “Venus” (Parker H. Petit Biotech Building), budding scientists examined bioluminescent bacteria under a microscope and made Play-Doh models of the human brain. When visiting “Saturn” (Ford Environmental Sciences and Technology Building), visitors studied density by making DIY lava lamps and inspected human brain specimens the way a pathologist would.

“Getting to hold a human brain was cool,” said a 12-year-old participant from Alpharetta. “And I also liked comparing it to the brains of a pig and a mouse.”

Other activities included math games and puzzles, the opportunity to build an artificial hand and a gallery display of research-inspired artwork. Georgia Tech faculty, students, and staff hosted all the demonstrations and served as volunteers who helped Science and Engineering Day guests navigate campus and the demonstration sites.

For many participants, the undoubted highlight was the chance to hear a presentation by former NASA astronaut and Georgia Tech alumnus Shane Kimbrough, MS OR 1998. Kimbrough spent 388 days in space over three missions and served as commander of the International Space Station (ISS) in 2016. He captivated the standing-room-only crowd with photos and descriptions of his time living and working aboard the ISS and answered questions from the kids in the audience.

“It’s really exciting to see all the activities around campus today … we’re inspiring the next generation of scientists and explorers for our country,” Kimbrough said afterward.

The event was a resounding success for Georgia Tech and the Atlanta Science Fair.

Lauren Overton-Kirk, who organized the event for the Institute, said, "Georgia Tech Science and Engineering Day 2024 was so wonderful to share with the community. What started years ago as a day for young scientific exploration became an all-ages, space-themed scientific spectacular. You could feel the passion for learning fill the campus in a way only Georgia Tech could do.”

Both the Georgia Tech and the Atlanta Science Festival teams are looking forward to next year’s Science and Engineering Day.

“As one of the founding organizations of the Atlanta Science Festival, Georgia Tech has been deeply invested in sharing the Institute’s innovations with the community,” said Meisa Salaita, ASF co-director. “And that investment was deeply evident on March 9th as they opened their doors to kick off the 11th annual Science Festival. Their students and faculty came out with enthusiasm to showcase science to the public. We couldn't be more thrilled with this partnership — and the many ways Tech has helped us show our community that Atlanta is a science city.”

]]> Catherine Barzler 1 1711049417 2024-03-21 19:30:17 1714416775 2024-04-29 18:52:55 0 0 news Science and Engineering Day at the Institute included more than 45 exhibitions and interactive demonstrations, hosted by Tech faculty, staff, and students. The highlight of the event was a presentation by alumnus and former NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, who shared with audiences his experience of living and working in space. 

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2024-03-21T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-21T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-21 00:00:00 Shelley Wunder-Smith, Institute Communications

]]>
673462 673463 673461 673464 673465 673462 image <![CDATA[4-Human Brain.jpeg]]> A young investigator holds a human brain. (Credit: Joya Chapman)

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673463 image <![CDATA[2-Shane Kimbrough.jpeg]]> Former astronaut and Tech Alumnus Shane Kimbrough described what it was like to live and work in space to a packed crowd at Science and Engineering Day. (Credit: Joya Chapman)

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673461 image <![CDATA[1-ASF Galactic Passport.jpeg]]> The Atlanta Science Festival Galactic Passport that visitors used to navigate their explorations around Georgia Tech's campus (Credit: Joya Chapman)

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673464 image <![CDATA[5-Biotic Plot.jpeg]]> This guest at Science and Engineering Day examines tiny living organisms in a test tube. (Credit: Joya Chapman)]]> image/jpeg 1711050045 2024-03-21 19:40:45 1711049993 2024-03-21 19:39:53 673465 image <![CDATA[3-Glowing Bacteria.jpeg]]> A budding scientist examines bioluminescent bacteria under a microscope. (Credit: Joya Chapman)

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<![CDATA[Empowering Research Faculty: Georgia Tech’s Strategic Plan]]> 36123 Georgia Tech is supporting career growth for its research faculty, who do critical work at the heart of the research enterprise.

The word faculty is often synonymous with tenure-track professors — the individuals who teach courses and run major labs with their surnames in the title. But while groundbreaking discoveries regularly happen at Georgia Tech, the people doing the day-in, day-out research aren’t always visible.

Research faculty are non-tenure track faculty who carry out crucial research in labs, centers, and departments across campus. They are the lifeblood of research enterprises at major universities like Georgia Tech, but their work often occurs behind the scenes.

To support these essential employees, Georgia Tech launched an initiative to recognize and develop research faculty, who comprise 60% of the nearly 4,400 total faculty currently employed at the Institute. It is part of the second phase of Research Next, the strategic plan for Georgia Tech’s research enterprise.  

Maribeth Coleman, interim assistant vice provost for Research Faculty, and Michelle Rinehart, vice provost for Faculty, were appointed as co-chairs of a Research Next implementation team tasked with finding ways to recognize, support, and retain research faculty. Building on years of effort and collaboration with campus partners, the group took on several projects to improve the research faculty experience and environment at Georgia Tech.  

“Research faculty are critical members of the Georgia Tech community, and their contributions to our billion-dollar research enterprise and the state’s economic development cannot be overstated,” Rinehart said. “We wanted to understand what it’s like for research faculty as they come on board at Georgia Tech, what the hiring process is like, and how we as an Institute can more effectively mentor and develop research faculty in terms of advancing in their careers.”

At the outset, the implementation team identified and examined several facets of the research faculty experience. They reviewed policies in the faculty handbook, giving special attention to existing guidance for promotion and career growth for research faculty.

Promotion guidelines are generally clear for tenure-track faculty. Research faculty, on the other hand, are often not actively encouraged to seek promotion, and may not even know that promotion is an option, according to Rinehart and Coleman. One issue is that funding for research faculty often comes from external research dollars. At least nine months of a tenure-track faculty member’s salary, however, comes from the state budget.

“When you’re constantly having to bring in all of your own salary, as research faculty do, it can be a stressful experience,” Coleman said. “It can also mean you’re more isolated, because you’re focused on bringing in those research dollars that will help you keep your position. But we want research faculty to know that we want them to build their careers here.”

To address these issues, the team developed reference materials and workshops for research faculty seeking promotion. The workshops are offered on a regular basis, and resources and recordings are available on the Georgia Tech faculty website. The team also created educational materials for promotion committees, often composed of tenure-track faculty who are unfamiliar with the research faculty experience.  

“We saw a need for better consistency across campus with regards to guidance for research faculty promotion committees,” Rinehart said. “Tenure-track faculty need guidance on not just how to properly hire research faculty, but also in how to mentor and retain them.”

According to Coleman and Rinehart, the implementation team’s most significant achievement was the launch of a research faculty mentoring network. The mentoring network connects junior research faculty mentees with senior research faculty mentors who have grown their careers at Georgia Tech.

“When new tenure-track faculty arrive, they are usually assigned a mentor within their School or department, but that method doesn’t generally work for research faculty,” Coleman said. “There may not be a large research faculty community in their unit, and research faculty roles and responsibilities vary significantly from person to person. For this reason, the mentoring network is meant to foster cross-pollination and build community across units.”

The mentoring network is a collaboration with MentorTech, a program run by Georgia Tech Professional Education. The program is ongoing, and enrollment is always open. 

To foster inclusivity and belonging, the team established an orientation program for research faculty, modeled after the tenure-track faculty orientation. The Provost’s Office hosted the inaugural research faculty orientation in Fall 2023. Because research faculty are hired throughout the year, the team decided the orientation should take place semiannually. The second orientation took place on March 13. 

In addition to the workshops, mentor network, and orientations, the implementation team also launched a program to welcome research faculty in a personal way. When a new research faculty member is hired, another more senior research faculty member is assigned to welcome them in person, provide them with important information for getting oriented to campus, tell them about relevant professional opportunities, and give them Georgia Tech-branded swag.

“All of this work is about recognizing that research faculty are a tremendously valuable part of our community,” Rinehart said. “They also really enhance our reputation internationally.”

According to Coleman, research faculty can sometimes be viewed as disposable, because of their support from grants that may be limited in time and scope. But she believes that line of thinking is a disservice to both the individual and the Institute.

“It’s important that we recognize the value of research faculty, nurture them, and retain them long term,” she said. “We need to make it possible for people to spend their careers here, as I have, and help make sure research faculty positions at Georgia Tech can be both viable and fulfilling long-term careers.”

 

To read more about Georgia Tech's strategic research initiatives, visit the Research Next website.

]]> Catherine Barzler 1 1712063508 2024-04-02 13:11:48 1714416718 2024-04-29 18:51:58 0 0 news Georgia Tech is supporting career growth for its research faculty, who do critical work at the heart of the research enterprise.

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2024-04-02T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-02T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-02 00:00:00 Catherine Barzler, Senior Research Writer/Editor

catherine.barzler@gatech.edu

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673580 673580 image <![CDATA[13C5438-P1-040-Web Use - 1,000px Wide.jpg]]> A research scientist from the Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology (IEN) works in a clean room at the Marcus Nanotechnology Building. Research faculty are the non-tenure track faculty who carry out crucial research in labs, centers, and departments across campus. (Credit: Rob Felt)

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<![CDATA[Science and Society Program: New Internships Help Students Thrive ]]> 35599 For Alyssa Davenport, the School of Psychology’s new Science and Society internship program has been a critical stepping stone. Davenport, a fourth-year undergraduate in Psychology, is one of the first students to complete the new internship, and plans to pursue a doctoral degree and work in industrial-organizational psychology. 

“This internship has helped solidify that industrial-organizational psychology is the perfect field for me,” she says. “Without this experience and my background at Georgia Tech, I wouldn’t be as confident in my ability to succeed in graduate school and in my future career.”

The new internship program is the first offered in the School of Psychology, and it’s designed to give students from Psychology and across Georgia Tech the opportunity to apply their undergraduate studies to career focus areas spanning industry to human health — including human resource departments, schools, mental health centers, and rehabilitation centers.

Beyond giving students the opportunity to see first-hand how psychological theories are integrated and applied in a variety of settings, the internships are also designed to give students a competitive edge in today’s job market, and offer an opportunity for undergraduates to assess and evolve their career goals and trajectory.

Davenport’s experience underscores these goals, says Christopher Stanzione, who manages the program. “While many students who choose to study psychology go into clinically-oriented fields, Georgia Tech psychology students are well-equipped for much more,” he explains.

For example, Stanzione, who serves as a senior academic professional and the associate chair of Undergraduate Studies in the School of Psychology, cites the growing importance of data science in the business world. “This is where experience with big data comes into play,” he says. “Psychology majors in this part of the discipline are trained for careers in data science and UX (user experience), as common examples,” he says.

“In industry, we work with organizations, teams, and leadership,” Stanzione adds. “There are so many workplace-related areas where psychology is critical.”

Psychology in industry

Davenport was one of two inaugural Science and Society interns within the human resources team at Atlanta construction and civil engineering company BrandSafway. 

Brenton Jones, vice president of BrandSafway’s HR Technology and Operations division and a Scheller College of Business alumni, shares that BrandSafway interns apply learning theories and principles to build engaging, relevant employee training experiences, and enhance worker collaborations. BrandSafway Interns also work on boosting employee performance by leveraging motivation and behavior change theories — applying knowledge that the students have learned during their studies to real-world situations.

Marianna Madera, a fourth-year Psychology student, redesigned the company’s training and development website as the program’s second BrandSafway intern. Another project allowed her to put what she’s learned in psychology, computer science, and human-computer interaction into practice so she could improve UX in a corporate context.

“These projects really opened my eyes to the fact there are jobs available in all industries that match my skill set,” Madera says. “Working with such a creative and dedicated team showed me that the industry side of things can be just as exciting and fulfilling as opportunities in research or academia.”

Davenport echoes that sentiment, sharing that “the empirical and data analysis skills I’ve learned at Georgia Tech prepared me to craft a career development strategy and framework for BrandSafway,” and that the internship helped her realize “how broad the area of psychology is — specifically industrial and organizational psychology — and how flexible its application can be.”

Internships across the College of Sciences

Internship opportunities abound across Georgia Tech, and the College of Sciences is focused on cultivating more of these types of programs to meet student and employer demand, with several new efforts slated to launch in the upcoming school year. A database of internships to be offered across the College of Sciences is also under development.

James Stringfellow, Career Educator for the College, also emphasizes the importance of prioritizing internships and employment opportunities for students. This past fall, Stringfellow conducted a college-wide “Career Pulse Survey" to better understand students' post-graduation intentions, including their preferred industries and companies. 

"Leveraging these survey findings will inform the College's Career Center and Employer Connections team," he shares, "enabling them to develop strategies to attract relevant companies to campus and facilitate student career opportunities.”

The overall aim of these initiatives is for students to gain field experience in how their degree can be used for a job after graduation.

For example, the School of Biological Sciences currently offers a number of internships with a focus on local government, education, industry, and businesses. 

“These internships, available through organizations like the Atlanta Audubon Society, the Centers for Disease Control, and more, provide hands-on experience that aligns with students' desired career pathways,” says Emily Weigel, a senior academic professional who leads the School’s internship efforts.

In Psychology, Stanzione is already seeing the value that the new internship programs provide for students. 

“We provide our students with experiences beyond what they think their major can do for them, broadening their perspective and developing their networking skills for future job contacts,” he says. As the College continues to develop internship programs, he’s optimistic about the value the new Science and Society internship will continue to bring to students. 

“There’s so much that Georgia Tech students can do with their degrees,” he says. “We believe these new internship programs can highlight that for students.”

Learn more about internship, summer research, and study abroad opportunities available to College of Sciences students, and about undergraduate experiences on the @GTSciences Instagram

College of Sciences | Key Internship Contacts

Georgia Tech Career Center Resources

The Georgia Tech Career Center encourages all students to register internship experiences. Some benefits include:

 

]]> sperrin6 1 1714150259 2024-04-26 16:50:59 1714166019 2024-04-26 21:13:39 0 0 news A new internship program is offering fresh opportunities to students across the School of Psychology and Georgia Tech. The College of Sciences is cultivating more of these types of career programs, with several additional internship efforts and a new internship database slated to launch in the upcoming school year.

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2024-04-26T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-26T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-26 00:00:00 Written by Selena Langner

Contact: Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences Georgia Tech

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673872 673871 673872 image <![CDATA[Students learned more about internship opportunities during a Career Center event in collaboration with Brandsafway.]]> image/jpeg 1714150486 2024-04-26 16:54:46 1714150486 2024-04-26 16:54:46 673871 image <![CDATA[Brandsafway is one of the companies that students in the new Science and Society internship program can work with.]]> image/jpeg 1714150486 2024-04-26 16:54:46 1714150486 2024-04-26 16:54:46
<![CDATA[19 Tech Faculty Receive Regents' Distinctions]]> 27998

The University System of Georgia's Board of Regents has honored 19 Georgia Tech faculty members with 2024 Regents' Distinctions. These accolades recognize the recipients’ outstanding contributions and excellence in education, research, and innovation. 

“These amazing colleagues exemplify the spirit of excellence and dedication that defines Georgia Tech's faculty,” said Steve McLaughlin, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. “Their contributions not only advance knowledge within their respective fields but also positively impact our community at large. Working alongside these faculty members is an honor and inspires me every day.” 

Georgia Tech faculty named as Regents’ Professors include: 

  • Amy Bruckman (renewal), Senior Associate Chair, School of Interactive Computing, College of Computing 

  • John Cressler (renewal), Schlumberger Chair in Electronics, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering 

  • Greg Gibson (renewal), Tom and Marie Patton Chair in Biological Sciences and Director of the Center for Integrative Genomics, School of Biological Sciences, College of Sciences 

  • Thomas Kurfess, Professor and HUSCO/Ramirez Distinguished Chair in Fluid Power and Motion Control, George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering 

  • Wenke Lee, Professor and John P. Imlay Jr. Chair in Software, School of Computer Science and School of Cybersecurity and Privacy, College of Computing 

  • Brian Magerko, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Digital Media, Head of the Expressive Machinery Lab, School of Literature, Media, and Communication, Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts 

  • Patricia Mokhtarian, Clifford and William Greene Jr. Professor, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering 

  • Charles David Sherrill (renewal), Professor, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Sciences and Associate Director for Research and Education, Institute for Data Engineering and Science 

Georgia Tech faculty named as Regents’ Researchers include: 

  • David Gottfried (renewal), Senior Assistant Director and Principal Research Scientist, Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology, College of Engineering 

  • Gregory Showman (renewal), Fellow and Principal Research Engineer, Sensors and Electromagnetic Applications Laboratory, GTRI 

  • Jeffrey Sitterle, Principal Research Scientist and Chief Innovation Officer, Information and Cyber Sciences Directorate, GTRI  

  • Leanne West, Chief Engineer of Pediatric Technology and Principal Research Scientist, Georgia Tech Pediatric Innovation Network  

  • Jie Xu, Head of Chemical and Biological Systems Branch and Principal Research Scientist, GTRI 

  • David Zurn, Test Engineering Division Chief and Principal Research Scientist, GTRI  

Georgia Tech faculty named as Regents’ Entrepreneurs include: 

  • Mustaque Ahamad, Professor, School of Computer Science and School of Cybersecurity and Privacy, College of Computing 

  • Omer Inan, Professor and Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Chair, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering 

  • Rampi Ramprasad, Professor and Michael E. Tennenbaum Family Chair, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Energy Sustainability, School of Materials Science and Engineering, College of Engineering 

Georgia Tech faculty named as Regents’ Innovators include: 

  • Alexander Alexeev, Professor and Joseph Anderer Faculty Fellow, George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering 

Georgia Tech faculty named to the Georgia Mining Association Early Career Professorship: 

  • Sheng Dai, Associate Professor and Group Coordinator in Geosystems Engineering, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering 

 

Writer: Brittany Aiello, Faculty Communications Program Manager, Organizational and Academic Communications, Institute Communications 

]]> Brittany Aiello 1 1713978990 2024-04-24 17:16:30 1714159664 2024-04-26 19:27:44 0 0 news The University System of Georgia's Board of Regents has honored 19 Georgia Tech faculty members with 2024 Regents' Distinctions.

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2024-04-25T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-25T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-25 00:00:00 Office of the Provost

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673831 673831 image <![CDATA[campusinbloom.jpg]]> image/jpeg 1713978354 2024-04-24 17:05:54 1713978354 2024-04-24 17:05:54
<![CDATA[Celebrating the Postdoc Community]]> 36249 In the Postdoc Visibility Project, we spotlight the journeys and experiences of our postdoctoral scholars (postdocs) at Georgia Tech. As we delve deeper into the postdoc community, we turn our focus to a vital aspect: gratitude and acknowledgement within this dynamic cohort. 

We asked our postdocs whom they would like to extend their thanks. Their responses revealed the profound impact of collaboration, mentorship, and peer support. 

Avery Davis Bell, Postdoc in the School of Biological Sciences

Bell expresses deep gratitude to her mentor, Dr. Annalise Paaby, highlighting her as a profoundly creative and rigorous scientific thinker. Bell admires Paaby as one of the most supportive mentors she has encountered, emphasizing her dedication to her students and postdoctoral fellows, going above and beyond to support their growth and success. 

Additionally, Bell extends thanks to her family, recognizing their crucial role in supporting her career endeavors. She acknowledges her husband and child for their flexibility and her mother for assisting with childcare on busy days, enabling Bell to focus on her experiments and research work. 

Bell emphasizes the importance of a supportive community, mentioning the graduate students in her lab and the broader research faculty and postdoc communities at Georgia Tech. These communities provide crucial support, combat feelings of isolation, and fostering collaborative exchanges that are vital for academic and personal wellbeing. 

Nicole Hellessey, Postdoc in the Ocean Science & Engineering Department

Hellessey extends heartfelt thanks to her professor, Marc Weissburg, whose mentorship and support were instrumental in her postdoc placement at Georgia Tech. 

“Without him, I would not have had a postdoc,” said Hellessey, “I would not have come to Georgia Tech or had any of the opportunities I have had here.” 

Hellessey also extends a “massive shout out” to all the Ph.D. students in the Kubanek Lab and Hay Lab, recognizing their exceptional support and assistance. She highlights their role in ensuring that she didn’t feel lost along the way, emphasizing the importance of their presence in navigating the intricacies of research and academia. 

Lastly, Hellessey expresses her appreciation for the camaraderie and friendship she has found among fellow postdocs across various departments at Georgia Tech. 

Zita Hüsing, Postdoc in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication

Hüsing thanks those who have supported her throughout her academic journey. She acknowledges the steadfast encouragement of her partner, family, and friends, whose support has been crucial during challenging times. 

Hüsing extends her appreciation to her dissertation committee at Louisiana State University, including Dr. Brannon Costello, Dr. Chris Barrett, Dr. Carl Freedman, and Dr. Katherine Henninger, for their guidance and contributions to her academic development. 

She also thanks her directors in the Writing and Communication program at Georgia Tech, Dr. Melissa Ianetta and Dr. Andy Frazee, for their support and mentorship, contributing to her professional growth and success. 

Ida Su, Postdoc in the Department of Biomedical Engineering

Su’s journey through academia has been shaped by a network of support and mentorship. Reflecting on her path, Su emphasizes the impact of familial encouragement. 

“Without their support,” said Su, “I would not have overcome the challenges throughout my Ph.D., and now postdoc, journey.” 

Su credits her current postdoc advisor, Dr. Gabe Kwong, for providing invaluable guidance and opportunities for growth. From research methodologies to grant writing and mentoring, Dr. Kwong’s mentorship has pushed Su beyond her comfort zone, enabling her to achieve remarkable milestones such as the prestigious K99 Pathway to Independence award from the National Institutes of Health. 

Additionally, Su acknowledges the invaluable contributions of her collaborators, including Dr. Madhav Dhodapkar, Dr. Philip Santangelo, and Dr. Rafi Ahmed, whose mentorship and advice were pivotal in assembling the K99 application and publishing high-quality research papers.   

Su also expresses gratitude towards her Ph.D. advisory committees, particularly highlighting Dr. Patrick Stayton and Dr. Daniel Ratner, along with Dr. Suzie Pun, for their continuous support, guidance, and encouragement throughout her academic endeavors. Their mentorship extended beyond research projects to helping her navigate challenges faced during graduate school and steering her towards a career path aligned with her aspirations. 

Lastly, Su acknowledges the support and camaraderie of her postdoc friends, whose shared experiences and encouragement have been a source of strength during the highs and lows of postdoc research life. 

The Postdoc Visibility Project is a collaboration between the Office of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Services, the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Tech’s postdocs. Our goal is to highlight the contributions of postdocs to the research enterprise, humanize the postdoc experience, and connect postdocs to each other. To achieve this, we will share three spotlight articles and accompanying video interviews throughout the Spring 2024 semester. This is the third installment of the Project. 


This work is supported in part by the National Sciences Foundation Mathematical and Physical Sciences divisions ASCEND program under grant award number CHE-2138107.  
 

]]> Sara Franc 1 1713191063 2024-04-15 14:24:23 1714148467 2024-04-26 16:21:07 0 0 news We asked our postdocs whom they would like to extend their thanks. Their responses revealed the profound impact of collaboration, mentorship, and peer support. 

]]>
2024-04-15T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-15T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-15 00:00:00 Sara Franc
Communications Officer
Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Education

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673705 673740 673705 image <![CDATA[Postdoc Community]]> image/jpeg 1713191437 2024-04-15 14:30:37 1713191437 2024-04-15 14:30:37 673740 video <![CDATA[youtube]]> 1713372204 2024-04-17 16:43:24 1716321532 2024-05-21 19:58:52 <![CDATA[Postdoc Visibility Project, Chapter Two: Postdocs Share Lessons Learned Throughout Academic Journey]]> <![CDATA[Postdoc Visibility Project, Chapter One: Myth vs. Reality: Essential Facts to Know About Postdocs]]>
<![CDATA[Women-Centered Mentorship Provides Empowerment to Conquer Ph.D.]]> 36249 Breanna Shi, a student in the bioinformatics Ph.D. program, discovered the importance of student-led support groups early on in her graduate education journey. Since then, she has taken on a variety of mentorship roles, including co-organizing the 2024 Women Computational Biology Cohort with fellow Ph.D. bioinformatics student Zoey Yang. 

Before the Women Computational Biology cohort, I felt a strong desire to have more community with my fellow graduate students,” said Shi. “The program has done so much to help women like Zoey and myself derive a sense of community in our work, and we want to be a part of seeing this community help the next generation of female scientists.

Shi and Yang share the importance of developing women-centered communities and provide their insight into developing a community. 

Provide a safe space for discussion. 

“Pursuing a graduate degree is difficult,” said Yang. “Pursuing a graduate degree as a woman is particularly hard. Women are often given specific expectations by our society. Pursuing advanced degrees may often be seen as ‘too ambitious’ or ‘unnecessary’ for women.” 

In the cohort, Yang had the opportunity to meet other women scientists every month to discuss their experience in doing computational biology research. 

“As women in male-dominated research areas, our experience and struggles are unique.”

The cohort provided a safe space to talk about different aspects of their prospective career, mental health, and life in general. 

“We understand each other, and we support each other with constructive advice,” said Yang. 

Meet with Like-Minded Peers of Diverse Perspectives.

According to Shi, the women in their cohort help each other navigate the academic environment, empowering them to tackle the challenges they will inevitably face in a Ph.D. program. 

 “I feel that women are better able to reach their goals through this program because of the diversity of perspective and experience levels that this program allows Ph.D. students to encounter,” said Shi. “Each woman in my cohort contributes a different perspective on her graduate experience, which collectively serves all new women graduate students to walk forward in her Ph.D. confident and prepared for the challenges she will conquer in her Ph.D.”

Walk away from meetings with a plan of action. 

At the beginning of Shi’s third year, she was distressed. The idea for her thesis was not working, and she did not have any other ideas. 

“I spoke to some of the women from my program that were able to help me feel more confident defending my ideas with my advisor,” said Shi. “At my next meeting, I was able to come to a consensus about a new direction to take my thesis. I brought this idea to my faculty mentor, and she helped to make a plan for my proposal and my first publication.” 

Combat feelings of isolation.

For Shi, there were many times in the beginning of her Ph.D. when she felt isolated. She wondered if the challenges she was experiencing were normal. 

Avery Davis Bell, postdoctoral scholar in the School of Biological Sciences, launched the Women Computational Biology Cohort with Professor Lynn Kamerlin to provide graduate women and gender minorities with a faculty mentor and to host events aimed at empowering these students. 

“Conversations with Avery and other women in my cohort have completely changed my perspective on graduate school,” said Shi. 

The advice given during their meetups have been invaluable to Shi’s growth and success as a Ph.D. student. 

 “Avery has been a huge advocate for me during this program,” said Shi. “She is always ready to give advice, support my ideas, and help me to grow as a female leader. She has actively shown me time and time again her passion for empowering the next generation of female scientists. I feel lucky to learn from her experience as I try to give back the experience I was given." 

Launching Your Own Community. 

Shi gives the following tips for starting your own community: 

The 2024 Women Computational Biology Cohort will be accepting applications this summer. Applications are open to all women and gender minority Ph.D. students who research computational biology regardless of major. Faculty willing to serve as mentors and women interested in the program should email Breanna Shi. 

]]> Sara Franc 1 1713805184 2024-04-22 16:59:44 1714148370 2024-04-26 16:19:30 0 0 news Two grad students share the importance of developing women-centered communities and provide their insight into developing a community. 

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2024-04-22T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-22T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-22 00:00:00 Sara Franc
Communications Officer
Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Education

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673793 673793 image <![CDATA[Women-Led Mentorship Cohort]]> image/jpeg 1713805200 2024-04-22 17:00:00 1713805200 2024-04-22 17:00:00
<![CDATA[Meet the TI:GRESSES: Celebrating the Women of the TI:GER Program]]> 34528 The TI:GER (Technology Innovation: Generating Economic Results) program at the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business roars with innovation and empowers the next generation of leaders in STEM. The transdisciplinary program allows Full-time and Evening MBA students at Scheller and Ph.D. students across Tech to gain hands-on experience in strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship. 

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re spotlighting some of the remarkable women — or TI:GRESSES — of the program. Learn about their experiences and future goals in technology innovation.  

Rime El Asmar
Ph.D. ‘25 
Atmospheric Sciences, College of Sciences  

What sparked your interest in technology innovation? 

As a bridge between academia and consulting, I am actively seeking an opportunity to broaden my business acumen and prepare for a career where I can translate my technical expertise into impactful solutions. I enrolled in the TI:GER program for this reason. This rigorous program is designed for STEM-focused individuals like me and equips Ph.D. students with the necessary skills and knowledge in strategy, innovation, and leadership. 

Were there any influential women in your academic journey who inspired or mentored you? 

Dr. Najat Saliba has been a significant influence in my academic journey. As an environmental activist, chemistry professor, and independent parliament member in Lebanon, her work and dedication to finding solutions for issues affecting the environment and society have inspired me. 

What are your future career goals, especially in the context of technology and innovation? 

In the context of technology and innovation, my future career goals revolve around leveraging my expertise in atmospheric science to become an environmental consultant. I aim to apply innovative solutions and technologies to address environmental challenges, particularly focusing on air quality, climate change, and related human health issues. 

If you could share one piece of advice with aspiring women pursuing their careers in technology or business, what would it be? 

If I could share one piece of advice with aspiring women pursuing careers in technology or business, it would be to believe in your capabilities. Your unique experiences and insights can significantly contribute to success in any field you choose. 

Read more in the Scheller newsroom.

]]> jhunt7 1 1714147246 2024-04-26 16:00:46 1714148210 2024-04-26 16:16:50 0 0 news In honor of Women’s History Month, the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business celebrates some of the women in TI:GER as they share their backgrounds and experiences in the transformative program.

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2024-03-27T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-27T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-27 00:00:00 673869 673869 image <![CDATA[Rime El Asmar]]> image/jpeg 1714148160 2024-04-26 16:16:00 1714148160 2024-04-26 16:16:00
<![CDATA[New Science and Medical Research Hub Opens in Atlanta ]]> 27262 Georgia Institute of Technology and the Trammell Crow Company are transforming Atlanta’s booming skyline with the launch of the first phase of Science Square, a pioneering mixed-use development dedicated to biological sciences and medical research and the technology to advance those fields. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for April 25. 

“The opening of Science Square’s first phase represents one of the most exciting developments to come to Atlanta in recent years,” said Ángel Cabrera, president of Georgia Tech. “The greatest advances in innovation often emerge from dense technological ecosystems, and Science Square provides our city with its first biomedical research district, which will help innovators develop and scale their ideas into marketable solutions.” 

Science Square’s first phase includes Science Square Labs, a 13-story purpose-built tower with state-of-the-art infrastructure to accommodate wet and dry labs and clean room space. To promote overall energy efficiency as well as sustainability, the complex houses a massive 38,000-square-foot solar panel. The solar panel system is in addition to an energy recovery system that extracts energy from the building’s exhaust air and returns it to the building’s HVAC system, reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Electrochromic windows, which tint during the day to block ultraviolet rays and steady the temperature while also controlling the environment — key in research labs — are also featured throughout the building.   

Equipped with technologically advanced amenities and infrastructure, Science Square Labs serves as a nexus for groundbreaking research, enabling collaboration between academia, industry, and startup ventures. Portal Innovations, a company specializing in life sciences venture development, is among the first tenants to establish operations at Science Square, as Atlanta takes center stage as the country’s top city for research and development employment growth. 

The opening of the complex’s first phase, just south of Georgia Tech’s campus and totaling 18 acres, also features retail space and The Grace Residences developed by High Street Residential, TCC's residential subsidiary. The 280-unit multifamily tower, already welcoming tenants, is named in honor of renowned Atlanta leader and Georgia State Representative Grace Towns Hamilton who spent many years championing this community.

Beyond its scientific endeavors, Science Square embodies Georgia Tech’s commitment to uplifting the local community. By collaborating with organizations like Westside Works, Science Square aims to empower residents through targeted workforce development initiatives and economic opportunities.  

“This mixed-use development adds immense value to Atlanta’s west side and will lead the development of pioneering medical advances with the power to improve and save lives,” President Cabrera added.  

]]> Fletcher Moore 1 1714073304 2024-04-25 19:28:24 1714147104 2024-04-26 15:58:24 0 0 news Georgia Institute of Technology and the Trammell Crow Company are transforming Atlanta’s booming skyline with the launch of the first phase of Science Square, a pioneering mixed-use development dedicated to biological sciences and medical research and the technology to advance those fields. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for April 25.

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2024-04-25T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-25T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-25 00:00:00 Angela Barajas Prendiville

Director, Media Relations

Georgia Institute of Technology
 

Ayana Isles

Senior Media Relations Representative

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673851 673844 673848 673845 673851 video <![CDATA[New Science and Medical Research Hub Opens in Atlanta]]>

Trammell Crow Company delivers first phase of Georgia Tech district devoted to advancing sciences that improve the human condition.

]]> 1714065027 2024-04-25 17:10:27 1714073020 2024-04-25 19:23:40
673844 image <![CDATA[Science Square’s first phase includes Science Square Labs, a 13-story tower with built in, state-of-the-art lab and clean room space.]]> image/jpeg 1714006796 2024-04-25 00:59:56 1714008304 2024-04-25 01:25:04 673848 image <![CDATA[Equipped with technologically advanced amenities and infrastructure, Science Square Labs serves as a nexus for groundbreaking research, enabling collaboration between academia, industry, and startup ventures. ]]> image/jpeg 1714052161 2024-04-25 13:36:01 1714052339 2024-04-25 13:38:59 673845 image <![CDATA[Georgia Institute of Technology and the Trammell Crow Company are transforming Atlanta’s booming skyline with the launch of the first phase of Science Square]]> image/jpeg 1714008280 2024-04-25 01:24:40 1714008411 2024-04-25 01:26:51
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Breaks Ground on Science Square]]> <![CDATA[]]>
<![CDATA[Neurotech Moonshot: Georgia Tech Researcher Shares Impact of BRAIN Initiative in Congressional Briefing ]]> 35575 For the past 10 years, the National Institutes of Health have led an unprecedented effort to revolutionize our understanding of the human brain. The aptly named BRAIN (Brain Research Through Advancing Neurotechnologies) Initiative has led to remarkable technological advancements, insights into the structure and function of the brain, and budding therapies. 

Recently, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Professor Chris Rozell traveled to Washington, D.C. to share the impact of his BRAIN Initiative research with U.S. Congressional offices — and offer insights on how critical this program is to society. The briefing took on a particular urgency because BRAIN Initiative funding was cut over 40% this year, and future funding appears to be in jeopardy in the current federal budget climate. 

“The millions of patients suffering with intractable neurologic disorders and mental illness deserve a moonshot to develop new solutions for their conditions,” said Rozell, who also holds the Julian T. Hightower Chair in ECE and serves on the executive committee for Georgia Tech’s Neuro Next Initiative. “You can't get to the moon with a paper plane, and you can’t get there without a map. The BRAIN Initiative is a vital program because it's one of the few places that brings together interdisciplinary teams that include the scientists who have been building maps of brain circuits and the engineers who have been building rockets to understand and intervene with those circuits. 

“I'm proud to have had the chance to represent not only our own research, but the incredible community here at Georgia Tech and around the country working to understand many different aspects of the brain, developing new neurotechnologies, and advancing therapies for neurologic disorders.” 

Interdisciplinary impacts 

“The main message we presented to Congress is that the interdisciplinary combination of rigorous science and technical innovation can have enormous societal impact over the next few decades,” said Rozell. 

A stark example of that impact was published in Nature this past fall. In this research, Rozell and his collaborators at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Emory University School of Medicine identified the first known biomarker of disease recovery with deep brain stimulation in treatment-resistant depression. 

“The fact that an engineer can advance clinical therapies is a testament to the new era we're in,” says Rozell, “where disciplinary boundaries are fading, and technological innovation accelerates our scientific and translational breakthroughs.” 

This research served as a focal point of the congressional briefing, where Rozell presented with BRAIN Initiative Director John J. Ngai, clinical collaborators, and a family whose lives have been transformed by this work.  

“Events like last week are dream come true,” shared Jon Nelson, who was treated with deep brain stimulation as part of the study and presented with Rozell in D.C. After living through 10 years of debilitating, treatment-resistant depression, Nelson says “remission of depression still doesn't feel real. It's been a year and a half, and I still am in awe every single day. 

“The fact that I have come out of this study and found that the disease is purely an electrical deficiency in my brain has fueled me to completely pulverize the stigma of mental illness,” Nelson explained. “When you have an opportunity to go speak to Congress — that’s about as great of a platform as you can get for that. Being able to put a face to what the BRAIN Initiative funding can do for people was just amazing.” 

When meeting with local representatives, Rozell also relayed his work as co-executive leader of the Neuro Next Initiative, a budding Interdisciplinary Research Institute at Georgia Tech. 

“I was thrilled to highlight that Georgia Tech is leading the charge with the Neuro Next Initiative, which will evolve into a full Interdisciplinary Research Institute in 2025,” said Rozell. “Georgia Tech has the ingredients to become a leading center for modern technology-driven interdisciplinary brain research and workforce development. 

“This visit was a reminder to me that research funding is not guaranteed and it’s important to keep communicating the critical value that research plays in advancing our understanding, training our workforce, fueling our economy, and ultimately making a better tomorrow for society.” 

]]> adavidson38 1 1713985277 2024-04-24 19:01:17 1714146905 2024-04-26 15:55:05 0 0 news Georgia Tech Professor Chris Rozell recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to present his groundbreaking research on treatment-resistant depression to Congress. There, Rozell shared insights on the impact of 10 years of the NIH BRAIN Initiative — and share with local representatives how Georgia Tech is playing a key role in leading the charge.

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2024-04-24T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-24T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-24 00:00:00 Audra Davidson
Research Communications Program Manager
Neuro Next Initiative

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673835 673836 673837 673835 image <![CDATA[Rozell was joined by BRAIN Initiative Director John J. Ngai, clinical collaborators, and a family whose lives have been transformed by this work. ]]> Rozell was joined by BRAIN Initiative Director John J. Ngai, clinical collaborators, and a family whose lives have been transformed by this work.

]]> image/jpeg 1713985800 2024-04-24 19:10:00 1713985800 2024-04-24 19:10:00
673836 image <![CDATA[Rozell presented to members of U.S. Congress as well as local representatives during his visit.]]> Rozell presented to members of U.S. Congress as well as local representatives during his visit.

]]> image/jpeg 1713985859 2024-04-24 19:10:59 1713985859 2024-04-24 19:10:59
673837 image <![CDATA[Georgia Tech Engineering Professor Chris Rozell shared his research and the impacts of the past decade of brain research funded by the NIH BRAIN Initiative with Congress.]]> Georgia Tech Engineering Professor Chris Rozell shared his research and the impacts of the past decade of brain research funded by the NIH BRAIN Initiative with Congress.

]]> image/jpeg 1713985921 2024-04-24 19:12:01 1713985921 2024-04-24 19:12:01
<![CDATA[Researchers Identify Crucial Biomarker That Tracks Recovery from Treatment-Resistant Depression]]> <![CDATA[Learn more about the Neuro Next Initiative]]> <![CDATA[AI and Neuroscience Become Dance Partners for Georgia Tech Arts Event]]>
<![CDATA[Single-Crystalline Materials Research Could Revolutionize Energy Storage Systems]]> 34528 Three researchers in a joint international research laboratory based at Georgia Tech-Europe in Metz, France, are among a team demonstrating cutting-edge single-crystalline integration — using a precise layer splitting technique to overcome material drawbacks.

Abdallah Ougazzaden, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech, and president of Georgia Tech-Europe, Phuong Vuong, Georgia Tech-CNRS IRL 2958 researcher, and Suresh Sundaram, adjunct faculty in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, are co-authors on an April 19, 2024 research article in the journal, Science, entitled “High energy density in artificial heterostructures through relaxation time modulation.”

Learn more about the ground-breaking research in the GT-Europe newsroom.

]]> jhunt7 1 1713984225 2024-04-24 18:43:45 1713984341 2024-04-24 18:45:41 0 0 news Three researchers in a joint international research laboratory based at Georgia Tech-Europe in Metz, France, are among a team demonstrating cutting-edge single-crystalline integration — using a precise layer splitting technique to overcome material drawbacks.

]]>
2024-04-19T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-19T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-19 00:00:00 673833 673833 image <![CDATA[The team is using a precise layer splitting technique to overcome drawbacks in ferroelectric materials use in electrostatic capacitors. ]]> image/png 1713984307 2024-04-24 18:45:07 1713984307 2024-04-24 18:45:07
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Researchers Identify Novel Gene Networks Associated with Aggressive Type of Breast Cancer]]> 34760 Breast cancer is the second-most common cancer diagnosis for U.S. women, and the second-leading cause of female cancer deaths. In recent years, breast cancer treatments have improved significantly, thanks to targeted gene therapy and immunotherapy. However, for the small group of patients diagnosed with the most aggressive basal-like type of breast cancer, such approaches are less successful.

Recently, scientists in the Georgia Tech Integrated Cancer Research Center (ICRC) have found that this particular breast cancer displays a unique interactive gene network structure. Using a type of mathematics called “graph theory,” which models relationships between a pair of objects, the researchers computationally detected changes in gene-gene interactions as this breast cancer occurs and develops.

“The discovery of novel gene networks associated with basal-like breast cancers has helped us identify potential new gene targets to treat this very aggressive type of breast cancer,” said John McDonald, ICRC founding director, professor emeritus in the School of Biological Sciences, and the study’s corresponding author. “We would not have discovered these possible treatments through analyses of gene expression alone.”

While causing just 10-20% of breast cancer diagnoses, basal-like breast cancer is much more aggressive than other subtypes — and if not identified early, when it can be treated by surgery and/or radiation therapy, effective anti-cancer drug treatment can be challenging. The basal-like subtype does not respond to traditional hormonal therapies.

One theory as to why, advocated by many cancer researchers, is that individual genes do not function autonomously; as such, changes in how genes interact with one another in cancer may be as important as the cancer-driving genes themselves.

“The components of any complex system, like the human genome, are certainly important,” said McDonald. “The way in which these independent components interact with one another is also critical.”

For this study, the researchers analyzed three major subtypes of breast cancer, with particular emphasis on the most aggressive basal-like subtype. The researchers found that gene-gene interactive networks are quite different in the aggressive basal-like subtype, compared to the more prevalent luminal A and luminal B subtypes.

Many of the genes comprising these unique networks were found to be involved in functions not previously associated with breast cancer. Stephen Housley, a neurobiology researcher in the School of Biological Sciences and a co-author on the paper, noted that “an unexpected and intriguing result from our study is that neural processes appear to play a prominent role in distinguishing the highly aggressive basal-like tumors from the less aggressive luminal A and luminal B subtypes.”

In total, the researchers examined more than 300 million pairs of genes, comparing healthy women to those with breast cancer. Study co-author Zainab Ashard, a computational biologist who recently worked in McDonald’s lab, explained, “Differences in the gene network structure between healthy individuals and breast cancer patients allowed us to identify changes in patterns of gene-gene interactions within breast cancer development.”[s1] 

The team’s results are detailed in a new paper, “Changes in Gene Network Interactions in Breast Cancer Onset and Development,” which appeared in the April 2024 issue of GEN Biotechnology. Based on the results of this study and their previously published analyses of eight other types of cancer, the researchers believe they have established the usefulness of network analysis in identifying potential new candidates for the diagnosis of and targeted gene therapy treatment for breast and other types of cancers.

In addition to McDonald, Housley, and Ashard, Kara Keun Lee, a former bioinformatics Ph.D. student who worked in McDonald’s lab, is also a co-author on the paper.

The results shown here are in whole or in part based on data generated by the TCGA Research Network. The Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) Project was supported by the Common Fund of the Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health, and by NCI, NHGRI, NHLBI, NIDA, NIMH, and NINDS.

This research was supported by the Mark Light Integrated Cancer Research Center Student Fellowship, the Deborah Nash Endowment Fund, Northside Hospital (Atlanta), and the Ovarian Cancer Institute (Atlanta).

Citation: “Changes in Gene Network Interactions in Breast Cancer Onset and Development,” Zainab Arshad, Stephen N. Housley, Kara Keun Lee, and John F. McDonald, GEN Biotechnology, April 2024,
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/genbio.2024.0002

]]> Laurie Haigh 1 1713897304 2024-04-23 18:35:04 1713983695 2024-04-24 18:34:55 0 0 news The team used a computational math theory to identify gene-gene interactions that may be good targets for treating basal-like cancers that are resistant to traditional hormone therapies.

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2024-04-23T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-23T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-23 00:00:00 Savannah Williamson
Research Communications

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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[Seed Grants Fund Research Centers for Critical Minerals, Spatial Computation and Navigation]]> 35599 The College of Sciences is funding two research centers through a new seed grant program. 

Selected from a finalist pool of nine proposals, Associate Professors Yuanzhi Tang and Thackery Brown’s ideas were chosen for their high potential for novel interdisciplinary research and impact. 

Tang’s center will focus on sustainable mineral research, and Brown’s on spatial computation and navigation. Applications for the research will span the development of more sustainable batteries, as well as seeking to improve human health and well-being.

“Improving the human condition, fostering community, and pursuing research excellence are at the forefront of Georgia Tech’s mission, and these new centers will play a critical role in furthering that goal,” says Laura Cadonati, associate dean for Research in the College of Sciences and a professor in the School of Physics. “The College of Sciences is thrilled to support these new initiatives, and is excited to continue to develop the seed grant program.” 

A second call for research center proposals is planned for January 2025, with funding to start in July 2025.

The new Center for Sustainable and Decarbonized Critical Energy Mineral Solutions (CEMS), to be led by Yuanzhi Tang, an associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, will serve as a hub for sustainable procurement solutions for critical energy mineral resources, including rare earth elements and metals used for battery production.

Thackery Brown, an associate professor in the School of Psychology, will lead the second center, the Center for Research and Education in Navigation (CRaNE). CRaNE will investigate problems related to spatial computation, cognition, and navigation — which has implications for human health, animal conservation, smart architecture and urban design.

“This generous support from the College of Sciences will enable us to host a conference on spatial cognition, computation, design, and navigation; to provide collaborative multi-lab seed grants; and to establish the first of a series of explicitly co-mentored, interdisciplinary graduate student Fellowships,” Brown says. “Collectively, these are the seeds of a high-impact and self-sustaining center.”

About the Center for Sustainable and Decarbonized Critical Energy Mineral Solutions (CEMS)

Yuanzhi Tang, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences 

Co-sponsored by the College of Sciences, Strategic Energy Institute (SEI), Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems (BBISS), Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology (IEN), and Institute for Materials (iMat), CEMS began as a joint BBISS-SEI initiative lead project that has since grown into a joint center focused on critical elements and materials for sustainable energy.

Sustainably sourcing these materials provides a critical foundation for both high-tech industry and green economy. “Rare earth elements and battery metals like lithium, copper, and nickel are in high demand, but low domestic resources and production have resulted in a heavy reliance on imports,” Tang explains. “How can we domestically produce these resources, and how can we do this sustainably?

Georgia Tech and the College of Sciences are at a unique position for developing a large regional research umbrella to connect these dots.”

CEMS will leverage on three key pillars: science and technology development, strengthening collaboration among the University System of Georgia (USG) universities, and developing regional resources and economy, Tang says. “By leveraging collaboration among Georgia universities, and fostering engagement with regional industries, the Center will develop new science and technology, leading the way in research on how to procure these ‘essential vitamins’ for clean energy transition in a sustainable and decarbonized manner.”

About the Center for Research and Education in Navigation (CRaNE)

Thackery Brown, School of Psychology 

CRaNE will focus on solving problems related to spatial computation, cognition, and navigation. “How do we treat catastrophic loss of one’s ability to get from A to B in Alzheimer's disease? How do we build smarter cities that are easier and more carbon efficient to navigate? How can we develop robots,” Brown says, “which navigate with the flexibility and efficiency of our own minds? CRaNE will bring together experts from many different fields to help address these problems with truly creative and integrative scientific and technological solutions.”

CRaNE will support interdisciplinary collaborative research, including developing a graduate student fellowship program, and conducting K-12 outreach.

“Our goal for CRaNE is to position the College of Sciences, Georgia Tech, and our extended network of collaborator institutions as a center of gravity for cutting-edge work on how the mind, brain, and artificial systems process space — how they can be made better at it, and how we can engineer our world around us in ways that support the humans and animals that need to navigate it to survive,” Brown says.

Emphasizing the collaborative nature of CRaNE, Brown adds that “by targeting collaborative grants, research, and education, and by promoting outreach and education earlier in the STEM pipeline, we hope to accelerate progress at the frontiers of these fields — and to invest in future science that cannot be easily addressed by a single lab or discipline.”

 

]]> sperrin6 1 1713884694 2024-04-23 15:04:54 1713900517 2024-04-23 19:28:37 0 0 news The College of Sciences is funding two research centers through a new seed grant program. Selected from a finalist pool of nine proposals, Associate Professors Yuanzhi Tang and Thackery Brown’s ideas were chosen due to their high potential for novel interdisciplinary research and impact. A second call for research center proposals is planned for January 2025.

]]>
2024-04-23T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-23T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-23 00:00:00 Written by Selena Langner

Contact:
Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences
Georgia Tech

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673819 673813 673819 image <![CDATA[Yuanzhi Tang]]> image/jpeg 1713900468 2024-04-23 19:27:48 1713900468 2024-04-23 19:27:48 673813 image <![CDATA[Thackery Brown]]> image/jpeg 1713884703 2024-04-23 15:05:03 1713884703 2024-04-23 15:05:03
<![CDATA[2024 Frontiers in Science: Climate Action]]> 36583 This Earth Month more than 100 campus and community stakeholders gathered near the Georgia Tech EcoCommons for the 2024 Frontiers in Science: Climate Action Conference and Symposium.

On April 18, the College of Sciences hosted more than 20 speakers and panelists from across the Institute and Atlanta community presenting groundbreaking research and discussing innovations and ideas in climate change, challenges, and solutions. 

Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera (M.S. PSY 1993, Ph.D. PSY 1995) kicked off the morning sessions by highlighting the Institute’s new Climate Action Plan, which outlines the pathway to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Cabrera’s remarks focused on Georgia Tech’s role on the frontlines of research and education informing how we respond to climate challenges — and noted that the Institute’s work must extend beyond our laboratories and classrooms.

“It is essential that we not only do the science, but that we also tell that science to the world,” Cabrera says.

Interdisciplinary inquiry

This year, Frontiers in Science featured an array of climate research and initiatives led by the College of Sciences, fellow colleges across Georgia Tech, and the wider Atlanta community.

Following a three-year hiatus of the Frontiers series, the 2024 edition re-envisioned the signature annual event as a research conference and symposium to convene campus experts — and to incubate seed grant proposals to support the work of early career faculty.

Frontiers previously hosted Nobel laureates and invited thought leaders for individual talks across the College’s six schools, and celebrated milestones like the International Year of the Periodic Table of the Chemical Elements.

“This year, we wanted to showcase what we are doing right here in the College of Sciences and throughout the Institute,” says Susan Lozier, dean of the College of Sciences, Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair and professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. “Our faculty are at the forefront of broadening our knowledgebase and uncovering solutions in areas critical to the planet and our well-being. We wanted to uplift that work and see what sort of connections could be made.”

Connections and collaboration were key themes of the day as faculty, staff, students, and alumni participants representing all six Georgia Tech colleges shared research results and ongoing work and discussed collaborative ideas for horizons ahead.

“Scientists alone cannot [create accurate models],” noted Annalisa Bracco, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and associate chair for Research, who shared her own research alongside Lozier, who presented a version of her 2024 TED Talk on ocean overturning. “Engineers alone cannot do it. We need social scientists, policy makers, communicators.”

The importance of an interdisciplinary approach was reinforced by the Strategic Energy Institute at Georgia Tech (SEI) and Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems (BBISS), which announced an interdisciplinary seed grant funding opportunity for assistant professors with ideas for new climate solutions.

Frontiers in focus

Across three themed sessions, faculty and leadership from the Colleges of Sciences, Engineering, and Design spearheaded talks on the ocean and cryosphere, biodiversity, carbon cycling, coastal wetlands, biofuels production, and beyond.

Panels on climate challenges across community, technological, and policy initiatives were hosted by Georgia Tech Vice President for Interdisciplinary Research and Professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry Julia Kubanek.

Following a networking lunch with climate table topics, Georgia Tech Executive Vice President for Research and Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering Chaouki T. Abdallah (M.S. ECE 1982, Ph.D. ECE 1988) kicked off the afternoon sessions — which also announced the scholarship recipients of a student video competition and featured videos with a pair of alumnae working in meteorology, climate research, and policy.

Afternoon highlights also included discussions on the Georgia Tech Climate Action Plan and Sustainability Next initiative, led by Jennifer Chirico (B.S. MGMT 1997, Ph.D. PUBP 2011), associate vice president of Sustainability for Georgia Tech Infrastructure and Sustainability, and Jennifer Leavey (B.S. CHEM 1995), assistant dean for Faculty Mentoring in the College of Sciences and interim assistant director for Interdisciplinary Education in the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems.

Although many of the presentations provided a stern outlook of the state of our ecosystems, the conference concluded with a sense of hope. This optimism was grounded in the range of opportunities that exist to address climate challenges — thanks, in part, to the body of knowledge and solutions being tested and explored by Georgia Tech researchers.

At the end of the day, Katie Griffin, a first year undergraduate student in Environmental Science, read Amanda Gorman’s poem Earthrise and provided this reminder:

All of us bring light to exciting solutions never tried before
For it is our hope that implores us, at our uncompromising core,
To keep rising up for an earth more than worth fighting for.

 

Experience the event in pictures with the College of Sciences’ Flickr account, and discover the highlights through the day’s live tweets on College of Sciences’ X account.

]]> lvidal7 1 1713814512 2024-04-22 19:35:12 1713889420 2024-04-23 16:23:40 0 0 news This Earth Month more than 100 campus and community stakeholders gathered near the Georgia Tech EcoCommons for the 2024 Frontiers in Science: Climate Action Conference and Symposium. On April 18, the College of Sciences hosted more than 20 speakers and panelists from across the Institute and Atlanta community presenting groundbreaking research and discussing innovations and ideas in climate change, challenges, and solutions.

]]>
2024-04-22T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-22T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-22 00:00:00 By: Lindsay Vidal

Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

]]>
673802 673809 673806 673805 673808 673807 673802 image <![CDATA[Frontiers in Science Banner Outside at Sunrise]]> image/jpeg 1713815897 2024-04-22 19:58:17 1713821670 2024-04-22 21:34:30 673809 image <![CDATA[Jenny McGuire]]> image/jpeg 1713819926 2024-04-22 21:05:26 1713821501 2024-04-22 21:31:41 673806 image <![CDATA[Frontiers in Science Policy Discussion Panelists: Michelle Midanier, Valerie Thomas and Joe F. Bozeman III]]> image/jpeg 1713819458 2024-04-22 20:57:38 1713821607 2024-04-22 21:33:27 673805 image <![CDATA[Frontiers in Science Participants]]> image/jpeg 1713819380 2024-04-22 20:56:20 1713821634 2024-04-22 21:33:54 673808 image <![CDATA[President Ángel Cabrera]]> image/jpeg 1713819780 2024-04-22 21:03:00 1713821547 2024-04-22 21:32:27 673807 image <![CDATA[Susan Lozier, Julia Kubanek, L. Beril Toktay, and Tim Lieuwen]]> image/jpeg 1713819617 2024-04-22 21:00:17 1713826106 2024-04-22 22:48:26 <![CDATA[2024 Frontiers in Science: Climate Action - Program]]> <![CDATA[Georgia Tech's Climate Action Plan]]> <![CDATA[Sustainability Next: Georgia Tech’s Sustainability Plan]]>
<![CDATA[New Electron Videography Technique Captures Dance Between Proteins and Lipids]]> 35599 This article was first published in the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign newsroom. Read the full story here.

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have developed a first-of-its-kind technique called electron videography to capture moving images at the molecular scale. In the first demonstration of the technique, the team took a microscopic moving picture of the delicate dance between proteins and lipids found in cell membranes. The study, “Electron videography of a lipid–protein tango” was published last week in the journal Science Advances.

"This is the first time we are looking at a protein on an individual scale and haven't frozen it or tagged it," says Aditi Das, a corresponding author and associate professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech.

Electron microscopy techniques image at the molecular or atomic scale, yielding detailed, nanometer-scale pictures. However, they often rely on samples that have been frozen or fixed in place, leaving scientists to try to infer how molecules move and interact — like trying to map the choreography of a dance sequence from a single frame of film.

"Usually, we have to crystalize or freeze a protein, which poses challenges in capturing high-resolution images of flexible proteins. Alternately, some techniques use a molecular tag that we track, rather than watching the protein itself,” Das says. “In this study we are seeing the protein as it is, behaving how it does in a liquid environment, and seeing how lipids and proteins interact with each other."

The technique can be used to study the dynamics of other biomolecules, breaking free of constraints that have limited microscopy to still images of fixed molecules. In this study, the team examined nanoscale discs of lipid membranes and how they interacted with proteins normally found on the surface of or embedded in cell membranes.

These membrane proteins are significant for medical treatments, and are involved in processes including muscle contraction, brain function, and immune system functions. Moving forward, the researchers plan to use their electron videography technique to study other types of membrane proteins and other classes of molecules and nanomaterials.

 

DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adk0217

]]> sperrin6 1 1713883862 2024-04-23 14:51:02 1713888973 2024-04-23 16:16:13 0 0 news The new technique can be used to study the dynamics of other biomolecules, breaking free of constraints that have limited microscopy to still images of fixed molecules. “This is the first time we are looking at a protein on an individual scale and haven't frozen it or tagged it,” says Aditi Das, associate professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

]]>
2024-04-23T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-23T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-23 00:00:00 Contact:
Jess-Hunt Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences
Georgia Tech

]]>
673811 673812 673811 image <![CDATA[Aditi Das]]> image/jpeg 1713884130 2024-04-23 14:55:30 1713884130 2024-04-23 14:55:30 673812 image <![CDATA[A computational model, based on raw video from electron videography, showing the motion of a nanodisc composed of lipids (red) and a membrane protein (green) in water. GIF courtesy of John W. Smith]]> A computational model, based on raw video from electron videography, showing the motion of a nanodisc composed of lipids (red) and a membrane protein (green) in water.

GIF courtesy of John W. Smith

]]> image/gif 1713884130 2024-04-23 14:55:30 1713884130 2024-04-23 14:55:30
<![CDATA[Total Solar Eclipse Brings History Within Sight ]]> 36418 On Monday, April 8, North America will experience the astronomical phenomenon known as a total solar eclipse when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth.  

The path of totality will shadow portions of Mexico before it passes over 15 U.S. states and parts of Canada. While Atlanta does not fall directly in the path as it did in 2017, nearly 85% of the sun will be blocked, giving the Georgia Tech community a chance to participate in the historic event.  

"Quite frankly, there's not much difference between 85% and 95%. You can still witness the eclipse, and seeing that the sun is a crescent is a sight you'll never forget," said Jim Sowell, a principal academic professional in the School of Physics and the director of the Georgia Tech Observatory.  

Safety First 

Although a portion of the sun will be blocked, looking directly into the sun remains harmful to the eye. Sowell offers several tips to protect yourself.  

Safety glasses: Traditional sunglasses do not provide protection for extended solar viewings. Eclipse-safe glasses will be labeled 'ISO 12312-2,' indicating that they have been certified by the International Organization for Standardization. Because the eclipse will last for two hours, glasses can be shared throughout the event.  

Pinhole camera: Using a cardboard box, such as a shoebox, Sowell recommends creating a homemade pinhole camera (See image at the bottom of the page), which projects the sun inside the box's walls.  

Sowell noted that a colander, or the sun shining through tree leaves, can also be used to project the sun's image onto the ground.  

Telescope: Telescopes are a great way to view the eclipse as long as an ISO 12312-2 filter is placed on the lens. A cellphone camera is not a replacement for a filtered lens, as the sun's rays can damage your device.  

Where to Watch 

Weather permitting, viewers will be able to see the eclipse in an urban or rural environment.  

Sun seekers in the city should avoid tall buildings and other obstructions to allow for the best view. In Atlanta, the eclipse is expected to be visible starting at 1:45 p.m., with peak coverage at 3:04 p.m. It will end at 4:21 p.m.  

Sowell says that a rural setting is ideal for witnessing the true power of an eclipse, especially within the path of totality.  

"Birds may begin to recognize that it's getting darker and start to roost. Cattle may start to low, and you'll notice a temperature drop because of the cool air trapped in the shadow as it moves across the Earth. And if you're in totality, you might see some planets and some bright stars that come out due to the dark sky," said Sowell, who will be traveling to Dallas, Texas, for the eclipse. 

Witnessing History 

Total solar eclipses typically occur every one to three years, but Sowell noted that the continental U.S. will not see another until 2044. A professional astronomer for 40 years, Sowell is preparing to see his second total eclipse and hopes this event will inspire others to look at the sky (safely) with the same curiosity he does.  

"I hope others view the eclipse and understand that there is astronomy that can be done with just the naked eye, and then there is so much more. If we can get people interested with just the sun and the moon, they'll realize they can go to the edge of the universe," he said.  

He adds that, unlike other widely popular events, everyone taking part in the eclipse is a winner.  

"Unless you're clouded out, this is better than the Super Bowl because half the people are upset about the result, whereas for this kind of eclipse, if you see it, you're excited and will remember it for the rest of your life." 

Sowell also urges viewers to be patient if the weather isn't ideal.  

"Just because it's cloudy in the morning or 10 minutes before the event, don't punt," he said. "You need to ride it out. And you might get lucky. Even if it's only during the second half that it clears up, it'll still be just as memorable." 

Two groups of students will be traveling to experience totality, including 55 graduate and undergraduate students from the School of Physics, led by Associate Professor Dragomir Davidovic, and another trip led by the Georgia Tech Astronomy Club.  

]]> sgagliano3 1 1712064169 2024-04-02 13:22:49 1713543307 2024-04-19 16:15:07 0 0 news While outside of the path of totality, the Georgia Tech community can still take part in the historic April total solar eclipse.  

]]>
2024-04-02T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-02T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-02 00:00:00 Steven Gagliano - Institute Communications

]]>
673591 673584 673585 673591 video <![CDATA[How to Safely View the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse]]>

On Monday, April 8, North America will experience the astronomical phenomenon known as a total solar eclipse when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth. Jim Sowell, a principal academic professional in the School of Physics and the director of the Georgia Tech Observatory, shares tips on how to safely participate in the historic event.

]]> 1712080228 2024-04-02 17:50:28 1712080228 2024-04-02 17:50:28
673584 image <![CDATA[Georgia Tech students witness the 2017 total solar eclipse on campus. ]]> image/jpeg 1712070657 2024-04-02 15:10:57 1712070657 2024-04-02 15:10:57 673585 image <![CDATA[Pinhole Camera ]]> A pinhole camera used to view the total solar eclipse safely. Credit: NASA

]]> image/png 1712070818 2024-04-02 15:13:38 1712070818 2024-04-02 15:13:38
<![CDATA[Climate Action Plan Provides Road Map to Net-Zero Emissions ]]> 35028 Georgia Tech unveiled its first Climate Action Plan (CAP), an actionable road map for halving Institute emissions by 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. It provides strategies for mitigation, adaptation, climate education, and research, while finding equitable, cost-effective solutions.  

The CAP is a deliverable of Sustainability Next, Georgia Tech’s 10-year strategic sustainability plan, and it is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Institute’s strategic plan, and the Comprehensive Campus Plan.  

“As one of the world’s leading research universities, Georgia Tech has the opportunity, and the obligation, to create and share solutions that can help curb climate change and mitigate its harmful impact on our planet and our lives,” said President Ángel Cabrera. “Our Climate Action Plan is bold and ambitious, aiming for 100% clean ground transportation by 2030 and 100% clean energy by 2050. These goals are not easy, but they reflect the seriousness of the challenges before us.”    

The CAP was led by Georgia Tech’s Office of Sustainability, with engagement across the campus community. The CAP Advisory Task Force, comprising experts and Institute leadership, helped guide the effort. Nine working groups in key focus areas developed climate action strategies, and additional stakeholder outreach with students, staff, faculty, and the Atlanta community took place at workshops, events, town halls, and webinars.  

The plan’s nine focus areas and guiding principles are:  

  1. Community, Equity, and Accessibility: We seek to ensure that fair and just climate policies and strategies are in place at Georgia Tech and that they prioritize affordable climate change solutions that support our internal and external community. 

  1. Building Energy: We are committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.  

  1. Renewable Energy and Offsets: We prioritize clean energy technologies to eliminate emissions. 

  1. Mobility: We optimize campus mobility through a variety of transportation modes that are accessible, affordable, and low- to no-emissions, considering environmental and human health impacts when determining and implementing transit and land use actions.  

  1. Materials Management: We support a thriving circular economy that focuses on upstream systems for achieving zero waste, ensures sustainable procurement, and supports our local community.  

  1. Water Management: We adapt our water infrastructure to be resilient to the impacts of climate change.  

  1. Education: We prepare all students, regardless of discipline, to address climate-related challenges in their personal and professional lives. 

  1. Research: We expand support for faculty, staff, and students to advance innovative research and projects to address climate-related issues.  

  1. Carbon Sequestration: We leverage the natural and physical resources of our campus to sequester and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

The plan has 30 strategies for reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 and advancing climate research and education. The most ambitious strategies include: 

“Georgia Tech is committed to sustainability and the environmental stewardship of our campus community,” said Jennifer Chirico, associate vice president of Sustainability and chair of the CAP Advisory Task Force. “The CAP was developed in partnership with leadership and with our own experts from within Georgia Tech. As we move toward implementation, it will require a whole-community approach, and we will continue to work together to reach our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.”   

To read or download the full plan, visit the Office of Sustainability’s webpage here. If you are interested in participating in an implementation committee, please fill out the form on the CAP website.   

 

 

 

 

]]> cbrim3 1 1712348559 2024-04-05 20:22:39 1713364983 2024-04-17 14:43:03 0 0 news The last nine months had the hottest global temperatures on record. Georgia Tech’s Climate Action Plan outlines mitigation and adaptation strategies for reaching net-zero emissions on campus by 2050 and contributing to global solutions through education and research. 

]]>
2024-04-05T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-05T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-05 00:00:00 Abby Bower

Program and Portfolio Manager

Office of Sustainability

Infrastructure and Sustainability

]]>
673667 673667 image <![CDATA[cover of CAP_for mercury.PNG]]> Cover of the Georgia Tech Climate Action Plan.

]]> image/png 1712686694 2024-04-09 18:18:14 1712686694 2024-04-09 18:18:14
<![CDATA[Sustainability Next]]>
<![CDATA[Itching for Answers: Liang Han Receives NSF Grant to Dig Deeper into Sensory Circuits]]> 35575 The skin on our hands and feet collectively makes up roughly 5% of our surface area — at least, when it comes to our bodies. When you look at an important sensory area of the brain called the somatosensory cortex, which receives information about things like touch and pain from everywhere on the body’s surface, that number jumps to about 30%.

Liang Han recently received $550k from the National Science Foundation to uncover where in our nervous system that discrepancy in neural real estate might stem from. 

“The somatosensory cortex is like the output of the whole neural circuit — but the neural circuit takes multiple steps,” explains Han, an associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences. “How does this neural circuit generate such a biased representation, and exactly which neurons are involved?”

Pinning down which step in the neural circuit is causing areas like the hands and feet to take up so much of the somatosensory cortex may give us insights into how our sensory systems evolved — and where best to treat them when things go wrong.

Itching for answers

The somatosensory cortex is on the surface of the brain and receives information from specialized sensors on the surface of the body about touch, bodily movement, pain, temperature, and itch. Though it’s organized in a way that roughly matches our body’s structure — areas receiving information from the feet light up next to areas sensing the legs versus the ears, for example — the surface area of the somatosensory cortex is heavily biased towards certain body parts, like the hands. 

To find out where in the nervous system this bias originates, Han and her team are planning to examine the cellular mechanisms of one particular sensation: itch. Specifically, itch on glabrous (or hairless) skin, like that on the hands and feet.

“We’ve been studying itch sensation for a long time, and our previous study identified a group of neurons that control glabrous skin itch sensation,” says Han. Led by Haley Steele, a former Ph.D. student working with Liang, the research gave Han and her team the ability to isolate and study the neurons responsible for sending glabrous skin itch sensation all the way from the fingertips, through the spinal cord, and finally to the somatosensory cortex in the brain.

Interestingly for Han’s team, recent data collected by Yanyan Xing, a former postdoctoral researcher in the Han lab, suggested that there were potential physical differences in the itch-sensing neural circuits for central body parts (like the torso) versus the overrepresented peripheral body parts (like the hands).

“If you ask me why we started this project, that's why,” says Hand, “because we saw that data and we thought, ‘Oh, this is interesting.’”

Going more than skin deep

Those physical differences are just one potential piece of the puzzle. When it comes to the cellular origins of brain’s sensory biases, there could also be more itch-sensing neurons in peripheral areas of the body, their physiology could be different, their signals could be amplified somewhere down the line (like in the spinal cord or brain stem), or it could be a combination.

Using their previously developed tools to genetically label neurons specific to glabrous skin itch sensation in mice, Han and her team plan on studying all that — plus how these neural circuits develop over time.

“Our nervous system evolved in a way that our central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) allocated more neural resources to those distal (peripheral) parts of the body for sensory processing,” explains Han. From exploring our environment to manipulating objects, having keen sensation in distal body parts like the hands and feet has been crucial for our survival. By understanding these sensory circuits, Han is hopeful that “this study will help us to understand how the nervous system evolved.”

Beyond gaining key insights into the sensory system, understanding this particular sensation may help improve treatments for chronic itch — an experience that roughly one in five people will have in their lifetime. 

“Itch is associated with so many different conditions,” says Han. “Understanding the basic mechanisms of the neural circuit will help us to eventually treat the condition.”

 

This research will be funded by the National Science Foundation.

Georgia Tech's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) reviews all research and teaching activities that involve vertebrate animal subjects. IACUC approval is required in advance for all activities conducted by faculty, staff, or students, regardless of location and funding source.

]]> adavidson38 1 1710253873 2024-03-12 14:31:13 1713300291 2024-04-16 20:44:51 0 0 news The School of Biological Sciences associate professor will be digging deep into itch-sensing neural circuits to gain insights into how the sensory system is wired — and where best to treat it when things go wrong.

]]>
2024-03-12T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-12T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-12 00:00:00 Writer: Audra Davidson
Communications Officer II
College of Sciences

]]>
673365 673365 image <![CDATA[School of Biological Sciences Associate Professor Liang Han (left) with members of her lab, including Laboratory Technicians Katy Lawson (center left) and William Hancock (right), as well as biology Ph.D. student Rossie Nho.]]> School of Biological Sciences Associate Professor Liang Han (left) with members of her lab, including Laboratory Technicians Katy Lawson (center left) and William Hancock (right), as well as biology Ph.D. student Rossie Nho.

]]> image/jpeg 1710261770 2024-03-12 16:42:50 1710261576 2024-03-12 16:39:36
<![CDATA[Itch Insight: Skin Itch Mechanisms Differ on Hairless Versus Hairy Skin]]> <![CDATA[An Itch You Can’t Scratch: Researchers Find Itch Receptors in the Throats of Mice]]> <![CDATA[Scratching Out New Clues on the Sources of Certain Itch Sensations]]>
<![CDATA[Neuroscience Study Taps Into Brain Network Patterns to Understand Deep Focus, Attention ]]> 35599 From completing puzzles and playing music, to reading and exercising, growing up Dolly Seeburger loved activities that demanded her full attention. “It was in those times that I felt most content, like I was in the zone,” she remembers. “Hours would pass, but it would feel like minutes.”

While this deep focus state is essential to highly effective work, it’s still not fully understood. Now, a new study led by Seeburger, a graduate student in the School of Psychology, alongside her advisor, Eric Schumacher, a professor in the School of Psychology is unearthing the mechanisms behind it. 

The interdisciplinary Georgia Tech team also includes Nan Xu, Sam Larson and Shella Keilholz (Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering), alongside Marcus Ma (College of Computing), and Christine Godwin (School of Psychology).

The researchers’ study, “Time-varying functional connectivity predicts fluctuations in sustained attention in a serial tapping task,” was published in Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience earlier this year, and it investigates brain activity via fMRI during periods of deep focus and less-focused work. 

The work is the first to investigate low-frequency fluctuations between different networks in the brain during focus, and could act as a springboard to study more complex behaviors and focus states.

“Your brain is dynamic! Nothing is just on or off,” Seeburger explains. “This is the phenomenon we wanted to study. How does one get into the zone? Why is it that some people can sustain their attention better than others? Is this something that can be trained? If so, can we help people get better at it?”

The dynamic brain

The team’s work is also the first to study the relationship between fluctuations in attention and the brain network patterns within these low-frequency 20-second cycles. “For quite a while, the studies on neural oscillations focused on faster temporal frequencies, and the appreciation of these very low-frequency oscillations is relatively new,” Seeburger says. “But, these low-frequency fluctuations may play a key role in regulating higher cognition such as sustained attention.”

“One of the things we've discovered in previous research is that there's a natural fluctuation in activity in certain brain networks. When a subject is not doing a specific task while in the MRI scanner, we see that fluctuation happen roughly every 20 seconds,” adds co-author Schumacher, explaining that the team was interested in the pattern because it is quasi-periodic, meaning that it doesn’t repeat exactly every 20 seconds, and it varies between different trials and subjects.

By studying these quasi-periodic cycles, the team hoped to measure the relationship between the brain fluctuation in these networks and the behavioral fluctuation associated with changes in attention.

Your attention needed

To measure attention, participants tapped along to a metronome while in an fMRI scanner. The team could measure how “in the zone” participants were by measuring how much variability was in each participant’s taps — more variability suggested the participant was less focused, while precise tapping suggested the participant was “in the zone.”

The researchers found that when a subject’s focus level changed, different regions of the brain synchronized and desychronized, in particular the fronto-parietal control network (FPCN) and default mode network (DMN), The FPCN is engaged when a person is trying to stay on task, whereas the DMN is correlated with internally-oriented thoughts (which a participant might be having when less focused). “When one is out-of-the-zone, these two networks synchronize, and are in phase in the low frequency,” Seeburger explains. “When one is in the zone, these networks desynchronize.”

The results suggest that the 20-second patterns could help predict if a person is sustaining their attention or not, and could provide key insight for researchers developing tools and techniques that help us deeply focus.

The big picture

While the direct relationship between behavior and brain activity is still unknown, these 20-second patterns in brain fluctuation are seen universally, and across species. “If you put someone in a scanner and their mind is wandering, you find these fluctuations. You can find these quasi-period patterns in rodents. You can find it in primates,” Schumacher says. “There's something fundamental about this brain network activity.”

“I think it answers a really fundamental question about the relationship between behavior and brain activity,” he adds. “Understanding how these brain networks work together and impact behavior could lead to new therapies to help people organize their brain networks in the most efficient way.”

And while this simple task might not investigate complex behaviors, the study could act as a springboard to move into more complicated behaviors and focus states. “Next, I would like to study sustained attention in a more naturalistic way,” Seeburger says. “I hope that we can further the understanding of attention and help people get a better handle on their ability to control, sustain, and increase it.”

 


DOI: https://doi.org/10.3758/s13415-024-01156-1

]]> sperrin6 1 1712599071 2024-04-08 17:57:51 1712797401 2024-04-11 01:03:21 0 0 news A team of Georgia Tech researchers is the first to study the relationship between fluctuations in attention and the brain network patterns within low-frequency 20-second cycles. They found that synchronized and desynchronized activity in different brain networks across 20-second cycles corresponds to small shifts in attention levels. The research may have applications for therapeutic treatments and could be a springboard for future innovation.

]]>
2024-04-09T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-09T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-09 00:00:00 Written by Selena Langner

Contact: Jess Hunt-Ralston

]]>
673655 673658 597958 673655 image <![CDATA[Photo credit: Paul Skorupskas, unsplash.com]]> image/jpeg 1712604380 2024-04-08 19:26:20 1712604380 2024-04-08 19:26:20 673658 image <![CDATA[Dolly Seeburger]]> image/jpeg 1712608243 2024-04-08 20:30:43 1712608243 2024-04-08 20:30:43 597958 image <![CDATA[Eric Schumacher]]> image/jpeg 1509117744 2017-10-27 15:22:24 1509117744 2017-10-27 15:22:24
<![CDATA[First Cohort Announced for Ascend Faculty Professional Development Program]]> 27998 Ascend, a new career development program for mid-career faculty, launched its cohort for Spring 2024. Supported by the Office of Faculty Professional Development, Ascend cohort members include academic professionals and lecturers from across campus.  

The cohort will build on current strengths and successes and explore ways to thrive mid-career and in the future. Using a faculty learning community model and the Appreciative Inquiry framework, participants will explore their interests, values, and goals, and create an actionable, individual strategic plan while developing skills for career growth and leadership. 

Members of the first cohort include: 

Participants in this program will learn to use the Appreciative Inquiry model to develop a personal development plan that includes a vision and mission; goals for personal learning, professional development, and career momentum; and an action plan. The program is designed to support faculty as they practice skills essential for collegiality and leadership in a cohort environment and explore opportunities for growth and career vitality at Georgia Tech. Participants will also take advantage of four professional coaching sessions during the calendar year with International Coaching Federation-accredited Director of the Office of Faculty Professional Development Rebecca Pope-Ruark.

Learn more about the Ascend program. 

]]> Brittany Aiello 1 1705436564 2024-01-16 20:22:44 1712782752 2024-04-10 20:59:12 0 0 news Ascend, a new career development program for mid-career faculty, launched its cohort for Spring 2024. Supported by the Office of Faculty Professional Development, Ascend cohort members include academic professionals and lecturers from across campus.

]]>
2024-01-16T00:00:00-05:00 2024-01-16T00:00:00-05:00 2024-01-16 00:00:00 Rebecca Pope-Ruark

Director of the Office of Faculty Professional Development

]]>
672760 672760 image <![CDATA[French Building.jpg]]> image/jpeg 1705436592 2024-01-16 20:23:12 1705436592 2024-01-16 20:23:12 <![CDATA[Ascend Mid-Career Development Program for APL Faculty]]>
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech's Sonification Lab Revolutionizes Eclipse Experience for Visually Impaired]]> 35797 As the April 8 solar eclipse approaches, millions of people anticipate participating in the wonder of this celestial event. Yet, for those with visual impairments, traditional methods of observing such phenomena may present limitations. Fortunately, resources from the team of Tech’s School of Psychology professor, Bruce Walker, offer an inclusive approach, ensuring that everyone can engage with and appreciate the eclipse experience. Through detailed auditory descriptions and immersive virtual environments, the Sonification Lab facilitates accessibility to the wonders of the universe for all, regardless of visual ability.

“This is the absolute first technology of its kind to give blind and visually impaired users the complete information and spatial knowledge of a map, especially for an eclipse,” said Brandon Biggs, Ph.D. student in the Human Centered Computing (HCC) program in the School of Interactive Computing.

At the forefront of the Sonification Lab’s research efforts are the resources provided by the lab’s website. This comprehensive platform serves as a hub for eclipse enthusiasts, offering detailed maps, predictions, and scientific insights into the upcoming solar eclipse. These resources are integral to the Sonification Lab's work, enabling them to create fully accessible and accurate auditory representations of the eclipse experience, says Walker.

Crafting an Immersive Soundtrack

Through meticulous analysis and interpretation of the data, Walker's team crafts auditory representations of the eclipse that accurately depict its various phases and phenomena. Each element, from the gradual obscuration of the sun to the fleeting moments of totality, he adds, is translated into carefully composed melodies and rhythms. This soundtrack offers listeners a unique and immersive way to experience the celestial event.

“It’s almost like infotainment,” said Walker. “We want to give a complete experience of totality during the eclipse, with the immersive sound of what birds and other animal behaviors would be at that time.”

As the moon begins to move across the face of the sun, the soundtrack reflects this gradual obscuration through subtle shifts in melody and rhythm. The gradual dimming of light is mirrored by a gradual crescendo in the music, creating a sense of anticipation and tension.

During the brief moments of totality, when the moon completely blocks the sun, the soundtrack reaches a climax. This crescendo symbolizes the awe-inspiring beauty of totality, capturing the profound experience of witnessing the sun's corona against the backdrop of darkness.

"Pull" Style Audio Map: This map outlines the precise path the solar eclipse will take across North America. It provides information about the regions that will experience totality, using the same path data from NASA. The map’s features offer both low lighting and an interactive icon to follow the route of the eclipse, making it engaging and web-accessibility compliant. By incorporating data from this map, the Sonification Lab ensures that their auditory representations align with the geographical features of the eclipse path.

"Push" Style Map: This map provides detailed information about the timing of the eclipse in various locations. According to Walker, the map highlights the moments of partial and total eclipse, allowing listeners to follow the progression of the event in real time. By integrating data from this map, the Sonification Lab synchronizes their auditory compositions with the chronological sequence of the eclipse.

Enhancing Accessibility Through VR Technology

In addition to facilitating this auditory experience, the Sonification Lab also explores virtual reality (VR) capabilities to enhance accessibility for those unable to witness the eclipse firsthand. By immersing users in a virtual environment, complete with visual and auditory components, VR technology enables individuals to experience the eclipse in a highly immersive and interactive manner.

Walker explains that, in the VR environment, users can explore detailed visual representations of the eclipse, including accurate depictions of the sun, moon, and Earth. These visual components provide additional context and enrichment to the auditory experience, allowing users to better understand the celestial mechanics at play.

To delve deeper into the wonders of the cosmos and experience the eclipse in a whole new way, individuals are encouraged to visit the website here.

]]> Siobhan Rodriguez 1 1712334456 2024-04-05 16:27:36 1712779732 2024-04-10 20:08:52 0 0 news As the April 8 solar eclipse approaches, millions of people anticipate participating in the wonder of this celestial event. Yet, for those with visual impairments, traditional methods of observing such phenomena may present limitations. Fortunately, resources from the team of Tech’s Sonification Lab offer an inclusive approach.

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2024-04-05T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-05T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-05 00:00:00 Siobhan Rodriguez

Institute Communications 

 

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673635 673635 image <![CDATA[Georgia Tech's Sonification Lab Revolutionizes Eclipse Experience for Visually Impaired]]> image/jpeg 1712334536 2024-04-05 16:28:56 1712334536 2024-04-05 16:28:56 <![CDATA[]]>
<![CDATA[LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA Detects Remarkable Gravitational-Wave Signal]]> 35599 This story was first published in the LIGO newsroom at CalTech.

In May 2023, shortly after the start of the fourth LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA observing run, the LIGO Livingston detector observed a gravitational-wave signal from the collision of what is most likely a neutron star with a compact object that is 2.5 to 4.5 times the mass of our Sun. Neutron stars and black holes are both compact objects, the dense remnants of massive stellar explosions.

What makes this signal, called GW230529, intriguing is that the mass of the heavier object falls within a possible mass-gap between the heaviest known neutron stars and the lightest black holes. The gravitational-wave signal alone cannot reveal the nature of this object, and future detections of similar events, especially those accompanied by bursts of electromagnetic radiation, could hold the key to solving this cosmic mystery.

"Gravitational waves offer an unprecedented glimpse into the cosmos, allowing us to study black holes and neutron stars at vast intergalactic distances," says Surabhi Sachdev, an assistant professor in the School of Physics at Georgia Tech and co-chair of the compact binary coalescence working group for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. 

"These cosmic messengers are unveiling a surprising population of compact objects with masses that defy our previous understanding based solely on electromagnetic observations," Sachdev explains. "The latest in this list is GW230529, a compact object with a mass that falls within the theorized 'mass gap' between neutron stars and black holes – a region once thought to be devoid of such objects. The ability to peer through this new window is reshaping our knowledge of the densest objects in the universe."

The mass gap between neutron stars and black holes

Before the detection of gravitational waves in 2015, the masses of stellar-mass black holes were primarily found using x-ray observations while the masses of neutron stars were found using radio observations. The resulting measurements fell into two distinct ranges with a gap between them from about 2 to 5 times the mass of our Sun. Over the years, a small number of measurements have encroached on the mass-gap, which remains highly debated among astrophysicists. 

Analysis of the signal GW230529 shows that it came from the merger of two compact objects, one with a mass between 1.2 to 2.0 times that of our Sun and the other slightly more than twice as massive. While the gravitational-wave signal does not provide enough information to determine with certainty whether these compact objects are neutron stars or black holes, it seems likely that the lighter object is a neutron star and the heavier object a black hole. Scientists in the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA Collaboration are confident that the heavier object is within the mass gap.  

Gravitational-wave observations have now provided almost 200 measurements of compact-object masses. Of these, only one other merger may have involved a mass-gap compact object – the signal GW190814 came from the merger of a black hole with a compact object exceeding the mass of the heaviest known neutron stars and possibly within the mass gap. 

With the observation of GW230529, comes excitement, not just for this observation, but future observations as well," says Megan Arogeti, a graduate student in the School of Physics at Georgia Tech working on post-merger signals from compact binary mergers. 

"With every observed gravitational wave signal with at least one neutron star progenitor, we have an opportunity to further our understanding of extremely dense nuclear matter," Arogeti says. "As our detector sensitivity increases, we can hope to observe more gravitational waves from the collision of neutron stars and black holes as well as the collision between two neutron stars, which could potentially feature a special postmerger signal allowing us to probe nuclear matter in a higher mass regime than we have been able to so far."

The fourth observing run with more sensitive detectors

The highly successful third observing run of the gravitational-wave detectors ended in spring 2020, bringing the number of known gravitational-wave detections to 90. Before the start of the fourth observing run O4 on May 24, 2023, the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA researchers made improvements to the detectors, the cyberinfrastructure, and the analysis software that allow them to detect signals from further away and to extract more information about the extreme events in which the waves are generated. 

Just five days after the launch of O4, things got really exciting. On May 29, 2023, the gravitational-wave signal GW230529 passed by the LIGO Livingston detector. Within minutes, the data from the detector was analyzed and an alert (designated S230529ay) was released publicly announcing the signal. Astronomers receiving the alert were informed that a neutron star and a black hole most likely merged about 650 million light-years from Earth. Unfortunately, the direction to the source could not be determined because only one gravitational-wave detector was observing at the time of the signal.

The fourth observing run is planned to last for 20 months including a couple of months break to carry out maintenance of the detectors and make a number of necessary improvements. By January 16, 2024, when the commissioning break started, a total of 81 significant signal candidates had been identified. GW230529 is the first of these to be published after detailed investigation.

Resuming the observing run

The fourth observing run will resume on April 10, 2024 with the LIGO Hanford, LIGO Livingston, and Virgo detectors operating together. The run will continue until February 2025 with no further planned breaks in observing. The sensitivity of the detectors should be slightly increased after the break.  

While the observing run continues, LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA researchers are analyzing the data from the first half of the run and checking the remaining 80 significant signal candidates that have already been identified. By the end of the fourth observing run in February 2025, the total number of observed gravitational-wave signals should exceed 200.

Gravitational-wave observatories

LIGO is funded by the NSF, and operated by Caltech and MIT, which conceived and built the project. Financial support for the Advanced LIGO project was led by NSF with Germany (Max Planck Society), the U.K. (Science and Technology Facilities Council) and Australia (Australian Research Council) making significant commitments and contributions to the project. More than 1,600 scientists from around the world participate in the effort through the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which includes the GEO Collaboration. Additional partners are listed at https://my.ligo.org/census.php.

The Virgo Collaboration is currently composed of approximately 880 members from 152 institutions in 17 different (mainly European) countries. The European Gravitational Observatory (EGO) hosts the Virgo detector near Pisa in Italy, and is funded by Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France, the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN) in Italy, and the National Institute for Subatomic Physics (Nikhef) in the Netherlands. A list of the Virgo Collaboration groups can be found at: https://www.virgo-gw.eu/about/scientific-collaboration/. More information is available on the Virgo website at https://www.virgo-gw.eu.

KAGRA is the laser interferometer with 3 km arm-length in Kamioka, Gifu, Japan. The host institute is Institute for Cosmic Ray Research (ICRR), the University of Tokyo, and the project is co-hosted by National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK). KAGRA collaboration is composed of over 400 members from 128 institutes in 17 countries/regions. KAGRA’s information for general audiences is at the website https://gwcenter.icrr.u-tokyo.ac.jp/en/. Resources for researchers are accessible from http://gwwiki.icrr.u-tokyo.ac.jp/JGWwiki/KAGRA.

 

]]> sperrin6 1 1712670845 2024-04-09 13:54:05 1712694766 2024-04-09 20:32:46 0 0 news Shortly after the start of the fourth LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA (LVK) observing run, the LIGO Livingston detector observed a remarkable gravitational-wave signal from the collision of what is most likely a neutron star with an unknown compact object — one that's 2.5 to 4.5 times the mass of the Sun.

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2024-04-09T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-09T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-09 00:00:00 Media Contacts

Georgia Tech College of Sciences

Jess Hunt-Ralston
jess@cos.gatech.edu

LIGO-Virgo-Kagra Collaboration

Susanne Milde, LVK Communications Group Lead
+49 172-393-1349
susanne.milde@ligo.org

Caltech

Whitney Clavin
626-390-9601
wclavin@caltech.edu

MIT

Abigail Abazorius
617-253-2709
abbya@mit.edu

Virgo

Isabel Cordero
isabel.cordero@uv.es

EGO

Vincenzo Napolano
+39 347-299-4985
napolano@ego-gw.it

NSF

Jason Stoughton, Staff Associate for Science Communications
703-292-7063
jstought@nsf.gov

KAGRA

Shinji Miyoki
+81-578-85-2623
kagra-pub@icrr.u-tokyo.ac.jp

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673663 673661 673663 image <![CDATA[The coalescence and merger of a lower mass-gap black hole (dark gray surface) with a neutron star (greatly tidally deformed by the black hole's gravity). Credit: Ivan Markin, Tim Dietrich (University of Potsdam), Harald Paul Pfeiffer, Alessandra Buonanno ]]> image/png 1712679810 2024-04-09 16:23:30 1712679810 2024-04-09 16:23:30 673661 image <![CDATA[ Surabhi Sachdev]]> image/jpeg 1712679229 2024-04-09 16:13:49 1712679229 2024-04-09 16:13:49
<![CDATA[ Astronomy Club Lets Students Share Their Passion for the Stars]]> 34541 This week, 50 students from Georgia Tech’s Astronomy Club will travel to Missouri to view the solar eclipse on April 8. Georgia isn’t in the path of totality — which occurs when the moon fully covers the sun — but Missouri is, and club members want to be there to experience the rare celestial event. While viewing the eclipse is the organization’s biggest adventure of the year, it is just one of many events the club hosts every month. The group is a place for hobbyist astronomers and physics students to connect over their love of the solar system and the mysteries within it.

Every Monday, the club hosts meetings at which a topic of astronomical interest — such as black holes or stellar evolution — is presented; attendees then visit the Georgia Tech Observatory to see what the sky has in the store for them that night.

“I am completing the astrophysics concentration for my studies, so I can apply what I learn in class to the club and explain to people what they’re actually looking at,” said Ethan Atkinson, club president and a fourth-year physics major. They also take monthly field trips to the observatory at Fernbank Museum for a different view of the sky and the chance to use older telescopes.

Once a month, weather permitting, the Astronomy Club invites everyone to join in on the fun with Public Nights at the Georgia Tech Observatory. Club members place telescopes outside the Howey Physics Building, where anyone take a look through the lens at whichever planet is in focus that evening. The events are popular, not just across campus but also Atlanta. Most nights, almost 350 people attend.

The club’s signature annual event for members is usually a field trip to dedicated dark sky area Deerlick Astronomy Village in Sharon, Georgia, to see constellations unadulterated by light pollution and capture them via astrophotography. “The main attraction for most people is seeing the Milky Way and counting shooting stars,” Atkinson said. While this year’s field trip is to Missouri for the eclipse, they are still bringing the cameras along.

The club wasn’t always this popular on campus. Even though the organization started in 2007 when Tech built the observatory, membership had dropped to only 20 members by 2021. Covid-19 made hosting a lot of people in a small observatory challenging, so faculty advisor James Sowell recommended they move the telescopes outside, increasing the number of people who could attend and the interest in studying physics. “Sometimes students take my classes because the club let them know about my courses,” Sowell said.

Atkinson has also worked to make the club more accessible to every major and interest level. Computational media student Victoria Nguyen was one of those students. Although she has loved astronomy since childhood, it was just a hobby until she found the club in her first year. “The community is really great and relaxed,” said Nguyen, who is incoming president of the club. “We’ve created a safe environment to learn about space, and you don’t even need to have your own telescope.”

Although solar eclipses don’t happen annually, the Astronomy Club is stronger and bigger than ever. Whether someone gazes at the stars nightly or has never even looked through a telescope, the club is open to the campus community — so everyone can better understand what lies beyond our planet.

]]> Tess Malone 1 1712583809 2024-04-08 13:43:29 1712694380 2024-04-09 20:26:20 0 0 news This week, 50 students from Georgia Tech’s Astronomy Club will travel to Missouri to view the solar eclipse on April 8. Georgia isn’t in the path of totality — which occurs when the moon fully covers the sun — but Missouri is, and club members want to be there to experience the rare celestial event. While viewing the eclipse is the organization’s biggest adventure of the year, it is just one of many events the club hosts every month. The group is a place for hobbyist astronomers and physics students to connect over their love of the solar system and the mysteries within it.

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2024-04-08T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-08T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-08 00:00:00 Tess Malone, Senior Research Writer/Editor

tess.malone@gatech.edu

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673645 673645 image <![CDATA[24-R10400-P39-003-Web Use - 1,000px Wide.jpg]]> Photo by Rob Felt

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<![CDATA[Earth Month Features Sustainability Events]]> 35028 April is Earth Month at Georgia Tech. Coordinated by the Office of Sustainability and hosted by partners across campus, it extends the Institute’s observance of Earth Day (April 22) by showcasing campus sustainability efforts and providing opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to learn and take action.  

This year’s Earth Month holds special significance, as Georgia Tech will soon publish its first Climate Action Plan, a road map for reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.   

“Earth Month presents us with a unique time to honor and safeguard our environment together,” said Vanessa Suarez, sustainability coordinator in the Office of Sustainability. “It's an opportunity for all of us to be inspired and make a positive difference, both locally and globally; a reminder that collective changes yield significant impact.”  

Events will be hosted by organizations and departments across campus during the month to learn, celebrate, and share best practices.   

Featured Event: Earth Day Sustainable Org Fair and Celebration  

Wednesday, April 17, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design 

This signature event will feature sustainability-focused departments and student organizations, Earth Month BYO T-shirt screen printing and other textiles, and free King of Pops popsicles. Sign up here to table. 

 

Earth Month Bird Walk – Lullwater (Emory)  

Friday, April 5, 10:25 a.m. – 12:35 p.m., Lullwater Preserve, 1463 Clifton Road 

Hosted by Georgia Tech Birdwatchers with support from the Office of Sustainability, attendees can observe and learn about birds with club experts at the scenic Lullwater Preserve near Emory’s campus. Binoculars provided.  

For registration and additional information, click here.  

 

Tech Beautification Day 

Saturday, April 6, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Tech Green 

Come get your hands dirty to make our campus green and beautiful at the 25th annual Tech Beautification Day, a volunteering event hosted by the Student Government Association and Infrastructure and Sustainability. The event is capped at 300 volunteers, so sign up today! 

For registration and additional information, click here.  

 

Global Media Festival Film Screening: ‘Bigger Than Us’ Documentary + Live Q&A   

Sunday, April 7, 2:30 – 5 p.m., John Lewis Student Center, Cypress Theater 

Bigger Than Us follows Melati Wijsen, an 18-year-old Indonesian activist fighting plastic pollution in her country as she expands her impact by collaborating with activists across the globe. The screening will be followed by a live virtual discussion with the film’s director, Flore Vasseur.  

This event is part of the Global Media Festival, taking place March 29 – April 7 and exploring themes around the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The festival is co-sponsored by the School of Modern Languages; the Atlanta Global Studies Center; the School of Literature, Media, and Communication; and the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems. 

For registration and additional information, click here.  

 

EcoCommons Tour  

Wednesday, April 10, Noon – 1 p.m., The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design 

The 80-acre EcoCommons is one of Georgia Tech’s most impressive sustainability features. Institute Landscape Architect Jason Gregory will lead attendees on a tour to learn about the native performance landscape adjacent to The Kendeda Building. 

 

Carbon Reduction Challenge Info Session – Virtual  

Thursday, April 11, 11 – 11:50 a.m., Online 

The Carbon Reduction Challenge is a competition focused on empowering students to become part of the climate change solution. Join the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business for a virtual information session to learn more about participating in the challenge this summer.  

For registration and more information, click here.  

 

Climate FRESK Workshops  

Climate FRESK is an internationally recognized workshop based on scientific reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that teaches the fundamental causes and effects of climate change through a collaborative and engaging game. The Office of Sustainability will host three FRESK Workshops throughout April. 

*The workshop on April 19 is co-sponsored by the Georgia Tech French Club and will be held partially in French.  

For more information and registration, click here.  

 

BBISS Seminar Series: Neha Kumar 

Thursday, April 11, 3 – 4 p.m., Hybrid Event – Online and BBISS Offices, 760 Spring Street, Suite 160 

Neha Kumar is an associate professor in the School of International Affairs and the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech. She will present a new paper that describes opportunities for human–computer interaction to reimagine the design of sociotechnical systems toward advancing sustainable, just, and humane futures. 

For more information and the event link, click here.  

 

Atlanta Global Studies Symposium: Languages of Sustainability and the Global South 

Friday, April 12, 8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m., Main Auditorium, Technology Square Research Building 

Hosted by the Atlanta Global Studies Center and with support from the Emory University Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives, the symposium will present initiatives that promote global education, language learning, sustainable development, and community engagement. Partners, faculty, students, community organizers, K-12 teachers, and the public are welcome.  

For more information and registration, click here

 

Frontiers in Science: Climate Action  

Thursday, April 18, 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., The Dalney Building 

The College of Sciences will convene 100 campus and community stakeholders to discuss groundbreaking research on climate change, challenges, and solutions. More than 25 speakers and panelists from across Georgia Tech and Atlanta will share their work and ideas to address major climate and community challenges. Frontiers will also feature leadership keynotes, a student video showcase with scholarships, networking lunch and reception, and a Strategic Energy Institute interdisciplinary seed grant challenge for assistant professors. 

Attendance is by invitation, and registration is limited.  
To suggest participants, please contact: events@cos.gatech.edu. 

 

Carbon Reduction Challenge Spring Showcase 

Friday, April 19, 2 – 4 p.m., The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design 

Eight teams composed of students enrolled in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences 3111, “Energy, Environment, and Society,” will present their final semester-long Carbon Reduction Challenge projects. The projects show more than 9 million pounds of carbon dioxide reductions annually while generating yearly savings of over $500 million in energy bills and carbon sequestration. Attendees can enjoy snacks and drinks and vote for their favorite project.  

For more information and registration, click here.  

 

Sustain-X Hangout 

Tuesday, April 23, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m., Hybrid/Scheller College of Business, Room 4426 

A partnership between the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business and CREATE-X, Sustain-X is a Sustainability Next and Georgia Tech strategic plan project. With events occurring on the fourth Tuesday of every month, this session will examine social and environmental entrepreneurship and how to access resources for projects. 

For more information and to register, click here.  

 

Interdisciplinary and Critical Approaches to Sustainability 

Wednesday, April 24, 2024, 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. 

The Atlanta Global Studies Center will present a conference entitled “Sustainability in a Planet of Diverse Knowledges and Persistent Inequalities.” The event features Georgia Tech faculty panels   and keynotes from Nelson Maldonado-Torres and Jessica Hernandez on “Colonial and Decolonial Sustainabilities” and “Indigenous Science: From Local to Global Context,” respectively. 

For more information and registration, click here.  

 

BBISS Seminar Series – Fani Boukouvala 

Thursday, April 25, 3 – 4 p.m., Hybrid/BBISS Offices, 760 Spring Street, Suite 160 

Fani Boukouvala, assistant professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, will present a talk about a new approach for chemical conversion of waste plastics to their original raw materials, including a detailed process modeling of a chemical reactor validated by experimental data, and proceed with simulation of an entire pilot scale facility.  

For the event link, click here.  

 

Additional events, volunteer opportunities, and campaigns are posted on the Earth Month calendar.  Submit your event to be featured via the Earth Month form

 

]]> cbrim3 1 1712255644 2024-04-04 18:34:04 1712344166 2024-04-05 19:09:26 0 0 news April is Earth Month with a full calendar of events open to the campus community.

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2024-04-04T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-04T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-04 00:00:00 Abby Bower

Sustainability Program Support Coordinator

Office of Sustainability | sustain.gatech.edu

Infrastructure and Sustainability

 

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673624 673624 image <![CDATA[23-R10400-P67-004-Web Use - 1,000px Wide.jpg]]> Earth Day Org Fair 2023

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<![CDATA[Physics Students’ Trip to Totality ]]> 36418 A total solar eclipse is a time of scientific discovery, confirming Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity in 1919, but the astronomical phenomenon can also be a time of personal discovery, just as it was for Dragomir Davidovic.   

An associate professor in the School of Physics whose expertise lies outside of astronomy, Davidovic didn't initially understand the hype surrounding the 2017 eclipse. However, he was instantly captivated as the moon passed between the sun and the Earth to reveal the star's corona.  

"When I saw my first eclipse, I was surprised by its power. Nature changed around us; the birds became quiet, and all of the animals near the farm were getting ready to go to sleep. It was eerie in a way, and it's a once-in-a-lifetime event that needs to be seen," he said.   

Unlike 2017, Georgia will not be in the path of totality for the eclipse occurring on Monday, April 8, so Davidovic and Edwin Greco, associate chair for student success, are leading a trip for 55 School of Physics students, primarily graduate students, to experience totality at the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in Southwest Illinois following an overnight stay in Nashville, Tennessee.  

While the eclipse can be viewed in an urban environment, such as Atlanta, where coverage will reach 85%, Davidovic wanted to give students the opportunity to feel the eclipse's full effect on nature as he experienced it seven years ago.   

"A rural setting allows you to have this true connection with nature, and it evokes this feeling of almost being a prehistoric human," he said.   

In addition to the reaction of animals, Jim Sowell, director of the Georgia Tech Observatory, explains that as the eclipse reaches its peak, temperatures will drop, and planets may become visible in the darkened sky. To view the eclipse, the group will be bringing safety glasses and a telescope with the appropriate lens for direct sunlight viewing.   

The idea for the trip came from a spontaneous conversation between Davidovic and School Chair Feryal Özel in August, and initially, Davidovic wondered if enough students would share his enthusiasm for such an adventure.   

"My biggest worry was that we wouldn't get enough students to sign up, but as it turned out, I was totally wrong," he said. "It goes to show there is a broad interest in this natural phenomenon. You don't have to be an astronomer; we have people signed up across many different fields,” he said.  

Among those immediately interested in joining the excursion was Nadia Qutob, a graduating physics major with an emphasis in astrophysics and a member of the Georgia Tech Astronomy Club.  

"Everyone in the world at some point in their lives looks up at the sky and wonders what is up there. Space has an incredible ability to unite us in our shared curiosity. It is deeply inspirational to me that so many people, especially young people, are excited about the eclipse. I hope it will lead to more interest in space research in the future," she said. 

Student interest in the eclipse is evident, with another trip being led by the Astronomy Club, which will be heading to the Ozarks to witness the event.  

Following Monday’s total solar eclipse, the continental U.S. will not see another of its kind until 2044. In the meantime, Davidovic's hobby has also influenced his academic work. He is now conducting research into the effects of merging black holes on quantum computers and continues to study additional astrophysical theories. 

]]> sgagliano3 1 1712259201 2024-04-04 19:33:21 1712343967 2024-04-05 19:06:07 0 0 news Sparked by a professor’s interest, 55 students from the School of Physics will travel to Illinois to enter the path of totality for the April 8 total solar eclipse.  

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2024-04-04T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-04T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-04 00:00:00 Steven Gagliano - Institute Communications

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673628 673629 673628 image <![CDATA[2017 Eclipse at Georgia Tech]]> image/jpeg 1712259595 2024-04-04 19:39:55 1712259595 2024-04-04 19:39:55 673629 image <![CDATA[Path of totality]]> Path of totality for the 2024 total solar eclipse. Courtesy of NASA.

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<![CDATA[Total Solar Eclipse Brings History Within Sight]]> <![CDATA[Solar Eclipse 2024 Accessible Resources]]>
<![CDATA[Good Dog: LASSIE Spirit Learns to Walk on the Moon ]]> 34528 This story by Landon Hall was first published in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering newsroom.

Georgia Tech alumna Feifei Qian (M.S. PHYS 2011, Ph.D. ECE 2015), an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and School of Advanced Computing, leads the NASA LASSIE project alongside co-investigator Frances Rivera-Hernández, an assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech. Sharissa Thompson, a graduate student at Georgia Tech, is a student intern on the NASA Curiosity Rover project.

The Palmer Glacier on Oregon’s Mount Hood isn’t the Moon, but it’s a good place to practice.

Some 6,000 feet up the snow-capped mountain, located about 70 miles east of Portland, a multi-disciplinary team from the University of Southern California, Texas A&M University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, and NASA gathered to turn loose a four-legged robot named Spirit into the wild.

The team that included engineers, cognitive scientists, geoscientists and planetary scientists field-tested Spirit as part of the LASSIE Project: Legged Autonomous Surface Science in Analog Environments. Spirit covered a variety of challenging terrains, using his spindly metal legs to amble over, across and over around shifting dirt, slushy snow and boulders during five days of testing in summer 2023. Sometimes he expertly traversed the hillside, while at other moments he teetered and fell over. All part of the process to better understand the substrate properties and learn to better walk on these extreme terrains. The practice time Spirit logged produced data that will be used to train future robots for use on intergalactic surfaces, like Earth’s moon and perhaps planets in our solar system.

“A legged robot needs to be able to detect what is happening when it interacts with the ground underneath, and rapidly adjust its locomotion strategies accordingly,” says Feifei Qian, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and School of Advanced Computing, which is leading the project funded by NASA. “When the robot leg slips on ice or sinks into soft snow, it inspires us to look for new principles and strategies that can push the boundary of human knowledge and enable new technology. We learn and improve from the observed failures.”

Watch this 5-minute video produced for the team by documentary filmmaker Sean Grasso.

Spirit learns from every step.

“Similar to the way that when we walk on uneven surfaces as humans, we can sort of detect how the ground is shifting beneath our feet, a legged robot is capable of the exact same thing,” says Cristina Wilson, a cognitive scientist at Oregon State University.

The more machines the merrier

Qian’s group doesn’t intend to stop at just one robot, wandering the wilderness alone. She and her former colleagues at Penn, Cynthia Sung, Mark Yim, Daniel Koditschek, and Douglas Jerolmack, received a two-year $2 million grant from NASA they’re calling the TRUSSES Project: Temporarily, Robots Unite to Surmount Sandy Entrapments, Then Separate. They want to help the space agency put teams of robots on the Moon and have them work together on tasks. They would take the knowledge they came in with, and the data they collect on the mission, and communicate those details to each other.

“They would sense how the ground conditions are,” Qian says, “and then exchange that information with one another, and collectively form a map of locomotion risk estimation. The team of robots can then use this traversal risk map to inform their planetary explorations: ‘There is an extremely soft sand patch that might be high-risk for wheeled rovers. Come over here, this might be a safer area.’ ”

The robots in mind for this kind of work would be more than just Spirit: There would be a wheeled rover (great for payload and long distances), a Hexapedal robot (intermediate payload but better mobility than the wheeled), and dog-like ones like the rugged version of Spirit (highest mobility, shorter distances). And here’s the coolest part of that research, the part that sounds like something the Transformers would do. Or at least a team of castaways on “Survivor”: If one got in a jam, made immovable by loose dirt or a rock or a ravine, his bot-mates would arrive and link together and form a bridge, or a pyramid, to hoist their pal to safety. And then back to work.

“When they plan for the strategy to pull the robot up, they’ll decide what force to exert and what position the robot should go to, while also compiling the terrain information,” Qian says. “That’s the key idea of how to use these capabilities: to both prevent and recover from locomotion failures in extreme terrain.”

Back to Mount Hood

Spirit gets around a variety of natural environments, to learn how to better move on challenging terrains. Qian has let him off his leash on Southern California beaches, and the multi-university team has field-tested him in the soft granules of White Sands National Park in New Mexico. But the video shot at Mount Hood shows just how otherworldly that landscape can be in these planetary-analogue environments. This provides Spirit with plenty of opportunities to learn on earth, before potentially exploring other planets.

“You look around us, it would be very hard to drive up this,” Ryan Ewing, a geologist from NASA Johnson Space Center, shares. “But as a legged being, as humans, we can step around it easily. A dog could walk around it easily. So this project is the proving ground that we can enable new science and new mobility on environments that are like other planets.”

In fact, a dog is indeed frisking about: Howard, Wilson’s German shepherd, wandered about, with the kind of agility Spirit could only dream of.

“We are going to observe how Howard moves in different types of snow and ice conditions,” Qian says. “What exactly, out of those combined motions, allows him to succeed on challenging terrain?”

The LASSIE Project calls for two more trips for Spirit: to Mount Hood this summer, and to White Sands next year. The TRUSSES team, from USC and Penn, also plans to visit White Sands next year with Spirit and the other, new, multi-tasking robots. Imagine WALL-E with friends.

The NASA PSTAR (Planetary Science and Technology Through Analog Research) number for this project is 80NSSC22K1313.

 

]]> jhunt7 1 1712241215 2024-04-04 14:33:35 1712247832 2024-04-04 16:23:52 0 0 news Scientists at Georgia Tech have teamed up with the University of Southern California (USC), University of Pennsylvania, Texas A&M, Oregon State, Temple University, and NASA Johnson Space Center to teach dog-like robots to navigate craters of the Moon and other challenging planetary surfaces in research funded by NASA.

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2024-04-03T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-03T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-03 00:00:00 Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

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673614 673617 673615 673616 673614 image <![CDATA[The LASSIE Project’s robot, dubbed Spirit, can “feel” and interpret surface force responses via leg-terrain interactions, assisting planetary scientists with data collection at Oregon’s Mount Hood, a lunar-analog site. (Justin Durner/LASSIE Project)]]> The LASSIE Project’s robot, dubbed Spirit, can “feel” and interpret surface force responses via leg-terrain interactions, assisting planetary scientists with data collection at Oregon’s Mount Hood, a lunar-analog site. (Justin Durner/LASSIE Project)

]]> image/jpeg 1712241534 2024-04-04 14:38:54 1712241534 2024-04-04 14:38:54
673617 image <![CDATA[The LASSIE Project Team — humans and robots — pictured at Mount Hood in summer 2023. (Justin Durner/LASSIE Project)]]> The LASSIE Project Team — humans and robots — pictured at Mount Hood in summer 2023. (Justin Durner/LASSIE Project)

]]> image/jpeg 1712241799 2024-04-04 14:43:19 1712241799 2024-04-04 14:43:19
673615 image <![CDATA[Georgia Tech alumna Feifei Qian (M.S. PHYS 2011, Ph.D. ECE 2015), an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and School of Advanced Computing, is leading the project funded by NASA.]]> Georgia Tech alumna Feifei Qian (M.S. PHYS 2011, Ph.D. ECE 2015), an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and School of Advanced Computing, is leading the project funded by NASA.

]]> image/jpeg 1712241625 2024-04-04 14:40:25 1712241625 2024-04-04 14:40:25
673616 image <![CDATA[Frances Rivera-Hernández, an assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, is helping develop a new generation of robots and rovers that can handle difficult terrain on the Moon, Mars, and other space destinations.]]> Frances Rivera-Hernández, an assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, is helping develop a new generation of robots and rovers that can handle difficult terrain on the Moon, Mars, and other space destinations.

]]> image/jpeg 1712241670 2024-04-04 14:41:10 1712241670 2024-04-04 14:41:10
<![CDATA[Frances Rivera-Hernández Lands NASA and Scialog Grants for Planetary Research, Signatures of Life]]> <![CDATA[Teaching robots to walk on the moon, and maybe rescue one another]]> <![CDATA[Practice Makes Perfect: Teaching Robots To Walk On The Moon]]> <![CDATA[NASA LASSIE: Legged Autonomous Surface Science In Analogue Environments]]>
<![CDATA[Pride Perspectives: Victoria Pham on the Power of Community, Remembering History, Supporting Students]]> 35185

June is Pride Month, a special time to celebrate the LGBTQIA community and honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. This month, the College of Sciences is sharing stories and experiences about what Pride Month means to students and campus leaders who are active in LGBTQIA organizations at Georgia Tech.

"Although we must be apart this summer, we are thrilled to join in celebrating Pride Month together online, this year,” says Susan Lozier, College of Sciences dean and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair. “Through listening and lifting up these perspectives, resources, and ideas, we connect in allyship and celebration with our vibrant LGBTQIA+ community across campus, the city of Atlanta, and beyond."

More 2020 Pride Perspectives:

Victoria Pham (she/her/hers) is from Ackworth, Georgia, and is vice president of Georgia Tech Pride Alliance. She is currently a fifth-year undergraduate student studying psychology, and a member of the Georgia Tech PARK Lab. She shares that her parents emigrated from Vietnam, and that she is pursuing minors in math and Spanish with hopes of using these skills to improve diversity in the workplace.

Q: What can people within the College of Sciences, and Georgia Tech as a whole, do to support LGBTQIA students? 

I think the biggest thing that instructors can do is introducing themselves with their pronouns and including them in their emails. I think this really shows that instructors are accepting of all gender identities, and it also helps to break the norm that we can assume someone's gender.

Q: Why is it important to celebrate Pride Month? What does the month mean to you?

I think it is important to celebrate Pride Month because it gives visibility to LGBTQIA people. It is also a way of celebrating the history that has enabled us to exist how we do today. This month, for me, represents a celebration of identity and the idea that we should not be ashamed of who we are. It also provides a lot of hope for me because it shows how much progress has been made since the Stonewall riots, and it makes me excited to see how we will continue to progress in the future.

Q: What has your experience within Georgia Tech Pride Alliance been like? What encouraged you to become vice president?

My experience with Pride Alliance has been educational and really enjoyable! I was able to make a lot of friends through Pride Alliance, and this has improved my overall experience of being a student at Georgia Tech. I was able to better focus on my own work when I knew had a supportive community behind me. Moreover, the previous exec board showed me the power of being involved in the community. This was a big motivator for me to run for vice president. Since I had gained so much from being a member of Pride Alliance, I wanted to carry that legacy on for students who were new to Georgia Tech, and also for students who had not found their community, yet.

Q: How would you describe the environment within the College of Sciences as it relates to support for LGBTQIA students?

In my experience, the College of Sciences instructors have been inclusive to LGBTQIA students. Especially within the psychology department, I feel like I have had many professors that have showed support for LGBTQIA students, either by mentioning Atlanta Pride, or acknowledging that the material we learn is from a heteronormative perspective. 

Q: Which Georgia Tech faculty members have inspired and supported you?

Dr. Keaton Fletcher and Dr. Ruth Kanfer have inspired me a lot and have also supported me as a student. Dr. Fletcher's class on personality psychology was really engaging, and the environment of the class helped to facilitate a lot of discussion. I felt like this class pushed me to think critically, and to constantly question the information presented to me. Dr. Kanfer has created an inclusive environment in her lab, which has helped me, to hone in on my goals as a future psychologist. She has been a role model to me, by demonstrating how having clear goals and staying focused on those [goals] can lead to a fruitful career. Overall, I feel that the influence of these two faculty members have helped me to realize my own goals — while also increasing my own interest in psychology.  

 

Get involved with the College of Sciences Graduate Diversity Council and Faculty Diversity Council, and learn about the creation of our new Staff Advisory Council and Task Force on Racial Equity.

To learn more and get involved with Georgia Tech's LGBTQIA Resource Center and related campus organizations, visit their website and check out virtual resources.

Meet Tegra Myanna, Georgia Tech LGBTQIA Resource Center's new director.

Interested in learning more about Pride Month and how to be an ally? Visit the LGBTQ+ Experiment Website (external link, recommended by a current Georgia Tech student).

]]> kpietkiewicz3 1 1593115455 2020-06-25 20:04:15 1712247491 2024-04-04 16:18:11 0 0 news Victoria shares how friendships and mentorship have supported her through her time at Georgia Tech.

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2020-06-25T00:00:00-04:00 2020-06-25T00:00:00-04:00 2020-06-25 00:00:00 Grace Pietkiewicz
Communications Assistant
College of Sciences
katiegracepz@gatech.edu

]]>
636545 636544 636547 636545 image <![CDATA[Buzz and Victoria Pham celebrate Pridefest 2019!]]> image/png 1593115915 2020-06-25 20:11:55 1593527633 2020-06-30 14:33:53 636544 image <![CDATA[Victoria Pham and her Fall 2019 Final Presentation in Research Methods]]> image/jpeg 1593115581 2020-06-25 20:06:21 1593115581 2020-06-25 20:06:21 636547 image <![CDATA[Victoria (middle, front) with friends at the 2019 oSTEM conference.]]> image/jpeg 1593116020 2020-06-25 20:13:40 1593116020 2020-06-25 20:13:40 <![CDATA[Pride Alliance]]> <![CDATA[Why is it important to respect people’s pronouns?]]> <![CDATA[Annual oSTEM Conferences]]>
<![CDATA[John Wise Joins Neil deGrasse Tyson at 2024 Asimov Debate]]> 35599 Has the James Webb Space Telescope changed astrophysics? That was the question posed by Neil deGrasse Tyson to a panel of leading experts, including Georgia Tech’s John Wise, at the 25th annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate.

The live event was held on March 19 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and while the 800 available tickets sold out within 20 minutes, the discussion is now publicly available on YouTube.

Tyson is the the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium. He personally invited Wise, a professor in the School of Physics and director of the Center for Relativistic Astrophysics, who traveled to New York for the event alongside his wife, Emily Alicea-Muñoz, a fellow physicist and academic professional in the School of Physics.

The discussion centered on how the James Webb Space Telescope has indeed changed astrophysics, especially in relation to understanding the first billion years after the Big Bang when galaxies and black holes were rapidly forming — an area where Wise has significant expertise.

Journey to the stars

“My research group and I have been focusing on this topic for several years, so I was ecstatic to participate in the panel,” Wise says. The event was also an opportunity for the astrophysicist to reconnect with fellow experts — the panel also included Mike Boylan-Kolchin of University of Texas at Austin, Wendy Freedman of the University of Chicago, Priya Natarajan of Yale University, and Rachel Somerville of the Flatiron Institute. Wise had previously collaborated on research with several of the panelists, and Tyson is no stranger to Georgia Tech.

“Just after I received my Ph.D., my collaborators and I worked with the Hayden Planetarium at the American National History Museum to produce a planetarium show segment from my simulations of the first stars,” Wise recalls. The show segment, Journey to the Stars, premiered in 2009 and was narrated by Whoopie Goldberg. Georgia Tech also hosted Tyson in 2014 at the Ferst Center, where many members of the Center for Relativistic Astrophysics met with him.

In the spirit of Isaac Asimov’s legacy of science-oriented storytelling, this year’s debate also provided an opportunity for audience members to “eavesdrop” on robust scientific discussion – with Tyson acting as an interpreter and storyteller, explaining the technical language and helping panelists explain advanced topics. 

“The conversation was fantastic,” says Wise. “Neil really brought out the best in us and our scientific endeavors in uncovering the mysteries of the early universe with the James Webb Space Telescope.” 

About the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate

The Hayden Planetarium notes that “the late Dr. Isaac Asimov, one of the most prolific and influential authors of our time, was a dear friend and supporter of the American Museum of Natural History. In his memory, the Hayden Planetarium is honored to host the annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate — generously endowed by relatives, friends, and admirers of Isaac Asimov and his work — bringing the finest minds in the world to the Museum each year to debate pressing questions on the frontier of scientific discovery. Proceeds from ticket sales of the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debates benefit the scientific and educational programs of the Hayden Planetarium.” Learn more and watch past debates here.

 

]]> sperrin6 1 1712175189 2024-04-03 20:13:09 1712242151 2024-04-04 14:49:11 0 0 news Wise, a professor in the School of Physics and director of the Center for Relativistic Astrophysics, spoke to how the James Webb Space Telescope has impacted astrophysics and our understanding of the formation of galaxies and black holes — a research area he specializes in at Georgia Tech.

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2024-04-03T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-03T00:00:00-04:00 2024-04-03 00:00:00 Written by Selena Langner

Contact: Jess Hunt-Ralston

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673610 673609 673610 image <![CDATA[John Wise, left, speaks at the 2024 Asimov Debate]]> image/jpeg 1712175376 2024-04-03 20:16:16 1712175376 2024-04-03 20:16:16 673609 image <![CDATA[Tyson, visiting Georgia Tech in 2014]]> image/jpeg 1712175376 2024-04-03 20:16:16 1712175376 2024-04-03 20:16:16
<![CDATA[Myth vs. Reality: Essential Facts to Know About Postdocs]]> 36249 Dive into the world of postdocs with our spotlight video interviews featuring Sam Gowland, Avery Davis Bell, Zita Hüsing, Ida Su, and Nicole Hellessey as they share their unique experiences and insights on what it truly means to be a postdoc.

At any given time, Georgia Tech has 350 to 400 postdoctoral scholars (postdocs) making valuable contributions to research across the globe, with most right here on our Atlanta campus engaged in research, mentorship, and teaching.
  
Postdocs push the boundaries of what is possible in a variety of fields. However, despite their significant role in academic institutions, there are many misconceptions surrounding the role of a postdoc.

Daniel Vallejo, postdoctoral scholar at Tech, and Karena Nguyen, assistant director in the Office of Postdoctoral Services, weigh in on common myths about postdocs versus reality.

Myth #1: Postdocs are "super" grad students. 

Reality: Graduate students undergo structured training and coursework, with the end goal of producing a thesis or dissertation. Graduate students primarily dedicate their effort towards degree completion under the guidance of their academic supervisor and dissertation committee.

In contrast, the National Postdoctoral Association defines postdocs as “individuals in a defined period of mentored training following the achievement of their terminal degrees,” typically a Ph.D. Therefore, postdocs operate at a different level of independence and have a variety of roles and goals. For example, postdocs may initiate and lead research projects, teach courses, mentor undergraduate and graduate students, secure funding through fellowship applications, and collaborate with other experts in addition to publishing research.

Myth #2: Only STEM fields have postdocs. 

Reality: Postdoctoral positions exist in many fields, including science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), humanities, and social sciences. At Tech, postdocs work in all six colleges and a number of research centers.

Myth #3: Postdocs only conduct research. 

Reality: The role of a postdoc extends far beyond research. Postdocs at Tech actively engage in mentorship, shaping the next generation of scholars. Tech postdocs can also be found in the classroom teaching undergraduate students. Postdocs also tend to be very active outside their official duties, and often can be found volunteering to provide academic or community service.

Myth #4: Postdocs only become faculty members. 

Reality: While becoming a faculty member is a viable and commonly pursued career path, a postdoctoral position provides additional training that opens doors to a multitude of career fields. Postdocs can find opportunities in academia, industry, government, or nonprofit organizations, and the postdoc experience is often pivotal for transitioning into these exciting careers.

Myth #5: Being a postdoc isn't a "real" job. 

Reality: Postdoctoral positions are temporary and provide additional training for individuals to pursue a desired career path. It is an enriching employment opportunity and allows individuals to apply the skills honed during their Ph.D. to different fields or broaden their skillset through internal, domestic, and international collaborations. There are opportunities for creativity, exploration, growth, and independence.

 

The Postdoc Visibility Project is a collaboration between the Office of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Services, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Tech’s postdocs. Our goal is to highlight the contributions of postdocs to the research enterprise, humanize the postdoc experience, and connect postdocs to each other. To achieve this, we will share three spotlight articles and accompanying video interviews throughout the Spring 2024 semester.

This work is supported in part by the National Sciences Foundation Mathematical and Physical Sciences divisions ASCEND program under grant award number CHE-2138107. 

]]> Sara Franc 1 1707853579 2024-02-13 19:46:19 1712171928 2024-04-03 19:18:48 0 0 news Postdocs push the boundaries of what is possible in a variety of fields. However, despite their significant role in academic institutions, there are many misconceptions surrounding the role of a postdoc.

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2024-02-13T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-13T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-13 00:00:00 673127 673122 673127 image <![CDATA[Ida1.jpg]]> image/jpeg 1708107135 2024-02-16 18:12:15 1708107057 2024-02-16 18:10:57 673122 video <![CDATA[youtube]]> 1708100362 2024-02-16 16:19:22 1716321468 2024-05-21 19:57:48
<![CDATA[Chunhui Du Awarded DOE Grant for Quantum Sensing Research ]]> 35599 Chunhui (Rita) Du has been awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Energy for her research into quantum sensing. The $652,965 grant, for “Nanoscale Quantum Sensing and Imaging of Topological Magnets,” will provide funding for the next three years.

Du, an assistant professor in the School of Physics, studies quantum materials at very small scales. This project will leverage state-of-the-art quantum sensing and imaging techniques developed in her lab to study the properties of topological magnets at the nanoscale — and create a quantum microscopy platform, which she hopes will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the fundamental properties of these materials, as dictated by quantum mechanics.

“Topological magnets serve as a novel, cutting-edge material system, which is promising for developing next-generation, transformative quantum information technologies,” says Du. 

“Currently, magnetic and charge properties of topological materials are mainly characterized by bulk measurements,” she explains. But, by using color-centers in diamonds, she plans to leverage cutting-edge quantum sensing techniques, creating ultra-sensitive quantum spin sensors.

These diamond color-centers have been shown to vastly outperform traditional methods, and Du hopes that by demonstrating their operation under previously unexplored experimental conditions, their use can be applied to other material systems, expediting progress toward future quantum sciences and technologies.

“The project has the potential to make important contributions to the burgeoning field of quantum materials,” says Du, “and to significantly promote the role of topological magnets in developing next-generation, transformative information technologies.”

Du is also the recipient of Sloan Fellowship, Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program Award, U.S. Department of Energy Early Career Award, National Science Foundation CAREER Award, U.S. Air Force Young Investigator Award, and the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics Early Career Scientist Prize.

 

]]> sperrin6 1 1711721896 2024-03-29 14:18:16 1711722530 2024-03-29 14:28:50 0 0 news Chunhui (Rita) Du has been awarded a $652,965 grant by the U.S. Department of Energy for her research into quantum sensing. “The project has the potential to make important contributions to the burgeoning field of quantum materials,” says Du, “and to significantly promote the role of topological magnets in developing next-generation, transformative information technologies.”

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2024-03-29T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-29T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-29 00:00:00 Written by Selena Langner

Contact: Jess Hunt-Ralston

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673553 673553 image <![CDATA[Chunhui (Rita) Du]]> image/jpeg 1711722232 2024-03-29 14:23:52 1711722232 2024-03-29 14:23:52
<![CDATA[Students Receive Fulbright Canada-Mitacs Globalink Awards]]> 34528 Three Georgia Tech undergraduate students have been selected for the 2024 Fulbright Canada-Mitacs Globalink Summer Research Program, which provides summer internship opportunities for undergraduates interested in pursuing advanced research in their academic disciplines. The Fulbright Canada-Mitacs Globalink Program supports the Fulbright goals of advancing knowledge and understanding in the world by promoting international study, research, and ambassadorship. Charles Hong, Sandip Das, and Ryan Wiebold travel to Canada this summer for 10-12 weeks to advance their research projects in top-tier research facilities.

Ryan Wiebold, a chemistry major, will work on the Main Group Chemistry for Small-Molecule Activation project at Western University in London, Ontario. His research will include synthesizing small inorganic molecules using spectrophotometric techniques to characterize them and study their viability in assisting with conversion of greenhouse gases to fuel. While in Canada, Wiebold also plans to build relationships with students from other universities and get involved in intramural sports with his lab group.All three students highlight the value in working with Prestigious Fellowships advisor Karen Mura as part of their application process. Dr. Mura helped guide and advise Hong, Das, and Wiebold throughout the process of applying for these opportunities, providing feedback on personal essays and informing them about the Fulbright Canada-Mitacs Globalink Summer Research Program.

Charles Hong, a biomedical engineering major, plans to research magnetic soft robots for medical surgeries in the Healthcare Applications for Robotic Technologies at McMaster University. As part of his research, Hong will be designing a magnetic robotic capsule used to store a biopsy yield. The capsule will be actuated using a magnetic actuation system and delivered to an in-vitro lung phantom to test the capabilities of the capsule. In addition to his research work, Hong is planning to visit Niagara Falls and spend time exploring Toronto.

Sandip Das, a biomedical engineering major, will research at the Przybyl Lab at McGill University, investigating metabolic pathways in soft-tissue sarcomas. Das hopes his research can inform the development of highly targeted and personalized cancer therapies. During his time in Canada, Das hopes to connect with friends, explore Montreal, and learn more about Quebecois culture.

]]> jhunt7 1 1711653897 2024-03-28 19:24:57 1711654012 2024-03-28 19:26:52 0 0 news Charles Hong, Sandip Das, and Ryan Wiebold will travel to Canada this summer to advance their research projects in top-tier research facilities.

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2024-03-18T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-18T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-18 00:00:00 673542 673542 image <![CDATA[Sandip Das, Charles Hong, Ryan Wiebold]]> image/jpeg 1711653916 2024-03-28 19:25:16 1711653916 2024-03-28 19:25:16
<![CDATA[Women’s Health Takes Center Stage at InVenture Prize 2024]]> 27469 After months of fierce competition, Lilypad Health has been crowned this year’s InVenture Prize winners. The team's invention, an at-home, non-invasive menstrual blood screening tool, proposes an alternative to traditional practices in women’s health while making testing more accessible to the uninsured.

Teammates Rhea Prem, Netra Gandhi, and Ethan Damiani have known each other since their first year and embarked on this transformative journey as a capstone project. Recognizing the significant gap in access to care and preventive health measures, especially in women's health, the team set out to develop a solution that would empower individuals with greater control over their health.

Lilypad Health offers less invasive testing for a range of crucial health indicators, including HPV, cervical cancer, HbA1C, hormones and fertility health, PCOS, and endometriosis. By enabling women to conduct these tests in the comfort and privacy of their own homes, Lilypad Health is poised to revolutionize the way women approach their health and wellness.

Their efforts are not just about developing a product — the team is actively working to break down stigmas surrounding menstruation and period-related health issues, fostering a more open and inclusive dialogue around women's health. Their work has been recognized with an AIDS Research Award and was featured in Women’s Health earlier this year.

With two prototypes already in development and testing underway for preserved biomarkers for sample presentation, Lilypad Health is making significant strides toward bringing their innovative solution to the masses. And they aren’t the only ones who feel their invention is urgently needed — the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted the team a patent acceleration certificate and they are currently in talks with menstrual pad manufacturers about partnering to make their product even more widely available. When asked what they would do with the $20,000 InVenture Prize money, Rhea replied, “Work on getting our product to market.”

Lilypad Health’s vision of becoming a leading women's health company is well within reach. In addition to the award money, the team has gained a coveted spot in Georgia Tech’s CREATE-X Startup Launch, a 12-week summer program where they will receive coaching and mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs and have the opportunity to pitch their model to investors. 

You can learn more about Lilypad Health and their transformative invention on their website.

Second place and $10,000 went to Makr Papr, a team of computer science, computer engineering, and mechanical engineering students who have developed an innovative, patent-pending technology that promises to replace name tags and event apps at conferences with an easy-to-use, tap-and-go printable paper.

“We want to show others that it doesn't matter where you come from or your background,” says the team. “If we can do it, you can do it.”

The People’s Choice Award, selected through audience voting during the live show, went to team Candor. Comprising four computer science majors, this team invented what they call a “Constituent Relationship Management (CRM)” platform that aims to make “democratic participation more accessible and effective for everyone.” The platform offers a streamlined reporting and tracking process to expedite infrastructure maintenance for city governments and municipalities.

Learn more about all of the 2024 finalists on the InVenture Prize website, and if you missed the live show, check back for a link to the recording.

]]> Kristen Bailey 1 1710423861 2024-03-14 13:44:21 1711633725 2024-03-28 13:48:45 0 0 news Winner Lilypad Health disrupts invasive healthcare practices with an accessible alternative.

]]>
2024-03-14T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-14T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-14 00:00:00 Rachael Greene

Office of Undergraduate Education

]]>
673389 673391 673392 673389 image <![CDATA[InVenture Prize 2024 Winners]]> InVenture Prize 2024 Winners, Lilypad Health. Photo by Allison Carter

]]> image/jpeg 1710423250 2024-03-14 13:34:10 1710423248 2024-03-14 13:34:08
673391 image <![CDATA[InVenture Prize 2024 Second Place Winners]]> InVenture Prize 2024 Second Place Winners, Makr Papr. Photo by Allison Carter

]]> image/jpeg 1710423515 2024-03-14 13:38:35 1710423515 2024-03-14 13:38:35
673392 image <![CDATA[InVenture Prize 2024 People's Choice Winners]]> InVenture Prize 2024 People's Choice Winners, Candor. Photo by Allison Carter

]]> image/jpeg 1710423564 2024-03-14 13:39:24 1710423564 2024-03-14 13:39:24
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech InVenture Prize]]> <![CDATA[InVenture Prize 2024 Finalists]]>
<![CDATA[Researchers Reveal Roadmap for AI Innovation in Brain and Language Learning]]> 35599 One of the hallmarks of humanity is language, but now, powerful new artificial intelligence tools also compose poetry, write songs, and have extensive conversations with human users. Tools like ChatGPT and Gemini are widely available at the tap of a button — but just how smart are these AIs? 

A new multidisciplinary research effort co-led by Anna (Anya) Ivanova, assistant professor in the School of Psychology at Georgia Tech, alongside Kyle Mahowald, an assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin, is working to uncover just that.

Their results could lead to innovative AIs that are more similar to the human brain than ever before — and also help neuroscientists and psychologists who are unearthing the secrets of our own minds. 

The study, “Dissociating Language and Thought in Large Language Models,” is published this week in the scientific journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences. The work is already making waves in the scientific community: an earlier preprint of the paper, released in January 2023, has already been cited more than 150 times by fellow researchers. The research team has continued to refine the research for this final journal publication. 

“ChatGPT became available while we were finalizing the preprint,” Ivanova explains. “Over the past year, we've had an opportunity to update our arguments in light of this newer generation of models, now including ChatGPT.”

Form versus function

The study focuses on large language models (LLMs), which include AIs like ChatGPT. LLMs are text prediction models, and create writing by predicting which word comes next in a sentence — just like how a cell phone or email service like Gmail might suggest what next word you might want to write. However, while this type of language learning is extremely effective at creating coherent sentences, that doesn’t necessarily signify intelligence.

Ivanova’s team argues that formal competence — creating a well-structured, grammatically correct sentence — should be differentiated from functional competence — answering the right question, communicating the correct information, or appropriately communicating. They also found that while LLMs trained on text prediction are often very good at formal skills, they still struggle with functional skills.

“We humans have the tendency to conflate language and thought,” Ivanova says. “I think that’s an important thing to keep in mind as we're trying to figure out what these models are capable of, because using that ability to be good at language, to be good at formal competence, leads many people to assume that AIs are also good at thinking — even when that's not the case.

It's a heuristic that we developed when interacting with other humans over thousands of years of evolution, but now in some respects, that heuristic is broken,” Ivanova explains.

The distinction between formal and functional competence is also vital in rigorously testing an AI’s capabilities, Ivanova adds. Evaluations often don’t distinguish formal and functional competence, making it difficult to assess what factors are determining a model’s success or failure. The need to develop distinct tests is one of the team’s more widely accepted findings, and one that some researchers in the field have already begun to implement.

Creating a modular system

While the human tendency to conflate functional and formal competence may have hindered understanding of LLMs in the past, our human brains could also be the key to unlocking more powerful AIs. 

Leveraging the tools of cognitive neuroscience while a postdoctoral associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Ivanova and her team studied brain activity in neurotypical individuals via fMRI, and used behavioral assessments of individuals with brain damage to test the causal role of brain regions in language and cognition — both conducting new research and drawing on previous studies. The team’s results showed that human brains use different regions for functional and formal competence, further supporting this distinction in AIs. 

“Our research shows that in the brain, there is a language processing module and separate modules for reasoning,” Ivanova says. This modularity could also serve as a blueprint for how to develop future AIs.

“Building on insights from human brains — where the language processing system is sharply distinct from the systems that support our ability to think — we argue that the language-thought distinction is conceptually important for thinking about, evaluating, and improving large language models, especially given recent efforts to imbue these models with human-like intelligence,” says Ivanova’s former advisor and study co-author Evelina Fedorenko, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT and a member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

Developing AIs in the pattern of the human brain could help create more powerful systems — while also helping them dovetail more naturally with human users. “Generally, differences in a mechanism’s internal structure affect behavior,” Ivanova says. “Building a system that has a broad macroscopic organization similar to that of the human brain could help ensure that it might be more aligned with humans down the road.” 

In the rapidly developing world of AI, these systems are ripe for experimentation. After the team’s preprint was published, OpenAI announced their intention to add plug-ins to their GPT models. 

“That plug-in system is actually very similar to what we suggest,” Ivanova adds. “It takes a modularity approach where the language model can be an interface to another specialized module within a system.” 

While the OpenAI plug-in system will include features like booking flights and ordering food, rather than cognitively inspired features, it demonstrates that “the approach has a lot of potential,” Ivanova says.

The future of AI — and what it can tell us about ourselves

While our own brains might be the key to unlocking better, more powerful AIs, these AIs might also help us better understand ourselves. “When researchers try to study the brain and cognition, it's often useful to have some smaller system where you can actually go in and poke around and see what's going on before you get to the immense complexity,” Ivanova explains.

However, since human language is unique, model or animal systems are more difficult to relate. That's where LLMs come in. 

“There are lots of surprising similarities between how one would approach the study of the brain and the study of an artificial neural network” like a large language model, she adds. “They are both information processing systems that have biological or artificial neurons to perform computations.” 

In many ways, the human brain is still a black box, but openly available AIs offer a unique opportunity to see the synthetic system's inner workings and modify variables, and explore these corresponding systems like never before.

It's a really wonderful model that we have a lot of control over,” Ivanova says. “Neural networks — they are amazing.”

 

Along with Anna (Anya) Ivanova, Kyle Mahowald, and Evelina Fedorenko, the research team also includes Idan Blank (University of California, Los Angeles), as well as Nancy Kanwisher and Joshua Tenenbaum (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2024.01.011

Researcher Acknowledgements

For helpful conversations, we thank Jacob Andreas, Alex Warstadt, Dan Roberts, Kanishka Misra, students in the 2023 UT Austin Linguistics 393 seminar, the attendees of the Harvard LangCog journal club, the attendees of the UT Austin Department of Linguistics SynSem seminar, Gary Lupyan, John Krakauer, members of the Intel Deep Learning group, Yejin Choi and her group members, Allyson Ettinger, Nathan Schneider and his group members, the UT NLL Group, attendees of the KUIS AI Talk Series at Koç University in Istanbul, Tom McCoy, attendees of the NYU Philosophy of Deep Learning conference and his group members, Sydney Levine, organizers and attendees of the ILFC seminar, and others who have engaged with our ideas. We also thank Aalok Sathe for help with document formatting and references.

Funding sources

Anna (Anya) Ivanova was supported by funds from the Quest Initiative for Intelligence. Kyle Mahowald acknowledges funding from NSF Grant 2104995. Evelina Fedorenko was supported by NIH awards R01-DC016607, R01-DC016950, and U01-NS121471 and by research funds from the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and the Simons Foundation through the Simons Center for the Social Brain.

]]> sperrin6 1 1709221075 2024-02-29 15:37:55 1711567603 2024-03-27 19:26:43 0 0 news A new study co-led by School of Psychology's Anna (Anya) Ivanova uncovers the relationship between language and thought in artificial intelligence models like ChatGPT, leveraging cognitive neuroscience research on the human brain. The results are a roadmap to developing new AIs — and to better understanding how we think and communicate.

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2024-03-19T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-19T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-19 00:00:00 Written by Selena Langner

Editor and Press Contact:
Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences
Georgia Tech

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673267 673258 673259 673267 image <![CDATA[Anna (Anya) Ivanova]]> image/jpeg 1709232142 2024-02-29 18:42:22 1709232116 2024-02-29 18:41:56 673258 image <![CDATA[The Intersection of AI and Cognitive Neuroscience]]> image/jpeg 1709221061 2024-02-29 15:37:41 1709220852 2024-02-29 15:34:12 673259 image <![CDATA[Anna (Anya) Ivanova]]> image/jpeg 1709221061 2024-02-29 15:37:41 1709220852 2024-02-29 15:34:12 <![CDATA[Sparks of Artificial General Intelligence: Early experiments with GPT-4]]> <![CDATA[Some Glimpse AGI in ChatGPT. Others Call It a Mirage]]> <![CDATA[The Difference Between Speaking and Thinking]]> <![CDATA[MIT McGovern Institute press release]]> <![CDATA[UT Austin press release]]>
<![CDATA[A Clearer Image of Glaucoma]]> 35599 From Parkinson’s and Alzheimer's to cardiac arrhythmia, amyloids are linked to a number of diseases. These aggregates of proteins form in the body when a protein loses its normal structure and misfolds or mutates. And since many of these proteins are large and complicated, just how some of these mutations occur and aggregate remains a mystery — as does the creation of effective treatments.

New research on glaucoma led by Georgia Tech chemists and an alumna may help change that.

“There has been a lot of work done to understand how smaller folded proteins form amyloid aggregates, but this study helps us to understand the aggregation pathway of a larger, more complex system,” says co-first author Emily Saccuzzo. That work could one day help scientists uncover new modes of treatment not just for glaucoma, but for other diseases caused by protein aggregation, as well.

Saccuzzo started the project in 2018 as a graduate student in the Lieberman Lab in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech, and is now a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Pacific Northwest National Labs. “Emily was a summer student before she matriculated, and she established the initial feasibility of doing these experiments,” says Raquel Lieberman, professor and Sepcic Pfeil Chair in Chemistry at Georgia Tech. “I'm immensely proud of her.”

Their research team's recent findings are featured in a new paper, “Competition between inside-out unfolding and pathogenic aggregation in an amyloid-forming β-propeller," published in the journal Nature Communications.

Lieberman and Saccuzzo brought together researchers from throughout and beyond the Institute to collaborate on the study.

“This was a very multi-disciplinary project, and that's always really satisfying,” Lieberman says. “I think when you bring more people to the table, you can answer hard questions and do more than you can do on your own.”

The Georgia Tech research team includes Hailee F. Scelsi, Minh Thu Ma, and Shannon E. Hill of the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry; Xinya Su and Matthew P. Torres of the School of Biological Sciences; Elisa Rheaume or the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Biosciences; and James C. Gumbart, who holds joint appointments in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, School of Biological Sciences, and School of Physics. The research team also includes Saccuzzo's co-first author Mubark D. Mebrat, Minjoo Kim, and Wade D. Van Horn of Arizona State University as well as Renhao Li of the Emory University School of Medicine.

A complicated protein

While many studies have focused on smaller proteins, called model proteins, that have established ‘rules’ and known patterns for amyloid-formation (a specialized type of protein aggregation), the protein that contributes to glaucoma is larger and more complex. This type of larger, complicated protein is relatively unstudied.

“We had known for a while that mutations in myocilin can cause the protein to misfold and aggregate, which in turn leads to glaucoma,” Saccuzzo says. “What we didn’t know, however, was the exact mechanism by which this protein misfolds and aggregates.

“The goal of this study was to determine how disease mutants are misfolded, in hopes that that would give us insight into the early steps in the aggregation pathway,” she adds.

Located at the interface between the white of the eye and the colored iris, the protein forms a tiny small ring all the way around the eye. “Every time you blink, you stretch that muscle. Every time the wind blows really strong, or you get something in your eye. Every time you rub your eye, you could be affecting this protein — even when it's not causing disease,” Lieberman says. Still, scientists aren’t sure what the protein does. “We only know what it's doing when it's causing trouble,” like glaucoma, she explains. “We don't know what its actual biological function is.”

Lieberman was initially attracted to the idea of studying the protein because she wondered if the research done on the model proteins might be applicable to the protein causing glaucoma. “The really early studies showed that it was likely similar to these model proteins that form amyloid,” Lieberman says. “I wanted to look into that because if we could show that that was true, then we could tap into the amazing resources and research done on model systems to help us combat the disease.”

An unpredictable system

“This was one of the largest amyloid-forming proteins characterized to date,” Saccuzzo says, and while the team hoped that they would find similarities to model proteins, the larger glaucoma-associated protein showed increased complexity.

“I think one of the most surprising observations that we made is that the protein itself is not at equilibrium for about 90 days after it’s made,” Lieberman adds. “One of the tenets of protein chemistry is that amino acid sequences adopt a unique structure, and that all of the information needed to fold the protein into its 3D structure is held in that amino acid sequence.”

Here, the protein was shimmying a small amount, meaning that it wasn’t at equilibrium. “There's so much more going on in the system than anyone could have imagined,” Lieberman explains. “We assume that the shape controls some of the properties, but this is another mystery of this protein.”

Because the protein is so complicated and isn’t at equilibrium, “there is a long list of the things we can’t predict,” says Lieberman, adding that it makes computer predictions difficult, along with certain experiments. “That was a moment when we thought: wow, here's this new system that people should think about. The rules might be refined to help us better understand what's going on.”

The future of protein modeling

While further research will need to be conducted in order to determine how best to treat glaucoma, the study provides a critical foundation for future studies. “What is not clear to me right now is whether we would be able to find one drug for all the people who have mutations, or if we need a specific drug for each type of mutation that we would encounter,” Lieberman says. While the research doesn’t prove that one treatment might not be effective for all, “it certainly shows that there's a lot more to this system than we ever expected.”

“Understanding what disease mutants look like at the molecular level could help pave the way for structurally-specific glaucoma therapeutics and diagnostic tools,” Saccuzzo adds.

Lieberman and Saccuzzo also underscore that the work done to understand the protein responsible for glaucoma can also be applied to other large proteins.

“At the end of the day, more proteins are not model proteins than are model proteins,” Lieberman says. “There are many more systems out there, and I suspect that there are many more proteins that can aggregate and may contribute to disease or aging that have yet to be explored. I think this research shows the value of bringing lots of different approaches to probing a complicated system to learn more about it.”

 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-44479-2

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institutes of Health award numbers R01EY021205 (RLL, WVH), R41EY031203 (RLL), R01GM123169 (JCG), and R35GM141933 (WVH). EGS, HFS, and MTM were supported in part by 5T32EY007092-35.

Raquel Lieberman's research is supported by the Kelly Sepcic Pfeil, Ph.D. Faculty Endowment Fund.

 

]]> sperrin6 1 1708094528 2024-02-16 14:42:08 1711567013 2024-03-27 19:16:53 0 0 news Georgia Tech chemists are exploring the behavior of a complex protein associated with glaucoma — characterizing one of the largest amyloid-forming proteins to date. The study could lead to more treatment and prevention pathways for glaucoma, and other diseases associated with large, aggregating proteins.

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2024-02-20T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-20T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-20 00:00:00 Written by Selena Langner

Contact: Jess Hunt-Ralston

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673112 673113 673114 673112 image <![CDATA[A human eye - Image from Unsplash]]> image/jpeg 1708094151 2024-02-16 14:35:51 1708094079 2024-02-16 14:34:39 673113 image <![CDATA[Emily Saccuzzo ]]> image/jpeg 1708094152 2024-02-16 14:35:52 1708094079 2024-02-16 14:34:39 673114 image <![CDATA[Raquel Lieberman]]> image/jpeg 1708094152 2024-02-16 14:35:52 1708094079 2024-02-16 14:34:39
<![CDATA[Inaugural Alumnae Honorees Named for Celebration of Georgia Tech Women ]]> 34528 Celebrating Georgia Tech Women: Pathway of Progress is the new name of the forthcoming, permanent tribute to the impact of women from Georgia Tech, now under construction near the John Lewis Student Center and Stamps Commons. Set to open in Fall 2024, the physical installation and accompanying digital experience will celebrate 70 graduates, as well as 98 women and events with historical significance to the Institute. 

The Institute is proud to reveal the inaugural alumnae whose names and legacies will be recognized. The historical honorees will be announced this fall.

Inaugural honorees include several College of Sciences alumnae — see the honoree list and learn more about the project here.

]]> jhunt7 1 1711566288 2024-03-27 19:04:48 1711566473 2024-03-27 19:07:53 0 0 news Set to open this fall, a permanent tribute will celebrate an inaugural group of 70 graduates, as well as 98 women and events with historical significance to the Institute.

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2024-03-27T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-27T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-27 00:00:00 673523 673523 image <![CDATA[Andrea L. Laliberte's vision will come to life, promoting awareness and public recognition of the history of Georgia Tech women in a visually compelling way.]]> image/jpeg 1711566305 2024-03-27 19:05:05 1711566305 2024-03-27 19:05:05
<![CDATA[12 Grad Students Named as Finalists for 2024 Three Minute Thesis Competition]]> 36363 After six intense preliminary rounds, twelve exceptional scholars have emerged from a pool of 65 talented candidates, earning their place as finalists in Georgia Tech's highly anticipated annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. On Friday, April 5, 2024, these finalists will hit the stage, harnessing their research expertise, to deliver compelling presentations in a three-minute format.

Congratulations to the following twelve finalists:

Karina Bhattacharya MID Industrial Design 

Vinodhini Comandur, Ph.D. Aerospace Engineering 

Mo Jarin, Ph.D. Environmental Engineering 

Anamik Jhunjhunwala, Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering 

Valeria Juarez, Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering 

Alexandra Patterson, Ph.D. Bioengineering 

Jeffrey Pattison, Ph.D. Aerospace Engineering 

Kantwon Rogers, Ph.D. Computer Science 

Mallika Senthil, MS Biomedical Engineering 

Wenting Shi, Ph.D. Chemistry and Biochemistry 

Shreyas Srivathsan, Ph.D. Aerospace Engineering 

Raghav Tandon, Ph.D. Machine Learning 

This year’s 3MT competition takes place on Friday, April 5, 2024, at 5:30 p.m. in the Atlantic Theater in the John Lewis Student Center. The entire Georgia Tech community is encouraged to attend the competition, which occurs as the finale of the 2024 Grad Student Appreciation Week. 3MT will also be streamed online and can be viewed at https://gatech.zoom.us/j/98696536715.  Audience members and online viewers can vote for their favorite presenter to win the People’s Choice Award.  

Ph.D. winners can win up to $2,000 in research travel grants. The master's winner will receive a $1,000 research travel grant.   

Tech’s 3MT competition is coordinated by the Office of Graduate Education in partnership with the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), The Naugle Communications Center, and the Language Institute.  

For more information, visit grad.gatech.edu/3mt

]]> Brittani Hill 1 1711486922 2024-03-26 21:02:02 1711566029 2024-03-27 19:00:29 0 0 news 12 grad students named as finalists for 2024 Three Minute Thesis Competition.

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2024-03-26T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-26T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-26 00:00:00 Brittani Hill | Marketing and Communications Manager 

Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Education 

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673509 673509 image <![CDATA[2024 FINALISTs 2update.png]]> Photographed from left to right: Alexandra Patterson, Jeffery Pattinson, Malika Senthil, Karina Bhattacharya, Mo Jarin, Kantwon Rogers, Raghav Tandon, Shreyas Srivathsan, Vinodhini Comandur, Wenting Shi.

Not photographed: Anamik Jhunjhunwala and ValeriaJuarez.

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<![CDATA[Postdocs Share Lessons Learned Throughout Academic Journey]]> 36249 The experiences of those who have overcome barriers and unexpected roadblocks can serve as guiding beacons as you navigate your own academic journey. Georgia Tech postdoctoral scholars (postdocs), Avery Davis Bell, Ida Su, and Nicole Hellessey share how they navigated different challenges during their educational career and how these experiences have shaped their perspectives on life and work. 

Prioritize Your Well-Being: Avery Davis Bell Makes Work-Life Work for Her

“I developed a repetitive strain injury in my wrist, which was debilitating, and I took it on as a second part-time job,” said Avery Davis Bell, postdoc in the College of Sciences. “I needed to figure out how to make my work life work for me instead of fixing the body I have.” 

Bell decided she had to be open with her prospective postdoc advisor about her injury. She let them know from the beginning that she was not going to work based on hours. When Bell explained her situation and her emphasis on protecting her health, she was met with support from everyone. She learned that, at the end of the day, what mattered was doing good work and not how many hours it took to get there. 

Bell’s injury turned into a valuable lesson she imparts to students. 

If you have interest in science, you can make it work for you,” said Bell. “You do not have to adapt to the prevailing model. Science is better for having you in it.

Advocate for Yourself: Ida Su Navigates Cultural and Communication Challenges

During her Ph.D. qualifying exams, Ida Su, postdoc in the College of Engineering, encountered challenges due to her hearing disability and language barrier as an international student from Taiwan. 

“I could see their lips moving, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying clearly,” said Su. “I didn’t have the courage to speak up for myself.” 

At that time, Su felt hopeless. With support and encouragement from her Ph.D. advisor and her Ph.D. advisory committee, however, Su sought medical help for her hearing disability and her communication improved. 

As Su progressed in her studies, navigating the differences between Eastern and Western cultures still proved difficult. 

“I tend to be very shy. I tend to let people, especially senior people, tell me what to do and make decisions for me,” said Su. “Because of these cultural differences, the initial stage of my Ph.D. study was kind of rough.” 

Observing these dynamics, Su’s Ph.D. advisor explained the differences between the cultures. They encouraged her to start speaking up for herself. 

“Because of their advice, I was able to choose my postdoc advisor based on my research interests, and I was able to follow my passion,” said Su. 

A Nonlinear Journey is OK: Nicole Hellessey Navigates Parenthood and Career Choices

“When I finished my bachelor’s degree, I took 18 months off because I was unexpectedly pregnant,” said Nicole Hellessey, postdoc in the College of Sciences. 

Hellessey spent the next 18 months after graduation reviewing her options and deciding if she should get a job or go back into academia and research.

“I was talking to a friend who was going back to university themselves, and they said, ‘You should do it. Who cares? You will make it work,’” said Hellessey. “I went back and did my master’s and go a job in the salmon industry afterwards.” 

Hellessey worked in the industry for two years before deciding to obtain her Ph.D., and eventually a postdoc. 


These postdocs’ experiences are a reminder that your journey is your own, and success does not follow a set path. Evaluate what matters to you, and find support in family, friends, peers, and mentors. 


The Postdoc Visibility Project is a collaboration between the Office of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Services, the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Tech’s postdocs. Our goal is to highlight the contributions of postdocs to the research enterprise, humanize the postdoc experience, and connect postdocs to each other. To achieve this, we will share three spotlight articles and accompanying video interviews throughout the Spring 2024 semester. This is the second installment of the Project. View the first spotlight article and video, “Myth vs. Reality: Essential Facts to Know about Postdocs.” 

This work is supported in part by the National Sciences Foundation Mathematical and Physical Sciences divisions ASCEND program under grant award number CHE-2138107.  

]]> Sara Franc 1 1709935077 2024-03-08 21:57:57 1711565833 2024-03-27 18:57:13 0 0 news Georgia Tech postdoctoral scholars (postdocs), Avery Davis Bell, Ida Su, and Nicole Hellessey share how they navigated different challenges during their educational career and how these experiences have shaped their perspectives on life and work. 

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2024-03-08T00:00:00-05:00 2024-03-08T00:00:00-05:00 2024-03-08 00:00:00 Sara Franc
Communications Officer
Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Education

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673352 673428 673352 image <![CDATA[Avery.jpg]]> image/jpeg 1709935061 2024-03-08 21:57:41 1709935038 2024-03-08 21:57:18 673428 video <![CDATA[youtube]]> 1710776595 2024-03-18 15:43:15 1716321495 2024-05-21 19:58:15
<![CDATA[Everlasting African Wildfires Fueled by Aerosol Feedback]]> 28153 Africa is on fire. It has been for thousands of years. The continent contains more than 50% of the total area on Earth that is burning, on average, and there is no sign of it stopping — indeed, the migrating, hemisphere-hopping African wildfire season is steadily increasing.

The fire is essentially feeding itself in a kind of feedback loop as aerosols, induced by the perpetual conflagration, interact with the climate. It’s a process that plays a critical role in the regulation of African ecosystems, reinforcing wildfires and paving the way for elevated fire seasons in subsequent years.

Aerosols are tiny particles that have a large impact on the Earth’s climate. They comprise a wide range of materials. Besides the human-induced air pollution that we can see (that brown smog is the interaction of light with aerosols), there are a lot of natural aerosols: salty sea spray, mineral dust, volcanic ash, and wildfire smoke.

Suspended in the atmosphere, the role of aerosols in our climate is complex. But a new study by Georgia Tech researchers demonstrates the role they play in the African wildfire life cycle. The research, published in the journal iScience, could have significant implications for understanding the impacts of fires and climate change in Africa and other regions of the planet prone to wildfire.

“We used to think that aerosols had a short-term, localized climate impact and can be effectively removed by precipitation within a week. But in this study, we’re showing that isn’t necessarily correct,” said Yuhang Wang, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and corresponding author of “Positive Feedback to Regional Climate Enhances African Wildfires.”

The Wang lab works at solving mysteries of atmospheric pollution, and the team is onto something with its latest research, revealing new clues in its study of wildfires in Africa, where the unique alternation between dry and wet seasons along the equator extends the lifespan of aerosols.

“Basically, with the combination of wildfires and fire-induced aerosols, the impact of aerosols can be longer term, extending over seasons,” said Wang, whose team invented the tool it needed to complete its investigation.

Building a Better Model

Several years ago, Wang’s lab developed the Region-Specific Ecosystem Feedback Fire (RESFire) Model to augment the existing, publicly accessible Community Earth System Model (CESM). Managed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, CESM is an open-source global climate model that provides computer simulations of the Earth’s climate system.

RESFire improves CESM’s fire simulation capability, helping researchers develop a better grasp of complex fire-climate-ecosystem interactions, “which are still not very well understood,” said Wang, whose team used its CESM-RESFire model to study aerosol feedback in Africa for the latest research.

“We found that the extension of the aerosols’ lifespan in Africa occurs through a positive feedback mechanism,” said Wang.

Aerosols can essentially give clouds a bad case of constipation, absorbing vapor from the atmosphere and reducing the growth of large cloud droplets, making it difficult for clouds to make large droplets.

“Fire aerosols are transported from burning or dry regions to wet regions,” Wang explained. “That leads to reduced precipitation and drying of fuel loads.”

The Feedback Mechanism

Identifying the fire-aerosol positive feedback mechanism in Africa sheds light on wildfire-related climate feedback globally. Other studies have shown that in some coastal areas, such as the western United States, fire smoke alters local fire weather, resulting in positive feedback. These coastal regions have distinct fire seasons, and the escalation caused by aerosol feedback doesn’t persist into the next fire season.

Africa is different. With its shifting fire regions and prevailing winds, the positive feedback affects the current season and amplifies burning in the subsequent season. And fire weather season has increased by up to 40% in Africa over the past four decades, which means there may be shifts in distribution and variability of burned areas.

“The good news is that this mechanism is self-sustaining. It even has some resilience built in,” Wang said. “The question is what happens in the presence of persistent global climate change. What we know is, the mechanism underlying this natural system of wildfires depends on the current state of the atmosphere.”

The positive feedback mechanism implies that a warmer, drier climate will likely lead to more persistent burning in Africa in the future, the researchers write, concluding, “The systematic fire-climate feedback may also be present in other fire-prone tropical regions and has significant ramifications for understanding the impacts of fires and climate change on humans and plant life.”

Citation: Aoxing Zhang, Yuhang Wang, Yufei, Zou. “Positive feedback to regional climate enhances African wildfires.” iScience.

Funding: This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (grant 1743401). 

 

 

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1704306202 2024-01-03 18:23:22 1711475686 2024-03-26 17:54:46 0 0 news Wildfires in Africa are fueled by a feedback loop as aerosols, induced by the fire, interact with the climate. It plays a critical role in the regulation of African ecosystems, reinforcing wildfires while also paving the way for elevated fire seasons in subsequent years.

]]>
2024-01-03T00:00:00-05:00 2024-01-03T00:00:00-05:00 2024-01-03 00:00:00 Jerry Grillo

]]>
672662 672661 672662 image <![CDATA[Wildfires]]> Fires have been burning in Africa for centuries. The fires are fueled by feedback loop as aerosols interact with the climate. It’s a process that plays a critical role in the regulation of African ecosystems. Adobe iStock photo

]]> image/jpeg 1704306826 2024-01-03 18:33:46 1704306900 2024-01-03 18:35:00
672661 image <![CDATA[Yuhang Wang]]> Yuhang Wang

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<![CDATA[Andrew McShan Awarded Curci Grant for Cutting-Edge Cancer Research]]> 35599 Andrew McShan, assistant professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech, has been awarded a prestigious Curci grant for research in cutting-edge cancer treatments. 

The award, provided by the Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation, supports innovative research at the forefront of its field. The new funding will provide two years of support for McShan's investigation into developing the next generation of universal immunotherapies.

“We aim to understand how the immune system works and learn how it plays roles in disease,” McShan says. “We're using biochemistry and structural biology to characterize biomolecules at the atomic level, and harness their intrinsic features for new therapeutic avenues.”

McShan’s research will center on lipids — a previously understudied avenue in cancer treatment — and it has two major components: identifying new cancer lipid signatures in tumor cells, and characterizing known cancer lipid antigens to develop a “molecular blueprint” for immunotherapy. Since lipid antigens provide broad, more universal signatures than current techniques, the applications of the research span a wide range of cancers and immune disorders. 

“It's a really interesting new way of thinking about this problem,” McShan says. “We hope that it's a paradigm shift in the way that we think about not only general immune system functions, but also the way that you can target cancer. This same protein system also works with pathogens and autoimmune disease it’s an incredibly important system.”

A new paradigm

Previously, immunotherapy research has largely centered on developing treatments around targeting mutated peptides, because cancer often causes these mutated proteins.

While peptide-based treatments have proven to be highly effective, the strategy isn’t universal different people present different peptide mutations to the immune system. “You would have to spend years developing an immunotherapy for just one person who has one type of cancer,” McShan explains, “and that therapy might not work for the next person.”

However, recent research indicates that lipids — fatty and waxy substances in the body that don't dissolve in water, like cholesterol — might provide a more effective avenue. “Lipid signals present more universal signatures to the immune system than peptides, and immune system responses to lipids are less dependent on the person,” McShan says.

Research into lipid-based immunotherapies has historically been limited because lipids are notoriously difficult to study in the lab. However, new tools needed to study lipids have recently become available, opening the door to this groundbreaking research. 

Because these tools are so new, though, “a lot of the foundational basic research hasn’t been completed yet,” McShan says. “This grant is a two year grant, and we plan to do this foundational research. This research will provide what the scientific community needs to start thinking about how to move lipid antigens into a clinical area.”

Universal treatments and the next generation of scientists

While McShan’s research team will focus on cancer for the Curci grant, lipid-based treatments could open the door for additional cost-effective, timely treatments treatments that could also apply to multiple types of cancers, and to other diseases. “If we can understand these cancer lipid antigens — how they're functioning and what they’re doing — there is a translation to the other applications in immunotherapy,” McShan says.

“The protein that we're studying, called CD1, plays roles in nearly every immunological response or disease,” McShan adds. “This type of research could be important for responses to viral infection, bacteria and parasite pathogens, and autoimmune disease.”

Lipids can aid in the development of new and improved vaccines. For example, a lipid-based tuberculosis vaccine has been shown to have the same efficacy as a tuberculosis vaccine made from a live attenuated bacterium. “If we were to discover new cancer lipids these could potentially be used as prophylactic cancer vaccines,” McShan says.

As a newer member of the Georgia Tech community, McShan is also already making an impact across the campus community. “We care a lot about making science accessible, and being equitable and inclusive,” McShan, who joined the College of Sciences faculty in summer 2022, says. “Our lab is almost entirely women, and so the research that this grant is going to support is also going to support the next generation of women doing science amazing science — and that’s something that gets me really excited.”

 

]]> sperrin6 1 1711032642 2024-03-21 14:50:42 1711413156 2024-03-26 00:32:36 0 0 news The two-year grant will support McShan’s innovative research on lipid-based immunotherapies, which could help develop the next generation of universal immunotherapies.

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2024-03-25T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-25T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-25 00:00:00 Written by Selena Langner

Contact: Jess Hunt-Ralston

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673456 673456 image <![CDATA[Andrew McShan]]> image/jpeg 1711032511 2024-03-21 14:48:31 1711032492 2024-03-21 14:48:12
<![CDATA[Growing Bacteria in Space with Astronauts ]]> 34528 This story by Kelsey Gulledge first appeared in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering newsroom. See the full feature here.

Georgia Tech researchers are teaming up with NASA to study bacteria on the International Space Station to help define how scientists and healthcare professionals combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria for long-duration space missions.

In the Planetary eXploration Lab (PXL), researchers will work with astronauts living on the International Space Station as they collect air, water, and surface samples. Using testing methods created on campus, the astronauts and scientists will watch microbes grow to learn which bacteria are resistant to specific antibiotics. 

The work is part of NASA’s Genomic Enumeration of Antibiotic Resistance in Space (GEARS) study, led by Aaron Burton and Sarah Wallace from NASA Johnson Space Center. Marking SpaceX’s 30th Commercial Resupply Services mission for NASA, the GEARS research is on board a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft, scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on March 21. If all goes according to plan, the Dragon capsule will reach the International Space Station on the morning of March 23.

“Our lab has previously studied bacteria colonies from the International Space Station and found Enterococcus faecalis (EF) was resistant to many antibiotics,” said Christopher E. Carr, director of the PXL and assistant professor in the School of Aerospace Engineering (AE) and the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (EAS). “This particular bacteria species is a core member of the human gut and has evolved over the past 400 million years, making it a difficult pathogen to treat in humans and on surfaces.”

EF is the second leading cause of hospital-acquired infections after Staphylococci. Much like hospital environments, on the International Space Station is built in such a way that studying antibiotic-resistant microbes there could provide insight into how these organisms survive, adapt, and evolve in space and on Earth. 

The 30-day GEARS mission will supplement the routine microbial surveillance testing conducted on the International Space Station with an antibiotic-resistant screening step. Astronauts onboard will collect samples and observe what microbes grow on their pre-treated contact slides, a rectangular-shaped petri dish. 

The contact slides contain antibiotic-infused agar, a gel-like fuel source for bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. Therefore, anything that grows on the slides will be identified as antibiotic-resistant to that particular antibiotic. Astronauts will then use a pipet to carefully extract DNA from a bacterial colony and sequence it using the Oxford Nanopore Technologies MinION, nanopore sequencing device, which will identify the microbe that is present, as well as sequence its entire genome in real-time. “If we found a new organism that we’ve never seen before, we’d be able to detect it, sequence its entire genome, and determine how it might be resistant to different types of antibiotics,” said Carr. 

This new technology will allow humans to travel further - and longer - into space without having to send data back to Earth for processing. “For the purposes of this study and to maximize the science yield, these bacteria will travel back to Earth,” said Jordan McKaig, PXL researcher and Ph.D. candidate in the EAS. “Then we can study them more extensively to better reveal their genomic features, how they are adapting to the built environment, and understand the risks – if any -- they may pose to astronauts.”

Scientists and researchers at NASA Johnson will use this information to figure out what may make astronauts sick in space, how to optimize their health, and make plans for potential counter measures and treatments. This data is critical because astronauts’ immune systems often become compromised due to space flight conditions. The GEARS mission will launch a total of four times over the next year to study the bacteria and data thoroughly. The second mission is expected to launch later this summer. 

“I’m really looking forward to hopefully traveling to the launch and getting to see the science that we’ve been working on for a couple of years go to space. It’s really a dream come true,” said McKaig. 

While GEARS is in orbit, Carr and the PXL team will prepare for their next study, EnteroGAIT, which will investigate thousands of mutants simultaneously to see what genes are involved in adapting to the space environment.  It is currently in the science verification testing phase. 

]]> jhunt7 1 1711398641 2024-03-25 20:30:41 1711398784 2024-03-25 20:33:04 0 0 news Georgia Tech researchers are teaming up with NASA to study bacteria on the International Space Station to help define how scientists and healthcare professionals combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria for long-duration space missions.

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2024-03-19T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-19T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-19 00:00:00 Kelsey Gulledge
Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering 
Georgia Tech

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673485 673485 image <![CDATA[jordan.jpgGeorgia Tech Ph.D. student Jordan McKaig demonstrates how NASA astronauts onboard the International Space Station will use the MinION sequencing device to identify bacteria genomes. Credit: Georgia Tech]]> Georgia Tech Ph.D. student Jordan McKaig demonstrates how NASA astronauts onboard the International Space Station will use the MinION sequencing device to identify bacteria genomes. Credit: Georgia Tech

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<![CDATA[Simpler Approach to Prevent Cervical Cancer Makes Collegiate Inventors Competition Finals]]> 27446 A group of Georgia Tech students is looking to prevent cervical cancer and other gynecological diseases with a new approach to testing that could increase access to healthcare and turn a wasted resource into a valuable tool.

Their idea, a simple menstrual pad add-on to collect blood for lab screening, has earned them one of five finalist spots in the national Collegiate Inventors Competition Oct. 24-25. They’ll compete against other undergraduate teams for $10,000, mentoring from experienced inventors, and a patent acceleration certificate from the U.S. Patent and Trade Office.

The team also is competing for a People’s Choice Award that’s based on online voting.

“We are trying to end the stigma against periods — that's one of our biggest missions behind the product — and we want to increase access to healthcare. Nearly all cervical cancers are preventable with earlier screening and testing for HPV,” said team member Rhea Prem, referring to the human papilloma virus that causes cervical cancer. “We want healthcare to be on your own terms so that you feel in control of your health, and you feel control over what you're doing with your body.”

Read about the team's FADpad kit on the College of Engineering website.

]]> Joshua Stewart 1 1698070273 2023-10-23 14:11:13 1711121476 2024-03-22 15:31:16 0 0 news Students create a multilayered menstrual pad add-on that collects blood samples for gynecological disease screening.

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2023-10-23T00:00:00-04:00 2023-10-23T00:00:00-04:00 2023-10-23 00:00:00 Written by Matthew Kistner

For more information:
Joshua Stewart
College of Engineering

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672129 672129 image <![CDATA[FADpad Team at Capstone]]> The FADpad team, from left, Netra Gandhi, Girish Hari, Rhea Prem, and Ethan Damiani. (Photo Courtesy: FADpad)

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<![CDATA[Faculty Researchers Win 2024 Sloan Fellowships]]> 28153 Four researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology — Alex Blumenthal, Juan-Pablo Correa-Baena, Chunhui Du, and Daniel Genkin — have received 2024 Sloan Research Fellowships, one of the highest honors for early-career faculty.

They are among the 126 researchers chosen from more than 1,000 nominations this year.  Fellows receive $75,000 over two years to advance their research.

"Sloan Research Fellowships are extraordinarily competitive awards involving the nominations of the most inventive and impactful early-career scientists across the U.S. and Canada,” said Adam F. Falk, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which has awarded the fellowships since 1955.

Since then, 55 individuals from Georgia Tech have won fellowships, and it has become one of the most prestigious awards for young investigators and a predictor of future research success. For example, 57 Sloan Fellows have received a Nobel Prize and 71 have won the National Medal of Science.

Falk added, “We look forward to seeing how fellows take leading roles shaping the research agenda within their respective fields.”

Complete coverage of Georgia Tech’s Sloan Research Fellows:

Correa-Baena Tapped for Sloan Fellowship

College of Sciences faculty Blumenthal, Du Awarded Sloan Research Fellowships

Cyber-Security Expert Genkin Earns Prestigious Research Fellowship

 

 

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1708532039 2024-02-21 16:13:59 1710950538 2024-03-20 16:02:18 0 0 news Sloan Fellowships are among the most prestigious awards for early career faculty

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2024-02-21T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-21T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-21 00:00:00 Jerry Grillo

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673167 673167 image <![CDATA[Sloan Researchers]]> Georgia Tech's 2024 Sloan Fellows: Juan-Pablo Correa-Baena, Chunhui Du, Alex Blumenthal, and Daniel Genkin

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<![CDATA[Sciences Faculty Honored for Teaching, Research Excellence]]> 35575 This season, more than 30 College of Sciences faculty across all six schools and the Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience are recognized by the Institute for their excellence in research and teaching. 

Excellence in Research

Every year, Georgia Tech’s research enterprise celebrates the remarkable contributions of its extraordinary researchers. The Office of the Executive Vice President for Research (EVPR) presents peer-nominated awards to exceptional faculty and staff for their commitment to “Research That Matters” — achievements fueled by a profound mission to advance science and technology for the betterment of society. 

This year, nearly 100 researchers were nominated for the 2024 EVPR Institute Research Awards spanning nine distinct categories that range from breakthroughs in innovation to community engagement and outreach. 

Joining a prestigious list of award winners dating back to 1986, 2024 College of Sciences award recipients include:

The EVPR Institute Research Awards will be presented at the Faculty and Staff Honors Luncheon on Friday, April 26.

Excellence in Teaching

More than 15 College of Sciences faculty are recognized for their teaching excellence by Georgia Tech’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) in the Fall 2023 Course Instructor Opinion Survey (CIOS).

Using optional feedback from students, the survey serves to celebrate instructors who exhibit exceptional respect and concern for students, ability to stimulate interest in the subject matter of the course, and enthusiasm for course content.

Three College of Sciences faculty have won the Student Recognition of Excellence in Teaching: CIOS Awards, which recognizes instructors with exceptional response rates (at least 85%) and scores on CIOS. The CIOS score used to determine winners of the award is based on the sum of three scale items: instructor’s respect and concern for students; instructor’s level of enthusiasm about teaching the course; and instructor’s ability to stimulate interest in the subject matter.

College of Sciences recipients of the Fall 2023 “Student Recognition of Excellence in Teaching: CIOS Awards” include:

Small Classes:

Large Classes:

 

Additionally, 30 College of Sciences faculty are named to the Student Recognition of Excellence in Teaching: Class of 1934 CIOS Honor Roll for Fall 2023. The Honor Roll is comprised of faculty who have at least a 70% response rate and place in the top 25% of the composite CIOS scores of three questions related to instructor concern for students, ability to stimulate interest in subject matter, and enthusiasm for course content.  

College of Sciences recipients of the Fall 2023 “Student Recognition of Excellence in Teaching: Class of 1934 CIOS Honor Roll” include:

Small Classes: 

Large Classes:

Learn more about the Center for Teaching and Learning
 

]]> adavidson38 1 1710522722 2024-03-15 17:12:02 1710788305 2024-03-18 18:58:25 0 0 news More than 30 College of Sciences faculty across all six schools and the Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience are recognized by the Institute for their excellence in research and teaching.

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2024-03-18T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-18T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-18 00:00:00 Writer: Audra Davidson
Communications Officer II
College of Sciences

Contact: Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences

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673414 673414 image <![CDATA[A view of Tech Tower from Crosland Tower. Photo: Georgia Tech]]> A view of Tech Tower from Crosland Tower. Photo: Georgia Tech

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<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Announces 2024 EVPR Institute Research Award Winners]]> <![CDATA[Center for Teaching and Learning Honors Sciences Faculty for Excellence]]> <![CDATA[Center for Teaching and Learning Recognizes Sciences Faculty for Educational Excellence]]>
<![CDATA[Physicist Rick Trebino Awarded Optica R.W. Wood Prize]]> 36583 School of Physics Professor Rick Trebino has received the 2024 R.W. Wood Prize in recognition of his invention and development of techniques for the complete and rigorous measurement of ultrashort laser pulses. The R.W. Wood Prize is presented by Optica, (formerly OSA), Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, in recognition of an outstanding discovery, scientific, or technical achievement or invention in the field of optics.

”I’m ecstatic to receive this recognition from Optica,” said Trebino, who serves as the Eminent Scholar Chair of Ultrafast Optical Physics in the School of Physics at Georgia Tech. “The vast majority of science’s greatest discoveries have resulted directly from more powerful techniques for measuring light, so I decided to devote my career to this important field, and it’s very satisfying to receive this honor for my work."

Ultrashort pulses are brief bursts of light, millionths of billionths of a second long — the shortest technological events ever created. Trebino’s techniques for measuring them have made possible a host of new research and technology applications in many areas, including the fundamental studies of matter and micro-material processing.

Trebino has pioneered ultrashort-pulse measurement techniques for over three decades. In 1991, he invented the frequency-resolved optical gating (FROG) technique, the first method for completely measuring arbitrary ultrashort light pulses in time. It took pulse measurement from blurry black-and-white artifact-ridden snapshots to high-resolution full-color images. The FROG technique remains the gold standard in ultrashort pulse measurement and is used worldwide in physics, chemistry, engineering, biomedical, and telecommunications applications. 

More recently, Trebino has developed devices for measuring pulses with ever shorter and ever more complex temporal — and also spatial — variations. Thanks in large part to Trebino’s techniques, these exotic light pulses have become much better understood and hence much shorter, more stable, and much more useful. His devices have also played key roles in work resulting in several recent Nobel Prizes.

Rick Trebino received his Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Stanford University and joined Georgia Tech in 1998 after having worked at Sandia National Laboratories. He has received numerous other awards and is a Fellow of four international scientific societies, including Optica, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and SPIE: the international society for optics and photonics.

Learn more about Trebino’s Ultrafast Optics Research Group here: frog.gatech.edu

About Optica

Optica (formerly OSA), Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, is the society dedicated to promoting the generation, application, archiving, and dissemination of knowledge in the field. Founded in 1916, it is the leading organization for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students, and others interested in the science of light. Optica’s renowned publications, meetings, online resources, and in-person activities fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications, and accelerate scientific, technical, and educational achievement.

]]> lvidal7 1 1710526895 2024-03-15 18:21:35 1710780411 2024-03-18 16:46:51 0 0 news School of Physics Professor Rick Trebino was honored for his invention and development of techniques for the complete and rigorous measurement of ultrashort laser pulses.

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2024-03-18T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-18T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-18 00:00:00 Writer: Lindsay C. Vidal
Assistant Communications
Director College of Sciences

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673418 673419 673418 image <![CDATA[School of Physics Professor Rick Trebino]]> School of Physics Professor Rick Trebino

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673419 image <![CDATA[School of Physics Professor Rick Trebino]]> School of Physics Professor Rick Trebino

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<![CDATA[Professor Rick Trebino’s Ultrafast Optics Group]]>
<![CDATA[New Study Discovers How Altered Protein Folding Drives Multicellular Evolution]]> 35599 This news was originally released in the University of Helsinki newsroom. Read the full story here.

In a new study led by Georgia Tech and University of Helsinki, researchers have discovered a mechanism steering the evolution of multicellular life.

Co-authored by the School of Biological Sciences’ Dung Lac, Anthony Burnetti, Ozan Bozdag, and Will Ratcliff, the study, “Proteostatic tuning underpins the evolution of novel multicellular traits”, was published in Science Advances this month, and uncovers how altered protein folding drives multicellular evolution.

The team’s research centers on the ongoing Multicellularity Long Term Evolution Experiment (MuLTEE) experiment, in which laboratory yeast are evolving novel multicellular functions, enabling researchers to investigate how these functions arise.

Among the most important multicellular innovations is the origin of robust bodies: over 3,000 generations, these ‘snowflake yeast’ started out weaker than gelatin but evolved to be as strong and tough as wood.

From an evolutionary perspective, this work highlights the power of non-genetic mechanisms in rapid evolutionary change. 

“We tend to focus on genetic change and were quite surprised to find such large changes in the behavior of chaperone proteins,” says Ratcliff. “This underscores how creative and unpredictable evolution can be when finding solutions to new problems, like building a tough body."

]]> sperrin6 1 1709909418 2024-03-08 14:50:18 1710175145 2024-03-11 16:39:05 0 0 news In a new study led by Georgia Tech and University of Helsinki, researchers have discovered a mechanism steering the evolution of multicellular life. Co-authored by the School of Biological Sciences’ Dung Lac, Anthony Burnetti, Ozan Bozdag, and Will Ratcliff, the study, “Proteostatic tuning underpins the evolution of novel multicellular traits”, was published in Science Advances this month, and uncovers how altered protein folding drives multicellular evolution.

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2024-03-11T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-11T00:00:00-04:00 2024-03-11 00:00:00 Contact: Jess Hunt-Ralston

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673356 673356 image <![CDATA[Evolved snowflake yeast]]> image/png 1710163102 2024-03-11 13:18:22 1710163026 2024-03-11 13:17:06
<![CDATA[The Who's Who of Bacteria: A Reliable Way to Define Species and Strains]]> 36123 What’s in a name? A lot, actually.

For the scientific community, names and labels help organize the world’s organisms so they can be identified, studied, and regulated. But for bacteria, there has never been a reliable method to cohesively organize them into species and strains. It’s a problem, because bacteria are one of the most prevalent life forms, making up roughly 75% of all living species on Earth.

An international research team sought to overcome this challenge, which has long plagued scientists who study bacteria. Kostas Konstantinidis, Richard C. Tucker Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, co-led a study to investigate natural divisions in bacteria with a goal of determining a scientifically viable method for organizing them into species and strains. To do this, the researchers let the data show them the way.

Their research was published in the journal Nature Communications.

“While there is a working definition for species and strains, this is far from widely accepted in the scientific community,” Konstantinidis said. “This is because those classifications are based on humans’ standards that do not necessarily translate well to the patterns we see in the natural environment.”

For instance, he said, “If we were to classify primates using the same standards that are used to classify E. coli, then all primates — from lemurs to humans to chimpanzees — would belong to a single species.”

There are many reasons why a comprehensive organizing system has been hard to devise, but it often comes down to who gets the most attention and why. More scientific attention generally leads to those bacteria becoming more narrowly defined. For example, bacteria species that contain toxic strains have been extensively studied because of their associations with disease and health. This has been out of the necessity to differentiate harmful strains from harmless ones. Recent discoveries have shown, however, that even defining types of bacteria by their toxicity is unreliable.

“Despite the obvious, cornerstone importance of the concepts of species and strains for microbiology, these remain, nonetheless, ill-defined and confusing,” Konstantinidis said.

The research team collected bacteria from two salterns in Spain. Salterns are built structures in which seawater evaporates to form salt for consumption. They harbor diverse communities of microorganisms and are ideal locations to study bacteria in their natural environment. This is important for understanding diversity in populations because bacteria often undergo genetic changes when exposed in lab environments.

The team recovered and sequenced 138 random isolates of Salinibacter ruber bacteria from these salterns. To identify natural gaps in genetic diversity, the researchers then compared the isolates against themselves using a measurement known as average nucleotide identity (ANI) — a concept Konstantinidis developed early in his career. ANI is a robust measure of relatedness between any two genomes and is used to study relatedness among microorganisms and viruses, as well as animals. For instance, the ANI between humans and chimpanzees is about 98.7%.

The analysis confirmed the team’s previous observations that microbial species do exist and could be reliably described using ANI. They found that members of the same species of bacteria showed genetic relatedness typically ranging from 96 to 100% on the ANI scale, and generally less than 85% relatedness with members of other species.

The data revealed a natural gap in ANI values around 99.5% ANI within the Salinibacter ruber species that could be used to differentiate the species into its various strains. In a companion paper published in mBio, the flagship journal of the American Society for Microbiology, the team examined about 300 additional bacterial species based on 18,000 genomes that had been recently sequenced and become available in public databases. They observed similar diversity patterns in more than 95% of the species.

“We think this work expands the molecular toolbox for accurately describing important units of diversity at the species level and within species, and we believe it will benefit future microdiversity studies across clinical and environmental settings,” Konstantinidis said.

The team expects their research will be of interest to any professional working with bacteria, including evolutionary biologists, taxonomists, ecologists, environmental engineers, clinicians, bioinformaticians, regulatory agencies, and others. It is available online through Konstantinidis’ website and GitHub to facilitate access and use by scientific and regulatory communities.

“We hope that these communities will embrace the new results and methodologies for the more robust and reliable identification of species and strains they offer, compared to the current practice,” Konstantinidis said.

 

Note: Tomeu Viver and Ramon Rossello-Mora from the Mediterranean Institutes for Advanced Studies also led the research. Additional researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Innsbruck, University of Pretoria, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, University of the Balearic Islands, and the Max Planck Institute also contributed. 

Citation: Viver, T., Conrad, R.E., Rodriguez-R, L.M. et al. Towards estimating the number of strains that make up a natural bacterial population. Nat Commun 15, 544 (2024).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-44622-z

Funding: Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, European Regional Development Fund, U.S. National Science Foundation.

]]> Catherine Barzler 1 1709564284 2024-03-04 14:58:04 1709844802 2024-03-07 20:53:22 0 0 news The researchers used data to investigate natural divisions in bacteria with a goal of determining a viable method for organizing them into species and strains.

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2024-03-04T00:00:00-05:00 2024-03-04T00:00:00-05:00 2024-03-04 00:00:00 Catherine Barzler, Senior Research Writer/Editor

catherine.barzler@gatech.edu

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673283 673282 673284 673283 image <![CDATA[saltern Ponds_1.jpeg]]> A photo of the saltern site in Spain where a significant portion of the research was done. A saltern is used to produce salt for human consumption and is a natural environment for Salinibacter ruber bacterium.

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673282 image <![CDATA[bacteria Konstantinidis.jpeg]]> A microscopy photo of Salinibacter ruber, a bacterium that thrives in salterns.

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673284 image <![CDATA[small Screenshot 2024-03-04 at 9.45.47 AM.png]]> A screenshot from a team meeting. The study's international team has researchers based in the U.S., Spain, Germany, Austria, and South Africa.

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<![CDATA[Lewis Wheaton Named ACC Academic Leaders Network Fellow]]> 34528

Five Georgia Tech faculty members have been selected for the 2024 ACC Academic Leaders Network (ACC ALN) Fellows program. The ALN program is designed to foster cross-institutional networking and collaboration between ACC schools, while increasing the academic leadership capacity within each institution.  

The new cohort includes:  

The ACC ALN program strengthens a culture of community, enhances relationships among faculty across the Institute and conference, and enables Georgia Tech to foster a climate of leadership. In 2024, fellows will participate in three in-person conferences at Clemson University, the University of Louisville, and North Carolina State University. Fellows form project teams around topics of interest, develop a paper or other deliverable, and present their findings at the final conference in November. 

Explore ALN program details and find out about current and past Georgia Tech fellows, here.

]]> jhunt7 1 1709844648 2024-03-07 20:50:48 1709844647 2024-03-07 20:50:47 0 0 news Five Georgia Tech faculty members have been selected for the 2024 ACC Academic Leaders Network (ACC ALN) Fellows program. The ALN program is designed to foster cross-institutional networking and collaboration between ACC schools, while increasing the academic leadership capacity within each institution.  

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2024-03-07T00:00:00-05:00 2024-03-07T00:00:00-05:00 2024-03-07 00:00:00 Brittany Aiello

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660552 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
<![CDATA[Faculty Open the Classroom with C-PIES and HHMI Fellowship]]> 35575 Whether you’re fresh out of high school or going back to school later in life, your first college-level course can be intimidating. And while Georgia Tech offers numerous resources — drop-in tutoring, learning assistants, peer-led study groups — that provide extra support, they aren’t always accessible to everyone.

The Open Course Project aims to address that gap with self-guided, interactive support for math and statistics courses at Georgia Tech — and beyond.

“The Open Course Project was started in order to be an extra resource for students,” says Stephanie Reikes, a lecturer in the School of Mathematics and one of the project’s leaders. “Many students are entering college with gaps in their knowledge due to online learning during the Covid-19 pandemic. I wanted to create a course for students to self-enroll and be able to work at their own pace with the material.”

Support from Howard Hughes Medical Institute

The project was born out of the Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellowship, established in May 2023 by the College’s Center for Promoting Inclusion and Equity in the Sciences (C-PIES). The annual fellowship, supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, funds one project proposed by Georgia Tech faculty that promotes inclusive teaching.

Reikes was named a 2023-2024 C-PIES Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellow alongside colleagues Greg Mayer, academic professional in the School of Mathematics; and Bekki George, former academic professional in the School of Psychology for the trio's collaborative proposal for the Open Course Project. Hi Shin Shim, a graduate student in Psychology, has since joined the team to develop the statistics course.  

“The original idea was to promote inclusive teaching in a unique way,” says Lea Marzo, program director for C-PIES. “We chose this group because their project really homes in on helping students from disadvantaged communities that maybe don’t have basic foundations in these courses.”

With its self-paced material available completely online, Marzo says the courses allow students of any background — and with any schedule — to “get those foundations.”

Opening up the classroom

Development of the Open Course Project began in the summer of 2023, with the first courses launching in the fall. During that time, Reikes, Mayer, and Shim established databases with recorded videos, supplemental notes, and practice problems for college algebra, multivariable calculus, and statistics

“Students come to Georgia Tech and find that they need a refresher or that they’re struggling with these courses but can’t necessarily go to tutoring — maybe they’re remote, maybe they work full time, or maybe they’re just not comfortable with in-person tutoring,” Marzo explains. “This gives students another avenue to access this information.”

The online courses are completely self-guided, allowing students to build foundations in these areas from anywhere at their own pace. Enrollment in these courses also provides automatically graded assessments with hundreds of exercises that offer instant feedback to students.

More than 500 Georgia Tech students have enrolled in the courses since the project's launch. To make the materials even more accessible, the team also opened the courses to the general public at no cost.

Publicly available courses currently include college algebra and multivariable calculus, with a statistics course projected to come online sometime this summer.

Because of this, Marzo points out, “any school can use it — and you're essentially getting top level education for free.”


 

]]> adavidson38 1 1709824800 2024-03-07 15:20:00 1709844096 2024-03-07 20:41:36 0 0 news More than 500 Georgia Tech students have taken advantage of the self-guided, online math and statistics courses designed by faculty and students from the School of Mathematics and the School of Psychology. Also open to the public, the courses were created to provide free extra support for students who may need it — at Georgia Tech and beyond.

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2024-03-07T00:00:00-05:00 2024-03-07T00:00:00-05:00 2024-03-07 00:00:00 Writer: Audra Davidson
Communications Officer II
College of Sciences

Contact: Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences

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673329 673330 673331 673329 image <![CDATA[Stephanie Reikes, a lecturer in the School of Mathematics.]]> image/jpeg 1709824086 2024-03-07 15:08:06 1709824035 2024-03-07 15:07:15 673330 image <![CDATA[Greg Mayer, academic professional in the School of Mathematics.]]> image/png 1709824336 2024-03-07 15:12:16 1709824096 2024-03-07 15:08:16 673331 image <![CDATA[Lea Marzo, program director for the College of Sciences Center for Promoting Inclusion and Equity in the Sciences.]]> image/jpeg 1709824434 2024-03-07 15:13:54 1709824406 2024-03-07 15:13:26 <![CDATA[Sciences Lands Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence Grant]]> <![CDATA[College Selects Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellows]]> <![CDATA[Math Lab Solves the Tutoring Support Equation]]>
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Partners on $15M NSF Grant to Explore Muscle Dynamics]]> 35599 This press release is shared jointly with the UC Irvine newsroom.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $15 million to an interdisciplinary team spanning 21 institutions across the country.

The six-year funding will support the Integrative Movement Sciences Institute (IMSI), an innovative group conducting groundbreaking research in the mechanics of muscle control during agile movements in changing environments.

NSF IMSI includes several key Georgia Tech researchers:

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first US-based integrative center on the fundamental biology of muscle and movement that aims to bridge from the molecule to the whole animal to understand dynamic locomotion,” co-PI Sponberg says.

The research team also includes PI Monica Daley (UC Irvine), and additional Co-PIs Kiisa Nishikawa (Northern Arizona University), Jill McNitt-Gray (USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences), and Anne Silverman (Colorado School of Mines).

Leveraging expertise

“The Georgia Tech contingent will leverage the Institute's expertise in the multiscale biophysics of muscle, neuromechanics, integrative physiology and bio-robotic movement,” Sponberg says, “including the Institute’s expertise in fundamental muscle biology and movement technologies.”

The group will also collaborate with Tom Irving and Weikang Ma at the Argonne National Lab to leverage multiscale imaging, which will help connect the team’s understanding of the function of muscle at the nanoscale to the properties of that tissue during motion.

A central theme of the new Integrative Movement Sciences Institute will bridge fundamental discoveries about the biophysics and physiology of muscle and movement from insects to humans research that Sponberg’s lab specializes in.

Last year, Sponberg also received a prestigious Curci grant to study coordinated movement in hawk moths. The team’s goal is to understand how muscle integrates with the rest of a body’s biology and the surrounding environment to allow animals and humans to move through so many varied environments. 

“Muscle is unlike any other tissue,” Sponberg says. “It enables movement in all animals and allows them to negotiate nearly every environment on this planet. For humans, it is the key piece of our physiology that translates our brain’s intentions into the movement that lets us get around in our world.

Creating models that can understand muscular control in dynamic, complex environments is vital, and could have applications spanning biotechnology, like building more dynamic robotics, and bioeconomy, creating avenues to develop new physical therapy and rehabilitation protocols.

“By integrating across scale and bringing to bear an interdisciplinary team of biologists, biophysicists, and bioengineers that span the scale from molecule to ecosystem, the new Integrative Movement Science Institute will create the next generation of muscle and movement models and experiments to understand locomotion in diverse settings,” Sponberg adds.

 

Funding for this research is provided by the National Science Foundation.

]]> sperrin6 1 1709750352 2024-03-06 18:39:12 1709843178 2024-03-07 20:26:18 0 0 news NSF has awarded the interdisciplinary team six years of funding to support the Integrative Movement Sciences Institute. The Institute, which includes a Georgia Tech contingent of researchers led by Co-PI Simon Sponberg, aims to bridge research on muscles spanning the molecular level to the whole animal to understand dynamic locomotion.

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2024-03-07T00:00:00-05:00 2024-03-07T00:00:00-05:00 2024-03-07 00:00:00 Written by Selena Langner

Contact: Jess Hunt-Ralston

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673324 673324 image <![CDATA[Simon Sponberg]]> image/jpeg 1709750206 2024-03-06 18:36:46 1709750179 2024-03-06 18:36:19
<![CDATA[‘Janitors’ of the Sea: Overharvested Sea Cucumbers Play Crucial Role in Protecting Coral]]> 36123 Corals are foundational for ocean life. Known as the rainforests of the sea, they create habitats for 25% of all marine organisms, despite only covering less than 1% of the ocean’s area. 

Coral patches the width and height of basketball arenas used to be common throughout the world’s oceans. But due to numerous human-generated stresses and coral disease, which is known to be associated with ocean sediments, most of the world’s coral is gone.

“It’s like if all the pine trees in Georgia disappeared over a period of 30 to 40 years,” said Mark Hay, Regents’ Chair and the Harry and Anna Teasley Chair in Environmental Biology in the School of Biological Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “Just imagine how that affects biodiversity and ecosystems of the ocean.”

In first-of-its-kind research, Hay, along with research scientist Cody Clements, discovered a crucial missing element that plays a profound role in keeping coral healthy — an animal of overlooked importance known as a sea cucumber.

Read about how they figured it out at Georgia Tech Research News.

]]> Catherine Barzler 1 1709051955 2024-02-27 16:39:15 1709060484 2024-02-27 19:01:24 0 0 news In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology discovered that sea cucumbers — sediment-eating organisms that function like autonomous vacuum cleaners of the ocean floor — play an enormous role in protecting coral from disease. 

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2024-02-27T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-27T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-27 00:00:00 Catherine Barzler, Senior Research Writer/Editor

catherine.barzler@gatech.edu

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673225 673225 image <![CDATA[Sea cucumbers and coral]]> Sea cucumbers play a crucial role in protecting coral from disease. Credit: Cody Clements

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<![CDATA[SDG Week, Sustainability Showcase Highlight Georgia Tech’s Commitment to Advancing Sustainable Development ]]> 27469 Georgia Tech’s Sustainable Development Goals Action and Awareness Week 2024 and the Sustainability Showcase bring a variety of sustainable development-focused activities to campus the week of March 4 8. This annual week of engagement and learning helps showcase the various ways that Georgia Tech is advancing the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through teaching, research, operations, and partnerships.

The SDGs were adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They address the world’s most monumental challenges, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, and peace and justice. The SDGs appear by name in the Institute’s strategic plan as long-term goals that should guide Georgia Tech’s teaching, research, and operations.

A key feature of this year’s program, the Sustainability Showcase, co-hosted by the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems and the Office of Sustainability, includes a series of leadership panels and lightning-round talks throughout the week, including:  

  • Conversations With Cabrera: “Higher Education and SDG17: Partnerships for the Goals."
  • Georgia Tech Climate Action Plan panel hosted by the Office of Sustainability. 
  • Tech Talks Business with Scheller College of Business Dean Anuj Mehrotra featuring Laurel Hurd, president and chief executive officer, Interface Inc. 
  • “The Role of Philanthropy in Climate Action and Sustainable Development,” hosted by Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts Dean Kaye Husbands Fealing. 
  • Connecting for Sustainability: Collaborative Paths to Environmental Justice, featuring Community Partners, hosted by the Center for Sustainable Communities Research and Education. 
  • Alumni Keynote: “Exploring Pathways to and Partnerships in Advancing Energy Equity” with Andrew White, CE 2019.
  • "Innovation, R&D, and Sustainability, discussion hosted by EVPR Chaouki Abdallah. 
  • A series of seven-minute lightning talks from faculty, staff, and students on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, March 6 8.  

More than 20 additional events on the SDG Week calendar will be hosted by campus units and student organizations. These include arts-focused opportunities like the SDG mobile film festival on the evening of March 6, a “Teaching the SDGs faculty workshop, and a variety of events for students to explore sustainability and international education opportunities.

View a full listing of the week’s events for details and registration (only required for some events).

SDG Action and Awareness Week is part of a larger global effort through the University Global Coalition (UGC), which Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera chairs and helped found. The UGC comprises higher education leaders from around the world who work to advance the SDGs through system change and global partnerships.

SDG Action and Awareness Week is an annual event occurring in early March. To collaborate next year, contact the Office of Sustainability at sustain@gatech.edu. 

]]> Kristen Bailey 1 1708896787 2024-02-25 21:33:07 1709003995 2024-02-27 03:19:55 0 0 news The campus community is invited to participate in a week of events that increase awareness of and encourage actions that advance the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

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2024-02-25T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-25T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-25 00:00:00 Drew Cutright

Director of Sustainability Engagement, Georgia Tech

Program Director, University Global Coalition

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673197 673197 video <![CDATA[ 2024 SDG Action and Awareness Week]]> 2024 SDG Action and Awareness Week

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<![CDATA[2024 SDG Week Events]]>
<![CDATA[Leap Years, Explained]]> 27469 This year brings another February 29. Why do leap years occur? Jim Sowell is a principal academic professional in the School of Physics and the director of the Georgia Tech Observatory. He says the leap year’s creation goes back to Julius Caesar.

 

Every four years, the addition of one day – that is, February 29 – brings us back closer to a more accurate location in the Earth’s orbit with respect to the stars.

Getting to our current calendar system has been a complicated process, mostly because of three important celestial motions: the Earth’s spin (or rotation), which gives us the day; the orbit of the Earth around the Sun, which gives us the year; and the orbit of the Moon around the Earth, the basis for the month.

During the reign of Julius Caesar (46 – 44 B.C.), the Egyptians were some of the best astronomers. They could see that the Earth’s orbit was very close to 365.25 days. Caesar used their knowledge to bring order to the Roman calendar. He established that every fourth year would be a leap year, tacking one day onto the last month – this is the basis of the Julian Calendar. Later, in 45 B.C., he moved the beginning of the year from March 1 to January 1. This is why the “seventh” month (September; Latin septem) through “tenth” month (December; Latin decim) are now the ninth through twelfth positions in the calendar. But before that move, the practice of adding the leap day at the end of the then year – February – had been established. (By the way, the month of July was later named for Julius Caesar after his death.)

In the late 1500s, astronomers under Pope Gregory XIII (for whom the modern Gregorian Calendar is named) realized 365.25 days wasn’t exactly right. The Earth’s orbit is actually 365.242199 days long. After hundreds of years using the Julian Calendar, spring had begun moving into winter. The Catholic Church did not want the celebration of Easter to occur in the winter. The astronomers worked out a new formula to skip some leap days to stay closer to an exact measurement. Certain hundred-year dates are leap years, such as 2000, whereas others (2100) will not be leap years. The Catholic Church also took ten days out of the calendar in 1582 to get it more closely synced with respect to its orbital position and the stars: October 4, 1582, was followed by October 15, 1582. Later, the British Empire, in 1752, did the same calendar adjustment but had to remove eleven days.

The Gregorian Calendar will work for a long time — at least for the next 3,300 years before an extra day is needed. Then a new calculation must be derived to get our calendar corrected with the Earth’s orbit. Today’s astronomers aren’t sure what that will be, but they’ve decided to let future astronomers figure it out.

]]> Kristen Bailey 1 1708448822 2024-02-20 17:07:02 1708724665 2024-02-23 21:44:25 0 0 news This year brings another February 29. Why do leap years occur? Jim Sowell is a principal academic professional in the School of Physics and the director of the Georgia Tech Observatory. He says the leap year’s creation goes back to Julius Caesar.

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2024-02-23T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-23T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-23 00:00:00 Kristen Bailey

Institute Communications

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635643 673196 635643 image <![CDATA[James Sowell, director of the Georgia Tech Observatory. Photo: Rob Felt]]> James Sowell, director of the Georgia Tech Observatory. Photo: Rob Felt

]]> image/jpeg 1590503966 2020-05-26 14:39:26 1708704135 2024-02-23 16:02:15
673196 video <![CDATA[Why We Have Leap Years ]]> Why do leap years occur? Jim Sowell, a principal academic professional in the School of Physics and director of the Georgia Tech Observatory, explains the leap year’s creation dates back to Julius Caesar.

]]> 1708723163 2024-02-23 21:19:23 1708723163 2024-02-23 21:19:23
<![CDATA[Astronomy at Georgia Tech]]>
<![CDATA[Assessing the California Storms]]> 27469 As Californians begin to dry out after a week of near-constant rain, residents are assessing damage from the recent storms. Meanwhile, scientists are evaluating the storm itself and reflecting on how it fits into the larger landscape of weather events.

Parts of California received 10 to 15 inches of rainfall in a day — the amount they might usually get in a season. Many areas experienced mudslides, landslides, flooding, power outages, and other issues.

“It’s not uncommon to see increased precipitation during the winter in California,” said Zachary Handlos, senior academic professional in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. “The problem is when it’s too much at once, which is exactly what happened.”

An atmospheric river, as it is called, is a weather phenomenon that transports water moisture from the ocean toward land areas following relatively narrow paths. As Annalisa Bracco said, most of these are harmless and useful. In an El Niño year, though, the ocean is warmer than usual, and more moisture is carried in the atmosphere.

“Is this event exceptional? Yes and no. It is not the strongest recorded, but it’s up there among the very strong,” said Bracco, professor and associate chair for research in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. “The problem is that global warming is poised to make strong atmospheric rivers more common. Warming tends also to make the atmosphere more stable, which implies that weather systems evolve more slowly. And this atmospheric river indeed moved slowly, causing more damage.”

Though California’s geography is somewhat unusual in having atmospheric rivers, other areas experience them as well. Handlos noted that, though the terminology is not used as often, a similar effect can take place with southwesterly winds from the Gulf of Mexico toward the Atlanta area when impacted by weather systems.

Both Bracco and Handlos cautioned against attributing a single event to climate change too quickly but said that the California storm has all the markings of one that was more intense because of warming. “It is in line with all global warming predictions: more extreme weather events, conducive to both floods and droughts."

As recovery efforts begin, Handlos noted that this storm was very much in line with forecasts. But even with preparations, damage can be severe.

“The good news is that it wasn't some sort of day-before surprise, but even with excellent forecasting, you can only do so much to prepare for landslides and flooding,” he said. “There are still going to be unfortunate consequences for people in the area, even with preparations.”

He expects climatologists will look at the data from this event soon, and for several years to come.

]]> Kristen Bailey 1 1707404323 2024-02-08 14:58:43 1708653182 2024-02-23 01:53:02 0 0 news Faculty members in Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences share their expertise following the recent storm in California.

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2024-02-08T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-08T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-08 00:00:00 Kristen Bailey

Institute Communications

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673024 673024 image <![CDATA[Atmospheric River Over California]]> Atmospheric River Over California. Image courtesy of NOAA

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<![CDATA[Georgia Tech School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences]]> <![CDATA[About Annalisa Bracco]]> <![CDATA[About Zachary Handlos]]>
<![CDATA[Sciences Faculty Awarded Sloan Research Fellowships ]]> 35599 School of Mathematics Assistant Professor Alex Blumenthal and School of Physics Assistant Professor Chunhui (Rita) Du have been selected to receive the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship for 2024. The annual awards from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation honor early-career researchers whose “creativity, innovation, and research accomplishments make them stand out as the next generation of leaders in the fields.” 

In total, four Georgia Tech faculty are among the 126 individuals selected from a pool of over 1,000 North American researchers nominated this year, including Juan-Pablo Correa-Baena of the School of Materials Science and Engineering and Daniel Genkin of the School of Cybersecurity and Privacy

"Sloan Research Fellowships are extraordinarily competitive awards involving the nominations of the most inventive and impactful early-career scientists across the U.S. and Canada,” says Adam F. Falk, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. 

Recipients will receive a two-year $75,000 Fellowship in support of their cutting-edge research. 

“I am thrilled to be a recipient of the Sloan Fellowship this year, and I am thrilled for what can be done with it,” says Blumenthal. “I am immensely grateful for the support of my colleagues and that of SoM at large, without whom this would not have been possible.” 

Blumenthal was also recently awarded an NSF CAREER grant to study chaotic fluid dynamics, one of the most challenging problems in his field. His research focuses on dynamic systems, and their statistical properties.  

Many systems and nature exhibit these seemingly random behaviors — imagine smoke rising from a candle and mixing with the air in a room, or the ripples of cream as they’re swirled into coffee. While extremely difficult to mathematically model and solve, Blumenthal explains that solving these types of problems could lead to innovations ranging from atmospheric modeling and weather predictions, to economics, to creating better salinity profiles in oceans. 

Du is developing quantum sensing and imaging techniques to study quantum materials at very small scales. Quantum materials are a large set of materials that have intriguing, unusual properties, which differ from that of traditional materials.  

“It is my great honor to be elected as a new Sloan Research Fellow in Physics,” Du says. “I appreciate the tremendous support from my colleagues, collaborators, mentors, and team members over my career development. This prestigious grant will support my research on developing state-of-the-art quantum sensing techniques to explore novel quantum materials and electronic devices for next-generation information technology."

She is involved with designing and engineering hybrid quantum devices, which have applications for quantum information. Her research into spintronics is at the forefront of information technology applications. Du was also recently selected for the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program, a distinction given to her for her exceptional potential and creative research. 

Including the 2024 class, 55 Georgia Tech faculty have received Sloan Research Fellowships, among them School of Mathematics faculty Hannah Choi in 2022, Yao Yao in 2020, Konstantin Tikhomirov in 2019, Lutz Warnke in 2018, Zaher Hani in 2016, Jen Hom in 2015, and Greg Blekherman in 2012; along with School of Chemistry's Vinayak Agarwal in 2018, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences' Christopher Reinhard in 2015; and School of Physics’ Tamara Bogdanović in 2013.  

]]> sperrin6 1 1708442986 2024-02-20 15:29:46 1708538166 2024-02-21 17:56:06 0 0 news Mathematician Alex Blumenthal and Physicist Chunhui (Rita) Du are among 126 early-career researchers who have been awarded prestigious Sloan Research Fellowships for 2024. This year’s appointees also include Georgia Tech faculty Juan-Pablo Correa-Baena of the College of Engineering, and Daniel Genkin of the College of Computing. 

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2024-02-20T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-20T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-20 00:00:00 Written by Selena Langner

Contact: Jess Hunt-Ralston

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673158 673158 image <![CDATA[Chunhui (Rita) Du and Alex Blumenthal]]> Chunhui (Rita) Du and Alex Blumenthal

]]> image/jpeg 1708452482 2024-02-20 18:08:02 1708452437 2024-02-20 18:07:17
<![CDATA[2024 Sloan Research Fellowships ]]> <![CDATA[Correa-Baena Tapped for Sloan Fellowship ]]> <![CDATA[The Science of Breaking Things: Security Faculty Earns Prestigious Research Fellowship ]]>
<![CDATA[What's on the Horizon for 2023?]]> 27713 The new year is often a time of reflection and planning. With this in mind, we asked several members of the Georgia Tech community to share what they are looking forward to — personally or professionally — in 2023.

 

“My lab moved to Cherry Emerson late last year. So, this year I am looking forward to hallway conversations with my new neighbors, and I am hoping to strike up some new collaborations at the interface between biophysics, microbiology, and evolutionary biology.”

 —Peter Yunker, associate professor, School of Physics

 

“I’m looking forward to shaping a more fulfilling and engaging employee experience at Georgia Tech. In Human Resources, we’ve been working tirelessly to develop programs and practices that will help Tech recruit, support and develop our talented workforce. I’m excited for faculty and staff to experience positive culture shifts and hope we inspire enthusiasm as we share and celebrate the deep love that exists for working at Tech.”

 —Skye Duckett, vice president and chief human resources officer, Georgia Tech Human Resources

 

“Personally, I am looking forward to spending more time with my wife, Amanda, and our dog, Buzz, at our family place on the coast. I'm also looking forward to watching my fellow 2001 alumnus, Coach Brent Key, lead our Yellow Jackets this fall!”

—William Smith, director, Office of Emergency Management and Communications

 

“I am very much looking forward to taking the Cultivate Well-Being strategic focus to the next level as we are able to start planning and implementation in earnest, guided by our roadmap. I am also excited about the prospect of enhancing our efforts to promote student belonging and facilitate student success as we launch the new John Lewis Student Leadership Pathways and move toward making the Black cultural center a reality. I am also planning to visit the Georgia Tech-Europe campus for the first time! On the personal front, I can’t wait for Season 7 of Outlander (Starz) or Season 2 of Shadow and Bone (Netflix). I also get to celebrate my blue point Siamese kitten turning one year old in February.”

—Luoluo Hong, vice president for Student Engagement and Well-Being

 

“I am looking forward to all that 2023 has to offer me personally. I am the one who’s usually immersed in my professional career and family and friends. However, this year, it’s all about me, and accomplishing some of the personal goals that I’ve set for myself. So, I am excited and looking forward to the completion of my first children’s book series. I have been working on it for a few years and it’s finally coming together. It will be released in August 2023.”

—Quinae’ A. Ford, administrative manager, GTRI Project Management Office

 

“The Georgia Tech Alumni Association has named this the Year of Engagement. I am excited about connecting with even more alumni and inviting them to gather on campus and with Yellow Jackets in their community, to grow together with our professional education programs, and to give back to each other and the Institute. We are closing in on 200,000 living alumni this year, so we are grateful for the partnerships we enjoy across campus to help us reach our vast constituency. We are striving to build an Alumni Association that is with our alumni in 2023 and for a lifetime. Go Jackets!”

—Dene Sheheane, MGT 1991, president of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association

]]> Victor Rogers 1 1673561650 2023-01-12 22:14:10 1708461761 2024-02-20 20:42:41 0 0 news Members of the Tech community share their plans for the new year.

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2023-01-13T00:00:00-05:00 2023-01-13T00:00:00-05:00 2023-01-13 00:00:00 Victor Rogers

Institute Communications

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664717 664717 image <![CDATA[Headshots: What's on the Horizon for 2023?]]> image/jpeg 1673617960 2023-01-13 13:52:40 1673617995 2023-01-13 13:53:15
<![CDATA[Research Next Enters New Phase]]> 34602 With the research landscape rapidly changing, Georgia Tech must respond to external forces to address local, national, and global challenges and produce novel ideas ​and actionable solutions.​ In alignment with the Institute strategic plan, Research Next positions Georgia Tech to respond to future challenges with innovation, expertise, creativity, and a dedication to improving the human condition.

“Georgia Tech envisions a future in which we continue to educate transformative researchers, strive for inclusive excellence and truth, and leverage our scale and resources to address the most urgent challenges of our time,” said Chaouki Abdallah, executive vice president for research at Georgia Tech. “Our plan is people centered, value based, and data informed. Like the Institute’s strategic plan, this belongs to all of us, and it will be up to us to make it a reality.”

To create the research strategy, Georgia Tech faculty, staff, and students assessed the current landscape for research-intensive universities. They identified the internal and external forces and factors that shape the research ecosystem. Out of this came a research landscape analysis. The Phase II work capitalized on the rich insights from the Phase I to identify 16 goals and 50 objectives for Georgia Tech to work toward over the next decade.

Now, seven initial projects have been identified to support the vision of the Research Next.  They are large-scale, campus-wide projects. Four of the teams have assembled, and efforts are underway, including:

Three additional teams will be launched in FY23, including:

The Research Next plan will leverage trends and thought leadership to prepare for changes in the research landscape, focus Georgia Tech’s efforts, and resolve grand challenges. Stay tuned for regular updates on how the project teams are evolving to meet the needs of the Institute and world.

Check out the full Research Next website.

]]> Georgia Parmelee 1 1661439006 2022-08-25 14:50:06 1708461647 2024-02-20 20:40:47 0 0 news With the research landscape rapidly changing, Georgia Tech must respond to external forces to address local, national, and global challenges and produce novel ideas ​and actionable solutions.​ In alignment with the Institute strategic plan, Research Next positions Georgia Tech to respond to future challenges with innovation, expertise, creativity, and a dedication to improving the human condition.

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2022-08-25T00:00:00-04:00 2022-08-25T00:00:00-04:00 2022-08-25 00:00:00 Georgia Parmelee

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<![CDATA[Surveillance Testing Shown to Reduce Community Covid-19 Spread]]> 34541 Covid-19 is often asymptomatic and can lead infected individuals to spread the disease without knowing it. Yet, regular surveillance testing of a community can catch these cases and prevent outbreaks.

In early 2020, Georgia Tech researchers designed a saliva-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and encouraged community members to test weekly to track the health of the campus. Their strategy confirmed 62% of the campus’ positive cases in the Fall 2020 semester. The method of surveillance testing — focusing on case clusters and then having patients isolate — reduced positivity rates from 4.1% in the beginning of the semester to below 0.5% mid-semester. Their findings were published in the journal Epidemiology.

“One of the ways you can mitigate spread is not to think about testing as just an indicator for how bad things are, but actually use enough testing that you can begin to pull infected people out of circulation to reduce the spread,” said Joshua Weitz, Georgia Tech professor in the School of Biological Sciences who developed the infectious disease models used to monitor campus.

Surveillance testing not only kept the community safe, but also enabled an open campus during a period of the pandemic when vaccines were not available. The strategy showed that combining multiple mitigation efforts — from testing to social distancing — can keep a university operational.

Designing the Test

The program relied on saliva PCR tests compared to the more common nasal swab PCR tests.

“I saw data very early on that the saliva tests were actually probably a little bit more sensitive than the nasal ones,” said Greg Gibson, professor in the School of Biological Sciences. “I just knew that students would be more likely to do something that takes 30 seconds to give us spit. It’s easy and safe, so it was just a no-brainer.”

Saliva-based tests were a practical solution for a campus. The test could be self-administered, requiring fewer medical personnel and creating ease of access for students. The tests were also safer than nasal swabs because the collection tube contained a viral deactivation buffer that killed active virus but preserved the RNA at room temperature for analysis.

The Georgia Tech campus biomedical research labs were also ideal for this type of test. Andrés García, executive director of the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience, realized robotics labs could build and run tests and make the program scalable.

“Testing requires precisely distributing different amounts of fluid to volumes, and this is a task really well suited for a robot,” García said. “With the large number of tests that we were expecting to need to administer, there was really no choice because having the robot really cut down on the human error.”

Another novel strategy was double pooling. Each saliva sample was pooled twice into a group of five samples and processed. This had multiple advantages, according to Gibson. One was it prevented false results because each sample had to test positive twice to be considered positive. And, by pooling, the testing system could clear dozens of individuals at once, while also focusing on a positive individual and then referring them for further diagnostic testing.

“A purely surveillance test where you don't give anybody results can be done without much regulation, but it’s minimally useful,” said Gibson, who is a Regents’ Professor, Tom and Marie Patton Chair in Biological Sciences, and serves as director of the Center for Integrative Genomics at Georgia Tech. “The double pooling strategy was a way for us to be able to identify exactly who was responsible for positive tests, and then go back to their original test and do a diagnostic one in a CLIA-certified lab.” CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) certification indicates a lab has met federal quality standards for diagnostic testing on human samples.

The Testing Strategy

Creating an effective testing infrastructure was also key to the success of the program. A university is a high-density environment where a community lives, learns, and works. When the program was first implemented in the Fall 2020 semester, Georgia Tech had 7,370 people in residence and 5,000 students, faculty, and staff who visited daily.

With the ability to run 1,500 tests at the beginning of the semester and up to 2,850 by the end, the program enabled most people on campus to test weekly. Testing weekly helped catch cases early with Covid-19’s seven-day incubation period, and positive individuals isolated for 10 days.

Part of why this approach was so successful was because of what Gibson calls “synergistic effectiveness.” By combining testing with mitigation strategies like masking and social distancing, Georgia Tech was able to reduce positivity rates.

“We've shown that testing doesn't have to be comprehensive with everybody testing every other day to be effective,” Gibson said.

This strategy enabled the researchers to focus on campus hotspots and control spread. In the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester, campus positivity was at 0.5% until a cluster was identified in Greek housing in August. This enabled a targeted campaign where 90% of on-campus residents were tested. The asymptomatic positivity rate peaked at 4.1%, but steadily declined back to 0.5% by mid-September thanks to rapid identification and isolation of positive individuals.

“We are a technical university — that doesn't have a medical school or a school of public health — that developed its own effective testing program and was able to deploy it to test a large segment of the population and keep the campus in operation,” said García, who additionally holds the Petit Director’s Chair in Bioengineering and Bioscience and is a Regents’ Professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering.

Due to the success of surveillance testing, cases were kept at a manageable number. Most importantly, campus was able to stay open throughout the pandemic. The Georgia state legislature also adopted Georgia Tech’s surveillance testing system in January 2021 and is using the program to track and manage cases during this year’s legislative session. The strategy continues to keep Georgia Tech an active campus with in-person learning as the pandemic evolves. Ideally, the program established at Georgia Tech will remain in place, prepared to deal quickly with future infectious disease epidemics should the need arise, according to Gibson.

“We developed a program that in practice – and psychologically – provided a benefit to community members,” said Weitz, who also serves as the Tom and Marie Patton Chair in Biological Sciences and co-director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences. “Many people could go get tested and know that they weren't infectious so that they had a less likely chance of infecting others. Or, if they did end up testing positive, they were able to isolate themselves so they didn't infect others. That is of significant benefit.”

CITATION: G. Gibson, J.S. Weitz, M.P. Shannon et. al, “Surveillance-to-Diagnostic Testing Program for Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infections on a Large, Urban Campus in Fall 2020.” (Epidemiology, Dec. 2021)

DOI: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000001448

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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.

Writer: Tess Malone

Media Contacts:
Georgia Parmelee | Georgia.Parmelee@gatech.edu
Steven Norris | Stephen.Norris@gatech.edu

]]> Tess Malone 1 1644253819 2022-02-07 17:10:19 1708461480 2024-02-20 20:38:00 0 0 news In early 2020, Georgia Tech researchers designed a saliva-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and encouraged community members to test weekly to track the health of the campus.

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2022-02-07T00:00:00-05:00 2022-02-07T00:00:00-05:00 2022-02-07 00:00:00 Tess Malone, Research Writer/Editor

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655264 655263 655266 655270 655268 655264 image <![CDATA[Student testing]]> image/jpeg 1644254697 2022-02-07 17:24:57 1644254697 2022-02-07 17:24:57 655263 image <![CDATA[Covid Surveillance Lab]]> image/jpeg 1644254394 2022-02-07 17:19:54 1644254394 2022-02-07 17:19:54 655266 image <![CDATA[Andrés García 22]]> image/jpeg 1644255251 2022-02-07 17:34:11 1644256616 2022-02-07 17:56:56 655270 image <![CDATA[Greg Gibson 22]]> image/jpeg 1644256033 2022-02-07 17:47:13 1644256220 2022-02-07 17:50:20 655268 image <![CDATA[Joshua Weitz 22]]> image/jpeg 1644255506 2022-02-07 17:38:26 1644256236 2022-02-07 17:50:36
<![CDATA[CMDI: Mighty Microbial Dynamics for a Healthier People and Planet]]> 34434 Shaping the shared future of microbes and human health is the mission for Georgia Tech’s Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection (CMDI).

Yes, there are similar academic-based centers studying infectious diseases and the microbes that cause them, but to understand what makes Georgia Tech’s center different, Sam Brown, CMDI co-director and a professor in the School of Biological Sciences, says to concentrate on that third letter in the Center's name.

“Focus on dynamics,” says Brown. “That’s basically how microbes are changing over time and space as well as how they’re changing systems in time. This notion of dynamics operates on different scales. It operates, as I see it, on a behavioral scale — individual bugs making decisions and changing their behavior in time.”

Ecological dynamics are “how populations are changing with time, and how they’re interacting with other communities — for example in biofilms,” Brown adds, referring to the name for communities of microorganisms that stick to surfaces and create their own “neighborhoods.”

There are also evolutionary dynamics, which are worrying to Brown and other researchers, as they can mean bacteria increase resistance to antibiotics. And then there are epidemiological dynamics.

“We’re all glued to our screens watching the epidemiological dynamics of Covid-19 play out in real time,” he explains.

All of this involves the study of some of the natural world’s tiniest troublemakers — and helpers. Humans are pathetically outnumbered by microbes. They live in, on, and around all of us. They are at both ends of the human food chain, helping farmers grow food, and then assisting us in digesting our meals.

“You have trillions of bacteria in your gut,” points out Marvin Whiteley, CMDI’s founding co-director who serves as a professor in the School of Biological Sciences, Georgia Tech Bennie H. and Nelson D. Abell Chair in Molecular and Cellular Biology, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and co-director for Emory-Children’s CF Center. So, in the spectrum of these tiny communities, there are helpful and harmful microbes alike — and the latter can often make us very sick. That’s where CMDI experts step in.

“CMDI is working to transform how we study microbes in an environmental context, and ultimately find new microbial strategies to improve human and environmental health,” Brown says.

CMDI’s science is conducted in an interdisciplinary manner, like many other research centers at Georgia Tech, with research that reaches into a number of other disciplines — microbial ecology, microbiome dynamics, biogeochemistry, microbial biophysics, socio-microbiology, infection dynamics, host-pathogen interactions, marine and aquatic microbiology, microbial evolution, viral ecology, spatial imaging, and math/computational modeling.

The Center is fairly new, beginning operations in 2018. Yet it’s already closing in on 100 researchers — faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral students — and is aggressively recruiting early career scientists from around the world to research at CMDI.

“We are a unique interdisciplinary research center since our expertise spans such broad subjects from coral reef ecosystems, to antibiotic resistant bacteria, to new infectious diseases therapies,” explains Maria Avdonina, CMDI manager. 

Building CMDI’s foundation, and using it to attack P. aeruginosa

“How does a pathogen do what it does at the molecular level?” Marvin Whiteley asks.

It is a question that he began asking at The University of Texas at Austin, where he founded another center to study infectious disease before coming to Georgia Tech in 2017. Back then, Whiteley was looking for the kind of interdisciplinary mix of researchers that can be found widely across the Institute, so he moved to Atlanta and built that into the CMDI’s mission as its founding co-director.

“It’s the idea of not just working with pure microbiologists, but working with those interested in how things change, and their dynamic aspects, even daily changes in the microbiome,” he says, referring to the term used to describe all the microorganisms that live in a particular environment, whether it’s a human body or a body of land or water. “It requires modelers — people used to looking at big data sets — and people who think about evolutionary biology. It’s a unique kind of expertise that I don’t have in my lab, but the folks who work for me in the lab can take advantage of it within CMDI.”

Whiteley’s research interests include the study of cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic disease that results in bacteria chronically attacking the lungs of its patients. To combat disease, Whiteley is focusing research on Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa), a particularly dangerous bacteria that’s often found in CF patients’ lungs. He notes that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists it as one of the primary pathogens that is cause for clinical concern.

“It lives in nature, but we published a paper showing it’s not everywhere. It’s located near human activity, so wherever we are, it seems to grow and do really well. It’s in a lot of different diseases — and CF is one of them.”

P. aeruginosa is also “a really important cause of wound infections,” Whiteley adds, citing a CDC estimate that by 2050, about 20 percent of the entire U.S. healthcare budget could be spent treating chronic wound infections.

“The biggest problem in environments where it’s problematic is hospitals,” he says. “It’s very tolerant of antimicrobials, and it acquires resistance fairly quickly. That causes it to enrich in its environment.”

Taking on Covid-19

Joshua Weitz, who is a CMDI faculty member, professor and Tom and Marie Patton Chair in Biological Sciences, and founding director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences program, is a key scientist behind Georgia Tech’s Covid-19 surveillance testing efforts, along with Covid-19 event risk and population immunity modeling research around nation and beyond.

Weitz has led a series of concurrent efforts to estimate epidemiological characteristics of SARS-CoV-2, develop novel approaches to use large-scale testing as an intervention, and leverage mathematical models and real-time datasets to inform the public of ongoing transmission risk.   

Weitz recently received a best paper award from the Georgia Tech Chapter of Sigma Xi for his work on the Covid-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool, which calculates the odds of being exposed to an infected individual in groups of different sizes; it has received more than 8 million unique visitors who have generated more than 40 million risk estimates since the planning tool’s launch in July 2020.

Weitz also joined fellow faculty and staff in sharing an Institute Research Award and Institute Service Award in recognition of collective efforts to design, develop, implement, deploy an asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 saliva-based testing program to address the coronavirus pandemic across campus. “We’re very proud of what Joshua has done,” Sam Brown says, “both in the context of Covid-19 and also in exploring new therapeutic angles for bacterial infections, by harnessing the viral natural enemies of bacteria: phages.”

The search for new antibiotics — and how best to use them

While Covid-19 is a virus that has dominated headlines since early 2020, bacterial resistance to antibiotics has been a problem for decades. Penicillin was first available as an antibiotic in 1941. Staphylococcus aureus was found to be resistant to it as early as 1942.

CMDI faculty member Julia Kubanek, a professor of in the School of Biological Sciences and School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, former associate dean for Research in the College of Sciences and newly appointed vice president for Interdisciplinary Research (VPIR) for all of Georgia Tech, has spent the past 17 years diving into the waters near Fiji and the Solomon Islands, looking for natural marine products that could fill that widening gap in resistance-free drugs.

“It’s been a long time since entirely new classes of antibiotics were brought to market,” Kubanek explains. “Pharmaceutical companies have reduced their investments in antibiotic drug discovery, despite the continuing rise of antimicrobial resistance among existing drugs. More resistant strains of infectious bacteria and fungi are evolving constantly and present severe threats to public health.”

The Covid-19 pandemic is a related example. It has revealed that science’s arsenal of antiviral drugs is inadequate, she notes.

Kubanek and CMDI faculty colleague Mark Hay, Regents Professor and Harry and Linda Teasley Chair in the School of Biological Sciences, are both part of Georgia Tech’s drug discovery program, which looks at small molecule natural products from marine organisms as sources for potential future medicines against infectious diseases.

A partnership with Emory University School of Medicine helps researchers screen Georgia Tech’s natural product library — what Kubanek and her research team found on those South Pacific trips — for potential drug candidates has resulted in encouraging news for viruses like SARS-CoV-2, the specific coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

“We’re currently following three promising classes of natural products from marine algae and sponges that show preliminary activity against this coronavirus,” Kubanek says. Those molecules are distinct from currently marketed antivirals and antibiotics, and that could mean more weapons in science’s arsenal for fighting infectious diseases.

CMDI researchers also approach the antibiotic resistance crisis through an epidemiological and evolutionary lens. For example, recent work from the Brown Lab has identified new strategies to slow or even reverse the increase in drug-resistant strains, by changing how doctors dose their drugs, and how they make use of diagnostic information.  

Microbes, climate, and environmental health 

Beyond human infections and pathogen control, CMDI also focuses on the significant impacts that microbes have on human and environmental health. CMDI faculty member Joel Kostka, professor and associate chair of Research in the School of Biological Sciences who also serves as a professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is a leading researcher in environmental microbiology, bringing the power of “omics” technologies to discover the role of environmental microbes in shaping key aspects of our shared world, from bioremediation to climate change. 

Kostka’s work led to the discovery of key marine microbes that played an important role in cleaning up the oil spilled during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Disaster — microbes that turned out to be abundant in oil-contaminated soils around the world. 

Kostka’s work in this space “revealed a natural capacity for rare microbes in the Gulf of Mexico to catalyze the bioremediation, or natural cleanup, of petroleum hydrocarbons,” he explains. “These microbes show promise as biological indicators to direct emergency response efforts, as well as to elucidate the impacts of oil exposure on ecosystem health during oil spills and other environmental disasters,” he adds. 

The Kostka Lab has also long characterized the role of the environment in shaping microbial communities that limit the release of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.  

In a large scale climate change experiment that’s being conducted in northern Minnesota with funding by the U.S. Department of Energy, Kostka’s research recently showed that warming accelerates the production of greenhouse gases from soil microbial respiration — and that microbial activity “was fueled by the release of plant metabolites, suggesting that enhanced greenhouse gas production is likely to persist and result in amplified climate feedbacks.”  

“Joel is our key player in this space,” Brown says. “He’s done incredible research on how the environment can dictate microbial species abundance and their behavioral contributions to the functioning of Earth’s ecosystems. He’s shown that different ‘taxa’, or groups of organisms, become metabolically active or ‘switched on’ depending on environmental factors like temperature. His research contributes to building better climate models as well as to develop new geoengineering strategies to adapt to climate change. He’s doing beautiful work.”

CMDI’s global call to early career microbiologists

CMDI’s research is funded by grants from agencies like the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health to individual labs run by faculty — and by money distributed directly to the Center from across Georgia Tech, including the College of Sciences and its Office of the Dean and Sutherland Dean's Chair.

These sources “are getting healthier by the minute, and that’s a testament to the scientists at the Center,” Brown points out — so much so that two new positions have recently been created: a senior research scientist who will assist postdoctoral and graduate students with grant and fellowship applications, and a CMDI Early Career Award Fellowship that seeks out “superstars, people who are going to go on to be faculty success stories.”

“We want to get them early,” Brown says. “We’re interviewing some great candidates just out of their Ph.D.s. We’ll give them maximum independence, their own space, their own office, their own pot of money. They’ll be sitting at the intersection of our research interests but can run their own lab and their own research program.”

This allows postdoctoral students to focus on research projects, Julia Kubanek says. “Because postdocs generally don’t enroll in formal courses, nor are they generally expected to teach in the classroom, they get to immerse themselves in research in collaboration with faculty, students, and other postdocs. The CMDI is rapidly growing as a collaborative environment, where postdocs can try out their best ideas and learn from others how to tackle the most pressing scientific questions in microbial dynamics, microbial communication, ecosystem health, and infectious disease.” Kubanek adds that a related fellowship program “will augment postdoctoral salaries to attract the very best candidates, enabling grant dollars to stretch further, leading to new discoveries.”

The Center is also ratcheting up outreach, including what it calls its "Research Envoys Program." The intitiative features graduate students giving seminars at local institutions throughout the Atlanta area, including at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Although it’s mostly on pause right now due to the pandemic, two Ph.D. students and a postdoctoral student working with CMDI faculty member Brian Hammer — a professor in the School of Biological Sciences who is also chair of the Institute Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, and co-director of the Aquatic Chemical Ecology Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program — recently gave remote seminars at Spelman College and Kennesaw State University.

“Our trainees get practice in speaking, and it opens doors to folks seeing Georgia Tech as an option,” Brown explains. The CMDI is also working with Georgia Tech’s Institute Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the Southern Regional Education Board to continue to increase the number of underrepresented minorities at all levels of recruitment.

“We’re really interested in educating the next generation of scientists in biology,” Whiteley adds. “Everybody says that — but we’re actually developing programs to recruit the best talent in the world.”

 

CMDI research areas and faculty:

Sam Brown

Virulence, microbiomes, biofilms, cystic fibrosis

Steve Diggle

Biofilms, virulence

Neha Garg

Cystic fibrosis, coral reef microbial disease

Brian Hammer

Vibrio cholerae (cholera), microbial interactions

Mark Hay

Marine ecology/coral reefs

Joel Kostka

Environmental microbiology, biogeochemistry, microbiomes, wetlands, bioremediation

Julia Kubanek

Natural product drug discovery, marine chemical ecology

William Ratcliff

Multicellular evolution, biofilm dynamics

Frank Rosenzweig

Cellular genomics and evolution

Peter Yunker

Soft matter physics, biofilms, multicellular evolution

Joshua Weitz

Viruses/viral modeling, bacteriophages, microbial ecology/evolution

Marvin Whiteley

Microbial ecology/virulence, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, cystic fibrosis

Learn more about each faculty member’s area of research on the CMDI website.

 

Writer: Renay San Miguel

Editors and Contributors: Jess Hunt-Ralston, Joel Kostka, Joshua Weitz, Julia Kubanek, Maria Avdonina, Marvin Whiteley, Sam Brown

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1621279061 2021-05-17 19:17:41 1708461341 2024-02-20 20:35:41 0 0 news Georgia Tech’s Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection (CMDI) merges disciplines, aggressively recruiting microbiologist ‘superstars’ to take back the high ground from antibiotic-resistant pathogens and emerging diseases — and to harness microbes to provide new medicines, cleaner environments, and solutions to the challenges of climate change.

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2021-08-05T00:00:00-04:00 2021-08-05T00:00:00-04:00 2021-08-05 00:00:00 Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

 

]]>
647520 647521 647522 647526 647523 647525 622660 649055 649056 649057 641424 609249 628565 633951 622659 647520 image <![CDATA[Bacterial biofilms ]]> image/png 1621279666 2021-05-17 19:27:46 1621279666 2021-05-17 19:27:46 647521 image <![CDATA[Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection Logo]]> image/png 1621279753 2021-05-17 19:29:13 1621279753 2021-05-17 19:29:13 647522 image <![CDATA[Samuel Brown ]]> image/png 1621279820 2021-05-17 19:30:20 1621279820 2021-05-17 19:30:20 647526 image <![CDATA[Maria Avdonina]]> image/png 1621280039 2021-05-17 19:33:59 1621280039 2021-05-17 19:33:59 647523 image <![CDATA[Marvin Whiteley ]]> image/png 1621279888 2021-05-17 19:31:28 1621279888 2021-05-17 19:31:28 647525 image <![CDATA[Julia Kubanek]]> image/png 1621279957 2021-05-17 19:32:37 1621279957 2021-05-17 19:32:37 622660 image <![CDATA[Julia Kubanek during fieldwork in Fiji (Courtesy of Julia Kubanek)]]> image/jpeg 1561122353 2019-06-21 13:05:53 1561122440 2019-06-21 13:07:20 649055 image <![CDATA[Mark Hay (Photo Candace Klein)]]> image/png 1627320217 2021-07-26 17:23:37 1627320217 2021-07-26 17:23:37 649056 image <![CDATA[Joel Kostka (right) with members of his lab. (Photo Joel Kostka Lab)]]> image/png 1627320441 2021-07-26 17:27:21 1627320441 2021-07-26 17:27:21 649057 image <![CDATA[Joshua Weitz (Photo Joshua Weitz)]]> image/jpeg 1627320683 2021-07-26 17:31:23 1627320683 2021-07-26 17:31:23 641424 image <![CDATA[Covid-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool Screenshot]]> image/png 1605728170 2020-11-18 19:36:10 1605728170 2020-11-18 19:36:10 609249 image <![CDATA[Brian Hammer]]> image/jpeg 1533158829 2018-08-01 21:27:09 1533158829 2018-08-01 21:27:09 628565 image <![CDATA[Joel Kostka (left) and postdoctoral assistant Max Kolton at the SPRUCE research facility in Minnesota. ]]> image/jpeg 1572890556 2019-11-04 18:02:36 1572890556 2019-11-04 18:02:36 633951 image <![CDATA[Photograph of oil droplets and microbes during the Deepwater Horizon spill. (Photo courtesy AP Images/Shutterstock/Shmruti Karthikeyan/Eos Magazine]]> image/png 1585681817 2020-03-31 19:10:17 1585681817 2020-03-31 19:10:17 622659 image <![CDATA[Fijian coral reefs (Courtesy of Julia Kubanek)]]> image/jpeg 1561122293 2019-06-21 13:04:53 1561122293 2019-06-21 13:04:53 <![CDATA[Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection (CMDI)]]> <![CDATA[12 Proposals to Achieve College of Sciences Strategic Goals Funded by Sutherland Dean's Chair]]> <![CDATA[Researchers Team Up for Microbial Dynamics and Infection]]> <![CDATA[A Problematic Pathogen Develops Antibiotic Tolerance — Without Previous Exposure]]> <![CDATA[Bacterial Conversations in Cystic Fibrosis]]> <![CDATA[Study Shows How Bacteria Behave Differently in Humans Compared to the Lab]]> <![CDATA[Small Things Considered at Suddath Symposium]]> <![CDATA[Covid-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool]]> <![CDATA[Georgia Tech Science Forum Spotlights Coronavirus Outbreak]]> <![CDATA[Temperate Glimpse Into a Warming World: SPRUCE ]]> <![CDATA[The Microbial Legacy of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster]]> <![CDATA[Deepwater Horizon and the Rise of the Omics: A Decade of Breakthroughs in Microbial Science]]> <![CDATA[When Coral Species Vanish, Their Absence Can Imperil Surviving Corals]]> <![CDATA[Georgia Tech Leading in the Quest for Ocean Solutions ]]>
<![CDATA[To the Moon, Back, and Beyond]]> 34528 The Artemis I rocket launch is a major step in NASA's return to Earth's moon. Hear from seven Georgia Tech experts — including Thom Orlando of the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and School of Physics, Feryal Özel of the School of Physics, and Frances Rivera-Hernández of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences — on why we're going and what we might find, the science and politics of space, and predictions on the broader future of space exploration.
 

To the Moon, Back, and Beyond


Why go back to the Moon now? Thom Orlando examines exploration of the moon and the search for water as the first step to human exploration in our solar system.

How will being on the Moon help us learn about the universe? Feryal Özel explains how the moon can help us learn more about what makes a planet habitable and the search for life throughout the universe.

How will returning to the moon help us answer astrobiological questions and prepare us for human expeditions to Mars? Frances Rivera-Hernández reveals how exploration of the Moon will be a key step forward in our understanding of how life emerged on Earth — and about the search for past evidence of microbial life on Mars.

Check out the full feature in the Georgia Tech newsroom.

]]> jhunt7 1 1668625195 2022-11-16 18:59:55 1708461123 2024-02-20 20:32:03 0 0 news The Artemis I rocket launch is a major step in NASA's return to Earth's moon. Hear from seven Georgia Tech experts — including Thom Orlando, Feryal Özel, and Frances Rivera-Hernández — on why we're going and what we might find, the science and politics of space, and predictions on the broader future of space exploration.

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2022-11-16T00:00:00-05:00 2022-11-16T00:00:00-05:00 2022-11-16 00:00:00 Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

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663256 663257 663259 663258 663256 image <![CDATA[Georgia Tech researchers from the Colleges of Sciences, Engineering, and Ivan Allen Liberal Arts, each superimposed over a partially shaded Moon. ]]> image/jpeg 1668625225 2022-11-16 19:00:25 1668625225 2022-11-16 19:00:25 663257 image <![CDATA[Thom Orlando]]> image/jpeg 1668625492 2022-11-16 19:04:52 1668625492 2022-11-16 19:04:52 663259 image <![CDATA[Frances Rivera-Hernández]]> image/jpeg 1668625527 2022-11-16 19:05:27 1668625527 2022-11-16 19:05:27 663258 image <![CDATA[Feryal Özel]]> image/jpeg 1668625509 2022-11-16 19:05:09 1668625509 2022-11-16 19:05:09
<![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/.

 

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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 1708460977 2024-02-20 20:29:37 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.

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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

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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[New Multidisciplinary Initiative Marks Golden Age for Space Research]]> 27255 Some Georgia Tech researchers solve cosmic mysteries such as how supermassive black holes were born — and others now are getting a better, sharper look at those black holes. There are investigators searching for the origins of life, and some leading multi-institutional projects exploring questions of  how life evolved and about the presence of water in the lunar environment to enable the return of human explorers for a sustained period.

And that barely gets us into orbit — there’s a lot of Georgia Tech in space. Much of the work is supported by longtime Georgia Tech partners like NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense. But as space becomes more accessible, affordable, and necessary for commercial activity — and therefore more crowded — Tech is also developing expertise in space policy and business.

And now, plans are underway for the next big phase of Georgia Tech’s outer space mission with the launch of the Space Research Initiative (SRI) on campus. The SRI team will work to strengthen interdisciplinary relationships in space research at Georgia Tech, which will lead to creation of an Interdisciplinary Research Institute (IRI) by 2025.

“This is a golden age for space exploration in general, and in particular at Georgia Tech, especially when we think about what is happening in our lifetime, and what will happen in the lives of the students coming through this university,” says Glenn Lightsey, interim SRI director.

Read the full story »

]]> Josie Giles 1 1708009185 2024-02-15 14:59:45 1708453679 2024-02-20 18:27:59 0 0 news Plans are underway for the next big phase of Georgia Tech’s outer space mission with the launch of the Space Research Initiative (SRI) on campus. The SRI team will work to strengthen interdisciplinary relationships in space research at Georgia Tech, which will lead to creation of an Interdisciplinary Research Institute (IRI) by 2025.

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2024-02-13T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-13T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-13 00:00:00 Writer and Media Contact: Jerry Grillo 

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<![CDATA[CRIDC 2024 Awards $41,000 to Poster Competition Winners ]]> 36363 At this year’s Career, Research, Innovation, and Development Conference (CRIDC), $41,000 worth of research travel grants were awarded in recognition of the outstanding and impactful work by student competitors.  

The 15th annual CRIDC at Georgia Tech took place on Feb. 8, bringing together a diverse community of scholars. 116 graduate students participated in the CRIDC poster competition, presenting their research in front of their peers and faculty and staff judges alike. Online graduate students participated in CRIDC’s first-ever online poster competition as well.  

Congratulations to the following poster competition winners.   

Executive Vice President for Research winners  

Jennifer Leestma, College of Engineering 

Kelly Badilla, College of Engineering 

Megan Andrews, College of Sciences 

Anamik Jhunjhunwala, College of Engineering 

Timothy Brumfiel, College of Engineering 

Shreya Kothari, College of Sciences 

Shehan Parmar, College of Sciences 

Ximena Pizarro-Bore, Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts  

Xinyue Huang, College of Engineering  

Shiqi Wei, College of Engineering 

 

College of Engineering winners   

Shaspreet Kaur 

Bettina Arkhurst 

Frederick Chung 

Ranjani Narayanan 

 

College of Sciences winners   

Chad Pozarycki 

Monica Monge Loria 

Jiangpeiyun Jin 

Kiera Ngoc Thuy An Tran 

 

College of Computing winners   

Varun Agrawal  

Eric Greenlee 

 

Office of the Provost’s Award  

Eric Cole, College of Engineering 

Walter Parker, College of Engineering 

Chloe LeCates, College of Sciences 

Jimin Park, College of Engineering  

Patrick Owen Sizemore, College of Computing 

CRIDC is the product of the collaborative efforts of the Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA) and the Graduate Career Development Team from the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate and Postdoctoral Education. Fifteen years ago, the event was created when the student-led poster competition, then known as the Georgia Tech Research and Innovation Competition (GTRIC) was combined with the Graduate Career Symposium.   

CRIDC also features an Innovation Competition, in which graduate student finalists offer three-minute presentations to a panel of judges. All participants met with Tech’s VentureLab to explore grants and programs that can help them pursue startup businesses and technology licensing opportunities.   

Congratulations to the winners of the 2024 CRIDC Innovation Competition:   

1st place: Mikaela Gray, School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 

Runner-up: Alison Jenkins, Mechanical Engineering  

Runner-up:  Zhaonan Liu, Materials Science and Engineering  

In addition to the poster competitions, this year’s CRIDC featured an employee networking lunch, featuring over twenty employers and four career panels. For more information about CRIDC, please visit grad.gatech.edu/cridc

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2024-02-12T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-12T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-12 00:00:00 Brittani Hill

Marketing and Communications Manager | Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Education 

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673053 673053 image <![CDATA[CRIDC 2024 Poster Competition Session A ]]> Session A Poster Competition

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<![CDATA[Georgia Partnerships for Essential Minerals (GEMs) Workshop]]> 36509

Demand for critical minerals and rare earth elements is rapidly increasing as the world accelerates toward clean energy transitions. Concerns about price volatility, supply security, and geopolitics arise as reducing emissions and ensuring resilient and secure energy systems become increasingly crucial.  

 To address this important area, 45 participants from academia, government, industry, and national labs gathered at the University of Georgia for the inaugural Georgia partnerships for Essential Minerals (GEMs) Workshop. The workshop was the first in a series of critical mineral conversations planned by the collaborators of the workshop. The first GEMs Workshop focused on the critical mineral potential in Georgia’s kaolin mining industry.  

 Key workshop conveners included W. Crawford Elliott, associate professor of chemistry and geosciences at Georgia State University; Lee R. Lemke, secretary and executive vice president of the Georgia Mining Association; Paul A. Schroeder, professor in clay minerology at the University of Georgia; and Yuanzhi Tang, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech. 

 Representatives from more than 20 companies, the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Geological Survey, Georgia Environmental Protection Division, and Savannah River National Laboratory, as well as faculty members and students from Georgia’s three R1 universities participated in the day-long workshop. Speaker sessions and panel discussions addressed: 

 Workshop organizers plan to reconvene in six months to continue conversations and build momentum on critical minerals research, from supplies to workforce training and beyond. 

]]> cos-smanandhar8 1 1708033600 2024-02-15 21:46:40 1708033638 2024-02-15 21:47:18 0 0 news Paving the Way for Critical Mineral Production

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2024-02-15T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-15T00:00:00-05:00 2024-02-15 00:00:00 Priya Devarajan

Research Communications Program Manager SEI || RBI

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<![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 1708032897 2024-02-15 21:34:57 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.

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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

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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]]>