Inaugural Seed Grant Partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory Yields 10 Recipients, with More Funding Available

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Two College of Sciences students are among 10 Institute recipients of a newly-established Georgia Tech-Oak Ridge National Laboratory (GT-ORNL) Collaboration seed grant. 

Jason Dark, a graduate student in the School of Physics, has received funding for his project, “Generation of Quantum States in Nanomagnet by Dissipation”. The principal investigator is associate professor Dragomir Davidovic

Caitlin Petro, a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Biological Sciences, received a seed grant for “Development of Cutting-Edge Approaches for Characterization of Root Microbiomes in Peatlands”. The principal investigator is professor and associate chair of research Joel Kostka

Immediate support, long-term research

Eight other graduate and postdoctoral students from the Schools of Mechanical EngineeringChemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Literature, Media and Communication were also the first to receive funds in the inaugural seed program. 

“Without the opportunity of collaboration and financial support that the Georgia Tech-ORNL seed grant provides, the doors of additional funding and research goals would be more difficult to open in the future. I consider this opportunity to be the tip of the iceberg, providing immediate support for long-term research outcomes and goals,” says Daniel Phelps, a seed grant recipient from the School of Literature, Media, and Communications.

Quantum mechanics, magnetic particles

Dark plans to use the funds to test sample fabrication from Dragovic’s lab in the newly installed Quantum Isolation and Observation System, with ORNL collaborator and staff scientist Thomas Zac Ward

Dark says the funding opportunity will allow him to probe the limits of quantum mechanics in a magnetic particle. “These results will help to confirm whether electron tunneling can be used to measure quantum correlations in a large spin-system, and whether rare earth metal doping can successfully adjust the environmental coupling of this system,” Dark says.

About our Oak Ridge National Laboratory strategic partnership

As one of the Oak Ridge, Tennessee lab's eight core university partners, Georgia Tech is in a unique position to partner with ORNL experts on collaborative research. ORNL also employs students in internships and serves as a superb career destination for engineers, scientists, computer scientists, energy policy experts, and others interested in applying technology to solving national and global problems.

Since 2017, more than 100 students, faculty, and staff have made trips from Georgia Tech to ORNL that have been funded through our ongoing partnership. The results of these trips include graduate research awards, collaborative funded grants, and newly recruited graduate students.

More GT-ORNL seed funding is available. Individuals at Georgia Tech who are interested in applying can fill out this form and contact Ashley Edwards at with questions.

Explore more GT-ORNL funding opportunities for faculty and students.



  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Renay San Miguel
  • Created:07/02/2020
  • Modified By:sbarone7
  • Modified:08/24/2020