College of Sciences Ph.D. Students Reach Finals of Three Minute Thesis Competition

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Figuring out how to heal broken bones is a problem Pranav Kalelkar has spent years researching. But the bigger challenge? Squeezing all of that research into a three-minute presentation for the 2016 Georgia Tech Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. 3MT challenges Ph.D. students to explain their research to someone with no knowledge of the subject in just three minutes.

Kalelkar is a 5th-year Ph.D. student in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He has modified a biorenewable and biodegradable polyester to enable attachment of biomolecules, such as proteins, in various ways. The work “opens up opportunities to create new materials that promote bone repair, to deliver drugs specifically to target organs, or to prepare antimicrobial surfaces,” says David M. Collard, who is Kalelkar’s research advisor. Research in Collard’s lab centers on polymer architectures that give rise to new functions with potential novel applications.

“Presenting in the 3MT competition is a very challenging exercise,” Kalelkar says. “It reinforces the key aspects of your research and how to communicate them to a diverse audience.”

Also competing in the 3MT finals is Bharath Hebbe Madhusudhana, a 4th-year Ph.D. student in the School of Physics. He works in the lab of Michael S. Chapman.

“Our lab uses ultracold atomic gases to explore fundamental quantum interactions between many interacting particles,” says Michael S. Chapman, who is Hebbe Madhusudhana’s research advisor. “These interactions can create uniquely quantum phenomena such as entangled and squeezed states of matter, which are essential for new quantum technologies, such as atomic sensors and quantum computers.”

For his Ph.D. work, Hebbe Madhusudhana has discovered something fundamental about rubidium atoms: When cooled to 190 nanoKelvins--almost absolute zero--and exposed to a magnet that traces a circle around them, the very-low-energy rubidium atoms can remember something abstract. They can tell the area of an abstract surface—called the Boy’s surface—corresponding to the real traced circle.

“Fundamentally, my work relates geometric space to quantum mechanics,” Hebbe Madhusudhana says. “We can use this geometric information to identify conditions under which quantum computing can be robust.”

Kalelkar, Hebbe Madhusudhana, and eight other Georgia Tech Ph.D. students will compete in the final round of the competition on Nov. 15 at 5-8 p.m. in the LeCraw Auditorium at Scheller College of Business.

Lalit Arun Darunte, Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering
CO2 Capture from Air

Diego Dumani Jarquin, Biomedical Engineering
Photoacoustic Imaging and Therapy Monitoring of Lymph Node Metastasis

Tesca Fitzgerald, Interactive Computing
Teaching Robots to Reuse Skills

Pranav Kalelkar, Chemistry
Plastic Implants: A Novel Way to Heal Broken Bones

Chandana Kolluru, Materials Science and Engineering
Microneedles for Polio Vaccination

Bharath Hebbe Madhusudhana, Physics
Reading Out the Geometry from an Atom’s Memory

Monica McNerney, Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering
Bacterial biosensors: Low-cost, Field-Friendly Nutrition Tests

Akanksha Krishnakumar Menon, Mechanical Engineering
Generating Power from Printed Plastics

Aravind Samba Murthy, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Recovering Kinetic Energy Using Electric Motors

Kirsten Parratt, Materials Science and Engineering
Boosting Statistical Power- Building Better Biomaterials

The finalists are competing for three research travel grants ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 and a $500 People’s Choice grant.

For more information about the 3MT competition, visit


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