<![CDATA[Neuroscience, Mental Health, and Motherhood]]> 35575 There are a few things all mammals have in common. We all breathe air, drink water, and eat food, to name a few. Christina Ragan’s research homes in on the events surrounding one of the first experiences that bind us all together: being born.

“Everyone has had a mother at some point in their life,” says Ragan, who is a faculty member and academic professional in the School of Biological Sciences and the director of Outreach for the Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience at Tech. “We may all develop different diseases [later in life], but we've all had a mother.”

Ragan, who directs the Molecular Mechanisms of Mothering and Anxiety (MOMMA) Lab, is particularly interested in studying how the events of pregnancy and early parenthood may affect the mental health of both mothers and children. 

“Mental health is one of those things that’s not always as obvious as other physical ailments. If you break your arm, you go to the doctor. If you have a heart attack, you would go to the doctor. But when you're feeling depressed or anxious, sometimes you don't always go and seek help,” Ragan explains. “We need better markers of mental health — if we can find some of those neurobiological markers, maybe that can help identify who's at risk.” 

And after years of studying it, Ragan is about to become a parent herself, finding that “you can do as much research as you want, and you’re still going to find things that surprise you.”

Monitoring mental health

“I'm interested in the neurobiology of parental behavior — or what's going on in the brain when someone becomes a parent — and I focus on mothers,” Ragan says. One of her big interests is in postpartum anxiety.

“What happens with postpartum anxiety is that it just seems typical to most people. Of course, I’m going to worry about my kid, right? That's how they survive. But it becomes an issue when it's prolonged. 

To better understand anxious mothers, Ragan studies animals. “The challenge with using non-human animals is we can't ask them, ‘how are you feeling today?’ But we have these other proxy measures.” By measuring how the animals respond to spaces that either induce anxiety (like a maze, high off the ground) or calm it (like a dark, enclosed space), Ragan can gain insights into their mental health

Throughout her career, Ragan has examined how things like exposure to certain medications or skin-to-skin contact impacts behavioral and neurobiological markers of anxiety in both maternal and postnatal rodents. One such project examined obsessive-compulsive behaviors in maternal rats and their offspring.

“Postpartum OCD is things like constantly checking to see if the baby's breathing, which again, plenty of parents do. But will you not leave the house because you're worried something's going to happen?” 

Exposing rodents to clomipramine — an antidepressant commonly prescribed to treat OCD in humans — shortly after birth has been shown to induce OCD-like behaviors in rodents (like repetitively poking their heads in and out of holes in an enclosure) later in life. “But people had done this work only in male rats,” Ragan says.

When she studied the effects of this exposure on the behavior of maternal rats, they exhibited the same OCD-like behaviors that had been observed in male rats. Ragan says they were also “different in their nursing behaviors. Overall, the amount of time [spent nursing] was the same as the controls, but when it should have been at its highest — it was kind of shifted.”

For the past year, Harika Kosaraju, an undergraduate studying neuroscience at Georgia Tech, has been following up on Ragan’s behavioral research. Kosaraju will dive deeper into this work in the fall, where she’ll be looking at how those conditions impact serotonin — a neurotransmitter commonly decreased with OCD — in decision-making areas of the brain, as well as how the molecular machinery cells use to produce serotonin are affected.

“I was initially really attracted to Dr. Ragan's projects because of this population that they were addressing, that I hadn't seen addressed in a lot of research,” says Kosaraju. “Focusing on a population that doesn't have a lot of research is so important — especially because of the stresses and risks of pregnancy and childbirth in the postpartum period.”

Putting theory into practice

Ragan’s husband Zachary Grieb, who is a Medical Science Liaison with Amneal Pharmaceuticals, also studied the neurobiology of parenthood, focusing primarily on the interplay between oxytocin and parenthood. The two met as trainees at Michigan State University, and after years of collaborating on their parenthood research, Grieb and Ragan will soon begin their own journey in parenthood. 

“One of the things I remember [Christina] saying when we were dating was ‘I have to have a baby — I mean, we study this!’,” Grieb says.

“Exactly!” Ragan replied. “We have to put theory into practice. But you can research for years and years and years, and nothing can really prepare you for a child,” Ragan says.

“I think one of the things I’ve appreciated more about this process is how everything begins with the mother,” Grieb added. “Gestation — the mother and her experiences — those are [the baby’s] initial paths. 

And while that may sound overwhelming, both Ragan and Grieb have some related advice for new parents.

“The newborn brain is as plastic as it ever will be — you have the most cells you’ll ever have,” Grieb says. “One of the problems with having all this information and research is we can be overwhelmed by it. And it's great that we have this information — but know that kids can be incredibly resilient.”

When it comes to mental health, Ragan adds that “if you have any concerns at all that you may be feeling anxious or depressed — especially if you haven’t experienced that before — definitely tell your physician because they can tell you different strategies to cope with it. Early detection is the best kind of treatment.”

]]> adavidson38 1 1685722064 2023-06-02 16:07:44 1685723387 2023-06-02 16:29:47 0 0 news Christina Ragan has spent her career as a neuroscience researcher studying the neuroscience behind the mental health of motherhood. Now she’s set to begin a new research project — and become a parent herself.

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2023-06-02T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-02T00:00:00-04:00 2023-06-02 00:00:00 Writer: Audra Davidson
Communications Officer II, College of Sciences

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications, College of Sciences

]]>
670917 670918 670919 670917 image <![CDATA[Christina Ragan (right) and her husband Zachary Grieb have studied the neuroscience of mental health and parenthood for years, and are now set to become parents themselves.]]> Christina Ragan (right) and her husband Zachary Grieb have studied the neuroscience of mental health and parenthood for years, and are now set to become parents themselves.

]]> image/png 1685722096 2023-06-02 16:08:16 1685722096 2023-06-02 16:08:16
670918 image <![CDATA[Harika Kosaraju presenting her behavioral work on OCD and motherhood after exposure to clomipramine at a conference.]]> Harika Kosaraju presenting her behavioral work on OCD and motherhood after exposure to clomipramine at a conference.

]]> image/jpeg 1685722432 2023-06-02 16:13:52 1685722432 2023-06-02 16:13:52
670919 image <![CDATA[Ragan and Grieb's science-themed photo for their pregnancy announcement.]]> Ragan and Grieb's science-themed photo for their pregnancy announcement.

]]> image/png 1685722605 2023-06-02 16:16:45 1685722605 2023-06-02 16:16:45
<![CDATA[Christina Ragan: Celebrating Brain Awareness Week — and Neuroscience for All]]> <![CDATA[Christina Ragan Honored With Award for Neuroscience Teaching, Outreach, Mentorship]]> <![CDATA[Center for Mental Health Care and Resources]]>
<![CDATA[What to Read This Summer]]> 27713 Memorial Day the unofficial start of summer — is a good time to relax and dive into the books on your reading list or select a book you had not considered. We asked several readers for recommendations. The books range from an anthology of poems with commentary by Edward Hirsch, a top poetry critic, to a climate fiction novel set in the near future.

 

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery

By Alan Bradley, Bantam Books, 2010

“If you are a fan of precocious, nerdy children and British murder mysteries, you’ll love amateur chemist/detective Flavia de Luce. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is the first in a mystery series driven by Flavia’s unrelenting curiosity and resourcefulness. She is a 10-year-old MacGyver studying poisons in her crumbling English ancestral home in the 1950s, freely ranging around the countryside, stalking alleged murderers, and narrowly avoiding scrapes. If you like this one, you’ll be pleased to know there are several more in the series and they just get better.”

—Kelley Broome, corporate relations manager, Jones MBA Center, Scheller College of Business

 

 

The Ministry for the Future

By Kim Stanley Robinson, Orbit Books, 2020

 “The Ministry for the Future, a climate fiction or “cli-fi” novel, is relevant to today’s landscape of record-breaking droughts and heat waves, record breaking precipitation and flooding, wildfires and powerful storms — clear reminders that climate challenges are real. Set in the near future, the story places you in the center of an organization created by the Paris Climate Agreement to work on behalf of future generations. A thriller, social science commentary, and detailed scientific case study, The Ministry for the Future is an engaging and satisfying work of science fiction sure to broaden readers’ understanding of the effects of climate change and the options available to us to today to alter its impact.”

—Daren Hubbard, vice president of Information Technology and chief information officer

 

 

100 Poems to Break Your Heart

By Edward Hirsch, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021

“Edward Hirsch’s 100 Poems to Break Your Heart is an anthology of selected poems that span from the 19th century to the present and includes poems originally written in English, as well as translations of poems from many other languages, such as Greek, French, Spanish, Russian, Yiddish, and German. Each poem is accompanied by Hirsch’s accessible commentary. He is among our top thinkers and critics of poetry, and his insights into the poems get right to the emotional core of each piece. Don’t let the title of the book fool you — while many of the poems in this collection might deal with grief or sadness, this book is anything but a downer. These 100 essential poems, as Hirsch says, ‘make us feel less alone and more connected.’ That’s what good poems do.”

—Travis Denton, associate director, Poetry@Tech, and editor, Terminus Magazine

 

 

The Summer Place

By Jennifer Weiner, Simon and Schuster, 2022

“There is a house with feelings and memories held by its family. There is a global pandemic, as well as uncomfortable family arrangements, an engagement, and lots of ‘Wait, what?’ Find a nice seat out in the sun or a comfy chair to read this joy by Jennifer Weiner. She wrote this book after reading an article about houses having feelings and holding our memories. She took that article and brought it to life. One of the main characters in this novel is the house which wants to protect the family. Grab a comfortable spot and a notebook, because you will definitely need it. Enjoy one of my favorite novels of the last three years.”

—Lauren Morton, academic program manager, Clark Scholars and Dean’s Scholars Program, College of Engineering

 

 

Mad Honey: A Novel

By Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan, Ballantine Books, 2022

“This novel follows Olivia McAfee and Lily Campanello on their life journey of starting over. Through a series of suspenseful events and stories, the two find themselves connected as Lily falls in love with Olivia’s son, Asher. One day, Olivia’s world is rocked when she receives a phone call that Lily is dead and Asher is being questioned. The story follows both of their lived experiences, uncovering secrets and stories untold, an unforgettable love story, and the power of family. I could not put this book down and loved the emotions that it led me through as I learned what their stories held.”

—Tim Edmonds-King, learning consultant, Workplace Learning and Professional Development, Georgia Tech Professional Education

                                                                                                               

 

An Assassin in Utopia: The True Story of a Nineteenth-Century Sex Cult and a President’s Murder

By Susan Wels, Pegasus Crime, 2023

“Susan Wels tells a gripping story about the assassination of President James A. Garfield in 1881, but the book is about so much more. It is a sweeping exploration of Victorian America, including major intellectual currents, the minutiae of political parties and schemes, and colorful, larger than life characters. Wels examines one of many 19th-century utopian settlements — Oneida, in upstate New York, which was organized around principles of free love and gender equality, but in practice would prove disturbing to both Victorian and modern eyes — and a delusional resident who sought to save the Republican Party by killing a president. It’s every bit as engrossing as a novel.”

Stacy Braukman, senior writer and editor, Institute Communications

 

 

Monkey Hunting 

By Cristina Garcia, Knopf, 2003

“This novel follows a family through four generations, but it is not a wealthy family, not one of the privileged elites. It is an ordinary family or ‘ordinary’ for each time period, just people like millions of their contemporaries. The story spans from the mid-19th century to the late 20th century, and it begins with a man being duped into enslavement. While a portion of the story takes place in the United States, most of it is set in Cuba and in China. The book is detailed, yet moves quickly, showing some of the ways humans hurt each other and some of the ways we help each other. It can be a bit depressing to notice the ties to human depravity, but the strands of common human goodness and the demonstrations of resilience are what I am left with at the end of this lyrical and slightly magical book.”

—Amy Bass Henry, executive director, Office of International Education

 

 

Darktown

By Thomas Mullen, 37INK/ATRIA, 2016

“This is a murder mystery that tells the story of two of the first eight black police officers hired, due to political pressure, by the Atlanta Police Department in the sweltering heat of the summer of 1948. The two are investigating the murder of a woman, and they suspect a fellow officer may be the culprit. This work of historical fiction is a must-read for those living in the city. Mullen takes you back in time with his vivid imagery and attention to detail, to a world that was not so long ago.”

—DeMarco Williams, digital project manager, Georgia Tech Professional Education

 

 

The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations

By Daniel Yergin, Penguin Random House, 2020

“If you’re looking for the best roundup yet of the critical factors weighing on the international energy industry but don’t want to feel like you’re slogging through an oil company’s earnings report, consider Daniel Yergin’s The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations. The book is a very accessible update to his 1991 best-seller The Prize, which won its own prize, a Pulitzer. The New Map gives economist-historian Yergin a chance to check in on the U.S., China, Russia, and the Middle East, and how the rise of shale oil production, a climate crisis, a pandemic, and volatile geopolitics have caused tectonic shifts within the industry, which Yergin has tracked since the mid-1970s. He uses the latest data, science, and technological advances to help readers navigate The New Map for oil and gas in the 21st century.”

Renay San Miguel, communications officer, College of Sciences

]]> Victor Rogers 1 1684434528 2023-05-18 18:28:48 1684772393 2023-05-22 16:19:53 0 0 news We asked a few avid readers for book recommendations.

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2023-05-19T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-19T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-19 00:00:00 Victor Rogers

Institute Communications

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670840 670841 670840 image <![CDATA[Student reading]]> Read any good books lately? Summer is a great time to catch up. (Photo by Joya Chapman.)

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670841 image <![CDATA[Book Jackets for Summer Reading]]> Book jackets for What to Read, Summer 2023

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<![CDATA[On The Edge: Georgia Tech Professors Awarded Curci Grants for Emerging Bio Research]]> 35599 Two Georgia Tech Professors, Lily Cheung and Simon Sponberg, have been awarded prestigious Curci Grants, which will fund cutting-edge research in their fields. The Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation supports science-based research striving for the advancement of a healthy and sustainable future for humans. 

“The Curci Foundation funds research that’s just emerging, that’s on the edge,” Sponberg says. “Part of the goal is to develop fundamental knowledge that will seed all sorts of future research.” 

Cheung’s research has the potential to improve medical treatments — including many cancer treatments — and also to help create plants that are more resilient to climate change, which could help feed communities of the future. 

Sponberg’s research into agile movement also has medical applications — potentially changing the way we approach physical therapy for degenerative diseases — as well as a number of other applications, including building better robots.

Read the full story on the College of Sciences website.

]]> sperrin6 1 1684415493 2023-05-18 13:11:33 1684443273 2023-05-18 20:54:33 0 0 news Cheung’s research has the potential to improve medical treatments — including many cancer treatments — and also to help create plants that are more resilient to climate change, which could help feed communities of the future. Sponberg’s research into agile movement also has medical applications — potentially changing the way we approach physical therapy for degenerative diseases — as well as a number of other applications, including building better robots.

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2023-05-18T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-18T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-18 00:00:00 670832 670832 image <![CDATA[Lily Cheung and Simon Sponberg]]> Lily Cheung and Simon Sponberg have been awarded Curci Grants to support their cutting-edge research.

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<![CDATA[Regents Hold Tuition Steady for Tech]]> 27164 The Board of Regents (BOR) of the University System of Georgia (USG) voted Tuesday to maintain tuition and mandatory student fees at current levels for most USG institutions, including Georgia Tech, in the 2023-24 academic year. The BOR also voted to allocate to Georgia Tech $484 million in state appropriations for fiscal year 2024 (FY24) — a 6% increase over last year.  

“I’m proud that we’ve been able to not only avoid increases in tuition and fees over the past four years, but have actually reduced them by $1,100, which is unheard of in higher education,” said Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera. “We’ve been able to do this thanks to increases in state appropriations, enrollment growth, and the dedication of faculty and staff who constantly find innovative ways to get the job done, serve more students, and deliver the highest value to students in the nation. Georgia Tech is regularly cited among the best values for higher education in the nation — students pay less to go to school and get higher paying jobs when they’re done. It is my hope that Georgia Tech can continue to grow in the future, and I look forward to working with state officials to ensuring that we can continue to do so.”  

State appropriations for FY24 include approximately $11 million for the $2,000 cost-of-living adjustment for full-time, eligible employees. The majority of pay adjustments will be completed in July.    

“Georgia Tech remains strong, as demonstrated by our talented students, our growing undergraduate and graduate enrollment, and our incredible staff and faculty,” said Interim Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance and Interim Chief Business Officer Mike Shannon. “The approved funding will enable us to continue to advance our instructional, research, and service missions.”  

Additional details regarding the FY24 budget and how it will affect the Georgia Tech community will be provided in the coming weeks as information becomes available. 
 

]]> Rachael Pocklington 1 1684356746 2023-05-17 20:52:26 1684443088 2023-05-18 20:51:28 0 0 news The Board of Regents (BOR) of the University System of Georgia (USG) voted Tuesday to maintain tuition and mandatory student fees at current levels for most USG institutions, including Georgia Tech, in the 2023-24 academic year. 

]]>
2023-05-17T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-17T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-17 00:00:00 Rachael Pocklington

Institute Communications

]]>
665542 665542 image <![CDATA[Tech Tower]]> image/jpeg 1675786600 2023-02-07 16:16:40 1680535335 2023-04-03 15:22:15 <![CDATA[Board of Regents Approves No Tuition Increase for the 2023-24 Academic Year, With One Exception]]> <![CDATA[Princeton Review Names Tech No. 1 Best Value Public University ]]>
<![CDATA[Georgia Emissions Declining, Georgia Tech-led Drawdown Georgia Research Team Shows]]> 34600 Overall greenhouse gas emissions in Georgia fell by 5% between 2017 and 2021, mostly due to the increased use of natural gas and solar for electricity generation, according to the research team behind the Drawdown Georgia climate initiative. Emissions from agriculture and the average individual carbon footprint also shrank.

The decline in emissions comes against a 10% expansion in the state’s economy, showing the potential for reducing emissions while pursuing economic growth, according to the team.

However, the team’s data also show a stark increase in transportation-related emissions, which now exceed pre-pandemic levels and has become the state’s largest source of climate pollution, according to Marilyn Brown, Regents’ Professor and Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems in the School of Public Policy and the principal investigator on the Drawdown Georgia research team.

“While not all of the numbers are trending in the right direction, these data clearly show significant improvements in many sectors of our economy and also highlight where we have the greatest opportunities, namely transportation,” Brown said.

Track Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Your County

The report shows that while emissions from the electricity sector declined more than 15% between 2017 and 2021, transportation sources including cars and trucks put out 4% more climate-warming emissions in 2021 than five years earlier. Emissions from diesel vehicles spiked 16.1%, likely due to increased demand for delivery services driven by online shopping.

Emissions from Georgia’s agricultural and food sector fell by 7.1% during the study period while the average individual carbon footprint of Georgians declined from 22,092 pounds to 20,253 pounds.

“Based on the collaborations we’re a part of, we’re confident this is only the beginning of Georgia’s carbon reduction trend,” John Lanier, executive director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, said in a news release on the findings.

The foundation is a primary funder of Drawdown Georgia.

Brown leads the research team, which spans several Georgia colleges and universities. She is an internationally known climate policy researcher who has dedicated most of her career to helping solve the climate crisis.

The analysis is based on data from the first-of-its-kind Drawdown Georgia Emissions Tracker, which aggregates information from federal Energy Department, Transportation Department, and Environmental Protection Agency reports. The tracker was produced by a team of scientists led by William Drummond in the School of City and Regional Planning.

For a more detailed analysis of the findings, visit the Drawdown Georgia blog.

]]> mpearson34 1 1684270193 2023-05-16 20:49:53 1684782322 2023-05-22 19:05:22 0 0 news Transportation is now the state's leading emitter of greenhouse gases, eclipsing energy production.

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2023-05-16T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-16T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-16 00:00:00 Michael Pearson
Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts

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670821 670821 image <![CDATA[Georgia emissions fell 5% from 2017 to 2021, according to the Drawdown Georgia research team led by Regents' Professor Marilyn Brown.]]> Georgia emissions fell 5% from 2017 to 2021, according to the Drawdown Georgia research team led by Regents' Professor Marilyn Brown.

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<![CDATA[Engineering A New Way to Feed Gorillas]]> 34528

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

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

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

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

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

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

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670802 670802 image <![CDATA[Photo credit: Adam Thompson, Zoo ATL]]> image/jpeg 1684182024 2023-05-15 20:20:24 1684182024 2023-05-15 20:20:24
<![CDATA[A Journey to the Origins of Multicellular Life: Long-Term Experimental Evolution in the Lab]]> 36123 The world would look very different without multicellular organisms – take away the plants, animals, fungi, and seaweed, and Earth starts to look like a wetter, greener version of Mars. But precisely how multicellular organisms evolved from single-celled ancestors remains poorly understood. The transition happened hundreds of millions of years ago, and early multicellular species are largely lost to extinction.

To investigate how multicellular life evolves from scratch, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology decided to take evolution into their own hands. Led by William Ratcliff, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences and director of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Biosciences, a team of researchers has initiated the first long-term evolution experiment aimed at evolving new kinds of multicellular organisms from single-celled ancestors in the lab.

Read the rest of the story here.

]]> Catherine Barzler 1 1683744162 2023-05-10 18:42:42 1683816757 2023-05-11 14:52:37 0 0 news To investigate how multicellular life evolves from scratch, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology decided to take evolution into their own hands. Led by William Ratcliff, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences and director of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Biosciences, a team of researchers has initiated the first long-term evolution experiment aimed at evolving new kinds of multicellular organisms from single-celled ancestors in the lab.

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2023-05-10T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-10T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-10 00:00:00 Catherine Barzler, Senior Research Writer/Editor

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670779 670779 image <![CDATA[Macroscopic snowflake yeast with elongated cells fracture into modules, retaining the same underlying branched growth form of their microscopic ancestor.]]> Macroscopic snowflake yeast with elongated cells fracture into modules, retaining the same underlying branched growth form of their microscopic ancestor.

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<![CDATA[Photo Finish: Spring 2023 Commencement ]]> 34528 Georgia Tech's 264th Commencement, held May 5 and 6 at Bobby Dodd Stadium, celebrated 5,673 graduates. Tap here for a few moments captured during the event.

More images from Spring Commencement are available on Flickr.

]]> jhunt7 1 1684182262 2023-05-15 20:24:22 1684182329 2023-05-15 20:25:29 0 0 news Georgia Tech's 264th Commencement, held May 5 and 6 at Bobby Dodd Stadium, celebrated 5,673 graduates. Here are a few moments captured during the event. More images from Spring Commencement are available on Flickr.

]]>
2023-05-08T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-08T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-08 00:00:00 670803 670803 image <![CDATA[Georgia Tech takes pride in reading aloud the name of each graduate as they receive their diploma. Photo taken May 5 by Joya Chapman.]]> image/jpeg 1684182292 2023-05-15 20:24:52 1684182292 2023-05-15 20:24:52
<![CDATA[College of Sciences Courses Spotlight UN Sustainable Development Goals]]> 34434 Six proposals from the College of Sciences will redesign existing courses and begin new ones to help students contribute to a sustainable world have been approved for Undergraduate Sustainability Education Innovation Grants. The proposals tie into the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

A total of 21 projects from all six Georgia Tech colleges will reach an estimated 22,500 students. The collaborative effort is focused on a key goal of the Institute’s Sustainability Next Task Force: to produce graduates who are committed to making a positive difference in their communities, their organizations, and the world.

“The overall goal is that all of our students understand the societal context for their work, as well as the scientific, environmental, economic, and social aspects of sustainability,” says Jennifer Leavey, assistant dean for Faculty Mentoring for the College of Sciences and co-chair of Sustainability Next.

Leavey and Rebecca Watts-Hull, assistant director of Faculty Development for Sustainability Education in the Center for Teaching and Learning, served as liaisons for the Undergraduate Sustainability Education Committee, which judged the proposals.

Leavey also coordinates College of Sciences educational programs related to science and sustainability, including the Georgia Tech Urban Honey Bee Project and the Living Building Science Vertically Integrated Project Team

Leavey said the UN SDGs — which ask world citizens and their governments to consider ambitious solutions to longstanding problems such as hunger, poverty, climate damage, inequality, and lack of quality healthcare — are clear and compelling. “These are things we want for a better world,” she shared. “Every field has some connection to them. And it's just a very easy framework to get behind and understand. I would love it if all Georgia Tech graduates could leave feeling well versed in that understanding, and how their work connects to it.”

The Sustainable Education Committee chose projects that impacted the greatest number of students, including classes that are required for all Georgia Tech undergraduates. 

Learn more about the College of Sciences’ six selected proposals:

Laboratory-Based Project on the Chemistry of Alternative Energy Sources

Sustainability Next: Taking a Sustainable Open-Educational Resource And SDG-ing It

Georgia Climate Project 

Urban Atlanta’s Water and Atmospheric Signatures

Developing and Enhancing Experiential Learning in a New EAS Course

Course Redesign to Implement Project-Based Learning for Social Change

On April 27, the Undergraduate Sustainability Education Committee hosted a Jamboree, which featured faculty from each Georgia Tech college that won grants — making brief presentations, and engaging in networking discussions. 

“For the College of Sciences, it's really exciting to see the connection between different disciplines,” Leavey said. “We’ve been doing work on climate and the environment for a long time, but to see the connection with sustainability work at other colleges at Georgia Tech is very gratifying.”

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1683319094 2023-05-05 20:38:14 1683744931 2023-05-10 18:55:31 0 0 news Six proposals from the College of Sciences will evolve existing courses, create new ones to include the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals — a key part of Georgia Tech’s Sustainability Next initiative.


 

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2023-05-08T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-08T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-08 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

 

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670769 670778 670769 image <![CDATA[Georgia Tech researchers give presentations on their Undergraduate Sustainability Education Innovation Grants during a recent "Jamboree" in the Kendeda Building. (Photo Jess Hunt-Ralston)]]> Georgia Tech researchers give presentations on their Undergraduate Sustainability Education Innovation Grants during a recent "Jamboree" in the Kendeda Building. (Photo Jess Hunt-Ralston)

]]> image/jpeg 1683319120 2023-05-05 20:38:40 1683319120 2023-05-05 20:38:40
670778 image <![CDATA[Deborah Santos]]> image/jpeg 1683744882 2023-05-10 18:54:42 1683744882 2023-05-10 18:54:42
<![CDATA[Undergraduate Sustainability Education Innovation Grants Will Transform Courses in All Six Colleges]]> <![CDATA[School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences to Offer Three New Undergraduate Degrees — Including Interdisciplinary Environmental Science Major]]> <![CDATA[Flourishing at Georgia Tech: As Students Return to Campus, Wellness Classes Help Them Thrive]]> <![CDATA[Sciences Lands Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence Grant]]> <![CDATA[Courses Explore Sustainability, Support UNs’ Sustainability Goals with New Funding]]> <![CDATA[2023 UN SDG Action and Awareness Week]]> <![CDATA[Celebrating UN Sustainable Development Goals Week: Young Minds for Healthy Lives on a Healthy Planet]]>
<![CDATA[Undergraduate Sustainability Education Innovation Grants Will Transform Courses in All Six Colleges]]> 34528 One of the Institute Strategic Plan (ISP) goals is to connect globally and amplify impact by contributing “to global collaborative efforts that advance the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through our education, research, and service.” In response, Sustainability Next developed a plan to expand SDG concept and skill integration across the undergraduate curriculum. In support of the plan, 21 projects representing all six colleges and 15 schools were presented at the Undergraduate Sustainability Education Jamboree, held on April 26 in the Kendeda Building auditorium. With many winning projects featuring high enrollment and core courses, this first round of sustainability education “seed grants” will significantly expand the reach of Georgia Tech’s sustainability-across-the-curriculum initiatives.

“Our Strategic Plan commitment to bring the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into our teaching is part of our vision for transformative teaching and learning more broadly,” explains Larry Jacobs, Senior Vice Provost for Education and Learning. “Helping students identify connections between disciplinary concepts and skills and complex societal challenges enhances learning and supports Georgia Tech’s mission to equip students to improve the human condition.”

The Jamboree featured lightning presentations from the award winners, as well as presentations about related initiatives at Georgia Tech to help instructors, students, and staff better understand the landscape of sustainability education innovation on campus. Instructors engaged in course design or re-design through the awards will have opportunities to collaborate with and learn from their peers through a Community of Practice on Transformative Teaching with the SDGs and a SoTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) research group. Many began identifying potential collaborators at the event, as they heard from other award winners. “The afternoon of lightning presentations by fellow faculty was exhilarating,” Sabir Khan, Associate Professor, Schools of Industrial Design and Architecture, shared. “I came away impressed and excited at the range of projects and have already invited a few instructors to join my class in the fall to discuss their approaches to tackling the UN SDGs."

Presenter Kate Williams, Interim Director, Transformative Teaching and Learning, Faculty Initiatives, shared connections between the Sustainability Innovation Awards and Georgia Tech’s Transformative Teaching and Learning (TTL) strategic initiative. “The success of the first round of Sustainability Education Innovation Grants demonstrates our faculty's commitment to creating innovative experiential learning opportunities for students,” Dr. Williams noted.

For more information about future award opportunities or the communities of practice described above, please contact Jennifer Leavey (Assistant Dean for Faculty Mentoring, College of Sciences) or Rebecca Watts Hull (Assistant Director, Faculty Development for Sustainability Education Initiatives, Center for Teaching and Learning).

Review all 21 awarded Undergraduate Sustainability Education Innovation projects.

]]> jhunt7 1 1684182413 2023-05-15 20:26:53 1684272011 2023-05-16 21:20:11 0 0 news One of the Institute Strategic Plan (ISP) goals is to connect globally and amplify impact by contributing “to global collaborative efforts that advance the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through our education, research, and service.” In response, Sustainability Next developed a plan to expand SDG concept and skill integration across the undergraduate curriculum. In support of the plan, 21 projects representing all six colleges and 15 schools were presented at the Undergraduate Sustainability Education Jamboree, held on April 26 in the Kendeda Building auditorium. With many winning projects featuring high enrollment and core courses, this first round of sustainability education “seed grants” will significantly expand the reach of Georgia Tech’s sustainability-across-the-curriculum initiatives.

]]>
2023-05-04T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-04T00:00:00-04:00 2023-05-04 00:00:00 670763 670764 670765 670763 image <![CDATA[Borelo Jamboree]]> image/jpeg 1683305309 2023-05-05 16:48:29 1683305353 2023-05-05 16:49:13 670764 image <![CDATA[Moon Jamboree]]> image/jpeg 1683305309 2023-05-05 16:48:29 1683305378 2023-05-05 16:49:38 670765 image <![CDATA[Urmanbetova Jamboree]]> image/jpeg 1683305309 2023-05-05 16:48:29 1683305400 2023-05-05 16:50:00 <![CDATA[Undergraduate Sustainability Education Innovation projects]]> <![CDATA[Center for Teaching & Learning]]>
<![CDATA[College of Sciences Rises in U.S. News Best Graduate School Rankings]]> 34528 The College of Sciences at Georgia Tech continues to advance in the graduate school rankings published by the U.S. News and World Report.

Released on April 25, the 2023-2024 U.S. News Best Graduate School Rankings features all six College of Sciences schools among its best science schools for graduate studies:

The 2023-2024 rankings of doctoral programs in the sciences are based solely on the results of surveys sent by U.S. News to academic officials in fall 2022 and early 2023 in chemistry, earth science, mathematics, physics, and computer science (which is part of the College of Computing at Georgia Tech, see here). Surveys for biological sciences, statistics and biostatistics were sent to academic officials in fall 2021 and early 2022.

Georgia Tech College of Sciences rankings

Biological Sciences retains its No. 37 rank from 2022, in a nine-way tie with Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Dartmouth College, Indiana University-Bloomington, Ohio State University, University of Utah, and UT Health MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Chemistry and Biochemistry rises by one spot to No. 20, tied with Johns Hopkins University, Ohio State University, and University of California (UC)-San Diego.

Earth and Atmospheric Sciences ranks No. 33 (ranked No. 28 in 2022, No. 38 in 2019) in a tie with Ohio State University, University of Oregon, University of Southern California, Virginia Tech, and Washington University in St. Louis.

Mathematics advances by one to No. 20, tied with Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University, UC-San Diego, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Maryland-College Park, and University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Physics rises by seven to No. 21, in a tie with Northwestern University, Pennsylvania State University-University Park, Rice University, Stony Brook University-SUNY, UC-San Diego, and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Psychology retains its No. 39 rank from 2022 in a tie with Arizona State University, Michigan State University, Stony Brook University-SUNY, University of Florida, University of Iowa, and University of Pittsburgh.

U.S. News previously ranked graduate science programs in their 2022 Best Graduate Schools Edition, published in March 2022. Current rankings for Biological Sciences and Psychology were part of those 2022 rankings.

Among specialty science graduate programs at Georgia Tech, Analytical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, and Theoretical Chemistry all rank in the top 20. 

In Mathematics specialty graduate programs, Discrete Mathematics and Combinatorics remains the top 5, while Analysis ties for No. 20, and Applied Math ties for No. 16. Uniquely organized across the Colleges of Sciences, Computing, and Engineering, the Institute’s Algorithms, Combinatorics, and Optimization program kept its No. 5 spot from last spring.

Chemistry specialty graduate programs

 Mathematics specialty graduate programs

Fellow colleges across Georgia Tech are also on the rise in this year’s U.S. News “Best Graduate Schools” set, with Engineering remaining in the top ten in its overall disciplines — and Business, Computing, and Public Affairs also ranking among top programs in the nation. The full roster of current Georgia Institute of Technology graduate school rankings can be found here, along with U.S. News’ methodology for graduate rankings here.

 

]]> jhunt7 1 1682444937 2023-04-25 17:48:57 1684272422 2023-05-16 21:27:02 0 0 news U.S. News and World Report continues to rank all six College of Sciences schools among its best science schools for graduate studies. In the 2023-2024 edition, Physics rises by seven to 21, and Chemistry and Mathematics each advance into the top 20. Science specialty programs also take home high marks, with seven in the top 20.

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2023-04-25T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-25T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-25 00:00:00 Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

]]>
670627 670627 image <![CDATA[U.S. News and World Report continues to rank all six College of Sciences schools among its best science schools for graduate studies.]]> U.S. News and World Report continues to rank all six College of Sciences schools among its best science schools for graduate studies.

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<![CDATA[Sciences Faculty Awarded Georgia Tech Honors]]> 34434 Click here for the full list of Georgia Tech faculty and staff awardees.

College of Sciences faculty and teaching assistants were recently recognized for their educational and research excellence during the 2023 Georgia Tech Faculty and Staff Honors Luncheon, held April 21 at the Exhibition Hall.

The awards included Institute-wide honors and those from Georgia Tech’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). Honorees were recognized for their service, activities, and accomplishments over the past academic year. 

Please join us in congratulating College of Sciences faculty and teaching assistants who received 2023 Georgia Tech and CTL awards:

Georgia Tech Chapter, Sigma Xi Awards

Best Faculty Paper 

Itamar Kimchi, Assistant Professor, Physics


Institute Research Awards

Outstanding Achievement in Research Innovation

Younan Xia, Brock Family Chair, Chemistry and Biochemistry 

 

Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Advisor

John R. Reynolds, Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry

 

Outstanding Achievement in Research Program Development

Spaceflight Project Group

Christopher Carr, Assistant Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences/Aerospace Engineering


ANAK Awards

Outstanding Faculty

Timothy Cope, Professor, Biological Sciences


Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) Awards

Undergraduate Educator

Adam J. Decker, Senior Academic Professional, Biological Sciences

 

Geoffrey G. Eichholz Faculty Teaching

Mary E. Peek. Principal Academic Professional, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Emily Weigel, Senior Academic Professional, Biological Sciences

 

Center for Teaching and Learning/BP Junior Faculty Teaching

Anton Bernshteyn, Assistant Professor, Mathematics

Gongjie Li, Assistant Professor, Physics

 

Innovation in Co-Curricular Education 

Pamela Pollet, Senior Research Scientist, Chemistry and Biochemistry

 

International Initiatives Award

Steven A. Denning Faculty Award for Global Engagement

Anton Leykin, Professor, Mathematics

 

Faculty Honors Committee Awards

Class of 1940 W. Howard Ector Outstanding Teacher

Dan Margalit, Professor, Mathematics

 

Center for Teaching and Learning Teaching Assistant (TA) and Future Faculty Awards

(These awards were presented April 19 in the Georgia Tech Exhibition Hall.) 

 

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant of the Year

Charlotte Carl, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences 

Bret Hendricks, Mathematics

Maeve Janecka, Biological Sciences

Benjamin Peer, Chemistry and Biochemistry 

 

Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Year

Santana Afton, Mathematics

Alex Costa, Biological Sciences

Erin Griffith, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Tiffany Nguyen, Psychology

Markace Rainey, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Leo Wood, Physics

 

Graduate Student Instructor 

James Anderson, Mathematics

Terri Dunbar, Psychology

Cassandra Shriver, Biological Sciences and Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP)

 

Online TA of the Year

Mollene Denton, Mathematics
 

Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) TA Awards

CIRTL Associate Certificates

Stephanie Bilodeau, Biological Sciences

Katherine Booth, Mathematics

Abigail Diering, Chemistry and Biochemistry 

Luke Foster, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Eliza Gazda, Physics

Chad Gomard-Henshaw, Physics

Sarah Gonzalez, Physics

Erin Griffith, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Abigail Hagwood, Chemistry

Kamisha Hill, Chemistry

Mary Kho, Biological Sciences

Na Liu, Physics

Ravyn Malatesta, Chemistry

Sarah Roney, Biological Sciences

Afaf Saaidi, Mathematics

Steven Tarr, Physics

Alisha Vera, Physics

Mengshi Zhang, Biological Sciences

 

CIRTL Associate and Tech to Teaching Certificates

Rebecca Guth-Metzler, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Taehun Kim, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Katie Kuo, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Kavita Matange, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Emily Saccuzzo, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Breanna Shi, Biological Sciences

 

Tech to Teaching Certificates

Austin Christian, Mathematics

Sierra Knavel, Mathematics

Andrew Kristof, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Athulya Ram Sreedharan Nair, Mathematics

Danielle Skinner, Physics

Yan Zhang, Chemistry and Biochemistry

 

Graduate Teaching Fellows

Maugan Lloyd, Psychology

Jelly Vanderwoude, Biological Sciences

 

International TA Liaisons

Chang Ding, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

 

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1682440255 2023-04-25 16:30:55 1683312024 2023-05-05 18:40:24 0 0 news This month, dozens of College of Sciences faculty and teaching assistants are recognized by Georgia Tech for their excellence in instruction and research.


 

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2023-04-24T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-24T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-24 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston

]]>
670624 670624 image <![CDATA[georgia tech aerial.jpg]]> Aerial photo of Tech Tower. 

]]> image/jpeg 1682440371 2023-04-25 16:32:51 1682440371 2023-04-25 16:32:51
<![CDATA[Excellence Honored at Annual Faculty/Staff Luncheon]]> <![CDATA[College of Sciences Honors for Faculty and Staff at Spring Sciences Celebration]]>
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Chosen as Partner Institution for World-Leading Climate Center]]> 34528 Georgia Tech will be a key partner for the New York Climate Exchange (The Exchange), a first-of-its-kind international center for developing and deploying dynamic solutions to the global climate crisis. In addition to convening the world’s leaders and climate experts, The Exchange will address the social and practical challenges created by climate change — including commercially viable research and ideas that lead to immediate action on local and global levels.

“Today's climate issues are urgent, and environmental justice and ecological sustainability necessitate action from leaders across the world,” said Chaouki Abdallah, executive vice president for research at Georgia Tech. “As a core partner of The Exchange, Georgia Tech will provide research expertise in the areas of energy, urban planning, bi­­ological ecosystems, public policy, and more, and we look forward to playing an instrumental role in bringing its mission to fruition.”

Georgia Tech researchers are studying glacial melt, coral growth, sea level rise, and other climate concerns in the state of Georgia and around the world and will share their data and research results with partners at The Exchange. Likewise, research at The Exchange will be applicable for towns and cities across Georgia, allowing state leaders to take advantage of economic opportunities that arise when climate change is addressed head on.  

In addition to contributing critical research across the many areas of climate change, Georgia Tech leads major initiatives that are focused on solving the crises laid out in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Generation 2 Reinvented Toilet (G2RT) — a solution to the world’s water and sanitation problem — is led by Shannon Yee, associate professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. This cost-effective, globally scalable reinvented toilet with built-in human waste treatment will ensure that drinking water stays clean and will improve public health around the world.

Georgia Tech is also a leading partner of the Ocean Visions – UN Decade Collaborative Center for Ocean-Climate Solutions, an international center headquartered at the Georgia Aquarium that aims to 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. Championed at Georgia Tech by Susan Lozier, dean and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair in the College of Sciences, the Center also supports opportunities to accelerate ocean-based carbon dioxide removal research and advance sustainable ocean economies.

“We are looking forward to contributing and demonstrating some of the engineering sustainability solutions that have been developed at Georgia Tech with New York City and the world,” said Yee. “Many of the technical and economic solutions that serve the state of Georgia, the coastal city of Savannah, and the urban center of Atlanta can also serve the urban harbor of New York City. Similarly, the innovations and economic opportunities that address climate change can be shared with and benefit Georgia. This collaboration embodies the concept of an exchange where we share with one another.”

As The Exchange’s anchor institution, Stony Brook University will build and operate the center which will be located on Governors Island in New York City. The center is slated to open in 2028.

“It is becoming clear year after year in New York, and around the world, that the impacts of climate change are real and are here,” said Kevin Reed, associate dean for Research and associate professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook. “By partnering with communities, industries, governments, and universities, The Exchange will help to accelerate the implementation of urban solutions to these climate impacts through an interactive research ecosystem where community engagement is paramount. As a climate scientist, I recognize that New Yorkers need solutions to the climate crisis now, and The Exchange will help to make that a reality.”

 

]]> jhunt7 1 1682433199 2023-04-25 14:33:19 1682536078 2023-04-26 19:07:58 0 0 news Georgia Tech will be a key partner for the New York Climate Exchange (The Exchange), a first-of-its-kind international center for developing and deploying dynamic solutions to the global climate crisis.

]]>
2023-04-24T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-24T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-24 00:00:00 News Contact

Georgia Parmelee | georgia.parmelee@gatech.edu

]]>
670621 670621 image <![CDATA[A project rendering for the New York Climate Exchange (The Exchange) on Governors Island in New York City. The center is slated to open in 2028.]]> A project rendering for the New York Climate Exchange (The Exchange) on Governors Island in New York City. The center is slated to open in 2028.

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<![CDATA[College of Sciences Students, Future Faculty Recognized with Annual Awards]]> 35575 Each spring, the Georgia Tech community gathers to recognize the academic achievements and excellence of undergraduate and graduate students across the Institute. Dozens of College of Sciences students were honored during Tech’s Student Honors Celebration, held on April 19 at the Academy of Medicine.

Teaching excellence was also honored through Georgia Tech Teaching Assistant Awards and special certificates during the Institute’s Teaching Assistant (TA) and Future Faculty Award ceremonies, also held on April 19, at the Exhibition Hall Midtown Ballroom.

Please join us in congratulating these special recipients across our College of Sciences community:

 

Provost’s Academic Excellence Award

Established in 2021, the Provost’s Academic Excellence Award was created to recognize the remaining finalists of the Love Family Foundation Award (awarded this year to College of Design student Karis Wang). Each student is a graduating senior and represents the most outstanding scholastic record from their college. Finalists receive a $2,000 award, generously sponsored by the Love Family Foundation, and recognition at the annual Student Honors program.

One of this year’s recipients of the Provost’s Academic Excellence Award is Elena Cabrera, who is graduating from the School of Psychology. Cabrera conducted three years of research in the Adult Cognition Lab, earning her the College of Sciences Dean’s Scholarship and Early Research Award. She has also served as Psychology Association president and received two Tower Awards from the Office of Minority Educational Development. After graduation, Cabrera plans to pursue social and cultural psychological research on her path to becoming a psychology professor. 

Other recipients include Arul Gupta from the Scheller College of Business, Kevin Li from the College of Computing, Jacob Young from the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, and Peter Lais from the College of Engineering. Read more.

 

Honors Program Outstanding Student Award

This award was established in fall 2022 to honor one graduating student who best exemplifies the Honors Program during their time at Georgia Tech.

The first ever recipient of this award is Sarah Sorme, a graduating neuroscience major who has been active in the Honors Program. Sorme has had many leadership roles within the Honors Program during her time at Georgia Tech, including serving on two committees — the New Student Committee and the Community Outreach Committee — acting as a first-year retreat guide, and serving as editor of the Honors Program newsletter (The HyPe). She also served as co-director of the Honors Leadership Council and was instrumental in guiding the Program through the Covid-19 pandemic.

After graduation, Sarah wants to use her cognitive science knowledge and leadership experiences to develop human-centered technology to improve society.

Read more about Sorme.

 

Roger M. Wartell and Stephen E. Brossette Award for Multidisciplinary Studies in Biology, Physics, and Mathematics

This award is presented to an undergraduate student with demonstrated accomplishments at the interface of biology with either physics or mathematics. The award was established by a generous donation from alumnus Stephen E. Brossette in recognition of the many contributions of Roger M. Wartell to the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The 2023 winner, Julianne Tijani, is a physics major who has conducted research on the evolution of yeast, antibiotic-resistant infections, and cystic fibrosis. She has participated in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, and was recognized as a Petit Scholar. Julianne has also served as a teaching assistant in the School of Physics, a student assistant for the EXPLORE living learning community, and a medical scribe at Emory University Hospital.

 

A. Joyce Nickelson and John C. Sutherland Undergraduate Research Award 

This award was created by the endowment gift of Joyce E. Nickelson and John C. Sutherland to honor Joyce’s late mother, alumna A. Joyce Nickelson, and Sutherland. The scholarship, which recognizes excellence at the interface of mathematics and physics, is awarded to an undergraduate student who has jointly studied mathematics and physics, and who has engaged in scientific research.

Nickelson-Sutherland award winner Lance Lampert is completing degrees in physics and mathematics. He has been a research assistant at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, has taken part in the University of Michigan NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program, and will be conducting research at the CERN particle accelerator facility in Switzerland this summer. He is also a leader in the Quantum Computing Association, maintains the web infrastructure for Georgia Tech’s student radio station WREK, and hosts a show on the channel. 

 

Cynthia L. Bossart and James Efron Scholarship 

This honor was created by alumna Cindy Bossart to recognize high academic achievement by a student in the College of Sciences who is a non-Georgia resident. 

Veronika Vessigault is the 2022-3 recipient of this award and is a mathematics major with a minor in computational data analysis. She is currently taking graduate-level numerical linear algebra, and she studied in Hungary as part of the Budapest Semester in Mathematics. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics and an academic career. While at Tech, she volunteered close to 100 hours teaching high school and community college students and served as a teaching assistant in both the School of Mathematics and the College of Computing.

 

Metha Phingbodhipakkiya Memorial Scholarship 

This honor was established by Maranee Phingbodhipakkiya to honor her father, his love for physics, and the sacrifices he made to assure that she would have the finest education. This award is made to a junior or senior in the College of Sciences based on academic merit.

The recipient of this award, Saima Firoj, is a biochemistry major who is also completing minors in Spanish and health and medical sciences. She has conducted research on the structure and aggregation patterns of membranes through cryo-electron microscopy to aid in drug development and delivery, and on the biochemical origins of life. She has also volunteered extensively in the medical field.  

 

Robert A. Pierotti Memorial Scholarship

The College of Sciences presents this scholarship in honor of Robert “Bob” Pierotti, past dean of the College and founder of the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC). The award is made to top graduating seniors in the College who have excelled both academically and in research.

The three recipients of the 2022 Pierotti Award are Thiago Esslinger, Andrew Ji, and Lila Nassar.

Esslinger is majoring in both biochemistry and earth and atmospheric sciences. During his time as an undergraduate, Esslinger conducted research with Kim Cobb, former professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences who now serves as the director of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society. His research aimed to investigate the influence of symbiont community composition on coral geochemical proxy records in the central equatorial Pacific. In addition, he has worked as a study abroad teaching assistant, and has received a President’s Undergraduate Research Award as well as the Sustainability Student Champions Award

Ji is a biology major with a minor in computing and intelligence. He is a researcher in the School of Biological Sciences, where he works with Francesca Storici — professor and associate chair for Graduate Education in the School — to sequence the genome of a species of yeast. He also serves as a teaching assistant for the Bioethics and Integrative Genetics course, for which he was recognized as the School of Biological Sciences Undergraduate Teaching Assistant of the Year. Ji has also done considerable volunteer work in clinics and hospitals. 

Nassar is a physics major with a concentration in the physics of living systems. Nassar has a broad set of research experiences with faculty Martin Mourigal and Jennifer Curtis in the School of Physics. Nassar has also served as the secretary and president of the Georgia Tech Society of Women in Physics. In summer 2021, Nassar also participated in the NSF REU program at Vanderbilt University.

 

College of Sciences Undergraduate Research Awards

Undergraduate research awards are made to students in the College of Sciences who have made strong contributions to research over a number of semesters. This year’s winners were Chelsea Bekemeier, Lydia Kenney, Dimitrios Kidonakis, and Evelyn Gardolinski.

Bekemeier is graduating from the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences with a concentration in meteorology. Bekemeier conducts research with Greg Huey, professor and chair of the School, and has contributed to controlled burning experiments in Fort Columbus, GA, as well as the Asian Summer Monsoon Chemical and CLimate Impact Project (ACCLIP) based in South Korea. She has also been dedicated to outreach endeavors, serving as a STEM educator for iFLY Indoor Skydiving and a Superheroes Club Educator at Awaken Education LLC.

Kenney is a biochemistry major who began working with Raquel Lieberman, professor and Sepcic-Pfiel Endowed Chair in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 2020. She was named a Beckman Scholar — a 15-month mentored research experience for exceptional undergraduate students in chemistry and biological sciences — in 2021, conducting metagenomics research on deep sea sediments to identify novel binding proteins. Throughout her work with Lieberman, Kenney has won the best poster competition at the 36th Annual Protein Society Symposium in San Francisco, CA, and co-authored a manuscript.

Kidonakis is a mathematics major who began research as a high schooler in 2018. Working with Joseph Rabinoff, associate professor at Duke University formerly in Georgia Tech’s the School of Mathematics, Kidonakis conducted a research project on arithmetic geometry which won the award for best project in mathematics at the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair. During his time at Tech, Kidonakis has also worked with School of Mathematics professors Igor Belegradek and Matt Baker

Gardolinski is graduating from the Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience, and began doing research with Tim Cope, professor in the School of Biological Sciences, in 2020. Gardolinski conducted her research thesis with Cope, which aimed to develop a large data base on molecular mechanisms underlying signaling by specialized sensory receptors responsible for movement perception. She has also served as a teaching assistant, a peer advisor, and as the vice president of finance for Georgia Tech’s Red Cross Club.

 

Larry O’Hara Graduate Scholarship

This honor is provided by an endowment bequeathed by alumnus Larry O’Hara. It is presented to outstanding graduate students in the College of Sciences. 

All of the 2023 winners have established a strong record of research with multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals, as well as multiple conference presentations:

Liu is currently studying structural graph theory, extremal combinatorics, and graph coloring with Xingxing Yu, a professor in the School of Mathematics and the director of Graduate Studies. 

Pfennig’s research interests include theoretical and empirical population genetics of admixed populations. He currently works with Joseph Lachance, an associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences, to examine admixture of modern humans with archaic hominins.

  

Teaching Assistant Awards

The College of Science had several winners among the 2023 Georgia Tech Teaching Assistant Awardees. The awards are presented annually by the Center for Teaching and Learning to celebrate the contributions to teaching excellence at Georgia Tech made by graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants:

Several students also won Teaching Assistant Awards at the school level:

 

Tech to Teaching Certificates

Tech to Teaching Certificates are designed to prepare Georgia Tech graduate and postdoctoral associates for college teaching positions.

Through this certificate program, participants will develop a thorough understanding of the scholarship of teaching and learning, and will demonstrate their ability to apply these skills in the classroom.

The following College of Sciences students were awarded Tech to Teaching Certificates:


Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) Certificates

As a member institution in the CIRTL national network, Georgia Tech joins with 39 other universities on a mission to improve undergraduate education through the preparation of future faculty.

Participants in these certificate programs learn about how students learn, how differences among students affect their learning, evidence-based teaching and assessment practices, and teaching with technology.

Participants who complete these foundation-level learning outcomes through a combination of coursework, workshops, or online learning, receive the CIRTL Associate certificate.   

The following College of Sciences students were awarded CIRTL Certificates:

]]> adavidson38 1 1682370346 2023-04-24 21:05:46 1684272466 2023-05-16 21:27:46 0 0 news Join us in congratulating the College of Sciences students recognized for their research, academic, and teaching achievements at Georgia Tech’s annual student award celebrations.

]]>
2023-04-24T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-24T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-24 00:00:00 Writer: Audra Davidson
Communications Officer II, College of Sciences

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications, College of Sciences

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670615 670615 image <![CDATA[Tech Tower in Spring. Photo: Brice Zimmerman.]]> Tech Tower in Spring. Photo: Brice Zimmerman.

]]> image/jpeg 1682370471 2023-04-24 21:07:51 1682370471 2023-04-24 21:07:51
<![CDATA[Outstanding Students Recognized at Annual Celebration]]> <![CDATA[2023 Provost's Academic Excellence Award Recipients]]> <![CDATA[Sarah Sorme Wins 2023 Honors Program Outstanding Student Award]]> <![CDATA[College of Sciences Honors for Faculty and Staff at Spring Sciences Celebration]]>
<![CDATA[Physics to Host Climate Talk with Former U.S. Secretary of Energy, Nobel Laureate ]]> 34528 On April 26, 2023, the School of Physics and College of Sciences at Georgia Tech will welcome Stanford University physicist Steven Chu to speak on climate change and innovative paths towards a more sustainable future. Chu is the 1997 co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, and in his former role as U.S. Secretary of Energy, became the first scientist to hold a U.S. Cabinet position.

About the Talk

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

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

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

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

About Steven Chu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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670596 670597 670596 image <![CDATA[Steven Chu (Credit: Imke Lass/Redux)]]> image/jpeg 1682031580 2023-04-20 22:59:40 1682031580 2023-04-20 22:59:40 670597 image <![CDATA[Steven Chu (Credit: Larry Downing/Reuters)]]> image/jpeg 1682031622 2023-04-20 23:00:22 1682031622 2023-04-20 23:00:22
<![CDATA[College of Sciences Honors Faculty and Staff at Spring Sciences Celebration]]> 34434 Download photos from this year’s Sciences Celebration on the GTSciences Flickr.

The College of Sciences community gathered in Harrison Square on April 18 to honor faculty and staff with awards for the 2022-2023 school year during the Spring Sciences Celebration.

“It is nothing short of a pleasure to recognize outstanding faculty who excel in teaching and research,” said Susan Lozier, College of Sciences Dean and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair, “and to celebrate the leadership and commitment to excellence of remarkable staff members across the College.”

At the annual celebration, Lozier and the College also recognized the 25 new faculty members who joined Georgia Tech for the 2022-2023 academic year.

This year’s awardees include:

FACULTY DEVELOPMENT AWARDS

The Cullen-Peck Fellowship Awards, established by Frank Cullen (‘73 Math, MS ‘76 ISyE, PhD ‘84 ISyE) and Elizabeth Peck (‘75 Math, MS ‘76 ISyE), to encourage the development of especially promising mid-career faculty.

Cullen-Peck Faculty Fellows:

The Gretzinger Moving Forward Award, endowed by Ralph Gretzinger (‘70 Math) and named to honor his late wife Jewel, recognizes the leadership of a school chair or senior faculty member who has played a pivotal role in diversifying the composition of tenure-track faculty, creating a family-friendly work environment, and providing a supportive environment for early-career faculty:

The Eric R. Immel Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching, endowed by Charles Crawford (‘71 Math) recognizes exemplary instruction of lower division foundational courses. It honors the late School of Mathematics professor Eric R. Immel, who greatly influenced Crawford’s undergraduate experience at Tech:

The Leddy Family Dean’s Faculty Excellence Award, established by Jeff Leddy (’78 Physics) and Pam Leddy, supports a faculty member at the associate professor level with proven accomplishments in research and teaching:

The Faculty Mentor Award, established jointly by the College of Sciences and its ADVANCE Professor, awards the efforts and achievements of our faculty members who mentor fellow faculty:

RESEARCH FACULTY AWARDS

The CoS Outstanding Junior Research Faculty Award and CoS Outstanding Senior Research Faculty Award recognize postdoctoral and non-tenure track research faculty who have made exceptional research contributions with significant impact on their field of study:

The CoS Research Faculty Community Trailblazer Award recognizes postdoctoral and non-tenure track research faculty who have demonstrated and sustained leadership that strengthens the sense of community among research faculty within the College of Sciences:

STAFF AWARDS

The College of Sciences Staff Awards are made possible by funding from the Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Dean’s Chair endowment. They include:

The Exceptional Staff Member Award and Leadership in Action Staff Member Awards recognize College of Sciences staff who exemplify outstanding performance above and beyond the call of duty, by positively impacting the strategic goals of their department and the College, consistently providing excellent service within their school or the overall College, and demonstrating exemplary teamwork.

The Excellence in Leadership Staff Awards and the Staff Excellence Award recognize College of Sciences staff who have made exceptional contributions to the College through innovative and strategic leadership, change management, business process improvement, special project leadership, and similar accomplishments.

Excellence in Leadership Staff

Staff Excellence Award

NEW COLLEGE OF SCIENCES FACULTY

Academic Year 2022-2023

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1681839773 2023-04-18 17:42:53 1683307167 2023-05-05 17:19:27 0 0 news The College of Sciences community gathered in Harrison Square on April 18 to honor faculty and staff with awards for the 2022-2023 school year during the Spring Sciences Celebration.


 

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2023-04-20T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-20T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-20 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San MIguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston
Communications Director
College of Sciences

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670584 670584 image <![CDATA[Harrison Square was the setting April 18 for the Spring Sciences Celebration of the College of Sciences. (Photo Jess Hunt-Ralston)]]> Harrison Square was the setting April 18 for the Spring Sciences Celebration of the College of Sciences. (Photo Jess Hunt-Ralston)

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<![CDATA[Chemistry, Chaos, Peptides, and (Infinite) Problems: Georgia Tech Researchers Pioneer New Frontiers with NSF CAREER Grants]]> 35599 Four Georgia Tech College of Sciences researchers have been awarded CAREER grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

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

Read more:

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

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

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

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

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

]]> sperrin6 1 1681873800 2023-04-19 03:10:00 1683753472 2023-05-10 21:17:52 0 0 news Four Georgia Tech College of Sciences researchers have been awarded CAREER grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF). These Faculty Early Career Development Awards are part of a five-year funding mechanism designed to help promising researchers establish a personal foundation for a lifetime of leadership in their field. The grants are NSF’s most prestigious funding for untenured assistant professors.

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

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64346 About the Georgia Institute of Technology

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

]]>
670577 670579 670575 670580 670577 image <![CDATA[Chemistry Mosaic]]> image/png 1681837853 2023-04-18 17:10:53 1681837908 2023-04-18 17:11:48 670579 image <![CDATA[Mosaic Network]]> image/png 1681840456 2023-04-18 17:54:16 1681840488 2023-04-18 17:54:48 670575 image <![CDATA[Petri Dish Mosaic]]> image/png 1681836224 2023-04-18 16:43:44 1681836644 2023-04-18 16:50:44 670580 image <![CDATA[Mosaic Turbulence ]]> image/png 1681840504 2023-04-18 17:55:04 1681840546 2023-04-18 17:55:46 <![CDATA[Making Medicines: Vinayak Agarwal Awarded NSF CAREER Grant for Peptide Research]]> <![CDATA[The Fundamental Questions: Jesse McDaniel Awarded NSF CAREER Grant for Research Into New Method of Predicting Chemical Reaction Rates, Leveraging Computer Modeling]]> <![CDATA[Chasing Chaos: Alex Blumenthal Awarded CAREER Grant for Research in Chaos, Fluid Dynamics]]> <![CDATA[Solving Infinite Problems: Anton Bernshteyn awarded NSF CAREER grant for developing a new, unified theory of descriptive combinatorics and distributed algorithms]]>
<![CDATA[Making Medicines: Vinayak Agarwal Awarded NSF CAREER Grant for Peptide Research]]> 35599 Natural products – small organic molecules made by living things like bacteria, fungi, and plants – are at the forefront of medical innovation. The majority of clinically used antibiotics and drugs are derived from these unique molecules, and innovations in their development, identification, and synthesis are driving the fight against antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

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

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

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

Changing the tides with peptides 

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

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

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

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

Hands-on research and the student connection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

]]>
670575 670576 670575 image <![CDATA[Petri Dish Mosaic]]> image/png 1681836224 2023-04-18 16:43:44 1681836644 2023-04-18 16:50:44 670576 image <![CDATA[Agarwal Portrait]]> image/jpeg 1681836683 2023-04-18 16:51:23 1681836734 2023-04-18 16:52:14 <![CDATA[Chemistry, Chaos, Peptides, and (Infinite) Problems: Georgia Tech Researchers Pioneer New Frontiers with NSF CAREER Grants]]> <![CDATA[The Fundamental Questions: Jesse McDaniel Awarded NSF CAREER Grant for Research Into New Method of Predicting Chemical Reaction Rates, Leveraging Computer Modeling]]> <![CDATA[Chasing Chaos: Alex Blumenthal Awarded CAREER Grant for Research in Chaos, Fluid Dynamics]]> <![CDATA[Solving Infinite Problems: Anton Bernshteyn Awarded NSF CAREER Grant for Developing a New, Unified Theory of Descriptive Combinatorics and Distributed Algorithms]]>
<![CDATA[Want Better Kimchi? Make It Like the Ancients Did ]]> 34528

Fermented foods like kimchi have been an integral part of Korean cuisine for thousands of years. Since ancient times, Korean chefs have used onggi — traditional handmade clay jars — to ferment kimchi. Today, most kimchi is made through mass fermentation in glass, steel, or plastic containers, but it has long been claimed that the highest quality kimchi is fermented in onggi.

Kimchi purists now have scientific validation, thanks to recent research from David Hu, professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Biological Sciences at Georgia Tech, and Soohwan Kim, a second-year Ph.D. student in Hu’s lab.

In a combined experimental and theoretical study, Hu and Kim measured carbon dioxide levels in onggi during kimchi fermentation and developed a mathematical model to show how the gas was generated and moved through the onggi’s porous walls. By bringing the study of fluid mechanics to bear on an ancient technology, their research highlights the work of artisans and provides the missing link for how the traditional earthenware allows for high quality kimchi.

Their research was published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

“We wanted to find the ‘secret sauce’ for how onggi make kimchi taste so good,” Hu said. “So, we measured how the gases evolved while kimchi fermented inside the onggi — something no one had done before.”

The porous structure of these earthenware vessels mimics the loose soil where lactic acid bacteria — known for their healthy probiotic nature — are found. While previous studies have shown that kimchi fermented in onggi has more lactic acid bacteria, no one knew exactly how the phenomenon is connected to the unique material properties of the container.

First, Kim obtained a traditional, handmade onggi jar from an artisan in his hometown in Jeju, South Korea, a region famous for onggi. Back at Georgia Tech, Hu and Kim first tested the permeability of the onggi by observing how water evaporated through the container over time.

Next, they installed carbon dioxide and pressure sensors into both the onggi and a typical, hermetically sealed glass jar. They prepared their own salted cabbage and placed it in both containers. They then used the sensors to measure and compare the change in carbon dioxide — a signature of fermentation.

Hu and Kim also developed a mathematical model based on the porosity of the onggi. The model allowed them to infer the generation rate of carbon dioxide, since the onggi lets carbon dioxide out gradually.

They concluded that the onggi’s porous walls permitted the carbon dioxide to escape the container, which accelerated the speed of fermentation. The onggi’s porosity also functioned as a “safety valve,” resulting in a slower increase in carbon dioxide levels than the glass jar while blocking the entry of external particles. Their data revealed that the carbon dioxide level in onggi was less than half of that in glass containers.

They also found that the beneficial bacteria in the onggi-made kimchi proliferated 26% more than in the glass counterpart. In the glass jar, the lactic acid bacteria became suffocated by their own carbon dioxide in the closed glass container. It turns out that, because the onggi releases carbon dioxide in small rates, the lactic acid bacteria are happier and reproduce more.

“Onggi were designed without modern knowledge of chemistry, microbiology, or fluid mechanics, but they work remarkably well,” Kim said. “It’s very interesting to get these new insights into ancient technology through the lens of fluid dynamics.”

Onggi’s semiporous nature is unique compared to other forms of earthenware. A clay container that leaks, but only slightly, is not easy to make. Terra cotta containers, for example, quickly leak water.

“It's amazing that, for thousands of years, people have been building these special containers out of dirt, but in many ways, they are very high tech,” Hu said. “We discovered that the right amount of porosity enables kimchi to ferment faster, and these onggi provide that.”

Kim said that some artisans still use ancient methods when making onggi, but their numbers are decreasing. Now, the market is flooded with inauthentic versions of the vessels.

“We hope this study draws attention to this traditional artisan work and inspires energy-efficient methods for fermenting and storing foods,” he said. “Also, the onggi are quite beautiful.”

 

Citation: Kim Soohwan and Hu David L. Onggi’s permeability to carbon dioxide accelerates kimchi fermentation. J. R. Soc. Interface. 2023.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2023.0034

This material was supported by the Woodruff Faculty fellowship and the NSF Physics of Living Systems student network.

]]> jhunt7 1 1681484691 2023-04-14 15:04:51 1684869073 2023-05-23 19:11:13 0 0 news Today, most kimchi is made through mass fermentation in glass, steel, or plastic containers, but it has long been claimed that the highest quality kimchi is fermented in onggi. Kimchi purists now have scientific validation, thanks to recent research measuring carbon dioxide levels in onggi during kimchi fermentation, and developing a mathematical model to show how the gas was generated and moved through the onggi’s porous walls.

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2023-04-13T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-13T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-13 00:00:00 Catherine Barzler, Senior Research Writer/Editor

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670550 670551 670550 image <![CDATA[A cross-sectional view of onggi showing fermenting cabbage. Credit: Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.]]> A cross-sectional view of onggi showing fermenting cabbage. Credit: Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.

]]> image/jpeg 1681484721 2023-04-14 15:05:21 1681484721 2023-04-14 15:05:21
670551 image <![CDATA[David Hu (right), professor of mechanical engineering, and Soohwan Kim, a second-year Ph.D. student, with the onggi they used in fermentation experiments.]]> David Hu (right), professor of mechanical engineering, and Soohwan Kim, a second-year Ph.D. student, with the onggi they used in fermentation experiments.

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

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

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

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

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

Awardees (pictured from top left to right):

John Cox, Graduate Research Assistant, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Yarelis Gonzalez-Vargas, Graduate Student, Biomedical Engineering

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

Wenting Shi, Graduate Research Assistant, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Kamisha Hill, Graduate Research Assistant, Chemistry and Biochemistry

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

Elijah Holland, Graduate Research Assistant, Mechanical Engineering

Hun Jee Lee, Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering 

Maeve Janecka, Undergraduate Student, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 

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

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

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

 

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

Research Communications Program Manager, IBB

 

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670528 670528 image <![CDATA[Final_GRA awardees.png]]> image/png 1681406289 2023-04-13 17:18:09 1681406289 2023-04-13 17:18:09
<![CDATA[Beyond the Lab: STEMcomm VIP Course Talks Science Communication and Outreach]]> 35575 For the past 10 years, there’s only been one place in Atlanta where you can touch a brain, see a science fashion show, watch scientists give improv performances, and more — and that’s at the Atlanta Science Festival.

And during that time, the faculty and students of STEMcomm have become a festival staple.

STEMcomm, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) communication, is a course in Georgia Tech’s Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) program. Established in 2016 by three faculty in the College of Sciences, the course uses science communication to create outreach events for the Atlanta Science Festival — and popular-science content to share on social media and online publications.

“I feel like there is a gulf in the world between people who do science and the general public,” says Jennifer Leavey, a principal academic professional in the School of Biological Sciences, the College’s assistant dean for Faculty Mentoring, and one of the founders of the course. “There is very little crosstalk there.”

The goal of STEMcomm is to bridge that gap and connect with an at-times overlooked audience: adults.

“When it comes to science, I think in general, there’s not a lot of new learning once you get beyond school-age. Teachers do a great job of engaging children with science, but for adults, I mean, there's not a lot there,” Leavey added. “I think there’s a real space for people with science knowledge to help bring that conversation more into the mainstream.”

Visit the College of Sciences website to hear how the faculty and students of STEMcomm are bringing science to Atlanta.

]]> adavidson38 1 1681146512 2023-04-10 17:08:32 1681239313 2023-04-11 18:55:13 0 0 news Over the 10-year history of the Atlanta Science Festival, the events planned by the faculty and students of STEMcomm have become a staple. We talked with the team to learn what STEMcomm is all about.

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2023-04-11T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-11T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-11 00:00:00 Writer and contact: Audra Davidson
Communications Officer II, College of Sciences

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications, College of Sciences

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670490 670490 image <![CDATA[The students and faculty of STEMcomm gathering after their most recent Atlanta Science Festival event: a science-themed fashion show. Photo courtesy of Jalen Borne.]]> The students and faculty of STEMcomm gathering after their most recent Atlanta Science Festival event: a science-themed fashion show. Photo courtesy of Jalen Borne.

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<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Students, Faculty, and Staff Bring STEAM to Atlanta During the Atlanta Science Festival]]> <![CDATA[If We Could Walk Like The Animals: Scientists and Engineers To Host Biomechanics Day at Zoo Atlanta]]> <![CDATA[The Real Mockingbirds: Georgia Tech's Scientist Superheroes]]>
<![CDATA[Founding Director of Integrated Cancer Research at Tech Publishes ‘A Patient’s Guide to Cancer: Understanding the Causes and Treatments of a Complex Disease’ ]]> 34434  

There are times when John McDonald, emeritus professor in the School of Biological Sciences and founding director of Georgia Tech’s Integrated Cancer Research Center, is asked to share his special insight into cancer. 

“Over the years, I’ve gotten calls from non-scientist friends and others who have been diagnosed with cancer, and they call me to get more details on what’s going on, and what options are available,” said McDonald, also a former chief scientific officer with the Atlanta-based Ovarian Cancer Institute. 

That’s the primary motivation why McDonald wrote A Patient's Guide to Cancer: Understanding the Causes and Treatments of a Complex Disease, which was published by Raven Press LLC (Atlanta) and is now available at Amazon or Barnes and Noble in paperback and ebook editions. The book describes in non-technical language the processes that cause cancer, and details on how recent advances and experimental treatments are offering hope for patients and their families.

A book for the proactive patient 

McDonald said he couldn’t go into detail for every type of cancer, but provides a generally applicable background for the disease. For those who want more information, he provides links to other resources, including videos, that provide more detail on specific types of cancer. “There’s not much out there in one place for patients who want to understand the underlying causes of cancer, and the spectrum of therapies currently available,” he said. 

McDonald, who was honored in January by the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (CORE) as one of “Today’s Innovators,” also didn’t want A Patient’s Guide to Cancer to be a lengthy book, and it checks in at only 86 pages. 

McDonald believes that when patients talk to their physicians about cancer treatments,  they should ideally have a basic understanding of the underlying cause of their cancer, as well as a general awareness of the range of therapies currently available, and what may be coming down the road in the future. 

“My book is specifically designed to provide newly diagnosed cancer patients who are not scientists with this kind of background information, empowering them to play a more informed role in the selection of appropriate treatments for their disease”.

The current experimental treatment landscape; McDonald’s 2023 research goals

McDonald’s own cancer research has led to two related startup companies, co-founded with School of Biological Sciences colleagues. 

McDonald is working with postdoctoral researcher Nick Housley on using nanoparticles to deliver powerful drugs to cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue. The other company, founded in collaboration with Jeffrey Skolnick, Regents' Professor, Mary and Maisie Gibson Chair & Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Computational Systems Biology, uses machine learning to create personalized diagnostic tools for ovarian cancer.

He and his lab team are also preparing to submit a research paper that builds off their 2021 study on gene network interactions that could provide new chemotherapy targets for breast cancer. That paper focuses on the three major subtypes of breast cancer. McDonald and his colleagues will also soon submit another study detailing genetic changes that happen with the onset and progression of ovarian cancer.

When it comes to current experimental treatments, McDonald says he’s especially excited about  the potential of cancer immunotherapy, which uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells. But he writes in A Patient’s Guide to Cancer that because these drugs are also delivered systemically, healthy tissues can also be affected, potentially leading to autoimmunity or the self-destruction of our normal cells. 

“In the future, I believe many of the negative side-effects currently associated with the system-wide delivery of cancer drugs will be averted by the use of nanoparticles designed to target therapies specifically to tumors”.

 

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1680551969 2023-04-03 19:59:29 1684272838 2023-05-16 21:33:58 0 0 news Professor Emeritus John McDonald wrote the book for friends who were diagnosed and asked him about his unique perspective on the latest treatments.

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2023-04-03T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-03T00:00:00-04:00 2023-04-03 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston, Communications Director
College of Sciences 

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670442 670443 670444 670442 image <![CDATA[A Patient's Guide to Cancer book.jpg]]> A Patient's Guide to Cancer

]]> image/jpeg 1680637869 2023-04-04 19:51:09 1680637869 2023-04-04 19:51:09
670443 image <![CDATA[John McDonald's "A Patient's Guide to Cancer" book.jpg]]> John McDonald's book, A Patient's Guide to Cancer

]]> image/jpeg 1680637988 2023-04-04 19:53:08 1680637988 2023-04-04 19:53:08
670444 image <![CDATA[John McDonald.png]]> John McDonald 

]]> image/png 1680638117 2023-04-04 19:55:17 1680638117 2023-04-04 19:55:17
<![CDATA[Gene Network Changes Associated with Cancer Onset and Progression Identify New Candidates for Targeted Gene Therapy]]> <![CDATA[McDonald To Be Honored by Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (CORE)]]> <![CDATA[Multi-Algorithm Approach Helps Deliver Personalized Medicine for Cancer Patients]]>
<![CDATA[Rising Temperatures Alter ‘Missing Link’ of Microbial Processes, Putting Northern Peatlands at Risk]]> 35575 If you’re an avid gardener, you may have considered peat moss — decomposed Sphagnum moss that helps retain moisture in soil — to enhance your home soil mixture. And while the potting medium can help plants thrive, it’s also a key component of peatlands: wetlands characterized by a thick layer of water-saturated, carbon-rich peat beneath living Sphagnum moss, trees, and other plant life. 

These ecosystems cover just 3% of Earth’s land area, but “peatlands store over one-third of all soil carbon on the planet,” explains Joel Kostka, professor and associate chair of Research in the School of Biological Sciences at Georgia Tech.

This carbon storage is supported in large part by microbes. Two microbial processes in particular — nitrogen fixation and methane oxidation — strike a delicate balance, working together to give Sphagnum mosses access to critical nutrients in nutrient-depleted peatlands. 

The coupling of these two processes is often referred to as the “missing link” of nutrient cycling in peatlands. Yet, how these processes will respond to changing climates along northern latitudes is unclear.

“There are tropical peatlands — but the majority of peatlands are in northern environments.” notes Caitlin Petro, a research scientist who works with Kostka in Biological Sciences at Tech. “And those are going to be hit harder by climate change.”

Kostka and Petro recently led a collaborative study to investigate how this critical type of ecosystem (and the “missing link” of microbial processes that support it) may react to the increased temperature and carbon dioxide levels predicted to come with climate change. The team, which also includes researchers from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Florida State University, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, just published their work in the scientific journal Global Change Biology.

By testing the effects of increasing temperature and carbon dioxide on the growth of Sphagnum moss, its associated microbiome, and overall ecosystem health, Kostka and Petro say computational models will be better equipped to predict the effects of climate change.

“Down the road,” Kostka added, “we hope the results can be used by environmental managers and governments to adaptively manage or geoengineer peatlands to thrive in a warmer world.”

Raising the heat

To see how northern peatlands will react to climate change, the team, which also included School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Associate Professor Jennifer Glass, turned to the ORNL Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Changing Environments (SPRUCE) experiment — a unique field lab in northern Minnesota where the team warms peat bogs and experimentally changes the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

Starting in 2016, the team exposed different parts of SPRUCE’s experimental peatlands to a gradient of higher temperatures ranging from an increase of 0°C to 9°C, capturing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change models’ predicted 4°C to 6°C increase in northern regions by 2100.

The moss’s reaction was significant. Although nearly 100% of the bog’s surface was covered in moss at the beginning of the experiment, moss coverage dropped with each increase in temperature, plummeting to less than 15% in the warmest conditions.

Critically, the two microbial processes that had previously been consistently linked fell out of sync at higher temperatures. 

“Peatlands are extremely nutrient-poor and microbial nitrogen fixation represents a major nitrogen input to the ecosystem,” Kostka explained. Fixing nitrogen is the process of turning atmospheric nitrogen into an organic compound that the moss can use for photosynthesis, while methane oxidation allows the moss to use methane released from decomposing peat as energy. “Methane oxidation acts to fuel nitrogen fixation while scavenging a really important greenhouse gas before it is released to the atmosphere. This study shows that these two processes, which are catalyzed by the Sphagnum microbiome, become disconnected as the moss dies.”

“These processes occurring together are really important for the community,” Petro explained. Yet many microbes that are able to both fix nitrogen and oxidize methane were absent in the mosses collected from higher temperature enclosures. And while elevated carbon dioxide levels appeared to offset some of the changes in nitrogen cycling caused by warming, the decoupling of these processes remained.

“These treatments are altering a fairly well-defined and consistent plant microbiome that we find in many different environments, and that has this consistent function,” Petro explained. “It's like a complete functional shift in the community.” 

Though it’s not clear which of these changes — the moss dying or the altered microbial activity — is driving the other, it is clear that with warmer temperatures and higher carbon dioxide levels comes a cascade of unpredictable outcomes for peat bogs.

“In addition to the direct effects of climate warming on ecosystem function,” Petro adds, “it will also introduce all of these off-shooting effects that will impact peatlands in ways that we didn't predict before.”

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (DEB grant no. 1754756). The SPRUCE project is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, Biological, and Environmental Research (DOE BER) and the USDA Forest Service.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.16651

Citation: Petro, C., et al. Climate drivers alter nitrogen availability in surface peat and decouple N2 fixation from CH4 oxidation in the Sphagnum moss microbiome. Global Change Biology. (2023).

Aerial Photo: Hanson, P.J., M.B. Krassovski, and L.A. Hook. 2020. SPRUCE S1 Bog and SPRUCE Experiment Aerial Photographs. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TES SFA, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, U.S.A. https://doi.org/10.3334/CDIAC/spruce.012 (UAV image number 0050 collected on October 4, 2020).

]]> adavidson38 1 1680270895 2023-03-31 13:54:55 1681481592 2023-04-14 14:13:12 0 0 news Georgia Tech researchers show that rising temperatures in northern regions may damage peatlands: critical ecosystems for storing carbon from the atmosphere — and could decouple vital processes in microbial support systems.

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2023-03-31T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-31T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-31 00:00:00 Writer: Audra Davidson
Communications Officer II, College of Sciences

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications, College of Sciences

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670399 670396 670398 670399 image <![CDATA[An aerial view of the SPRUCE enclosures.]]> An aerial view of the SPRUCE enclosure.

]]> image/jpeg 1680287765 2023-03-31 18:36:05 1680287765 2023-03-31 18:36:05
670396 image <![CDATA[Sphagnum mosses were taken from different SPRUCE enclosures and incubated in glass jars for the study (Photo Jennifer Glass).]]> Sphagnum mosses were taken from different SPRUCE enclosures and incubated in glass jars for the study (Photo Jennifer Glass).

]]> image/jpeg 1680287566 2023-03-31 18:32:46 1680287566 2023-03-31 18:32:46
670398 image <![CDATA[A closeup of a member of the research team holding Sphagnum moss, one of the key drivers of carbon sequestration in peatlands. (Photo Jennifer Glass).]]> A closeup of a member of the research team holding Sphagnum moss, one of the key drivers of carbon sequestration in peatlands. (Photo Jennifer Glass).

]]> image/jpeg 1680287647 2023-03-31 18:34:07 1680287647 2023-03-31 18:34:07
<![CDATA[Joel Kostka Awarded $3.2 Million to Keep Digging into How Soils and Plants Capture Carbon — And Keep It Out of Earth’s Atmosphere]]> <![CDATA[Community Collaborations: Researchers and Alumni Aid in $2.6 Million Effort to Restore Salt Marshes in Historic Charleston]]> <![CDATA[Temperate Glimpse Into a Warming World]]> <![CDATA[Salt Marsh Grass On Georgia’s Coast Gets Nutrients for Growth From Helpful Bacteria in Its Roots]]>
<![CDATA[Nucleic Acid-Based Devices Will Rapidly Diagnose Sepsis, Respiratory Infections]]> 27195 A multidisciplinary team led by Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) researchers has received $14.7 million in funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop novel diagnostic devices able to rapidly identify the bacteria causing sepsis – and viruses that cause respiratory infections such as RSV, SARS-CoV-2, and influenza.

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

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

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

Detection Reaction Begins with CRISPR Cas13a Enzyme

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

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

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

Synthetic Biology Workflow Signals Pathogen Presence

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

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

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

Devices Must be Both Sensitive and Specific

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

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

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

Early Diagnosis Can be Life-Saving

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

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

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

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

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

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

Approved for Public Release, Distribution Unlimited

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[The Real Mockingbirds]]> 34528 Half a century ago, Marvel Comics introduced the superpower-wielding scientist Bobbi Morse — aka Mockingbird — one of several famous superheroes imagined to hold a degree from Georgia Tech.

Today, just over seven decades since women first enrolled at the Institute, 56% of students earning degrees in the College of Sciences are female. As we celebrate Women's History Month and look to the future of our field, meet seven real-life superheroines of life science — and science fiction — from across the Institute.

Tap here to read this story in the Georgia Tech newsroom.

]]> jhunt7 1 1680116645 2023-03-29 19:04:05 1680118902 2023-03-29 19:41:42 0 0 news Half a century ago, Marvel Comics introduced the superpower-wielding scientist Bobbi Morse — aka Mockingbird — one of several famous superheroes imagined to hold a degree from Georgia Tech. Today, 56% of students earning degrees in the College of Sciences are female. As we celebrate Women's History Month and look to the future of our field, meet seven real-life superheroines of life science — and science fiction — from across the Institute.

]]>
2023-03-29T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-29T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-29 00:00:00 670350 670350 image <![CDATA[Explore the origins and powers of our real-life superheroines of life science — and science fiction — at Georgia Tech]]> image/jpeg 1680118770 2023-03-29 19:39:30 1680118770 2023-03-29 19:39:30
<![CDATA[Know Your Stingers]]> 34528 When you see something buzzing, how do you know if it will sting?

Bees sting occasionally, but in general they are not aggressive — they’re defensive, and tend to only sting when they feel threatened.

“It’s mostly wasps that sting — they’re predators, they’re carnivores, and they’re more aggressive,” said Jennifer Leavey, assistant dean for faculty mentoring in the College of Sciences and principal academic professional in the School of Biological Sciences.

Leavey also serves as director for Georgia Tech’s Urban Honey Bee Project. She offers a few tips on how to identify the myriad arthropoda around campus and shares knowledge about each.

Tap here for the full version of this story, where you'll learn about carpenter bees, yellow jackets, ants, and more.

]]> jhunt7 1 1680115753 2023-03-29 18:49:13 1680116067 2023-03-29 18:54:27 0 0 news As the spring season commences, insects have emerged from their winter homes to do their part to pollinate the environment. While Georgia Tech is of course home to yellow jackets, it’s also home to many other insects that are part of the complex ecosystem of campus.

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2023-03-29T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-29T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-29 00:00:00 670349 670349 image <![CDATA[Jennifer Leavey working with bees on top of The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design.]]> image/jpeg 1680115903 2023-03-29 18:51:43 1680115903 2023-03-29 18:51:43
<![CDATA[Tech Beautification Day Kicks Off Earth Month]]> 35028 Organized by the undergraduate Student Government Association in collaboration with Greek Week, Tech Beautification Day returns in full force this Saturday, April 1. The event was scaled back in recent years due to the pandemic, but this year, plans are on track to offer a full slate of projects focused on improving the campus landscape — and the campus community is invited to participate.  

Georgia Tech’s Landscape Services collaborates with student leaders to develop projects that have a big impact yet are easily completed in a few hours. This year’s opportunities range from planting wildflowers, shrubs, and trees to laying sod, pulling weeds, and spreading pine straw.  

The event begins with breakfast and a welcome by student leaders. Groups of eight to 10 volunteers are then given tools and gloves and directed to the various worksites across campus. One ambitious goal this year is to plant 200 native azaleas.  

“Our department enjoys working with the students not only because we are able to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time, but it also gives students a small window into the hard work our teams do daily,” says Interim Associate Director of Landscape Services Neil Fuller. “Students also gain a sense of pride when they can look at a completed job and say they did it.  And it gives the students a chance to make their mark on campus and be able to come back and point out a specific plant or tree and tell their family how they planted it years ago.” 

Tech Beautification Day has a long history of engaging students, faculty, staff, and family members on a spring Saturday. Campus archives reveal that during one event more than 1,000 volunteers worked together to beautify campus. Additionally, photographs from 2012 show the entire football team, along with coaches and families, participating. Organizers are working toward increasing participation to pre-pandemic numbers, and this year is just the beginning. Sign up now to spend a morning making the Georgia Tech campus even more beautiful than it already is.  

 

April 1, 2023 Schedule:

8:30 a.m. – Breakfast, check in, and welcome at The Kendeda Building

9 a.m. – noon: Volunteer projects 

12:30 p.m. – Clean up, return tools, closing remarks 

SIGN UP TO PARTICIPATE 

]]> cbrim3 1 1679931671 2023-03-27 15:41:11 1680119193 2023-03-29 19:46:33 0 0 news The campus community is invited to participate in this kick-off event for Earth Month.

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2023-03-27T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-27T00:00:00-04:00 2023-03-27 00:00:00 Grace Pietkiewicz

SGA Joint VP of Infrastructure and Sustainability

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670303 670303 image <![CDATA[azalea_bee.jpg]]> image/jpeg 1679933969 2023-03-27 16:19:29 1679933969 2023-03-27 16:19:29
<![CDATA[Ethnicity, life expectancy data can aid in health equity efforts]]> 28153 Across the planet, many people are living better and longer, as humans continue to experience a substantial overall decrease in mortality. Unfortunately, that happy trend is not evenly distributed across communities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The UK Example

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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666597 666597 image <![CDATA[Kara and King]]> image/jpeg 1678455984 2023-03-10 13:46:24 1678455984 2023-03-10 13:46:24
<![CDATA[If We Could Walk Like The Animals: Scientists and Engineers Host Biomechanics Day at Zoo Atlanta]]> 34434 For STEAM enthusiasts across Atlanta, the month of March is a highlight of the year for one big reason: the Atlanta Science Festival. Learn more about all Georgia Tech-organized Festival events here.

Scientists and engineers study animal movements for clues on ways to improve lives for humans, such as designing better prosthetics or terrain-conquering robots. But that doesn’t mean fun can’t be a part of the research as well — as in asking kids to see how long they can stand on one leg a la flamingos.

That was the energy on display Saturday, March 11, for Animals in Motion: Biomechanics Day at Zoo Atlanta, part of the 2023 Atlanta Science Festival. With help from biomechanics researchers from Georgia Tech, Clemson University, and the University of Akron, visitors gathered at several demonstration booths around the Zoo to learn more about wildlife and work exploring animal biomechanics.

Joe Mendelson, adjunct professor in the School of Biological Sciences, is also director of Research for Zoo Atlanta. Mendelson says a Biomechanics Day was first scheduled for 2020 but ran headlong into the beginnings of the pandemic. 

“Finally, we get to assemble our colleagues and highlight their fun and innovative projects,” he said, adding that the Atlanta Science Festival is the perfect place to attract researchers studying biomechanics of creatures as different as snakes, elephants, centipedes, and humans, as well. 

There are many benefits to knowing more about animal locomotion. “Allowing people to see and understand familiar animals through a different light and comparing, for example, their locomotion to your own can be an effective way to generate interest and caring about animals by people,” Mendelson said.

Zoo Atlanta frequently collaborates with biomechanics researchers across Georgia's Tech's College of Sciences and College of Engineering. Animals in Motion: Biomechanics Day highlighted those labs and their various projects, as well as other labs from around the country that are doing similar research.

One of those researchers, Greg Sawicki, associate professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Biological Sciences, used ultrasound imaging to give Zoo Atlanta visitors an “under the skin” look at how animal and human muscles work together with tendons to move the body. 

“We will look at, and compare, calf muscles and the Achilles tendon in the leg with the biceps and biceps tendon in the arm,” Sawicki said. “Zoo visitors will be able to see for themselves the wide variety of structural features of muscle-tendon systems, ranging from short muscles and long compliant tendons for the calf to long muscles and short stiff tendons.”

Sawicki hoped his audience learned that different structural features of muscle-tendon systems “may have unique functional benefits in the wild — and an animal’s limb design may be specifically adapted for their environmental niche.”

Simon Sponberg, Dunn Family Associate Professor in the Schools of Physics and Biological Sciences, wasn't able to bring the live animals he works with — hawk moths — to the Animal Biomechanics Day. “It’s for a variety of reasons, but mostly that they don’t fly much during the day,” Sponberg said. But visitors to Sponberg’s booth explored different insect wing shapes to see how they help moths and other insects move. 

“What we want students to get out of it is that there are many different forms and functions a ‘wing’ can take,” he added. “So we want people to learn how we can use experiments to understand the link between structure, function, and performance, especially in flight.”

At another section of Zoo Atlanta, adults and kids spent their time trying to balance on just one leg. It’s unclear if any of the nearby flamingos were impressed with the results, but Young-Hui Chang, professor and associate chair for Faculty Development in the School of Biological Sciences, says the balancing act is much easier for flamingos.

“They have to deal with the same physical challenges to stand in a stable way,” Chang said. “Biology tells us that, as vertebrates, flamingos are starting with many of the same muscles and bones of the leg that humans have. But, flamingos have evolved a way to use their limbs such that they can sleep standing on one leg with minimal involvement of the muscles, which would be impossible for us humans to do.”

Chang studies flamingo biomechanics for the sheer sake of gaining knowledge about how nature works. But he adds that there are practical applications to the research. “One that has already been used by roboticists is the development of a ‘flamingo bot’ that uses the principles we’ve discovered in the flamingo leg to help the robot conserve energy,” Chang said.

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1677704815 2023-03-01 21:06:55 1682526753 2023-04-26 16:32:33 0 0 news On Saturday, March 11, scientists and engineers shared their biomechanics work with snakes, elephants, monkeys, flamingos, and other wildlife as part of the "Animals in Motion: Biomechanics Day at Zoo Atlanta" during the 2023 Atlanta Science Festival.

]]>
2023-03-03T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-03T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-03 00:00:00 Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

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670385 670386 670387 670388 670385 image <![CDATA[Hank Zapple, 7, demonstrates how flamingos stand on one leg at Zoo Atlanta during the Atlanta Science Festival. (Photo Renay San Miguel)]]> Hank Zapple, 7, demonstrates how flamingos crouch to stand on one leg at Zoo Atlanta during the Atlanta Science Festival. (Photo Renay San Miguel)

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670386 image <![CDATA[Wells Jackson, 6, watches an ultrasound image of his muscles at Zoo Atlanta during the Atlanta Science Festival. (Photo Renay San Miguel)]]> Wells Jackson, 6, watches an ultrasound image of his muscles at Zoo Atlanta during the Atlanta Science Festival. (Photo Renay San Miguel)

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670387 image <![CDATA[Journee Posey, 4, mimics an elephant painting with its trunk during Animal Biomechanics Day at Zoo Atlanta. (Photo Renay San Miguel). ]]> Journee Posey, 4, mimics an elephant painting with its trunk during Animal Biomechanics Day at Zoo Atlanta. (Photo Renay San Miguel). 

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670388 image <![CDATA[A Zoo Atlanta guest keeps her eye on an elephant during the Atlanta Science Festival. (Photo Renay San Miguel)]]> A Zoo Atlanta guest keeps her eye on an elephant during the Atlanta Science Festival. (Photo Renay San Miguel).

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<![CDATA[Atlanta Science Festival]]> <![CDATA[Simple Linking of Units Gives Legged Robots New Way to Navigate Difficult Terrain]]> <![CDATA[Season 1, Episode 6: There’s a Moth in My Video Game!]]> <![CDATA[How An Elephant’s Trunk Manipulates Air to Eat and Drink]]> <![CDATA[Snake Micro Scales Reveal Secrets of Sidewinding and Slithering]]>
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Students, Faculty, and Staff Bring STEAM to Atlanta During the Atlanta Science Festival]]> 35575 For STEAM enthusiasts across Atlanta, the month of March is a highlight of the year for one big reason: the Atlanta Science Festival.

Occurring annually since in 2014, the Atlanta Science Festival is a "celebration of the world-class learning and STEM career opportunities in metro Atlanta, featuring 150 engaging events for curious kids and adults at venues all across the region." As a founding sponsor, Georgia Tech has been an intricate part of the Festival since its inception. Now in its tenth iteration, this year's festival will host events from March 10 – 24, culminating in the Exploration Expo — a large, interactive event in Piedmont Park — on March 25.

Read more to hear from some of the event organizers and presenters in the College of Sciences about what this year's festival will have to offer.

]]> adavidson38 1 1675870463 2023-02-08 15:34:23 1678383050 2023-03-09 17:30:50 0 0 news For STEAM enthusiasts across Atlanta, the month of March is a highlight of the year for one big reason: the Atlanta Science Festival. We spoke with some of the event organizers and presenters to get a sneak peek at what this year's festival will have to offer.

]]>
2023-03-03T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-03T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-03 00:00:00 Writer and Contact:
Audra Davidson
Communications Officer II
College of Sciences

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

]]>
665590 665590 image <![CDATA[Atlanta Science Festival attendees engaged in a demonstration. Credit: Atlanta Science Festival.]]> image/jpeg 1675870023 2023-02-08 15:27:03 1675870048 2023-02-08 15:27:28 <![CDATA[Learn more about the Atlanta Science Festival]]> <![CDATA[Georgia Tech Science and Engineering Day – Inspiring the Next Generation of Innovators]]> <![CDATA[Christina Ragan: Celebrating Brain Awareness Week — and Neuroscience for All]]>
<![CDATA[BioSpark Labs Igniting Innovation for Biotech Startups]]> 28153 Ryan Lawler realized early on in her academic career that a scientist with a great idea can potentially change the world.

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

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

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

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

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

Researchers’ Advocate

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

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

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

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

Ground Floor Companies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1677771280 2023-03-02 15:34:40 1679337792 2023-03-20 18:43:12 0 0 news Located in the 18-acre Science Square campus, BioSpark is designed to be a launch pad for high-potential entrepreneurs. It provides a fully equipped and professionally operated wet lab, in addition to a clean room, meeting and office space, five life sciences and biotech startups — and more.

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

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666358 666360 666361 666362 666358 image <![CDATA[BioSpark Trio]]> image/jpeg 1677770803 2023-03-02 15:26:43 1677790719 2023-03-02 20:58:39 666360 image <![CDATA[Ryan Lawler]]> image/jpeg 1677770875 2023-03-02 15:27:55 1677770875 2023-03-02 15:27:55 666361 image <![CDATA[Marvin Whiteley]]> image/jpeg 1677770912 2023-03-02 15:28:32 1677770912 2023-03-02 15:28:32 666362 image <![CDATA[Pooja Tiwari]]> image/jpeg 1677770944 2023-03-02 15:29:04 1677770944 2023-03-02 15:29:04
<![CDATA[Tip Cycle Program Aims to Reduce Single-Use Plastics in Campus Labs ]]> 34602 Environmental scientists have spent the last few years sounding the alarm on the growing single-use plastic waste problem plaguing landfills. Consumer-based products like plastic bags, straws and water bottles are often named as culprits, but inside laboratories across the country, researchers are faced with their own single-use plastic dilemma—pipettes. 

A single lab can discard an average of 36,000 pipettes each year. Georgia Tech is addressing the problem with a solution that focuses on reuse of this critical lab tool through its Tip Cycle program. 

“This does not come from the traditional recycling method; the tips are not manipulated or changed,” says Adam Fallah, project manager for the program. “It’s more reuse versus recycle. The life cycle of the pipette is lengthened.” 

Housed in the Molecular Evolution Core (MEC) of the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences (IBB), the Tip Cycle program is capable of washing unfiltered pipettes to allow for multiple uses before discarding them. 

MEC purchased the pipette washing technology from laboratory equipment supplier Grenova in 2020. 

Typically, a research lab will purchase hundreds of boxes of pipettes, use them once, and then throw them away. This cycling program eliminates that waste and cost by reusing the pipettes. 

So far, Fallah says the team has washed more than 746,000 pipettes in the last year, saving the equivalent of five tons of plastic going to waste. 

Grenova’s technology is similar to a laundry washer and dryer—used pipettes are set in a tray and loaded into a washer to go through several cycles before being dried, repackaged, and sent back to a lab. The cycles include multiple-high heat rinses, UV sterilization, and sonification, which uses sonic waves to disturb any residue, like proteins, in the pipette tips. 

Fallah says he uses an in-house cleaning solution and can customize it with a 5% bleaching solution if requested by a lab. 

The full processing time for four boxes of tips is two hours and eight minutes. Roughly every 25-30 minutes another round of cycling begins as the boxes of tips are rotated out. Pipettes are returned to clients within 2 to 3 days. 

“We can pump out 40 boxes in 5 to 6 hours a day,” says Helya Taghian, operations manager and a fourth-year student in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. “We do 60 to 70 wash cycles of 200 to 300 boxes of tips a month. It would be a money sink if you bought that many tips…you have to be a pretty big lab to go through that many tips.” 

Like the Sanger Sequencing Initiative, the Tip Cycle program was conceptualized at the height of Covid-19. Georgia Tech’s Covid-19 testing program was on the brink of being forced to halt the processing of Covid-19 samples as it faced a dire pipette supply shortage.

Principal research scientists Mike Shannon and Mike Farrell, along with Regents researcher and MEC technical director Anton Bryksin, called an emergency meeting to come up with a solution.

Bryksin devised an unconventional idea of washing the tips, a risky move given the sensitivity of qPCR techniques that can detect even a single molecule of RNA/DNA. Washing all the tips together also posed the potential for spreading contamination rather than eliminating it.

The Tip Cycle program garnered support from IBB and its assistant director, Michelle Wong, who recognized the potential for the project to help the university achieve its environmental sustainability goals.

Bryksin spearheaded the design of the program’s validation protocols, while Fallah took charge of implementing and organizing a student team to support the effort. The team encountered numerous hurdles in perfecting the washing process to ensure the tips were completely free of contamination, all while validating the washing protocol to maintain the accuracy of the qPCR results.

Bryksin says the program's initial success was nothing short of remarkable. It not only allowed the testing laboratory to continue processing COVID-19 samples, but also provided an environmentally conscious alternative that substantially reduced the amount of plastic waste generated by the lab.

As a result, the Institute recognized the potential of the Tip Cycle program and provided funding for its further development and enhancement. 

At the same time, Taghian was one of several students supporting the Covid-19 surveillance testing program.  

“There was a dark corner in the lab and my curiosity sent me there to see what Adam was doing,” she recalls. Initially, she spent much of her time helping Fallah rack pipette tips to be placed in the machine. 

Eventually, she teamed up with Fallah to take the lead on developing an operational process for the program. 

“I learned a lot of things about optimization,” Taghian says. “I was having a lot of fun and there was a lot of innovation in it.” 

Taghian worked with fellow biomedical engineering student and program manager of the Sanger Sequencing Initiative, Nicole Diaz, to hire students for the Tip Cycle program. 

Other aspects of the program began to fall in place. Data management charts and a workflow management board helped to keep operations running optimally. The duo also hired an industrial design major to create branding and a website. 

“We want this to be educational,” Taghian says. “No matter what your major you can gain industry experience while doing your research. You’re dealing with vendors and actual instruments in a business environment. At the same time, your major has a place to shine.” 

Scaling Up for the Future

Currently, the Sanger Sequencing Initiative and labs run by Associate Professor Kirill Lobachev and Professor M.G. Finn in the College of Sciences utilize the Tip Cycling program. Fallah says he is in talks to bring on another lab and looks to partner with teaching labs in the School of Biological Sciences to educate more students about single-use plastics in laboratories. 

Fallah also wants to devise a plan to wash pipette tip plates, as well as find other ways to reuse the plastic inserts and boxes the pipettes are delivered in. The hope is to get as close to zero-waste with the program. 

“Very few research institutions have a core facility with in-house services and in-house researchers assisting labs across campus,” Taghian says. “An environment exists on our campus where students can get an opportunity to explore an industry field without going off campus 

Fallah says researchers are often “creatures of habit” and may gawk at the idea of reusing pipettes over fears of cross-contamination. But he stands by the efficacy of tip cycling as a sustainable way to manage pipette use and alleviate supply chain issues. 

“We’re in a prime position right now to be a pioneer and change the future of labs.” 

To register a lab for the program, or be hired as a student work, visit the Tip Cycle program website

]]> Georgia Parmelee 1 1677704512 2023-03-01 21:01:52 1679337912 2023-03-20 18:45:12 0 0 news Tip Cycle program is capable of washing unfiltered pipettes to allow for multiple uses before discarding them.

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2023-03-01T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-01T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-01 00:00:00 Author: Kelly Petty

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666347 666348 666349 666347 image <![CDATA[ TipCycle project manager Adam Fallah demonstrates how Grenova's pipette tip washing system operates.]]> image/jpeg 1677704129 2023-03-01 20:55:29 1677704257 2023-03-01 20:57:37 666348 image <![CDATA[Operations manager and fourth-year biomedical engineering student Helya Taghian examines clean pipette tips to maintain quality control.]]> image/jpeg 1677704179 2023-03-01 20:56:19 1677704179 2023-03-01 20:56:19 666349 image <![CDATA[Tip trays are set into the machine to begin a wash cycle.]]> image/jpeg 1677704203 2023-03-01 20:56:43 1677704203 2023-03-01 20:56:43
<![CDATA[Sanger Sequencing Initiative Offers In-House Alternative For Sample Testing ]]> 34602 Most biological research is grounded in DNA sequencing, a way to determine the order of organic molecules in DNA. The process is typically conducted by large-scale biotech companies, but the drawbacks can be time, cost, and environmental impact. 

Georgia Tech’s Molecular Evolution Core (MEC) has solved that problem for Tech researchers through its Sanger Sequencing Initiative (SSI), which offers the same service conveniently on campus. 

“What makes a researcher or a lab want to switch over to us? We provide the same if not superior-quality data to them,” says Nicole Diaz, SSI’s founder and manager, and a fourth-year student in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. “We use an optimized process that is less industrialized. And the service we offer is more personal, so if researchers have any issues, we are able to be a lot more flexible than the big companies.” 

Launched in 2020, SSI has evolved into a full-fledged, student-run program to collect and process samples for research labs.  

Researchers can submit samples in drop boxes at one of six locations in the BioQuad – Krone Engineered Biosystems Building, Molecular Sciences And Engineering, Ford Environmental Science & Technology Building, Marcus Nanotechnology Research Center, Cherry L. Emerson Building, and the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences at Georgia Tech. 

Samples are charged at $5 per tube for less than 20 samples. That price is reduced to $4 per tube with more than 20 samples. After 96 samples are processed, the price goes down to $3.50 per tube. 

And with just three billing cycles based on the academic calendar—fall, spring, and summer—labs can easily reach the lowest discounted price for all samples by the end of the semester regardless of how many samples are submitted at a time, Diaz says. 

Turnaround time is within three days. 

The added benefit of working directly with SSI is its commitment to providing a sustainable sampling process. 

“The carbon footprint is lowered by keeping samples local instead of shipping them across the country to have them sequenced,” Diaz says. “So, researchers have access to dropboxes just outside the door of their lab in the buildings here in the BioQuad.” 

Lab technicians are culled from federal work study, student assistants, student volunteers, or those seeking internship credit. 

“It’s great to have a foundation and building blocks where I won’t be nervous when I encounter this down the road,” says, Aaron Kent, a first-year chemical engineering student.  

SSI not only services labs at Georgia Tech, but it can also support labs for institutions in the Georgia Research Alliance, a consortium of public and private universities in Georgia including Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine and the University of Georgia. 

A Novel Idea During Covid-19 

Sanger sequencing has been conducted in the Molecular Evolution Core (MEC) since 2018 under the direction of research technologist Naima Djeddar. Anton Bryskin, Regents researcher and MEC technical director, wanted to expand the mission of the MEC and tap into an undervalued resource on campus—undergraduate students. 

“I knew that undergraduate students at Georgia Tech are very special,” Bryskin says. “It was never thought that undergraduate students might do a part of the work typically done by researchers or technicians.” 

With support from M.G. Finn, professor and chair in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and chief advisor of the MEC, the Sanger Sequencing Initiative (SSI) was launched in 2020. The height of COVID-19 proved to be a valuable time for the program. Between sample processing sessions for Tech’s COVID-19 surveillance testing program, student workers were pulled to process sequencing samples for SSI. 

“It was great because these students had already been trained on clinical practices,” Diaz says. “So, we didn't have to go back and train them on what it would be like in the lab because they already had the maximum training that was necessary.” 

Diaz joined the Initiative in its inception as a federal work study student. Since then, she’s led the growth and development of SSI, from processing samples to marketing to hiring to building out a lab management system for operations alongside operations manager of the MEC TipCycling program and fourth-year biomedical engineering student Helya Taghian. 

Not only have undergraduate students gained valuable lab experience, Diaz said, but SSI has become a multidisciplinary effort. The staff is composed of students from biomedical, industrial, and chemical and biomolecular engineering, as well as computer science and design majors. 

“We have a stacked team,” she says. 

Diaz says the team is working to incorporate more automation into the process, including tracking metrics for sample processing and developing a bioinformatics solution to optimize workflow and data quality. Third-party app integration to centralize the SSI workflow was tackled by the MEC web development team—comprised of computer science (CS) undergraduates led by fourth-year CS student Bakr Redwan—whom devised a custom Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). This LIMS system will serve as SSI’s hub for all operations including processing, billing, inventory, and communications. 

SSI currently process samples for several labs across campus, including for Finn, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Professor Mark Styczynski, and newly elected National Academy of Engineering Professor Mark Prausnitz, and hopes to expand to more labs in the future. 

“We want to be an example program for other universities to use, implement in different capacities, and offer the same opportunities to their undergraduate students,” Diaz says. 

To learn more about the Sanger Sequencing Initiative, including how to submit samples or join the program, visit their website

]]> Georgia Parmelee 1 1677703982 2023-03-01 20:53:02 1677880624 2023-03-03 21:57:04 0 0 news 2023-03-01T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-01T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-01 00:00:00 Author: Kelly Petty

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666342 666343 666345 666342 image <![CDATA[DNA samples are loaded into the Sanger processing machine.]]> image/jpeg 1677703697 2023-03-01 20:48:17 1677703697 2023-03-01 20:48:17 666343 image <![CDATA[First-year chemical engineering student Aaron Kent examines a sample.]]> image/jpeg 1677703729 2023-03-01 20:48:49 1677703729 2023-03-01 20:48:49 666345 image <![CDATA[SSI founder and fourth-year biomedical engineering student Nicole Diaz shows how samples are kept in cold storage in the Sanger lab.]]> image/jpeg 1677703790 2023-03-01 20:49:50 1677703790 2023-03-01 20:49:50
<![CDATA[Sciences Lands Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence Grant]]> 34528 Four faculty in the College of Sciences have received new funding to help foster student belonging at Georgia Tech. The team’s six-year grant is part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) Inclusive Excellence 3 initiative, and is one of 104 new grants funded through an overall initiative that’s allocating $60 million over six years and several phases.

“HHMI’s challenge to us addresses a critical need in U.S. higher education, and it is aligned with Georgia Tech’s strategic plan,” says David Collard, senior associate dean in the College and lead researcher for effort at Tech. “The grant to Georgia Tech will support a team effort in pursuing a number of complementary projects.”

Collard is joined by College of Sciences co-investigators Jennifer Leavey, assistant dean for Faculty Mentoring; Carrie Shepler, assistant dean for Teaching Effectiveness; and Professor Lewis Wheaton, inaugural director of the Center for Promoting Inclusion and Equity in the Sciences at Georgia Tech. Collard and Shepler also serve as faculty members in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Leavey and Wheaton in the School of Biological Sciences.

Inclusive Excellence 3

As the third phase of the HHMI program, Inclusive Excellence 3, known as IE3, challenges U.S. colleges and universities to “substantially and sustainably build their capacity for student belonging, especially for those who have been historically excluded from the sciences.”

IE3 is also distinct from previous HHMI science education initiatives because it begins with a learning phase and, during that phase, learning communities envision how to move cooperatively into an implementation phase.

The grant will uniquely challenge groups to work collaboratively to address one of three broad efforts. At Georgia Tech, the Colleges of Sciences team will work with institutions across the country to help empower colleges and universities to develop and support systems that cultivate teaching and learning with DEIJA — diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and access — at the heart of academics.

At Georgia Tech, each IE3 team member will concentrate on a distinct area of work.

Inclusive teaching

Leavey will focus on “working with collaborators from other institutions to share faculty development strategies focused on inclusive teaching, such as the Inclusive STEM Teaching Fellows program ,” she shares, “which the College of Sciences piloted last spring along with the Center for Teaching Learning, the College of Engineering, the College of Computing, and the Office of Institute Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.” 

Leavey adds that, a semester after its launch, the Fellows program is already generating interest across campus and at collaborating institutions.

Inclusive impact

Shepler will work to assist faculty in determining the impact of their inclusive teaching efforts.

“Throughout the project, our aim is to make sure that students have a voice in defining what it means for them to experience teaching that centers diversity, equity, inclusivity, justice, and accessibility,” Shepler says.

Now, she’s working with collaborators to develop an iterative process to help institutions create formative assessment methodologies for teaching and learning, that both facilitate and prioritize DEIJA in a manner that is consistent with institutional values and missions.

The work coincides with a goal of the College of Sciences’ new Teaching Effectiveness, Advocacy, and Mentoring — TEAM — committee, which Shepler leads, to “develop or adapt new processes for the evaluation of teaching that are inclusive and equitable for all faculty.”

C-PIES

Meanwhile, Wheaton’s work as the director of the Center for Promoting Inclusion and Equity in the Sciences — C-PIES, for short — will inform and supplement Leavey and Shepler’s goals for the grant.

Wheaton will also lead a competitive C-PIES Faculty Fellows program that focuses on innovative teaching and research ideas that can transform student learning using principles in DEIJA, he shares.

“The Center will sponsor approximately five C-PIES Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellows in this effort,” he explains. “I am excited to work with our faculty on ways we can develop new approaches to engage our students. This is an exciting direction that will provide the tools to develop assessment of DEIJA in our curriculum, leading to a culture that emphasizes and facilitates a growth mindset of continued development.”

Transforming tomorrow

Ultimately, the researchers hope to leverage the Inclusive Excellence Grant to transform teaching and learning for faculty and students of today — and of tomorrow.

“Though much of the HHMI work will focus on faculty, particularly those in instructional roles, the potential impact of these efforts is on the learning experiences of future generations of students,” adds Collard, the grant lead. “I look forward to seeing how the project develops — and how it fosters changes that support student, and faculty, success.”

 

]]> jhunt7 1 1677700742 2023-03-01 19:59:02 1678377678 2023-03-09 16:01:18 0 0 news Four faculty in the College of Sciences have received new funding to help foster student belonging at Georgia Tech. The team’s six-year grant is part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) Inclusive Excellence 3 initiative, and is one of 104 new grants funded through an overall initiative that’s allocating $60 million over six years and several phases.

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2023-03-01T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-01T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-01 00:00:00 Contact: Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

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666339 658777 662255 660552 655575 666339 image <![CDATA[Jennifer Leavey, Carrie Shepler, David Collard and Lewis Wheaton lead a new Inclusive Excellence Grant.]]> image/jpeg 1677700858 2023-03-01 20:00:58 1677700858 2023-03-01 20:00:58 658777 image <![CDATA[19 Faculty Members Completed the Inclusive STEM Teaching Fellows Institute]]> image/jpeg 1654805234 2022-06-09 20:07:14 1654886147 2022-06-10 18:35:47 662255 image <![CDATA[Jennifer Leavey Headshot]]> image/jpeg 1666103139 2022-10-18 14:25:39 1666103139 2022-10-18 14:25:39 660552 image <![CDATA[Lewis Wheaton (Photo: Jess Hunt-Ralston)]]> image/jpeg 1661458762 2022-08-25 20:19:22 1680031849 2023-03-28 19:30:49 655575 image <![CDATA[David Collard, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and senior associate dean in the College of Sciences.]]> image/jpeg 1645137729 2022-02-17 22:42:09 1645137729 2022-02-17 22:42:09
<![CDATA[ SDG Week Highlights Sustainable Development Goals ]]> 27713 Sustainable Development Goals Action and Awareness Week 2023 is March 6 – 10. The campus community is invited to participate in a variety of events that increase awareness of and encourage actions that advance the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs were adopted by the UN 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. Some of the objectives are improved industry, innovation, and infrastructure; affordable and clean energy; and sustainable cities and communities. The SDGs appear by name in the Institute’s strategic plan as long-term goals that should guide teaching, research, and operations.

SDG Action and Awareness Week 2023 will focus primarily on SDG13: Climate Action and intersecting SDGs. Georgia Tech strives to be a leader in climate action across the Institute in operations, education, research, and economic development, and the development of a comprehensive Climate Action Plan is underway. President Ángel Cabrera encourages the Tech community to participate in virtual and in-person climate action events throughout the week.

On Thursday, March 9, at 8:30 a.m., Cabrera will convene a panel of faculty to discuss climate action. Joining him will be: Marilyn Brown, Regents’ Professor and the Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems in the School of Public Policy; Andrea Calmon, assistant professor in the Scheller College of Business and faculty fellow in the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems; Tim Liewen, Regents’ Professor, David S. Lewis Chair, and executive director of the Strategic Energy Institute; and Brian Stone, professor in the School of City and Regional Planning and director of the Urban Climate Lab.

The panel is a hybrid event, with remote or in-person participation (at the Scholars Event Network Theater in Price Gilbert Library). RSVP here.

Other events during the week include a Green Cleaning DIY Workshop through the Office of Sustainability, a Social Impact Careers Alumni Panel through the Alumni Association, a Community Market through Auxiliary Services, a session on How to Afford Study Abroad and SDG Interactive Art Hours through the Office of International Education, a Seminar on Race and Gender through the Black Feminist Think Tank and the School of History and Sociology, two micro-workshops on aligning course objectives with the SDGs through the Center for Teaching and Learning and Serve-Learn-Sustain, a Corporate Carbon Accounting panel through Scheller College of Business, an information session and ice cream social through the EcoCar Vertically Integrated Project team, and a Climate Action Plan Stakeholder Engagement Session through the Office of Sustainability. View a listing of the week’s events for details and registration.

SDG Action and Awareness Week is part of a larger global effort through the University Global Coalition (UGC), which Cabrera chairs and helped found. The UGC is comprised of higher education leaders from around the world who work to advance the SDGs through education, research, service, and campus operations.

SDG Action and Awareness Week is an annual event occurring in early March. To collaborate next year, contact Drew Cutright, Office of Strategic Consulting.

]]> Victor Rogers 1 1677699838 2023-03-01 19:43:58 1684273409 2023-05-16 21:43:29 0 0 news The campus community is invited to participate in a variety of events that increase awareness of and encourage actions that advance the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

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2023-03-01T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-01T00:00:00-05:00 2023-03-01 00:00:00 Victor Rogers

Institute Communications

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655723 655723 image <![CDATA[Celebrating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) Action and Awareness Week]]> image/png 1645637834 2022-02-23 17:37:14 1645637834 2022-02-23 17:37:14 <![CDATA[Georgia Tech Launches Climate Action Planning Process]]> <![CDATA[From Idea to Action: How UN Sustainable Development Goals Come to Life in IAC]]> <![CDATA[Aligning Tech’s Education Abroad Programs with United Nations SDGs]]> <![CDATA[Sustainability Next]]> <![CDATA[Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems]]> <![CDATA[Strategic Energy Institute]]> <![CDATA[Urban Climate Lab]]> <![CDATA[Climate and Energy Policy Laboratory]]> <![CDATA[United Nations Greater Atlanta Regional Centre of Expertise ]]> <![CDATA[Reports From the Future Symposium Wrapup]]> <![CDATA[Striving to Power the World Sustainably: A Spotlight on Bo Quick (IE ’93)]]>
<![CDATA[Steve Diggle Elected to American Academy of Microbiology Fellows]]> 34434 Steve Diggle, a professor in the School of Biological Sciences and director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection (CMDI), is one of 65 new 2023 Fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM).

The AAM is an honorific leadership group and think tank within the American Society of Microbiology (ASM). Fellows are elected annually through a highly selective, peer-review process, based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology. The Academy received 148 nominations this year. 

“On behalf of the School of Biological Sciences, I am thrilled to hear about Steve’s election to the American Academy of Microbiology,” said Todd Streelman, professor and chair of the School of Biological Sciences. “This is a tremendous feather in our cap and further illustrates the success of the Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection, its faculty and students, on our campus.”

Arturo Casadevall, Chair of the Governors of the American Academy of Microbiology, notified Diggle of his election. The Academy “recognizes excellence, originality, service and leadership in the microbial sciences,” Casadevall wrote. “As a nominee, you were strongly supported by your nominators … Your election to the Academy this year is a mark of distinction.”

“I am delighted to be elected,” Diggle said. “It is an honor to be chosen by your peers to be part of this fellowship and to recognize the work my group has done over the years. The award would not have been possible without all the hard work and talents of many undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs and collaborators since I started my own group back in 2006. Thank you to all.”

More than 2,600 Academy Fellows represent all subspecialties of the microbial sciences. They are involved in basic and applied research, teaching, public health, industry, and government service.

Diggle’s research interests focus on cooperation and communication in microbes, and how these are related to virulence, biofilms, and antimicrobial resistance. He has a longstanding interest in understanding how the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes disease, and is especially interested in how this organism evolves during chronic infections such as those found in cystic fibrosis patients and chronic wounds.

Diggle currently serves as a senior editor on the editorial board of the journal Microbiology. He has previously served on the editorial boards of FEMS Microbiology Letters, BMC Microbiology, Microbiology Open, and Royal Society Open Science. He served as an elected member of the Microbiology Society Council from 2012-2016, and was also on their conference and policy committees.

In 2020, Diggle received the Cullen-Peck Scholar Award, which recognizes research accomplishments led by Georgia Tech College of Sciences faculty at the associate professor or advanced assistant professor level. Diggle was selected as an American Society for Microbiology Distinguished Lecturer in 2021.  

About Georgia Tech

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

The Institute offers business, computing, design, engineering, liberal arts, and sciences degrees. Its more than 46,000 students, representing 50 states and more than 150 countries, study at the main campus in Atlanta, at campuses in France and China, and through distance and online learning.

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

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1677256551 2023-02-24 16:35:51 1677777150 2023-03-02 17:12:30 0 0 news School of Biological Sciences professor one of 65 new fellows lauded for their “excellence, originality, service, and leadership in the microbial sciences.”

 

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2023-02-24T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-24T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-24 00:00:00 Writer and Media Contact: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

 

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665203 666150 665203 image <![CDATA[Steve Diggle]]> image/jpeg 1674844572 2023-01-27 18:36:12 1674844572 2023-01-27 18:36:12 666150 image <![CDATA[American Academy of Microbiology logo ]]> image/png 1677254257 2023-02-24 15:57:37 1677257527 2023-02-24 16:52:07 <![CDATA[Steve Diggle Named Director of the Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection at Georgia Tech]]> <![CDATA[September Sciences Celebration: College Welcomes New Faculty, Honors Faculty Award Recipients and Math Scholarship Winner]]> <![CDATA[A Problematic Pathogen Develops Antibiotic Tolerance — Without Previous Exposure]]> <![CDATA[CMDI: Mighty Microbial Dynamics for a Healthier People and Planet]]>
<![CDATA[Mycorrhizal Types Control Biodiversity Effects on Productivity]]> 35575 This news release first appeared in the Chinese Academy of Sciences newsroom, and has been tailored for Georgia Tech readers.

Mycorrhizal symbiosis — a symbiotic relationship that can exist between fungi and plant roots — helps plants expand their root surface area, giving plants greater access to nutrients and water. Although the first and foremost role of mycorrhizal symbiosis is to facilitate plant nutrition, scientists have not been clear how mycorrhizal types mediate the nutrient acquisition and interactions of coexisting trees in forests.  

To investigate this crucial relationship, Lingli Liu, a professor at the Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IBCAS) led an international, collaborative team, which included School of Biological Sciencesprofessor Lin Jiang. The team studied nutrient acquisition strategies of arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) and ectomycorrhizal (EcM) trees in the Biodiversity–Ecosystem Functioning (BEF) experiment in a subtropical forest in China, where trees of the two mycorrhizal types were initially evenly planted in mixtures of two, four, eight, or 16 tree species.   

The researchers found that as the diversity of species increased, the net primary production (NPP) of EcM trees rapidly decreased, but the NPP of AM trees progressively increased, leading to the sheer dominance (>90%) of AM trees in the highest diversity treatment. 

The team's analyses further revealed that differences in mycorrhizal nutrient-acquisition strategies, both nutrient acquisition from soil and nutrient resorption within the plant, contribute to the competitive edge of AM trees over EcM ones.  

In addition, analysis of soil microbial communities showed that EcM-tree monocultures have a high abundance of symbiotic fungi, whereas AM-tree monocultures were dominated by saprotrophic and pathogenic fungi.  

According to the researchers, as tree richness increased, shifts in microbial communities, particularly a decrease in the relative abundance of Agaricomycetes (mainly EcM fungi), corresponded with a decrease in the NPP of EcM subcommunities, but had a relatively small impact on the NPP of AM subcommunities.  

These findings suggest that more efficient nutrient-acquisition strategies, rather than microbial-mediated negative plant-soil feedback, drive the dominance of AM trees in high-diversity ecosystems.  

This study, based on the world’s largest forest BEF experiment, provides novel data and an alternative mechanism for explaining why and how AM trees usually dominate in high-diversity subtropical forests.

These findings also have practical implications for species selection in tropical and subtropical reforestation—suggesting it is preferable to plant mixed AM trees, as they have a more efficient nutrient-acquisition strategy than EcM trees.  

This study was published as an online cover article in Sciences Advances on Jan. 19 and was funded by the Strategic Priority Research Program of CAS and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

]]> adavidson38 1 1677186081 2023-02-23 21:01:21 1678377769 2023-03-09 16:02:49 0 0 news An international, collaborative team of researchers shed light on how fungi and plant roots work together to gather nutrients — and how the diversity of plant species may impact the process.

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2023-02-23T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-23T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-23 00:00:00 Georgia Tech Editor: Audra Davidson
Communications Officer II
College of Sciences

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666119 666119 image <![CDATA[Fungi growing on plants in a forest]]> image/png 1677186313 2023-02-23 21:05:13 1677186313 2023-02-23 21:05:13 <![CDATA[Tree mycorrhizal association types control biodiversity-productivity relationship in a subtropical forest]]> <![CDATA[Center for Teaching and Learning Recognizes Sciences Faculty for Educational Excellence]]>
<![CDATA[To Help Recover Balance, Robotic Exoskeletons Have to be Faster Than Human Reflexes]]> 27446 Wearable robotics promise to help older people retain their mobility and paraplegic patients regain theirs. They could help make humans stronger and faster. But, so far, they’re not great at keeping people from falling.

Human balance is a complicated dance, and even the most advanced robots and wearables like robotic exoskeletons have trouble replicating how our brains and bodies work together to keep us upright. A new study from researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University is taking the first step toward addressing the balance problem.

In a paper published Feb. 15 in Science Robotics, the group showed an ankle exoskeleton must react faster than our bodies to improve balance. Participants didn’t recover any more quickly when the exoskeleton delayed applying power until the same time muscles in the leg and ankle activated to restore balance.

Read about the study on the College of Engineering website.

]]> Joshua Stewart 1 1676487600 2023-02-15 19:00:00 1677777449 2023-03-02 17:17:29 0 0 news Researchers at Georgia Tech and Emory found wearable ankle exoskeletons helped subjects improve standing balance only if they activated before muscles fired.

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2023-02-15T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-15T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-15 00:00:00 Joshua Stewart
College of Engineering

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665843 665843 image <![CDATA[Ankle Exoskeleton Boots]]> image/jpeg 1676488001 2023-02-15 19:06:41 1676488001 2023-02-15 19:06:41
<![CDATA[Center for Teaching and Learning Honors Sciences Faculty for Excellence]]> 35575 Over 15 faculty from the College of Sciences have been recognized for their teaching excellence by Georgia Tech’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) in the Fall 2022 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.

Four College of Sciences faculty have won the Student Recognition of Excellence in Teaching: CIOS Awards, while 14 faculty have been named to the Student Recognition of Excellence in Teaching: Class of 1934 CIOS Honor Roll for Fall 2022. 

“To be named as a Student Recognition of Excellence in Teaching awardee, or appearing on the honor roll, is a significant accomplishment for our faculty,” shared David Collard, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and senior associate dean in the College of Sciences. “Those who are recognized in this way have made strong connections with their students, both in lecture courses and in our instructional laboratories. I imagine that these are the faculty that their students will fondly remember long after graduation.”

 

College of Sciences recipients of the Fall 2022 “Student Recognition of Excellence in Teaching: CIOS Awards” include:

Small Classes:

Kirill Lobachev, associate professor, School of Biological Sciences
Deborah Santos, academic professional, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Samantha Wilson, academic professional, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Large Classes:

Emily Weigel, senior academic professional, School of Biological Sciences

 

College of Sciences recipients of the Fall 2022 “Student Recognition of Excellence in Teaching: Class of 1934 CIOS Honor Roll” include:

Small Classes: 

School of MathematicsAustin Christian, postdoctoral researcher
School of Biological SciencesBrian Hammer, associate professor; Colin Harrison, senior academic professional
NeuroscienceAlberto Stolfi, assistant professor, School of Biological Sciences

Large Classes:

School of Biological SciencesYoung-Hui Chang, professor and associate chair for Faculty Development; Adam Decker, senior academic professional and director of Anatomical Sciences
School of MathematicsMiriam Kuzbary, postdoctoral researcher
Neuroscience — Qiliang He, postdoctoral researcher, School of Biological Sciences; Christina Ragan, lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
School of Psychology Meghan Babcock, academic professional; Dobromir Rahnev, associate professor; Keaton Fletcher, assistant professor

Learn more about the Center for Teaching and Learning

]]> adavidson38 1 1676321049 2023-02-13 20:44:09 1677777515 2023-03-02 17:18:35 0 0 news Over 15 faculty from the College of Sciences have been recognized for their teaching excellence by Georgia Tech’s Center for Teaching and Learning in the Fall 2022 Course Instructor Opinion Survey.

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2023-02-14T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-14T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-14 00:00:00 Writer: Audra Davidson
Communications Officer II
College of Sciences

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

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665542 665542 image <![CDATA[Tech Tower]]> image/jpeg 1675786600 2023-02-07 16:16:40 1680535335 2023-04-03 15:22:15 <![CDATA[Center for Teaching and Learning Recognizes Sciences Faculty for Educational Excellence]]> <![CDATA[40 College of Sciences Faculty Honored by Students in Class of 1934 CIOS Awards, CTL Honor Roll]]> <![CDATA[Georgia Tech’s Center for Teaching and Learning Honors Seven College of Sciences Faculty with Annual Teaching Awards]]>
<![CDATA[Black History Month: Atlanta Change-Makers]]> 34528

Black History Month is a time to honor the triumphs and contributions of African Americans throughout U.S. history. Atlanta history is ripe with achievements from the Black community, and history continues to be made here today.

Great work is being done both on campus and across Atlanta by Georgia Tech students, faculty, staff, and alumni. They are working across different industries to help bring about change to improve the human condition, whether it's on campus, in the city, or beyond. 

Atlanta Change-Makers introduces you to a few of the people whose aspirations and actions are making a difference — for today, and for a brighter future. 

Tap here to get to know Psychology undergrad Lauren Hester and Biology undergrad Kemuel Russell — plus several Georgia Tech faculty and staff, and change-making alumni including Valerie Montgomery Rice (CHEM 1983), President and CEO of Morehouse School of Medicine.

]]> jhunt7 1 1675704235 2023-02-06 17:23:55 1677785027 2023-03-02 19:23:47 0 0 news Atlanta history is ripe with achievements from the Black community, and history continues to be made here today. Great work is being done on campus, across Atlanta, and beyond by Georgia Tech students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are working across different industries to help bring about change to improve the human condition. Atlanta Change-Makers introduces you to a few of the people whose aspirations and actions are making a difference — for today, and for a brighter future.  

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2023-02-06T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-06T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-06 00:00:00 Evan Atkinson

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665500 665501 633002 665500 image <![CDATA[Lauren Hester, undergraduate student in the School of Psychology]]> image/jpeg 1675704421 2023-02-06 17:27:01 1675704421 2023-02-06 17:27:01 665501 image <![CDATA[Kemuel Russell, undergraduate student in the School of Biological Sciences]]> image/jpeg 1675704459 2023-02-06 17:27:39 1675704459 2023-02-06 17:27:39 633002 image <![CDATA[Valerie Montgomery Rice, Georgia Tech alumna, President and Dean of Morehouse School of Medicine, and recipient of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association’s Dean Griffin Community Service Award. (Photo Kaylinn Gilstrap, Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine.)]]> image/jpeg 1582746153 2020-02-26 19:42:33 1582746153 2020-02-26 19:42:33
<![CDATA[The Plants Seeking Refuge Across Our Dynamically Changing Planet]]> 36123 Plants, like animals and people, seek refuge from climate change. And when they move, they take entire ecosystems with them. To understand why and how plants have trekked across landscapes throughout time, researchers at the forefront of conservation are calling for a new framework. The key to protecting biodiversity in the future may be through understanding the past.

Jenny McGuire, assistant professor in the Schools of Biological Sciences and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, spearheaded a special feature on the topic of biodiversity in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences along with colleagues in Texas, Norway, and Argentina. In the special feature, “The Past as a Lens for Biodiversity Conservation on a Dynamically Changing Planet,” McGuire and her collaborators highlight the outstanding questions that must be addressed for successful future conservation efforts. The feature brings together conservation research that illuminates the complex and constantly evolving dynamics brought on by climate change and the ever-shifting ways humans use land. These factors, McGuire said, interact over time to create dynamic changes and illustrate the need to incorporate temporal perspectives into conservation strategies by looking deep into the past.

One example of this work highlighted in the journal is McGuire’s research about plants in North America, which investigates how and why they’ve moved across geography over time, where they’re heading, and why it’s important.

“Plants are shifting their geographic ranges, and this is happening whether we realize it or not,” McGuire said. “As seeds fall or are transported to distant places, the likelihood that the plant’s seed is going to be able to survive and grow is changing as climates are changing. Studying plants’ niche dynamics over thousands of years can help us understand how species adapt to climate change and can teach us how to protect and maintain biodiversity in the face of rapid climate change to come.”

Climate Fidelity: A New Metric for Understanding Vulnerability

The first step is to understand which type of plants exhibit what McGuire terms “climate fidelity,” and which do not. If a plant has climate fidelity, it means that the plant stays loyal to its preferred climatic niche, often migrating across geographies over thousands of years to keep up with its ideal habitat. Plants that don’t exhibit climate fidelity tend to adapt locally in the face of climate change. Being loyal to one’s climate, it turns out, doesn’t necessarily mean being loyal to a particular place.

To investigate the case of trees, McGuire and former Georgia Tech postdoctoral scholar Yue Wang (associate professor in the School of Ecology at Sun Yat-sen University in China) studied pollen data from the Neotoma Paleoecology Database, which contains pollen fossil data from sediment cores across North America. Each sediment core is sampled, layer by layer, producing a series of pollen data from different times throughout history. The data also contains breakdowns of the relative abundance of different types of plants represented by the pollen types – pine versus oak versus grass, for example – painting a picture of what types of plants were present in that location and when.

McGuire and Wang looked at data from 13,240 fossil pollen samples taken from 337 locations across the entirety of North America. For each of the 16 major plant taxa in North America, they divided the pollen data into six distinct chunks or “bins” of time of 4,000 years, starting from 18,000 years ago up to the present day. Wang used the data to identify all climate sites containing fossil pollen for any individual type of tree – such as oak, for example – for each period. Then, Wang looked at how each tree’s climate changed from one period to the next. Wang did this by comparing the locations of pollen types between adjacent time periods, which enabled the team to identify how and why each type of tree’s climate changed over time.

“This process allowed us to see the climate fidelity of these different plant taxa, showing that certain plants maintain very consistent climatic niches, even when climate is changing rapidly,” Wang said.

For example, their findings showed that when North American glaciers were retreating 18,000 years ago, spruce and alder trees moved northward to maintain the cool temperatures of their habitats.

Crucially, McGuire and Wang found that most plant species in North America have exhibited long-term climate fidelity over the past 18,000 years. They also found that plants that migrated farther did a better job of tracking climate during periods of change.

But some plants fared better than others. For example, the small seeds of willow trees can fly over long distances – enabling them to track their preferred climates very effectively. But the large seeds of ash trees, for example, can only be dispersed short distances from parent trees, hindering their ability to track climate. Habitat disruptions from humans could make it even more difficult for ash trees to be able to take hold in new regions. If there are no adjacent habitats for ash trees, their seeds are under pressure to move even farther – a particular challenge for ash, which slows their migration movements even more.

Protecting the Fabric of Life

On the bright side, by identifying which plants have historically been most sensitive to changing climates, McGuire and Wang’s research can help conservation organizations like The Nature Conservancy prioritize land where biodiversity is most vulnerable to climate change.

As a final step, McGuire and Wang identified “climate fidelity hotspots,” regions that have historically exhibited strong climate fidelity whose plants will most urgently need to move as their climates change. They compared these hotspots to climate-resilient regions identified by The Nature Conservancy that could serve as refuge areas for those plants. While plants in these resilient regions can initially adapt to impending climate change by shifting their distributions locally, the plants will likely face major challenges when a region’s climate change capacity is exceeded due to lack of connectivity and habitat disruptions from humans. Refining these priorities helps stakeholders identify efficient strategies for allowing the fabric of life to thrive.

“I think that understanding climate fidelity, while a new and different idea, will be very important going forward, especially when thinking about how to prioritize protecting different plants in the face of climate change,” McGuire said. “It is important to be able to see that some plants and animals are more vulnerable to climate change, and this information can help build stronger strategies for protecting the biodiversity on the planet.”

 

Citation: Yue Wang, Silvia Pineda-Munoz, and Jenny L. McGuire, "Plants maintain climate fidelity in the face of dynamic climate change." PNAS (2023).

DOI: doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2201946119

 

]]> Catherine Barzler 1 1675700702 2023-02-06 16:25:02 1677785051 2023-03-02 19:24:11 0 0 news Plants, like animals and people, seek refuge from climate change. And when they move, they take entire ecosystems with them. To understand why and how plants have trekked across landscapes throughout time, researchers at the forefront of conservation are calling for a new framework. The key to protecting biodiversity in the future may be through understanding the past.

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2023-02-06T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-06T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-06 00:00:00 Catherine Barzler, Senior Research Writer/Editor

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665472 665472 image <![CDATA[Spruce-fir boreal forest in western North Carolina]]> image/jpeg 1675692168 2023-02-06 14:02:48 1675703229 2023-02-06 17:07:09
<![CDATA[Seeking Demonstration Groups for Science and Engineering Day]]> 34760 On Saturday, March 11, Georgia Tech will open its doors to the community for Science and Engineering Day at Georgia Tech.

This annual event aims to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists and share the breadth of Georgia Tech’s research activities with the local community. Last year more than 500 attendees, ranging from toddlers to retirees, explored the campus and participated in hands-on STEAM activities, tours, and demonstrations designed to engage and educate participants. While attendees were able to get a glimpse into one of the nation’s most research-intensive universities, the community-wide event also allowed Georgia Tech students, researchers, and staff members the opportunity to share their work with the public.

Seeking Demo Groups

To continue the success of Science and Engineering Day, we need members of the Georgia Tech community — including student groups, labs, staff, and faculty — to participate in this year’s event. Last year, 26 units and student organizations across campus provided activities in biology, space, art, nanotechnology, paper, computer science, wearables, bioengineering, and chemical engineering just to name a few.

Taking part in Science and Engineering Day gives Georgia Tech students and researchers a unique opportunity to share their work with the community and inspire attendees. Demo space is limited, so reserve your spot today. Opportunities include hands-on STEAM activities, exhibits, demonstrations, and opportunities to meet student researchers. If you have questions about how you can participate, reach out to Leslie O’Neil. All demo groups must register by February 20, 2023.

The Atlanta Science Festival is engineered by Science ATL and community partners, with major support from founders Emory University, Georgia Tech, and the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and from sponsors UPS, International Paper, Georgia Power, Cox Enterprises, Lockheed Martin, Lenz Marketing, and Mercer University.

Learn more and register to demonstrate at research.gatech.edu/ATLscifestGTday23

]]> Laurie Haigh 1 1675374152 2023-02-02 21:42:32 1677785084 2023-03-02 19:24:44 0 0 news On Saturday, March 11, Georgia Tech will open its doors to the community for Science and Engineering Day at Georgia Tech.

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2023-02-02T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-02T00:00:00-05:00 2023-02-02 00:00:00 Leslie O'Neill

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665434 665434 image <![CDATA[Atlanta Science Festival Demo 2022]]> image/png 1675374722 2023-02-02 21:52:02 1675374722 2023-02-02 21:52:02 <![CDATA[Georgia Tech Science and Engineering Day – Inspiring the Next Generation of Innovators]]>
<![CDATA[Law, Science, and Technology Program Launches Pre-Law Information Portal]]> 34600 The Law, Science, and Technology (LST) Program in the School of Public Policy has created a new information portal for Georgia Tech students interested in legal careers.

The portal is open to anyone with an active Georgia Tech login. It offers information for students on every step of the journey, including finding undergraduate legal internships, preparing for the LSAT, getting letters of recommendation, and writing personal statements for law school applications. According to Chad Slieper, LST director, scholarship opportunities will be added soon.

“This resource is a great way to start learning what you need to do to prepare for law school,” Slieper said. “We’re excited to give more options to students and provide a 24/7 supplement to the in-person counseling and advice we’ve always offered.”

LST also offers the Minor in Law, Science, and Technology, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, as well as pre-law advising, a pre-law newsletter, and events of interest to members of the Georgia Tech community with an interest in the intersection of law and technology.

The School of Public Policy is a unit of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.

]]> mpearson34 1 1675099273 2023-01-30 17:21:13 1677785264 2023-03-02 19:27:44 0 0 news The portal provides information on how to apply for law school.

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2023-01-30T00:00:00-05:00 2023-01-30T00:00:00-05:00 2023-01-30 00:00:00 Michael Pearson
Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts

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665249 665249 image <![CDATA[The Law, Science, and Technology Program has a new information portal for students interested in legal careers.]]> image/jpeg 1675099109 2023-01-30 17:18:29 1675099109 2023-01-30 17:18:29
<![CDATA[Steve Diggle Named Director of the Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection at Georgia Tech]]> 34434 The College of Sciences is pleased to announce the appointment of Steve Diggle as the director of the Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection (CMDI)

Diggle is a professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the principal investigator for the Diggle Lab. He takes over the CMDI leadership position from Biological Sciences Professor Sam Brown, who has served as CMDI’s director since January 2020.

Founded in 2018, CMDI seeks to understand the chemical, physical, and biological connections that together underpin microbial dynamics. The Center’s science research includes a wide variety of 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. 

“It’s an honor to be chosen for this,” Diggle said. “I think that what’s really exciting is that when I joined Georgia Tech in 2017, we were only just developing microbiology here. What’s happened since is that microbiology has taken on a much bigger profile at Georgia Tech. We’re now at the point where we are attracting really strong graduate students specifically to do microbiology, which is great. CMDI is more visible now, and I think that’s one reason graduate students are applying.”

“Steve Diggle is a perfect fit to lead CMDI forward,” Brown said. “Steve's research showcases impactful interdisciplinary research, combining molecular biology with ecology and evolution to understand what makes microbes tick, and how we can better control them. Steve has also shown a lasting commitment to mentorship and scientific service, and so I'm sure CMDI is in very good hands.”

Growth of the Center 

Brown said the Center continues to add key personnel. In the past year, CMDI announced its inaugural Early Career Award Fellow in Ellinor Alseth, and its first grant writing specialist, Senior Research Scientist Carina Baskett. “Dr. Alseth is leading through her science, pulling multiple labs together to form new collaborations. Thanks to Dr. Baskett, we have substantially increased our rate of applications for both postdoctoral and postgraduate fellowships, and she has also led the pursuit of multi-principal investigator grants,” Brown added.

The CMDI has also boosted diversity, inclusion, and equity (DEI) resources that supported trainee and staff recruiting visits to underrepresented minority-serving conferences and local institutions, and provided additional stipends to help underrepresented minority recruits with relocation costs to Atlanta. The Center has also re-launched its showcase public event, MicrobeATL, a speaker series designed to integrate the microbiology research community across Atlanta that was paused during the pandemic. 

CMDI targets models of human disease, but also complex microbial communities in a range of aquatic and terrestrial environments. This research is united by the beliefs that studying across systems is essential for identifying organizing principles, and fully understanding microbial ecology and evolution requires knowledge of social interactions over space and time.  

Diggle added that the CMDI’s research priorities include climate change’s impact on the microbial world, and searching for new drugs that can tame antibiotic-resistant pathogens. “Antibiotic resistance is one of the great problems we're facing in the future,” he explained. That problem is why CMDI scientists like Julia Kubanek, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and Georgia Tech’s Vice President for Interdisciplinary Research, are scouring oceans for natural antibacterial alternatives.

Diggle also hopes to continue attracting the world’s top microbiology researchers to join the CMDI faculty while seeking out more external funding. “The ultimate goal is to make Georgia Tech one of the best places to come and do microbiology research in the U.S. Given what we’ve accomplished so far, I think that's a reasonable goal.”

Meet Steve Diggle

Diggle’s research interests focus on cooperation and communication in microbes, and how these are related to virulence, biofilms, and antimicrobial resistance. He has a longstanding interest in understanding how the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes disease, and is especially interested in how this organism evolves during chronic infections such as those found in cystic fibrosis patients and chronic wounds.

Diggle received his B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Salford in the United Kingdom, and earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Microbiology from the University of Nottingham in 2001. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Nottingham before obtaining a Royal Society University Fellowship (2006-2014). He joined the School of Biological Sciences at Georgia Tech in 2017 and was named a full professor in 2022.

Diggle currently serves as a senior editor on the editorial board of the journal Microbiology. He has previously served on the editorial boards of FEMS Microbiology Letters, BMC Microbiology, Microbiology Open and Royal Society Open Science. He served as an elected member of the Microbiology Society Council from 2012-2016, and was also on their conference and policy committees. In 2020, Diggle received the Cullen-Peck Scholar Award, which recognizes research accomplishments led by College of Sciences faculty at the associate professor or advanced assistant professor level. Diggle was selected as an American Society for Microbiology Distinguished Lecturer in 2021. 

Learn more about Diggle’s research:

About Georgia Tech

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

 

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1674838064 2023-01-27 16:47:44 1677785331 2023-03-02 19:28:51 0 0 news The College of Sciences is pleased to announce the appointment of Steve Diggle as the director of the Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection (CMDI). Diggle is a professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the principal investigator for the Diggle Lab.

 

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2023-01-27T00:00:00-05:00 2023-01-27T00:00:00-05:00 2023-01-27 00:00:00 Writer/Media Contact: 
Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

 

]]>
665203 665203 image <![CDATA[Steve Diggle]]> image/jpeg 1674844572 2023-01-27 18:36:12 1674844572 2023-01-27 18:36:12 <![CDATA[Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection]]> <![CDATA[CMDI: Mighty Microbial Dynamics for a Healthier People and Planet]]> <![CDATA[A Problematic Pathogen Develops Antibiotic Tolerance — Without Previous Exposure]]> <![CDATA[No Separations: Meet Ellinor Alseth, CMDI’s First Early Career Award Fellow]]> <![CDATA[Inaugural CMDI-CDC Symposium Offers Perspectives on Infectious Disease Dynamics]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald To Be Honored by Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (CORE)]]> 34434 John McDonald, emeritus professor in the School of Biological Sciences and founding director of Georgia Tech’s Integrated Cancer Research Center, has been named one of “Today’s Innovators” in cancer care by the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (CORE)

McDonald, who also served as the chief scientific officer of the Ovarian Cancer Institute, will be honored during the “Toast to the Trailblazers” event that is part of CORE’s 20th Anniversary Celebration, set for Saturday, February 18 of this year, at the Atlanta History Center.

“For me, it's always an honor — and often a surprise! — when I receive an award, as was the case for this award from the Georgia CORE,” McDonald said. “It's certainly encouraging to know that others believe what I'm doing is worthwhile. At the same time,” he added, “I'm acutely aware that nothing in life, and especially in science, is accomplished in isolation. Whatever I've been able to accomplish is, in large measure, because I have had great students and collaborators to work with over the years here at Georgia Tech.”

Also chosen as a “Today’s Innovator” this year is Lynn Durham, CORE’s president and CEO. Before joining CORE in 2021, Durham served as vice president for Institute Relations at Georgia Tech. Across 25 years on campus, Durham also worked as chief of staff and led the Institute’s legislative advocacy program.

Individuals selected as “Today’s Innovators” by CORE have “embraced the original vision of collaboration and advancement throughout the state’s cancer care ecosystem and are working today to continue to enhance cancer research and exceptional care for all Georgians.” 

Durham noted that McDonald was chosen because of his past leadership of Georgia Tech’s Integrated Cancer Research Center and his scholarship in ovarian cancer detection and treatment.

“He is the leader of a cancer research center in one of our state’s most respected higher education institutions, and I hope this recognition will demonstrate the important connection between basic science and the remarkable innovations in cancer care during the past 20 years,” Durham added.

McDonald is engaged in translational research, which seeks to quickly move more basic science discoveries into actual practice to help patients. The challenge, McDonald explained, is how to best get those discoveries and technologies into clinical practice. This requires connections between research scientists, clinicians, and appropriate patients. While the scientist/clinician connection is relatively easy to establish at medical schools, it is not as easy for researchers at non-medical schools like Georgia Tech, he added. 

“The Georgia CORE was designed to address these challenges by facilitating connections between scientists and clinicians while at the same time providing Georgia citizens access to the latest trials,” McDonald said. “These efforts have been tremendously successful over the last 20 years. 

“I have tried to play some role in improving communication and encouraging collaboration among Georgia Tech researchers doing cancer-relevant research,” McDonald added, “by establishing the Integrated Cancer Research Center (ICRC) and connecting our scientists and engineers with clinicians, all with the assistance of the Georgia CORE.”

McDonald became an emeritus professor in January 2023. Now, he’s focused on writing a book, and still working to get discoveries made in his lab into clinical practice. For that effort, McDonald has established startup companies with two colleagues in the School of Biological Sciences, postdoctoral researcher Nick Housley and Jeffrey Skolnick, who serves as Regents' Professor, Mary and Maisie Gibson Chair, and as a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Computational Systems Biology. 

“One effort is focused on a drug delivery nanoparticle, and the other is focused on our machine learning-based personalized diagnostic tool,” McDonald said. “Collaboration with Georgia CORE is proving essential in moving both of these projects forward into clinical trials.”

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1674585330 2023-01-24 18:35:30 1677785446 2023-03-02 19:30:46 0 0 news John McDonald, emeritus professor in the School of Biological Sciences and founding director of Georgia Tech's Integrated Cancer Research Center, has been chosen as a ‘Today’s Innovator’ in cancer research by the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (CORE)

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2023-01-24T00:00:00-05:00 2023-01-24T00:00:00-05:00 2023-01-24 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

 

]]>
618501 641862 618501 image <![CDATA[Professor John McDonald]]> image/jpeg 1551222065 2019-02-26 23:01:05 1551222065 2019-02-26 23:01:05 641862 image <![CDATA[Lynn Durham]]> image/jpeg 1607093039 2020-12-04 14:43:59 1607093039 2020-12-04 14:43:59 <![CDATA[New Grant Award Supports Research on Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer]]> <![CDATA[Multi-Algorithm Approach Helps Deliver Personalized Medicine for Cancer Patients]]> <![CDATA[Gene Network Changes Associated with Cancer Onset and Progression Identify New Candidates for Targeted Gene Therapy]]> <![CDATA[Genetics and Cancer: Research Offers New Insights On Risks, Onset, Progression]]> <![CDATA[Open Source Machine Learning Tool Could Help Choose Cancer Drugs]]>
<![CDATA[NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program Returns for 2023]]> 34434 The NSF REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program is designed to provide meaningful research experiences to undergraduates who may not otherwise have the opportunity, with an ultimate goal of increasing matriculation in STEM careers and graduate school.  

Most NSF REU programs are designed to pair students attending smaller and undergraduate-only schools with faculty and lab groups at larger host institutions for mentorship and a meaningful research experience. 

Importantly, as NSF notes, the inclusion of historically under-represented groups in STEM (minorities, low socio-economic status, first generation students, veterans and women) will serve to broaden the STEM talent pool.  

As such, most REU programs in the College of Sciences at Georgia Tech host a diverse cohort of approximately ten non-Georgia Tech undergraduates, who have limited research opportunities at their current institution. Each unique program's focus and requirements vary, so check individual program links for application guidelines and deadlines. Each of the six schools in the College of Sciences participate in the eight to 10-week program. The REU supplements — which include stipends, housing, and travel allowances — engage students in research related to a new or ongoing NSF research award. Application deadlines are typically in January and February each year, depending on the program.

“Georgia Tech has had a long, outstanding record of hosting REU students,” said College of Sciences Assistant Dean for Academic Programs Cameron Tyson. “We are delighted that we can offer programs affiliated with each of the six schools in the College of Sciences at Georgia Tech.” 

Summer 2023 NSF REU programs in the College of Sciences at Georgia Tech are:

Aquatic Chemical Ecology (ACE) Summer Research Program 
(Co-hosted by the Schools of Biological Sciences, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and from the College of Engineering: Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.)

Students participate in research with one or more faculty, and learn about careers in science and engineering, and see how scientists blend knowledge and skills from physics, chemistry, and biology to investigate some of the most challenging problems in environmental sciences. Three areas of research activities covered by faculty in the Aquatic Chemical Ecology program include biological and geochemical transformations of chemicals in aquatic ecosystems, sensory biology and ecology of aquatic chemical communication, and ecological roles and consequences of chemicals in aquatic environments.

Broadening Participation Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Physics 
(Hosted by the School of Physics)

This program includes a hands-on computational workshop, an overnight trip to a National Laboratory, a weekly Physics Frontiers Lunch and Learn seminar series, a half-dozen professional development seminars, and social activities with other REU students. At the end of the summer, participants will present their research to the School of Physics community and at a Georgia Tech REU Poster Symposium that includes REU participants from all the REU programs in the Georgia Tech College of Sciences.

Mathematics Research Experiences for Undergraduates 
(Hosted by the School of Mathematics)

REU summer projects in mathematics are mentored by many different faculty, on topics ranging from fad formation, to random walks, tropical geometry, one bit sensing, extremal graph theory, and convex polyhedra.  Students will have the opportunities to publish papers, win awards, and succeed in graduate school applications.

Broadening Participation in Atmospheric Science, Oceanography and Geosciences Research 
(Hosted by the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) 

Each participant will work with a faculty member or research scientist and focus on a single research project, but will also gain a broad perspective on research in Earth and atmospheric sciences by participating in the dynamic research environment. This interdisciplinary REU program has projects spanning topics related to the geosciences, planetary science, atmospheric sciences, oceanography, and climate science. In addition to full-time research, undergraduate researchers will participate in professional development activities, seminars with faculty and research scientists, presentation and research poster symposiums, and social activities with other summer REU students.

Chemistry Function, Application, Structure and Theory (FAST) 
(Hosted by the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry)

The Chemistry Function, Application, Structure, and Theory (FAST) Program’s objective is to provide a high-quality research experience, augmented by experiential learning components, for a diverse group of undergraduate students. The program will provide participants with encouragement and preparation to pursue advanced studies and/or careers in the sciences while emphasizing the importance of collaboration and interdisciplinarity in chemistry.

Human Neuroscience Research and Techniques 
(Hosted by the School of Psychology) 

Working with Georgia State University, this program gives students the opportunity to gain knowledge and hands-on experience with human neuroscience techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Participants will also perform exciting research in the laboratories of Georgia Tech or Georgia State faculty mentors. Students will learn about neuroscience careers and tips for succeeding in graduate and medical school. The research areas of the faculty mentors are organized around three core neuroscience themes: Human Motor Control, Cognitive Processing, and Human Neurophysiology.

“These programs are an excellent opportunity for students, especially those from colleges and universities with limited research opportunities, to gain an immersive experience working alongside Georgia Tech faculty and their team on cutting-edge projects in science and mathematics,” added Tyson, who is also a faculty member in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “We often see participants having a transformative experience and continuing on to graduate studies and pursuing a career in research.”

For more information on REU summer program details, requirements and application deadlines, interested students should visit the links to individual programs listed here.

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1674578333 2023-01-24 16:38:53 1677785422 2023-03-02 19:30:22 0 0 news Georgia Tech’s College of Sciences Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) offers summer programs for 2023.

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2023-01-24T00:00:00-05:00 2023-01-24T00:00:00-05:00 2023-01-24 00:00:00 Writer: Laurie E. Smith
College of Sciences

Editor/Media Contact: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

 

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665050 665051 665052 665050 image <![CDATA[College of Sciences 2022 Summer REU Retreat, Amicalola Falls, GA.]]> image/png 1674579178 2023-01-24 16:52:58 1674579178 2023-01-24 16:52:58 665051 image <![CDATA[School of Biological Sciences Associate Professor Brian Hammer (2nd from left), teaching assistant Ahn Pham (3rd from left) and nine 2022 Aquatic Chemical Ecology (ACE) REU students on a trawl along the Georgia coast.]]> image/png 1674579478 2023-01-24 16:57:58 1674579478 2023-01-24 16:57:58 665052 image <![CDATA[REU Physics Frontiers Lunch and Learn Seminar 2022]]> image/png 1674579570 2023-01-24 16:59:30 1674579570 2023-01-24 16:59:30 <![CDATA[Undergraduate Student Research Round-up: Summer Across the College of Sciences]]> <![CDATA[How I Spent My Summer: NSF REUs Welcome Undergraduate Researchers]]> <![CDATA[Math Undergrads Show Off Research “That Matters In The World”]]> <![CDATA[From REU to Ph.D. at Georgia Tech]]>
<![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 1677785677 2023-03-02 19:34:37 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[Cat Locomotion Could Unlock Better Human Spinal Cord Injury Treatment]]> 34541 Cats always land on their feet, but what makes them so agile? Their unique sense of balance has more in common with humans than it may appear. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are studying cat locomotion to better understand how the spinal cord works to help humans with partial spinal cord damage walk and maintain balance.

Using a mix of experimental studies and computational models, the researchers show that somatosensory feedback, or neural signals from specialized sensors throughout a cat’s body, help inform the spinal cord about the ongoing movement and coordinate the four limbs to keep cats from falling when they encounter obstacles. Research suggests that with those motion-related sensory signals the animal can walk even if the connection between the spinal cord and the brain is partially fractured.  

Understanding the mechanisms of this type of balance control is particularly relevant to older people who often have balance issues and can injure themselves in falls. Eventually, the researchers hope this could bring new understanding to somatosensory feedback’s role in balance control. It could also lead to progress in spinal cord injury treatment because the research suggests activation of somatosensory neurons can improve spinal neural networks’ function below the site of spinal cord damage.

“We have been interested in the mechanisms that make it possible to reactivate injured networks in the spinal cord,” said School of Biological Sciences Professor Boris Prilutsky. “We know from previous studies that somatosensory feedback from moving legs helps activate spinal networks that control locomotion, enabling stable movement.”

The researchers presented their findings in “Sensory Perturbations From Hindlimb Cutaneous Afferents Generate Coordinated Functional Responses in All Four Limbs During Locomotion in Intact Cats” in the journal eNeuro.

Coordinated Cats

Although genetically modified mouse models have recently become dominant in neural control of locomotion research, the cat model offers an important advantage. When they move, mice remain crouched, meaning they are less likely to have balance problems even if somatosensory feedback fails. Humans and cats, on the other hand, cannot maintain balance or even move if they lose sensory information about limb motion. This suggests that larger species, like cats and humans, might have a different organization of spinal neural network controlling locomotion compared to rodents.

Georgia Tech partnered with researchers at the University of Sherbrooke in Canada and Drexel University in Philadelphia to better understand how signals from sensory neurons coordinate movements of the four legs. The Sherbrooke lab trained cats to walk on a treadmill at a pace consistent with human gait and then used electrodes to stimulate their sensory nerve.

The researchers focused on the sensory nerve that transmits touch sensation from the top of the foot to the spinal cord. By electrically stimulating this nerve, researchers mimicked hitting an obstacle and saw how the cats stumbled and corrected their movement in response. Stimulations were applied in four periods of the walking cycle: mid-stance, stance-to-swing transition, mid-swing, and swing-to-stance transition. From this, they learned that mid-swing and the stance-to-swing transition were the most significant periods because the stimulation increased activity in muscles that flex the knee and hip joints, joint flexion and toe height, step length, and step duration of the stimulated limb.

“In order to maintain balance, the animal must coordinate movement of the other three limbs, otherwise it would fall,” Prilutsky said. “We found that stimulation of this nerve during the swing phase increases the duration of the stance phase of the other limbs and improves stability.”

In effect, when the cat stumbles during the swing phase, the sensation triggers spinal reflexes that ensure the three other limbs stay on the ground and keep the cat upright and balanced, while the swing limb steps over the obstacle.

Computational Cats

With these Canadian lab experiments, the researchers at Georgia Tech and Drexel University are using observations to develop a computational model of the cat’s musculoskeletal and spinal neural control systems. The data gathered are used to compute somatosensory signals related to length, velocity, and produced force of muscles, as well as pressure on the skin in all limbs. This information forms motion sensations in the animal’s spinal cord and contributes to interlimb coordination by the spinal neuronal networks.

“To help treat any disease, we need to understand how the intact system works,” Prilutsky said. “That was one reason why this study was performed, so we could understand how the spinal networks coordinate limb movements and develop a realistic computational model of spinal control of locomotion. This will help us know better how the spinal cord controls locomotion.”

CITATION: Merlet AN, Jéhannin P, Mari S, Lecomte CG, Audet J, Harnie J, Rybak IA, Prilutsky BI, Frigon A (2022) Sensory Perturbations from Hindlimb Cutaneous Afferents Generate Coordinated Functional Responses in All Four Limbs during Locomotion in Intact Cats. eNeuro 9: 0178-22.

DOI: 10.1523/ENEURO.0178-22.2022

]]> Tess Malone 1 1673298620 2023-01-09 21:10:20 1677785763 2023-03-02 19:36:03 0 0 news Cats always land on their feet, but what makes them so agile? Their unique sense of balance has more in common with humans than it may appear. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are studying cat locomotion to better understand how the spinal cord works to help humans with partial spinal cord damage walk and maintain balance.

]]>
2023-01-09T00:00:00-05:00 2023-01-09T00:00:00-05:00 2023-01-09 00:00:00 Tess Malone, Senior Research Writer/Editor

tess.malone@gatech.edu

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664622 664616 664622 image <![CDATA[Schematic of a cat musculoskeletal model]]> image/jpeg 1673382125 2023-01-10 20:22:05 1673382125 2023-01-10 20:22:05 664616 image <![CDATA[cat model 2]]> image/jpeg 1673379555 2023-01-10 19:39:15 1673379555 2023-01-10 19:39:15
<![CDATA[AF2Complex ‘Computational Microscope’ Predicts Protein Interactions, Potential Paths to New Antibiotics ]]> 35575 Though it is a cornerstone of virtually every process that occurs in living organisms, the proper folding and transport of biological proteins is a notoriously difficult and time-consuming process to experimentally study.

In a new paper published in eLife, researchers in the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Computer Science have shown that AF2Complex may be able to lend a hand.

Building on the models of DeepMind’s AlphaFold 2, a machine learning tool able to predict the detailed three-dimensional structures of individual proteins, AF2Complex — short for AlphaFold 2 Complex — is a deep learning tool designed to predict the physical interactions of multiple proteins. With these predictions, AF2Complex is able to calculate which proteins are likely to interact with each other to form functional complexes in unprecedented detail.

“We essentially conduct computational experiments that try to figure out the atomic details of supercomplexes (large interacting groups of proteins) important to biological functions,” explained Jeffrey Skolnick, Regents’ Professor and Mary and Maisie Gibson Chair in the School of Biological Sciences, and one of the corresponding authors of the study. With AF2Complex, which was developed last year by the same research team, it’s “like using a computational microscope powered by deep learning and supercomputing.”

In their latest study, the researchers used this ‘computational microscope’ to examine a complicated protein synthesis and transport pathway, hoping to clarify how proteins in the pathway interact to ultimately transport a newly synthesized protein from the interior to the outer membrane of the bacteria — and identify players that experiments might have missed. Insights into this pathway may identify new targets for antibiotic and therapeutic design while providing a foundation for using AF2Complex to computationally expedite this type of biology research as a whole.

Computing complexes

Created by London-based artificial intelligence lab DeepMind, AlphaFold 2 is a deep learning tool able to generate accurate predictions about the three-dimensional structure of single proteins using just their building blocks, amino acids. Taking things a step further, AF2Complex uses these structures to predict the likelihood that proteins are able to interact to form a functional complex, what aspects of each structure are the likely interaction sites, and even what protein complexes are likely to pair up to create even larger functional groups called supercomplexes.

“The successful development of AF2Complex earlier this year makes us believe that this approach has tremendous potential in identifying and characterizing the set of protein-protein interactions important to life,” shared Mu Gao, a senior research scientist at Georgia Tech. “To further convince the broad molecular biology community, we [had to] demonstrate it with a more convincing, high impact application.”

The researchers chose to apply AF2Complex to a pathway in Escherichia coli (E. coli), a model organism in life sciences research commonly used for experimental DNA manipulation and protein production due to its relative simplicity and fast growth. 

To demonstrate the tool’s power, the team examined the synthesis and transport of proteins that are essential for exchanging nutrients and responding to environmental stressors: outer membrane proteins, or OMPs for short. These proteins reside on the outermost membrane of gram-negative bacteria, a large family of bacteria characterized by the presence of inner and outer membranes, like E. coli. However, the proteins are created inside the cell and must be transported to their final destinations. 

“After more than two decades of experimental studies, researchers have identified some of the protein complexes of key players, but certainly not all of them,” Gao explained. AF2Complex “could enable us to discover some novel and interesting features of the OMP biogenesis pathway that were missed in previous experimental studies.”

New insights

Using the Summit supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the team, which included computer science undergraduate Davi Nakajima An, put AF2Complex to the test. They compared a few proteins known to be important in the synthesis and transport of OMPs to roughly 1,500 other proteins — all of the known proteins in E. coli’s cell envelope — to see which pairs the tool computed as most likely to interact, and which of those pairs were likely to form supercomplexes. 

To determine if AF2Complex’s predictions were correct, the researchers compared the tool’s predictions to known experimental data. “Encouragingly,” said Skolnick, “among the top hits from computational screening, we found previously known interacting partners.” Even within those protein pairs known to interact, AF2Complex was able to highlight structural details of those interactions that explain data from previous experiments, lending additional confidence to the tool’s accuracy.

In addition to known interactions, AF2Complex predicted several unknown pairs. Digging further into these unexpected partners revealed details on what aspects of the pairs might interact to form larger groups of functional proteins, likely active configurations of complexes that have previously eluded experimentalists, and new potential mechanisms for how OMPs are synthesized and transported. 

“Since the outer membrane pathway is both vital and unique to gram-negative bacteria, the key proteins involved in this pathway could be novel targets for new antibiotics,” said Skolnick. “As such, our work that provides molecular insights about these new drug targets might be valuable to new therapeutic design.”

Beyond this pathway, the researchers are hopeful that AF2Complex could mean big things for biology research. 

“Unlike predicting structures of a single protein sequence, predicting the structural model of a supercomplex can be very complicated, especially when the components or stoichiometry of the complex is unknown,” Gao noted. “In this regard, AF2Complex could be a new computational tool for biologists to conduct trial experiments of different combinations of proteins,” potentially expediting and increasing the efficiency of this type of biology research as a whole.

AF2Complex is an open-source tool available to the public and can be downloaded here.

This work was supported in part by the DOE Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research (DOE DE-SC0021303) and the Division of General Medical Sciences of the National Institute Health (NIH R35GM118039). DOI: https://doi.org/10.7554

]]> adavidson38 1 1672766054 2023-01-03 17:14:14 1677785815 2023-03-02 19:36:55 0 0 news In a new paper published in eLife, School of Biological Sciences and School of Computer Science researchers show how AF2Complex, a deep learning tool designed to predict the physical interactions of proteins, is lending new insights into protein synthesis and transport — and paving the way to computationally expedite biology research as a whole.

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2023-01-04T00:00:00-05:00 2023-01-04T00:00:00-05:00 2023-01-04 00:00:00 Writer: Audra Davidson
Communications Officer
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

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

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657354 664288 657354 image <![CDATA[Researchers Jeffrey Skolnick and Mu Gao at the Engineered Biosystems Building at Georgia Tech. (Photo: Jess Hunt-Ralston)]]> image/jpeg 1650045007 2022-04-15 17:50:07 1650045007 2022-04-15 17:50:07 664288 image <![CDATA[Examples of protein complexes modeled by AF2Complex residing between the inner and outer membranes of E. coli]]> image/png 1672765216 2023-01-03 17:00:16 1672766090 2023-01-03 17:14:50 <![CDATA[ASCR Discovery: Computing function from form]]> <![CDATA[AF2Complex: Researchers Leverage Deep Learning to Predict Physical Interactions of Protein Complexes]]> <![CDATA[AI Tool Pairs Protein Pathways with Clinical Side Effects, Patient Comorbidities to Suggest Targeted Covid-19 Treatments]]> <![CDATA[Download AF2Complex]]>
<![CDATA[Breanna Shi Awarded Advanced Graduate Ambassadorship]]> 34528 The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) recently awarded Georgia Tech Bioinformatics Graduate Program Ph.D. student Breanna Shi the Advanced Graduate Ambassadorship from their Women and Mathematics program. As part of this award, Shi will organize a workshop to address equity by using her math background to help other underrepresented graduate students across Georgia Tech’s College of Sciences learn and apply math and computational methods in their research. 

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and Biological Sciences Graduate Committee Chair Ingeborg Schmidt-Krey first met Shi during her recruitment into the Bioinformatics (BINF) Ph.D. program, which is directed by Professor King Jordan, and is one of five Ph.D. programs and two M.S. programs  in the School of Biological Sciences at Tech. Shi impressed Schmidt-Krey during her second semester as an engaged student — particularly in research ethics discussions.

“Bree’s background in mathematics coupled with her passion for applying mathematical approaches to biological research made her a fantastic match for such an interdisciplinary program,” said Schmidt-Krey. “Bree has a particular interest in using machine learning in her research and making her skills accessible to other students via her symposium, outreach activities, and teaching.”

Shi first contacted Biological Sciences Associate Professor Patrick McGrath about coming to Georgia Tech to join the Bioinformatics program. “With her mathematical background and interest in genomics, I thought that she would be a great match for this program and Georgia Tech in general,” McGrath said.

“Now in her second year, Breanna is fully participating in our lab’s research,” he added. “She’s using her skills in machine learning and computational biology to understand the evolution of behavior in Lake Malawi cichlids, a large flock of species that have evolved a variety of new social behaviors.”

Schmidt-Krey shared that Shi advocates for graduate students via the Georgia Tech Student Government Association (SGA), is working towards the Tech to Teaching certificate in preparation for her plans to become a professor, participates in several underrepresented minority recruitment activities, and is an instructor in the VIP program, where she will involve undergraduates from various backgrounds in her research.

“Bree is currently supported by a GEM Fellowship and  GAANN award. Bree's symposium impressively shows a second-year Ph.D. student's initiative and commitment to equity in our community.” 

Shi has also been awarded the Graduate Fellowship for STEM Diversity (GFSD) and the Graduate Retaining Inspirational Scholars in Technology and Engineering (Grad RISE) from Georgia Tech’s Center for Engineering Education and Diversity (CEED).

“Bree’s research includes looking for particular neurons in the brain that are activated during reproductive behaviors,” said McGrath, who is now Shi’s advisor.

McGrath added that Shi is also passionate about using new technologies to study aggression behaviors, simulating virtual fish to induce and learn from aggressive behaviors in other fish.

Currently overseeing a large group of undergraduate and master’s students, Shi is also passionate about mentorship, adding that she became interested in education research through her time with the Georgia Tech Center for Teaching and Learning.

“While I was initially nervous about having her overseeing so many students so early in her career, Breanna has really done an outstanding job of overseeing this group,” McGrath shared. “Her goal is to become an academic professor, so it's great to see her display these skills. I am very proud of what Breanna has accomplished in such a short time.”

Shi’s mentorship will continue with the IAS workshop. “[The workshop] will be a partnership with Christin Salley, a third year Ph.D. student in Civil Engineering who is also a GEM fellow,” Shi said.

“Our hope is to get graduate students interested in using mathematics and computer science into their research,” Shi said. “As diversity fellows, Christin and I are making it a priority to  include students from diverse groups and to facilitate mentoring.”

They also hope to provide a collaborative environment where students can network and learn. “Our goal is to host this event annually,” Shi added.

Shi, who has two degrees in mathematics, has been interested to understand why some students find math and computer sciences (CS) difficult to master. She hopes to employ a few non-traditional techniques that will allow students to feel less resistant and more understanding of the subjects. “We hope to provide greater outcomes for the participants than their past experiences with math and CS.”

]]> jhunt7 1 1671650433 2022-12-21 19:20:33 1677785942 2023-03-02 19:39:02 0 0 news The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) recently awarded Georgia Tech Bioinformatics Graduate Program Ph.D. student Breanna Shi the Advanced Graduate Ambassadorship from their Women and Mathematics program. As part of this award, Shi will organize a workshop to address equity by using her math background to help other underrepresented graduate students across Georgia Tech’s College of Sciences learn and apply math and computational methods in their research.   

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2022-12-20T00:00:00-05:00 2022-12-20T00:00:00-05:00 2022-12-20 00:00:00 Writer: Laurie E. Smith, College of Sciences

Editor and Contact: Jess Hunt-Ralston, College of Sciences

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664037 664038 664037 image <![CDATA[Breanna Shi]]> image/jpeg 1671650672 2022-12-21 19:24:32 1671650672 2022-12-21 19:24:32 664038 image <![CDATA[Breanna Shi presents her work at the 2022 Bioinformatics New Student Orientation.]]> image/jpeg 1671650714 2022-12-21 19:25:14 1671650765 2022-12-21 19:26:05
<![CDATA[Georgia Tech Welcomes Fall 2022 Commencement Speakers]]> 34528 The Georgia Institute of Technology will hold its Fall 2022 Commencement ceremonies Dec. 16 – 17 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

This semester's ceremonies celebrate 1,690 summer graduates and 3,930 fall graduates — 1,500 bachelor’s students, 3,760 master’s students, and 360 doctoral students across both semesters.

As part of the ceremonies, three distinguished speakers will address graduates as they embark on their post-graduate lives and careers. All three are familiar with the Georgia Tech experience, either as a student or faculty member — and one is a College of Sciences alumna.

Meet the speakers.

]]> jhunt7 1 1671045959 2022-12-14 19:25:59 1677785962 2023-03-02 19:39:22 0 0 news This semester's ceremonies celebrate 1,500 bachelor’s students, 3,760 master’s students, and 360 doctoral students. Three distinguished speakers — all of them familiar with the Georgia Tech experience — will address graduates as they embark on their post-graduate lives and careers.

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2022-12-14T00:00:00-05:00 2022-12-14T00:00:00-05:00 2022-12-14 00:00:00 663876 663875 663876 image <![CDATA[The Georgia Institute of Technology will hold its Fall 2022 Commencement ceremonies Dec. 16 – 17 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.]]> image/jpeg 1671046876 2022-12-14 19:41:16 1671046876 2022-12-14 19:41:16 663875 image <![CDATA[From left: Marilyn Brown, Renee Wegrzyn (BIO '98, Ph.D. Molecular Biology and Bioengineering '03), Sean Henry (BA '19)]]> image/jpeg 1671046141 2022-12-14 19:29:01 1671046141 2022-12-14 19:29:01
<![CDATA[BBISS Appoints Nine New Faculty Fellows]]> 34528 Nine new Faculty Fellows were appointed to the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems (BBISS). In addition to their own work, BBISS Fellows serve as a board of advisors to the BBISS; foster the culture and community of sustainability researchers, educators, and students at Georgia Tech; and communicate broadly the vision, mission, values, and objectives of the BBISS. Fellows will work with the BBISS for three years, with the potential for a renewed term.

The BBISS Faculty Fellows program has been in place since 2014. Fellows will number between 10 and 15, will be drawn from across all 6 colleges and GTRI at Georgia Tech. It is expected that annual allowances provided to each BBISS Fellow will range from $1000 to $1500 depending on number of fellows in the program and availability of funds.

The new BBISS Faculty Fellows are:

These faculty members join the current roster of Faculty Fellows:

More information can be found on the BBISS website.

]]> jhunt7 1 1671043801 2022-12-14 18:50:01 1677786056 2023-03-02 19:40:56 0 0 news Nine new Faculty Fellows were appointed to the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems (BBISS), including Jenny McGuire, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences with a joint appointment in the School of Biological Sciences.

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2022-12-13T00:00:00-05:00 2022-12-13T00:00:00-05:00 2022-12-13 00:00:00 Brent Verrill, Research Communications Program Manager, BBISS

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663842 663842 image <![CDATA[2022 BBISS Faculty Fellows]]> image/jpeg 1670965310 2022-12-13 21:01:50 1670965310 2022-12-13 21:01:50
<![CDATA[Researchers and Alumni Aid in $2.6 Million Effort to Restore Salt Marshes in Historic Charleston]]> 35575 For marine scientist, climate activist, and Tech alumnus Albert George (MS HSTS 2009), the fight against climate change is also a fight for home. 

Now, what started as a citizen science initiative led by George has turned into a $2.6 million National Fish and Wildlife Association effort to restore degraded salt marshes in Charleston, South Carolina. As part of the project, Joel Kostka, professor and associate chair of Research in the School of Biological Sciences, will lead a team of researchers to not only monitor these restoration efforts, but gain insights into why the marshes degraded in the first place — and how to prevent it from happening in the future.

Over the past three years, Kostka, who has a joint appointment in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, has worked with SCDNR and Robinson Design Engineers, a local firm co-led by Tech alum Joshua Robinson (CEE 2005), to develop engineering and design plans for the restoration of the salt marshes.

“That project went really well,” shared Kostka, “and now we have developed engineering and design plans for the actual restoration as we are moving forward with the next phase.”

Work for the current phase of the project is set to begin soon. Over the next four years, community volunteers will work to plant marsh grasses, restore oyster reefs, and excavate the tidal creeks that supply the marsh with sea water. 

“Because if we don't do this work,” George shared, “then basically it means a place that I grew up in and a place that I call home will no longer exist.”

Read more about the collaborative effort and the community that started it all in the College of Sciences newsroom.

]]> adavidson38 1 1670355660 2022-12-06 19:41:00 1677786252 2023-03-02 19:44:12 0 0 news What started as a citizen science initiative led by a Georgia Tech alum has led to a $2.6 million National Fish and Wildlife Foundation effort to restore degraded salt marshes in historic Charleston. As part of the project, which is being spearheaded by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, School of Biological Sciences Professor and Associate Chair of Research Joel Kostka will lead a team of researchers to monitor restoration efforts — and to better understand why the marsh died off in the first place.

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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

]]>
662947 662947 image <![CDATA[An aerial view of the restoration site in historic Maryville.]]> image/jpeg 1667841055 2022-11-07 17:10:55 1667841055 2022-11-07 17:10:55 <![CDATA[Historic Maryville marsh damaged by drought getting new life with volunteers in the muck]]> <![CDATA[Joel Kostka Awarded $3.2 Million to Keep Digging into How Soils and Plants Capture Carbon — And Keep It Out of the Atmosphere]]> <![CDATA[Salt Marsh Grass On Georgia’s Coast Gets Nutrients for Growth From Helpful Bacteria in Its Roots]]>
<![CDATA[Joseph Montoya Named California Academy of Sciences Fellow]]> 34434 Joseph Montoya, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and director of the Ocean Science and Engineering interdisciplinary graduate program, is one of 11 new Academy Fellows in the California Academy of Sciences (CAS), based in San Francisco.

The Fellows are a governing group of more than 450 distinguished scientists and other leaders who have made notable contributions to scientific research, education, and communication, according to the CAS: “Nominated by their colleagues and selected by the CAS Board of Trustees, the Academy Fellows are partners and collaborators in the pursuit of the Academy’s mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration.” 

“This was quite a surprise to me, and a really welcome connection with the CAS, which I came to know well as a student across the bay at (the University of California at) Berkeley,” Montoya said. “I was of course deeply honored to be named a CAS Fellow.”

“On behalf of the School of Biological Sciences, I congratulate Joe on his selection as a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences,” said Todd Streelman, professor and chair of the School of Biological Sciences. “The Academy recognized Joe’s long-term impact in studying nitrogen cycles and energy flow in the world’s seas and rivers. We’re thrilled that the Academy has shone a spotlight on Joe and his lab group’s work.”

Montoya is a biological oceanographer with research interests at the interface of biology and geochemistry. His lab specializes in studies of the marine nitrogen cycle, using a combination of direct rate measurements and stable isotope natural abundance methods to explore the role of biological dinitrogen (N2) fixation in structuring the flow of nitrogen and energy through planktonic ecosystems. The metabolic capability to use atmospheric nitrogen to support biological production plays a key role in supporting diverse ecosystems in many offshore and coastal waters.

“I’m excited at the chance to interact with old and new colleagues studying the marine nitrogen cycle who are also CAS Fellows,” Montoya said. “The CAS will give us new opportunities for developing collaborations and sharing our work with the public, as well as with other scientists.”

The Montoya Lab has also been deeply involved in studies of the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on offshore ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico. His group’s research program is highly interdisciplinary, incorporating work in plankton biology, marine chemistry, and isotope biogeochemistry both at sea and in the lab.

Streelman also noted how the CAS highlighted Montoya’s work in diversity, equity, and inclusion, citing Montoya’s strong interest in education and outreach, and role as a founding member of the Georgia Tech College of Sciences Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council.

“I firmly believe that we have a duty as scientists and educators to share our work broadly and to ensure that our scientific community is open, welcoming, and supportive,” Montoya said. 

Montoya received an A.B. in Biology at the University of California and a Ph.D. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University. He served on the faculty of the Departments of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard before joining the Georgia Tech faculty in 1998.

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1667497967 2022-11-03 17:52:47 1677786428 2023-03-02 19:47:08 0 0 news Researcher’s “long-term impact on studying nitrogen cycles and energy flow” in the world’s seas, plus dedication to diversity and outreach, win kudos from CAS

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2022-11-07T00:00:00-05:00 2022-11-07T00:00:00-05:00 2022-11-07 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston

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662832 662832 image <![CDATA[Joseph Montoya (Photo courtesy of Andreas Teske, ECOGIG)]]> image/png 1667498421 2022-11-03 18:00:21 1667498421 2022-11-03 18:00:21 <![CDATA[Joseph Montoya Named Director of Ocean Science and Engineering]]> <![CDATA[College of Sciences Faculty Diversity Council]]> <![CDATA[Georgia Tech Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council Formed to Further Address Campus Disparity, Bias, and Inequity]]> <![CDATA[Scientists Discover the Biggest Seaweed Bloom in the World]]>
<![CDATA[15 Georgia Tech Ph.D. students awarded fellowships to propel STEM research]]> 34528 ARCS Foundation Atlanta awarded a total of $120,000 to 15 Ph.D. students who show exceptional promise of making a significant contribution to the worldwide advancement of science and technology. Eight first-year ARCS Scholars will join seven returning scholars who were recognized as outstanding doctoral students. 

Faculty may nominate candidates pursuing doctoral studies for the prestigious fellowship. The Graduate Education Fellowships Selection Committee, established by the Vice Provost for Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, reviews the candidates for final selection. 

This year, twelve scholars will receive $7,500 per year and three will receive the Global Impact Award of $10,000 per year. The Foundation grants the Global Impact Awards to students working on research problems having a broader global context or addressing global issues.

A scholars award ceremony will be held in November at Georgia Tech to honor the Atlanta chapter’s recipients.  

Congratulations to the following Georgia Tech 2022-23 ARCS Scholars: 

•    Noam Altman-Kurosaki is a first-year ARCS Scholar who received the Herz Global Impact Award. Altman-Kurosaki is a Ph.D. candidate in biology with a research interest in understanding the processes that drive coral reef decline and recovery. 

•    Nolan Barrett is a second-year ARCS Scholar. Barrett is a Ph.D. candidate in ocean science and engineering with a research interest in marine natural products chemistry and chemical ecology. 

•    Kenneth De Jesús-Morales is a second-year ARCS Scholar. Jesús-Morales is a Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering with a research interest in optimizing a bio-printed aortic heart valve model capable of regeneration and repair for the pediatric population. 

•    Anjana Dissanayaka is a first-year ARCS Scholar. Dissanayaka is a Ph.D. student in biomedical with a research interest in leveraging and applying microfluidic techniques to develop low-cost diagnostic devices. 

•    Hannah Holmes is a third-year ARCS Scholar. Holmes is a Ph.D. candidate in chemical and biomolecular engineering with a research interest in improving the efficiency of CO2 capture technologies using solid adsorbents in structured contractors. 

•    Tawfik Hussein is a first-year ARCS Scholar. Hussein is a Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering with a research interest in simulating computationally the mechanical changes in the heart of patients with heart failure to help predict early stages of heart failure. 

•    KC Jacobson is a first-year ARCS Scholar who received the Herz Global Impact Award. Jacobson is a Ph.D. student in bioengineering with a research interest in the neural mechanisms of impaired sensory processing in a human-relevant mouse model of autism spectrum disorder.       

•    Kantwon Rogers is a third-year ARCS Scholar. Rogers is a Ph.D. student in computer science with a research interest in artificial intelligence and robotics with a focus on investigating the influences that prosocial deception has on human-robot interaction. 

•    Christopher Roper is a second-year ARCS Scholar. Roper is a Ph.D. student in aerospace engineering with a research interest in plasma instabilities in high-speed plasma dynamics sources for propulsion.  

•    Cassandra Shriver is a first-year ARCS Scholar. Shriver is a Ph.D. student in quantitative biosciences in biological sciences with a research interest in comparative biomechanics, specifically mammalian climbing mechanics with an emphasis on conservation applications. 

•    Kevin Shu is a second-year ARCS Scholar. Shu is a Ph.D. student in algorithms, combinatorics, and optimization with a research interest in applying ideas from pure math, in particular algebraic geometry, to solve optimization problems more efficiently. 

•    Eudorah Vital is a first-year ARCS Scholar. Vital is a Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering with a research interest in understanding the biophysical processes that underlie blood diseases/disorders and developing point-of-care diagnostics for them. 

•    Tony Wang is a third-year ARCS Scholar. Wang is a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering with a research interest in developing micro-robots to perform neurosurgery. 

•    Naoki Yokoyama is a first-year ARCS Scholar. Yokoyama is a Ph.D. student in robotics in electrical and computer engineering with a research interest in training virtual robots within realistic simulators using deep reinforcement learning and deploying them on robots in the real world. 

•    Nathan Zavanelli is a first-year ARCS Scholar who received the Imlay Foundation Global Impact Award. Zavanelli is a Ph.D. student in bioengineering in mechanical engineering with a research interest in studying soft, skin-like electronics and sensors for wearable healthcare. 

The ARCS fellowship is made possible each year by way of fundraising and the continued generous support of the ARCS-Atlanta Foundation. 

The mission of the ARCS Foundation is to advance science and technology in the United States by providing financial rewards to academically outstanding U.S. citizens studying to complete degrees in science, engineering, and medical research. 

Since its inception in 1992, the ARCS Foundation Atlanta has awarded more than $4.5 million to over 400 science scholars at Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Morehouse College, and the University of Georgia. 
 
For more information about the 2022-23 ARCS Atlanta Scholars, please visit www.atlanta.arcsfoundation.org/scholars/current-scholars-4. 

 

]]> jhunt7 1 1667410541 2022-11-02 17:35:41 1677786825 2023-03-02 19:53:45 0 0 news ARCS Foundation Atlanta awarded a total of $120,000 to 15 Ph.D. students who show exceptional promise of making a significant contribution to the worldwide advancement of science and technology.

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2022-10-28T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-28T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-28 00:00:00 Sara Franc
Communications Officer
Graduate and Postdoctoral Education

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662710 662710 image <![CDATA[ARCS Foundation Logo]]> image/png 1667222511 2022-10-31 13:21:51 1667222511 2022-10-31 13:21:51
<![CDATA[AI-ALOE Brings AI-based Ecological Research Power To Local Technical College]]> 36348 During the summer, Duncan Hughes, an Environmental Technology instructor at North Georgia Technical College (NGTC) introduced his students to the web application Virtual Ecological Research Assistant, better known as VERA. It allowed students to construct conceptual models and ecological systems, as well as run interactive model simulations on the brook trout, a species of freshwater fish.

Hughes and his students sought to answer questions about reproduction and food supply, as they worked to add new complexities to the VERA application from different species of trout, circumstances, to changes. According to the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), an international effort, led by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, brook trout are found in three types of aquatic environments: rivers, lakes, and marine areas and their living requirements in these environments.

“Originally when we populated the brook trout, we noticed the brown trout shared the same life history and ecological information, but we were able to find enough information from the Encyclopedia of Life to differentiate those species,” said Hughes. “I had my students run through the process of building these components through an instructional-based format by having them manipulate some of the parameters and probabilities.”

VERA was developed by the Design & Intelligence Lab at Georgia Tech in collaboration with EOL. The technology is being used by students as an assisting tool and is publicly accessible. The data being collected from their usage is part of the research conducted at the NSF AI Institute for Adult Learning and Online Education (AI-ALOE).

“Users can jump into our program and conduct ‘what if’ experiments by adjusting simulation parameters. This is our way of providing an accessible and informal learning tool,” said Ashok Goel, director and co-principal Investigator of AI-ALOE and computer science professor at Georgia Tech. “Using VERA as an assessment tool is excellent. These students are using VERA in a way we are not.”

Goel was recently joined by Georgia Tech graduate researcher Andrew Hornback, research scientist Sandeep Kakar, and staff member Daniela Estrada at NGTC to learn more about the work in VERA and challenges Hughes and his students faced while using the application.

“The main struggle is limitation with the EOL and database,” said Hughes. “There are some species that we just can’t find, and sometimes it is glitchy and doesn’t work right away, but it is not insurmountable.”

Another challenge Hughes’ students found was not being able to find what they wanted to complete certain tasks, such as stream and environmental patterns of comparative fish ecosystems.

With that being known, AI-ALOE is working to address these issues and more to build and cater to specific student and teacher needs. At this time, the Design & Intelligence Laboratory is in the process of expanding VERA in the capability of its on-demand agent-based simulation generator, which would enable users to divide components into separate habitats.

“It was very interesting to see the results because antidotally through much research we were able to set up all these relationships and let them run the model, and the results were exactly what we would have hypothesized what they would be given those perimeters,” said Hughes.

 

The technical college has plans to introduce VERA to another classroom this semester held by Natural Resource Management instructor, Kevin Peyton.

About VERA

Interested in trying out VERA? Create an account at https://vera.cc.gatech.edu/. You can also find VERA’s user guide as well as a step-by-step tutorial at http://epi.vera.cc.gatech.edu/docs/exercise.

About AI-ALOE

The NSF AI Institute for Adult Learning and Online Education (AI-ALOE) is developing an AI-based transformative model for online adult learning through research and data collection.

About NGTC

North Georgia Technical College is a residential, public, multi-campus institution of higher education serving the workforce development needs of Northeast Georgia and part of the Technical College System of Georgia.

]]> Breon Martin 1 1666715598 2022-10-25 16:33:18 1677786860 2023-03-02 19:54:20 0 0 news During the summer, Duncan Hughes, an Environmental Technology instructor at North Georgia Technical College (NGTC) introduced his students to the web application Virtual Ecological Research Assistant, better known as VERA. It allowed students to construct conceptual models and ecological systems, as well as run interactive model simulations on the brook trout, a species of freshwater fish.

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2022-10-25T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-25T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-25 00:00:00 Breon Martin

AI Communications Officer

breon.martin@gatech.edu

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662560 662559 662560 image <![CDATA[Brook Trout]]> image/jpeg 1666715569 2022-10-25 16:32:49 1666715569 2022-10-25 16:32:49 662559 image <![CDATA[AI-ALOE visits NGTC for VERA update]]> image/jpeg 1666715477 2022-10-25 16:31:17 1666715477 2022-10-25 16:31:17
<![CDATA[DARPA Forward Connects Research Agency with Innovators in the Southeast]]> 34528 The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is coming to Georgia Tech October 25 and 26 to connect with academic and industry innovators with a goal of growing the agency’s community of talent and partnerships. The meeting is part of a series of six events called DARPA Forward being held in key U.S. research and development hubs.

The meeting supports DARPA’s mission to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for U.S. national security. “We defend against technological surprise by creating our own,” said Stefanie Tompkins, DARPA’s director. “In DARPA’s search for transformative solutions, what we worry most about are the ideas we never hear. Ultimately, our goal with DARPA Forward is to reach more ideas, connect with more talent, and generate more surprises.”

The DARPA Forward conference in Atlanta will be held at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center and will include talks by researchers from Georgia Tech and the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). Several hundred attendees are expected.

Among the speakers is Renee Wegrzyn, the newly-named director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, also known as ARPA-H. Wegrzyn holds a Ph.D. and bachelor of science degree in applied biology from Georgia Tech and will give a keynote talk on Wednesday, October 26.

Read the full story in the Georgia Tech Research Institute newsroom.

]]> jhunt7 1 1666368149 2022-10-21 16:02:29 1677786987 2023-03-02 19:56:27 0 0 news Among the speakers is Renee Wegrzyn, the newly-named director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, also known as ARPA-H. Wegrzyn holds a Ph.D. and bachelor of science degree in applied biology from Georgia Tech and will give a keynote talk on Wednesday, October 26.

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2022-10-21T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-21T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-21 00:00:00 Writer: John Toon
GTRI Communications
Georgia Tech Research Institute
Atlanta, Georgia USA

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662426 662426 image <![CDATA[The DARPA Forward conference will take place at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center.]]> image/jpeg 1666368245 2022-10-21 16:04:05 1666368245 2022-10-21 16:04:05
<![CDATA[Cassandra Shriver and Noam Altman-Kurosaki Chosen for ARCS Scholar Award]]> 34528 Ph.D. students Cassandra Shriver, in Quantitative Biosciences (QBioS) and Noam Altman-Kurosaki in Biological Sciences have been selected to receive an ARCS® Scholar Award: Achievement Rewards for College Scientists. They are two of only eight from Georgia Tech to receive the scholarship this year, and join seven returning ARCS Scholars.

ARCS Scholars are selected annually by qualifying departments of science, engineering, and medical research within the ARCS Foundation’s 51 academic partner universities. The ARCS Scholars Award recognizes outstanding students who have a record of past achievement and who show exceptional promise of making a significant contribution to the worldwide advancement of science and technology. The ARCS fellowship is made possible each year by way of the fundraising and continuous generous support of the ARCS Foundation Atlanta Chapter.

Meet Cassandra Shriver

“I am honored to be recognized for my previous achievements and grateful to be joining a wonderful community of people passionate about advancing science and technology,” said Shriver.

Her proposed research is to analyze how scaling affects mammalian climbing mechanics, with emphasis on conservation applications.

“I plan to observe and compare gait kinematics for mammals of various sizes, with the understanding that scaling relationships may require alternative postures or strategies to overcome gravitational forces,” Shriver explained. “This research will require extensive collaborations with zoological and wildlife institutions, which are often more willing to collaborate when efforts are made to include conservation and animal welfare initiatives in research proposals.”

“Specifically, I'm curious how various morphological differences and scaling constraints affect climbing kinematics,” she explained, “and how these strategies might change as you increase in size from something as small as a squirrel to as large as a bear.”

“Cassie is an ideal student for this project in the biological sciences, combining her technical engineering background with her interest for studying natural systems,” said Professor and Associate Chair for Faculty Development in the School of Biological Sciences Young-Hui Chang, Shriver is co-advised by Chang and David Hu, professor in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering with a joint appointment in the School of Biological Sciences.

“In particular, Cassie has a passion for understanding animal behavior and impacting conservation efforts, which has led to her research on climbing biomechanics,”  Chang added. “I have no doubt that the ARCS scholarship will play a major role in helping Cassie continue to develop as a scientist that will work to grow the conservation technology community in metro-Atlanta and make Georgia Tech an industry leader in sustainable and evidenced-based technology solutions for wildlife and beyond.”

In her first year of graduate school at Georgia Tech, Shriver engaged in a project mentoring students to create a solution to solve an urban human-wildlife conflict, designing an open source automated rabies vaccine dispenser for foxes.

Meet Noam Altman-Kurosaki

Ph.D. candidate Noam Altman-Kurosaki, a graduate research assistant in the School of Biological Sciences added on receiving the ARCS Award, “I'm very excited and honored to have received it.”

Most of Altman-Kurosaki’s work takes place in Mo'orea, French Polynesia, studying the mechanisms that drive coral reef decline and recovery, often focusing on how anthropogenic stressors alter the interactions between corals, algae, and fishes.

“As you can imagine, doing work out here can get quite costly,” Altman-Kurosaki explained, adding that the award will also “help me cover the difference in the cost of living and supplies for my work.”

Working in the lab of Professor Mark Hay, an experimental marine ecologist known for his work on community, marine, and chemical ecology, Altman-Kurosaki said that Hay, who also holds the Teasley Chair in Environmental Biology and is a Regents’ Professor, has encouraged  his curiosity and independence. This has made him a much stronger and more creative scientist overall, he said.

“Mark is really good at making sure I ‘couch’ my ideas in broader theory and ecological phenomena — and making sure that I can test them through manipulative experiments, not just correlative and comparative survey techniques,” said Altman-Kurosaki of his mentor and research advisor.

“Noam is innovative, energetic, resourceful, and a tireless researcher that is discovering new approaches to retain or recover the critical ecosystem services that threatened coral reefs provide to tropical human populations,” Hay added.

Altman-Kurosaki’s science career actually began with a pre-university trip to an aquarium. “I saw a Mola mola and couldn't believe something so ridiculous existed on this planet,” he said of the ocean sunfish. “So I decided on a lark to take the classes I'd need for my university's summer marine biology course. I ended up falling in love with the general field of ecology, and that love only deepened when I finally got hands-on field experience in marine biology.”

As he continued to gain experience and learn more about the field, Altman-Kurosaki began to realize that this was what he wanted to do with his life, and ultimately decided to pursue a graduate education to keep conducting research.

About ARCS®

The ARCS® Foundation, a national organization started by a group of women “who focused upon the future” in 1958, has granted more than $120 million to over 10,000 ARCS Scholars in top-rated STEM programs at leading US universities who are “determined to be the best and the brightest in their fields.” The awards are given to outstanding students who are U.S. citizens studying to complete degrees in science, engineering, math, technology, and medical research.

ARCS® Foundation Atlanta, comprised of about 150 philanthropic women, supports scholars from Emory University, Morehouse College, and the University of Georgia, in addition to Georgia Tech. The Atlanta chapter has awarded more than $4.5 million to over 400 scholars since it was incorporated in 1992.

]]> jhunt7 1 1666037775 2022-10-17 20:16:15 1677787082 2023-03-02 19:58:02 0 0 news Ph.D. students Cassandra Shriver, in Quantitative Biosciences (QBioS) and Noam Altman-Kurosaki in Biological Sciences have been selected to receive an ARCS® Scholar Award: Achievement Rewards for College Scientists.

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2022-10-17T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-17T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-17 00:00:00 Writer:
Laurie E. Smith, College of Sciences

Editor and Contact:
Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia

]]>
662234 662234 image <![CDATA[Cassandra Shriver and Noam Altman-Kurosaki Chosen for ARCS Scholar Award]]> image/jpeg 1666038610 2022-10-17 20:30:10 1680122962 2023-03-29 20:49:22 <![CDATA[ARCS Foundation]]> <![CDATA[ARCS Foundation Atlanta]]>
<![CDATA[New International Center Will Support Collaborative Solutions to Improve Health of World’s Oceans]]> 34602 In a significant response to urgent climate-related threats, a new international center headquartered at Georgia Aquarium, endorsed by the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, will support versatile, collaborative solutions to improve the health of the world’s oceans.

The Ocean Visions ­­– UN Decade Collaborative Center for Ocean-Climate Solutions (OV – UN DCC), a partnership with Ocean Visions, Georgia Aquarium, and Georgia Institute of Technology, is the only center of its kind in the United States.

The climate crisis is one of the greatest threats facing public health, natural resources and the economy worldwide, and ocean ecosystems are not only at risk, but also offer the potential of climate mitigation solutions.

The primary focus of the Center is to help co-design, develop, test, fund and deliver scalable and equitable ocean-based solutions to reduce the effects of climate change and build climate-resilient marine ecosystems and coastal communities. There are also tremendous opportunities to accelerate carbon clean-up and advance sustainable ocean economies.

“A diverse approach is critical to address today’s serious threats to ocean health,” said Brian Davis, Ph.D., president and CEO of Georgia Aquarium. “As a mission-focused conservation leader, Georgia Aquarium is keen to host this multinational center that will connect innovative researchers with the resources to create and launch projects that may solve ocean-climate issues.”

In affiliation with the Ocean Decade, run by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Center’s work will contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to achieve by 2030 that are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

“In response to the need for partnership and investment in ocean science, and to help urgently mitigate the impact of climate change on the ocean, the Ocean Decade movement thanks Ocean Visions, Georgia Aquarium, and Georgia Institute of Technology for this generous support and long-term commitment,” said Julian Barbière, Ocean Decade Global Coordinator and Head of the Marine Policy and Regional Coordination Section, IOC-UNESCO. “Such exemplary leadership by our Decade Collaborative Centers, spearheaded by the OV – UN DCC in the U.S.  is an important step towards developing effective ocean-climate solutions.”

The ocean nurtures 80% of all life on Earth. Billions of people rely on food from the ocean, and world economies depend upon it for fishing, tourism, shipping, energy and more. It is the world’s largest carbon sink, vital to curbing the impacts of climate change. Healthy marine habitats defend coastal communities from intensifying storms and flooding.

“The ocean crisis and the climate crisis are two sides of the same coin, and we cannot have a healthy ocean without resolving the climate crisis and the greenhouse gas pollution causing it,” said Brad Ack, executive director and chief innovation officer at Ocean Visions, a nonprofit that develops solutions to complex ocean challenges.

“This work will take bold imagination, greatly expanded innovation, and many more people from around the world engaged in this effort collectively. This new Center will give us a framework to build the innovation ecosystem we desperately need,” said Emanuele Di Lorenzo, Ph.D., chairman and co-founder of Ocean Visions.

The ocean has buffered humanity from the worst effects to date of climate disruption by directly absorbing about 30 percent of humanity’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and trapping more than 90 percent of the excess heat in the biosphere caused by CO2 pollution. However, both of these climate-buffering functions have come at a high cost – unraveling marine ecosystems and crippling the ability of the ocean to support the billions of people and other creatures dependent upon it.

The Ocean Visions – UN Decade Collaborative Center will work with an emerging global network of experts and collaborators associated with projects and programs to design, test and deploy viable solutions, such as Ocean Visions’ Global Ecosystem for Ocean Solutions, 1000 Ocean Startups and Stride.

For example, one issue being solved is securing investment in ocean solutions. The Center is helping advance the development of a new open-source tool called The Ocean Impact Navigator, which consists of 30 prioritized key performance indicators (KPIs), grouped in six main impact areas. It captures effects that innovators are driving across ocean health, climate change, human wellbeing and equity.

“This Center signals an urgent, strategic commitment to finding climate solutions,” said Susan Lozier, Ph.D., dean of the College of Sciences and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair at Georgia Tech and President of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). “Ocean health is also human health, and we must find effective ways to protect waters around the planet.”

“At this Center, the best and brightest minds—including our researchers, staff and students—will ensure that our ocean will remain vital for generations to come,” added Tim Lieuwen, Ph.D., executive director of the Strategic Energy Institute at Georgia Tech who also serves as Regents’ Professor and David S. Lewis Jr. Chair in the Institute's Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering. “The solutions are there, and we look forward to working alongside Georgia Aquarium and Ocean Visions to find them, with the support of the Ocean Decade movement.”

For more information about the Ocean Visions ­­– UN Decade Collaborative Center for Ocean-Climate Solutions, visit the website at oceanvisions.org/undcc/.

 

###

About Ocean Visions – UN Decade Collaborative Center for Ocean-Climate Solutions

The Ocean Visions – UN Decade Collaborative Center for Ocean-Climate Solutions is an innovative partnership between Ocean Visions, Georgia Tech and Georgia Aquarium, with headquarters at the Aquarium in Atlanta. The Center, endorsed by the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, leads and supports processes to co-design, develop, test, fund and deploy scalable and equitable ocean-based solutions to reduce or reverse the effects of climate change, enhance food security and build climate-resilient marine ecosystems and coastal communities. The Center’s work contributes to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to achieve by 2030 that are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

About the Ocean Decade:

Proclaimed in 2017 by the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) (‘the Ocean Decade’) seeks to stimulate ocean science and knowledge generation to reverse the decline of the state of the ocean system and catalyse new opportunities for sustainable development of this massive marine ecosystem. The vision of the Ocean Decade is ‘the science we need for the ocean we want’. The Ocean Decade provides a convening framework for scientists and stakeholders from diverse sectors to develop the scientific knowledge and the partnerships needed to accelerate and harness advances in ocean science to achieve a better understanding of the ocean system, and deliver science-based solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The UN General Assembly mandated UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) to coordinate the preparations and implementation of the Decade.

About Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium is a leading 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Atlanta, Ga. that is Humane Certified by American Humane and accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It is also a Center for Species Survival by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Georgia Aquarium is committed to working on behalf of all marine life through education, preservation, exceptional animal care, and research across the globe. Georgia Aquarium continues its mission each day to inspire, educate, and entertain its millions of guests about the aquatic biodiversity throughout the world through its hundreds of exhibits and tens of thousands of animals across its eight major galleries. For more information, visit georgiaaquarium.org.

About Georgia Tech:

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

This press release is shared jointly with the Georgia Aquarium and Ocean Visions newsrooms. Learn more: oceanvisions.org/undcc

]]> Georgia Parmelee 1 1665517453 2022-10-11 19:44:13 1677787177 2023-03-02 19:59:37 0 0 news In a significant response to urgent climate-related threats, a new international center headquartered at Georgia Aquarium, endorsed by the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, will support versatile, collaborative solutions to improve the health of the world’s oceans. The Ocean Visions ­­– UN Decade Collaborative Center for Ocean-Climate Solutions (OV – UN DCC), a partnership with Ocean Visions, Georgia Aquarium, and Georgia Tech, is the only center of its kind in the United States.

]]>
2022-10-12T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-12T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-12 00:00:00 Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

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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[Fire Ant Rafts Form Thanks to a Force Known as the ‘Cheerios Effect’]]> 27446

Ever stare at those last few pieces of breakfast cereal and watch them seemingly clump together or cling to the side of the bowl?

Scientists have dubbed it the “Cheerios effect,” the combination of forces causing those clumps. Researchers at Georgia Tech have discovered those same forces draw small numbers of ants together to begin to form water-repellent ant rafts — even though the ants seem to be uninterested in collaborating with their neighbors for survival.

Described in the journal Physical Review Fluids, their study explains for the first time the underlying forces at play in attracting ants to each other. Ants clump together into rafts to survive during flooding, and the team determined it takes exactly 10 ants to form a stable raft.

“I think the surprising thing here is that ants prioritize exploration, actively avoiding each other on the water surface. They instead rely on physical forces to bring them together — the Cheerios effect,” said Hu, professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Biological Sciences. “Previously, we only studied the change in the shape of the raft once formed; we never asked how ants find each other on the water surface.”

Read the full story on the College of Engineering website.

]]> Joshua Stewart 1 1664385548 2022-09-28 17:19:08 1677787211 2023-03-02 20:00:11 0 0 news Ever stare at those last few pieces of breakfast cereal and watch them seemingly clump together or cling to the side of the bowl? Scientists have dubbed it the “Cheerios effect,” the combination of forces causing those clumps. Researchers at Georgia Tech have discovered those same forces draw small numbers of ants together to begin to form water-repellent ant rafts — even though the ants seem to be uninterested in collaborating with their neighbors for survival.

]]>
2022-10-07T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-07T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-07 00:00:00 Joshua Stewart
College of Engineering

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661639 661639 image <![CDATA[Ant raft closeup]]> image/jpeg 1664385327 2022-09-28 17:15:27 1664385327 2022-09-28 17:15:27
<![CDATA[Alumnus Puts Progress and Service Into (Dental) Practice]]> 34434 As a Georgia Tech graduate, Andrew Kokabi, D.M.D. knows the Institute’s motto, Progress and Service, well — and also incorporates that ethos in life and work at his Atlanta dental practice, Brookhaven Family Dentistry.

Kokabi, who graduated with a B.S. in Biology in 2000, credits his time on campus and in the College of Sciences for preparing him to advance in his dentistry career. “The habits I developed during my undergraduate studies enabled me to thrive in dental school,” he said. “I specifically remember thinking biochemistry in dental school was a breeze compared to biochem classes at Tech.” Georgia Tech’s pre-health classes can better prepare medical students for advanced studies at a specialized medical school, he added.

Kokabi and his business partner, Joon Koh, D.M.D., a fellow Georgia Tech graduate with a B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, also enjoy working together on campaigns to help local schools and charities.

The College of Sciences recently talked with Kokabi about his time at Georgia Tech, the ethos of the Institute, generosity and business values, and advice for pre-health students and those interested in a career in health and medical fields.

What was your experience at Tech like? How did it prepare you for your career as a dentist?

My academic experience was top-notch. It was hard and demanding, but looking back at it, that is exactly what my 18-year-old self needed at the time. It was a great introduction into what the real world expects of professionals. Socially, it was wonderful as well. I met people from all around the country. I became friends with people of various backgrounds, and everyone got along. It was right after the Olympics so it was an exciting time.

My time at Georgia Tech also gave me great time management skills. The academic workload of dental school was a breeze compared to Georgia Tech. Meeting people from around the world enabled me to carry on a conversation with just about anyone — this is an important trait that still serves me well today. I meet lots of patients at my dental practice from all over, and I can usually carry on a conversation about their place of origin relatively easily. This helps them feel more comfortable with me, and strengthens the doctor-patient relationship. 

What made you want to be a dentist?  

My parents are from Iran. As I'm sure most Persian and Asian children will tell you, from birth your parents are pressuring you to be a doctor. I did not want to be around sick people all day and did not want to be on call weekends. So dentistry offers the perfect balance of being a doctor, but having a more normal schedule and not having to treat serious life-threatening illnesses. I am very happy with my decision and cannot think of myself doing anything else. 

Georgia Tech's motto, “Progress and Service” — what did that mean to you as a student, and what does it mean as an alumnus?

It meant and still means a great deal. I think people have to start at a young age thinking about how they can serve others. That is where true fulfillment comes from.  One reason we have so much depression in our country is our self-absorbed "me, me, me" culture. There is a lot of happiness and joy that comes from helping and serving others. 

It's also great for business as well. People want to buy from companies that are doing more than just selling goods and services. They want companies that care about making a difference in the world. Of course, we do quality dentistry, and care about our patients' oral health. But we take it a step further and have a community mission. We strive to be active members of our community and help our local schools and charities.  Our Brookhaven community has given us so much, the least we can do is give back.

Tell me about the "Brighten Your Smile, Better the World" campaign and how effective it has been so far.  

The "Brighten Your Smile, Better the World'' campaign is one of our two main initiatives.  Each month we partner with a different school or charity.  Any patient of ours that makes a donation to that month's chosen partner gets a set of custom teeth whitening trays for free. It's a win-win for all parties involved. 

In its first year, we have been able to raise more than $15,000 for numerous schools and organizations. Featured partners have included Ashford Park Elementary School, Huntley Hills Elementary School,  Montgomery Elementary School, Chamblee Middle School, the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Giving Grace, and The Kyle Pease Foundation. 

You said you talk to many pre-dental students. What advice do you give them about whether or not they should get a degree at Georgia Tech before heading off to dental school?

A science degree from Georgia Tech is extremely valuable. It sets you apart from other candidates applying for the same spot in a specialty program. The healthcare school knows that if someone was able to get a Tech degree, they will be able to handle the academic workload of dental or medical school. 

Also, know what you are getting into. Being a healthcare professional means a lifelong pursuit of learning. It is not just a job, but a career. It takes a lot of effort and time even after you have left work for the day (being on call, continuing education, representing your profession in the community, etc).

You should also know that it's worth it. There are not too many jobs that allow you to make as big of an impact in people's lives as being a healthcare professional. I feel truly blessed and honored that I am in my field of work. 

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1664915424 2022-10-04 20:30:24 1677787312 2023-03-02 20:01:52 0 0 news Andrew Kokabi, B.S. BIO 2000, credits Georgia Tech for his work ethic and community service goals, sharing that a sciences degree can boost students’ opportunities in medical school.

 

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2022-10-04T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-04T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-04 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston

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661680 661681 661680 image <![CDATA[Brookhaven Family Dentistry owner Dr. Andrew Kokabi presents Huntley Hills Elementary Principal Mia Ford with a check from his practice's "Brighten Your Smile, Better Your World" campaign. (Photo Brookhaven Family Dentistry) ]]> image/jpeg 1664477795 2022-09-29 18:56:35 1664477795 2022-09-29 18:56:35 661681 image <![CDATA[Dr. Andrew Kokabi ]]> image/png 1664477922 2022-09-29 18:58:42 1664477922 2022-09-29 18:58:42 <![CDATA[How to Pre-Health at Tech: Charles Winter, BIO '12, Anesthesiologist Assistant]]> <![CDATA[How to Pre-Health at Tech: Jenna Nash, NEUR '21, Physician Assistant Graduate Student]]> <![CDATA[How to Pre-Health at Tech: Alonzo Whyte, Health and Medical Sciences Advisor]]> <![CDATA[How to Pre-Health at Tech: Jeffrey Kramer, First-Year Biology Student]]> <![CDATA[How to Pre-Health at Tech: Ritika Chanda, Fourth-Year Neuroscience Student]]> <![CDATA[Hands-On Anatomy: ‘One Foot in Medical School, One Foot in Undergrad’]]>
<![CDATA[10 Georgia Tech Students Selected for 2022 Millennium Fellowship]]> 34434 Note: This story, written by Cory Hopkins, first appeared on the website of the Office Of Undergraduate Education, and has been tailored for our audiences.

Ten Georgia Tech students, including four from the College of Sciences, were selected for the 2022 Millennium Fellowship, a joint leadership program of the Millennium Campus Network (MCN) and the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI).

The fellowship is an ambitious program to help make the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and UNAI principles a reality. The Class of 2022 Millennium Fellows have been selected among a record-breaking 31,397 applicants from over 2,417 campuses across 140 nations.

Millennium Fellows are university undergraduates selected based on their leadership on sustainable development-related projects that advance the SDGs in their communities. As Millennium Fellows, they will participate in a semester-long leadership development program to improve their student organizing, partnership building, and community impact skills.

"Students' ongoing pursuit of the Millennium Fellowships reflects Georgia Tech's larger commitment to pursuing solutions on a global scale. The fellowship supports real-world initiatives in sustainable development, providing leadership training and a community of like-minded recipients," said Shannon Dobranski, director of Pre-Graduate and Pre-Professional Advising in the Georgia Tech Career Center. "Each year, the Millennium Fellowship helps Georgia Tech students invested in sustainability to identify and connect with each other. It also helps them to refine and articulate their own goals related to sustainability and the impact they hope to have on their community now and in the future."

Three School of Biological Sciences students are included in the latest cohort of Millennium Fellows: Shania Khatri, Michelle Seeler, and Mandy Zhu. Biochemistry major Nathan Bowman, also invited to the Fellows program, plans to pursue his project at a later date.

The College of Sciences students join six more Georgia Tech Millennium Fellows:

The Millennium Fellowship Class of 2022 includes over 3,000 Millennium Fellows on 200 campuses in 37 nations that are participating in the program this year. The Class of 2022 is on track to engage in projects collectively advancing all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and all 10 UNAI Principles.

Georgia Tech's fellowship recipients will take part in a semester-long development program divided into three parts:

1. CONVENE

2. CHALLENGE

3. CELEBRATE

Learn more about the Millennium Fellowship here.

How to Apply for This Fellowship and More

Promoting and supporting the Millennium Fellowship is a team effort each year. Pre-Graduate and Pre-Professional Advising works with fellowship administrators to host information sessions and Serve-Learn-Sustain reaches out to the SLS community to spread the word. Students interested in the Millennium Fellowship, or any nationally or internationally competitive award, should follow up by scheduling an appointment with Prestigious Fellowships Advisor, Karen Mura, on AdvisorLink.

Pre-Graduate and Pre-Professional Advising is part of the Office of Undergraduate Education (OUE). Learn more about OUE by following @gtoue on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1664804819 2022-10-03 13:46:59 1677787289 2023-03-02 20:01:29 0 0 news College of Sciences students have been invited to join the latest cohort, which is a joint leadership program between the Millennium Campus Network (MCN) and United Nations Academic Impact. 

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2022-10-04T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-04T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-04 00:00:00 Writer: Cory Hopkins

Contact: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

 

]]>
661812 661785 661786 661787 661783 661812 image <![CDATA[Ten Georgia Tech students were selected for the 2022 Millennium Fellowship, a joint leadership program of the Millennium Campus Network (MCN) and the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI). ]]> image/png 1664899900 2022-10-04 16:11:40 1664899900 2022-10-04 16:11:40 661785 image <![CDATA[Shania Khatri]]> image/png 1664809877 2022-10-03 15:11:17 1664809877 2022-10-03 15:11:17 661786 image <![CDATA[Michelle Seeler]]> image/png 1664809957 2022-10-03 15:12:37 1664809957 2022-10-03 15:12:37 661787 image <![CDATA[Mandy Zhu]]> image/png 1664810026 2022-10-03 15:13:46 1664810026 2022-10-03 15:13:46 661783 image <![CDATA[Nathan Bowman]]> image/png 1664809792 2022-10-03 15:09:52 1664809792 2022-10-03 15:09:52 <![CDATA[Week of Events Highlights Sustainable Development Goals]]> <![CDATA[Celebrating UN Sustainable Development Goals Week: 'Young Minds for Healthy Lives on a Healthy Planet']]>
<![CDATA[Joel Kostka Awarded $3.2 Million to Keep Digging into How Soils and Plants Capture Carbon — And Keep It Out of Earth’s Atmosphere]]> 34434 Joel Kostka will soon receive $3.2 million from the Department of Energy (DOE) to build upon research that has ranged from northern Minnesota peat bogs to coastal Georgia wetlands, all to learn how climate change impacts soils and plants that trap greenhouse gasses — and whether some of those plants could end up as eco-friendly biofuels.

Kostka, a professor and associate chair of research in the School of Biological Sciences with a joint appointment in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, will receive funding as part of a wider $178 million dollar DOE effort to advance sustainable technology breakthroughs that can improve public health, help address climate change, improve food and agricultural production, and create more resilient supply chains. The 37 new projects also include efforts to engineer plants and microbes into bioenergy and improve carbon storage. 

Kostka’s wetlands research will continue in the salt marshes off Georgia’s coast, where his team has already conducted studies on the microbial life that benefits Spartina cordgrass in those areas, helping to strengthen resilience of the plant to sea level rise and catastrophic storms.

The DOE’s funding initiative is split into four groups. Kostka’s studies will focus on the role of microbiomes — all the microorganisms living in a particular environment — in the biogeochemical cycling of carbon in terrestrial soils and wetlands by using genomics-based and systems biology. 

Other research areas involve renewable bioenergy and biomaterials production; quantum-enabled bioimaging and sensing for bioenergy, and research to characterize gene function in bioenergy crop plants.

“Our project seeks to understand the controls of soil organic matter degradation and the release of greenhouse gasses, both of which are largely mediated by microbes” Kostka said. “And then also, as we've been studying for many years now, how climate drivers — principally the warming of ecosystems and carbon dioxide enrichment in the atmosphere — limit greenhouse gas release to the atmosphere. How might changes in plant and microbial communities lead to climate feedbacks, thereby accelerating the release of greenhouse gasses from soil carbon stores?”

That question has driven much of Kostka’s research team in the past as they focused on how soil microbes break down biomasses like woody plants and peat mosses, at an Oak Ridge National Laboratory facility in northern Minnesota called Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Changing Environments (SPRUCE). Kostka’s team is using genomics to study all the genes that code for microbial enzymes that decompose biomass in soil and how plants, which are also changing with climate, impact microbiomes by providing carbon sources that fuel microbial activities. In particular, the work is focused on lignocellulose or lignin, which gives plants their rigidity or structure and arguably comprises the most abundant renewable carbon source on the planet.

“We're just at the point now where we finally have the tools to unlock the black box of soil microbiology and chemistry,” Kostka said. “Recent advances in sophisticated analytical chemistry methods used to quantify microbial metabolites along with improved metagenome sequencing approaches enable us to better uncover metabolic pathways.”

Kostka will serve as principal investigator of the research team for the grant. That team includes School of Biological Sciences researchers Caitlin Petro, research scientist, and Katherine Duchesneau, a third-year Ph.D. student; co-principal investigator Kostas Konstantinidis, Richard C. Tucker Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Rachel Wilson, research scientist, Florida State University; Malak Tfaily, associate professor, University of Arizona; and Chris Schadt, senior staff scientist, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. 

Unlocking the “enzyme latch” hypothesis

As part of his new research, Kostka will revisit what scientists call the “enzyme latch” hypothesis. This could help uncover the mechanisms by which soils and plants capture harmful greenhouse gasses, and what prompts their release into the atmosphere.

The idea behind this hypothesis is that when soils are wet, they lack oxygen, which suppresses a specific class of enzymes, oxidases, that catalyze the beginning steps in the microbial breakdown of organic compounds produced by plants in soil. When oxidases are suppressed, the breakdown products of lignin, phenolic compounds, accumulate and poison the rest of the microbial carbon cycle.  Thus a single class of enzymes may be responsible for keeping greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and methane captured within the soil.

“The climate linkage here is that it's thought that as the climate warms, we'll get more greenhouse gas production, because simply it'll be warmer, and microbial enzymes work faster at higher temperature. But then also, in wetlands in particular, the hypothesis is that as wetlands warm, they're going to dry out. And so when a wetland dries out, you're going to get more injection of oxygen-rich air into the soil, which would then accelerate the breakdown of organic matter.”

When that happens, it could also mean different plants having an impact on carbon storage and the breakdown of biomass. “As wetlands dry out, plant communities in northern peatlands where most of Earth’s soil carbon is stored, are expected to shift from a dominance of mosses, which do better when it's wet — to woody plants, shrubs, and trees that do better with less water, when it's drier. That would in turn potentially spark the release of more reactive carbon compounds from plant roots — mosses don’t have roots — which would likely accelerate organic matter decomposition and the production of more greenhouse gas in a feedback loop with climate.”

Kostka’s research may also help to develop new approaches for converting woody biomass into potential alternative energy sources. “To make our society more sustainable, we have to basically recycle everything, or reuse as much as we can. And that includes the biomass from plants that can be grown on more arid lands that are less suitable for food crops,” he said, referring to plant-based materials that can be used to produce biofuels and bioenergy. “And so the DOE is leading research efforts to understand the controls of biomass degradation in plants such as switchgrass and poplar.” 

Kostka and Konstantinidis will develop a database of genes that code for the breakdown of lignocellulose and lignin, compounds that largely make up plant biomass and for which metabolic pathways of degradation have been elusive. Kostka and his colleagues will also have access to the extensive resources of the DOE Genomic Sciences program, including a collaboration with the agency’s Joint Genome Institute.

“We hope that information generated from our project can be used to improve methods for breaking down woody biomass so that it can be used in a sustainable way to produce biofuels,” Kostka said. 

Public abstract of Department of Energy grant DE-SC0023297

About Georgia Tech

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

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1664473133 2022-09-29 17:38:53 1677787271 2023-03-02 20:01:11 0 0 news School of Biological Sciences Professor Joel Kostka’s decade of research in Minnesota peatlands has received a boost from a new Department of Energy grant, set to explore how science can address climate change with emphasis on the breakdown of lignin, plant-derived compounds that store much of Earth’s soil carbon, and may be used as sustainable energy sources

 

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2022-10-04T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-04T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-04 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston

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661683 661682 661685 661686 661706 661707 661810 661683 image <![CDATA[A research enclosure at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's SPRUCE facility in northern Minnesota. (Photo Joel Kostka)]]> image/jpeg 1664480926 2022-09-29 19:48:46 1664480926 2022-09-29 19:48:46 661682 image <![CDATA[Joel Kostka takes soil samples at the SPRUCE facility in Minnesota. ]]> image/png 1664480465 2022-09-29 19:41:05 1664480744 2022-09-29 19:45:44 661685 image <![CDATA[A soil core sample from the SPRUCE facility. (Photo Joel Kostka)]]> image/jpeg 1664481583 2022-09-29 19:59:43 1664481583 2022-09-29 19:59:43 661686 image <![CDATA[The entrance to Marcell Experimental Forest, part of the SPRUCE facility shared by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the U.S. Forest Service. (Photo Joel Kostka)]]> image/png 1664482302 2022-09-29 20:11:42 1664482302 2022-09-29 20:11:42 661706 image <![CDATA[Plants in the SPRUCE experimental area are dominated by peat mosses of the genus Sphagnum, which is an ecosystem engineer that produces much of the degrading biomass or “peat” in soils of northern peatlands. (Photo Joel Kostka)]]> image/jpeg 1664548370 2022-09-30 14:32:50 1664548370 2022-09-30 14:32:50 661707 image <![CDATA[Ph.D. student Tianze Song from the School of Biological Sciences prepares soil samples for metagenomics investigations during the annual soil core collection of the SPRUCE experiment. (Photo Joel Kostka)]]> image/jpeg 1664548595 2022-09-30 14:36:35 1664548595 2022-09-30 14:36:35 661810 image <![CDATA[The Kostka Lab research group.]]> image/jpeg 1664897950 2022-10-04 15:39:10 1664897950 2022-10-04 15:39:10 <![CDATA[Salt Marsh Grass On Georgia’s Coast Gets Nutrients for Growth From Helpful Bacteria in Its Roots]]> <![CDATA[Temperate Glimpse Into a Warming World]]> <![CDATA[ScienceMatters - Season 3, Episode 8 - Digging Up Climate Clues in Peat Moss]]> <![CDATA[Microbial Research may be the Key to Salt Marsh Restoration]]> <![CDATA[Getting to the Root of Plant-Soil Interactions: Optical Instrument to Give Clearest 3D Images Yet of Rhizosphere]]> <![CDATA[Deepwater Horizon and the Rise of the Omics: A Decade of Breakthroughs in Microbial Science]]> <![CDATA[CMDI: Mighty Microbial Dynamics for a Healthier People and Planet]]>
<![CDATA[How much water do you actually need? Here's the science]]> 35397 It used to be that people had to worry about not getting enough water during the course of their day. But this All Things Considered segment on National Public Radio busts some dehydration myths to include the risks of drinking too much water, which could throw your water-sodium balance out of whack. Mindy Millard-Stafford, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and director of the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at Georgia Tech, comments on the effects of mild dehydration on higher-level mental functions.

Link to story

]]> astolfi3 1 1664748144 2022-10-02 22:02:24 1664748178 2022-10-02 22:02:58 0 0 news 2022-10-02T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-02T00:00:00-04:00 2022-10-02 00:00:00 622578 622578 image <![CDATA[Mindy Millard-Stafford]]> image/jpeg 1560877486 2019-06-18 17:04:46 1560877486 2019-06-18 17:04:46
<![CDATA[Researchers to Lead Paradigm Shift in Pandemic Prevention with NSF Grant]]> 34434 This story, written by Bryant Wine, originally appeared on the College of Computing website.

Georgia Tech scientists, including a researcher from the School of Biological Sciences, have formed the core of an interdisciplinary, inter-organizational team which seeks to prevent disease outbreaks by integrating the study of human behavior with computational data-driven models. 

Calling themselves BEHIVE (BEHavioral Interaction and Viral Evolution), the group recently received a $1 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant toward multidisciplinary team formation and novel outbreak prevention research.

“Our goal is to bring together all these terrific researchers from different disciplines to help bring a paradigm shift in the science of pandemic prediction and prevention,” said B. Aditya Prakash, associate professor with Georgia Tech’s School of Computational Science and Engineering (CSE). 

“While epidemic forecasting is compared to weather forecasting, there is an important difference. Unlike weather, our actions and behavior can change the course of an epidemic.”

Prakash is the principal investigator of the $1 million NSF grant. Fellow BEHIVE members include:

Prakash emphasized BEHIVE’s primary goal to use its interdisciplinary organization to bridge research methodologies between hard and soft sciences. 

He explained that human behavior was underutilized in epidemic science before Covid-19, largely due to data scarcity and underdeveloped computational technologies. Behavioral dynamics encountered during the pandemic, such as social distancing, mask wearing, and vaccine hesitancy, has provided new research and data that now can be considered in models and simulations.

Here, BEHIVE will develop high fidelity computational models by designing new artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques that bridge human behavior knowledge and traditional epidemiological theory and models.

“It is still an open question of how we can best incorporate human behavior knowledge into the study of pandemics. That is the challenge,” Prakash said. “Our main idea is to better integrate knowledge from psychology and the humanities into pandemic science using novel computational methods.”

BEHIVE originated when team members met through various workshops held in 2020 and 2021. Prakash was an invited organizer of the National Symposium on Predicting Emergence of Virulent Entities by Novel Technologies (PREVENT). 

PREVENT reported that interdisciplinary collaboration was an obstacle in predicting and preventing pandemics. For example, some vocabularies often don’t mean the same thing across disciplines, so a consistent methodology to establish a common language must be developed.

BEHIVE is custom built to solve these challenges PREVENT revealed. Along with a wealth of knowledge learned through past epidemics, each BEHIVE researcher brings to the group experience working across interdisciplinary lines. 

Among the Georgia Tech researchers alone, Keskinocak interfaced with policymakers and the public on measures to slow Covid-19's spread. 

Prakash’s lab led several high-profile Covid-19 forecasting initiatives, including collaboration with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Weitz teamed with fellow Georgia Tech researchers in the College of Sciences, College of Computing, and the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering to create a predoctoral training program that integrates computational modeling and data analytics into bioscience.

Keskinocak, Prakash, and Weitz together are also faculty in the Institute for Data Engineering and Science (IDEaS), one of Georgia Tech’s ten interdisciplinary research institutes. IDEaS connects research centers and efforts in foundational areas such as machine learning, high-performance computing, and algorithms.

BEHIVE’s $1 million grant is funded through NSF’s Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention (PIPP) initiative. This program supports high-risk, high-payoff convergent research that aims to identify, model, predict, track, and mitigate the effects of future pandemics.

According to Prakash, the PREVENT symposium’s summary report also helped highlight the need for an initiative like PIPP.

PIPP is a two-phased initiative in which NSF selects to fund 25 to 30 project teams, including BEHIVE, for eighteen months through phase one. However, this does not necessarily limit PIPP’s influence to chosen project teams within academia.

BEHIVE intends to partner with industry, governmental, and non-profit organizations to expand its interdisciplinary, interorganizational network. 

BEHIVE’s nucleus of Georgia Tech researchers connects the group with the CDC, Georgia Department of Public Health, and numerous hospitals across the state. BEHIVE’s other researchers also serve in leading roles at non-profits, such as the Pathcheck Foundation, and top hospitals like the Mayo Clinic.

Along with developing interdisciplinary methodologies, new disease prevention models, and partnering with external organizations, BEHIVE hopes to develop educational training programs. This would ensure their effort last generations to bring about the necessary paradigm change to prevent future pandemics.

“Our initial projects and research the next eighteen months will help us get a sense of research gaps and enlarge our perspective” Prakash said. “We’re approaching PIPP as a science, and we want to lay the foundation of the science by bringing in many people from different fields for the future.”

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1663946280 2022-09-23 15:18:00 1677787863 2023-03-02 20:11:03 0 0 news 2022-09-22T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-22T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-22 00:00:00 Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

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661500 661500 image <![CDATA[Integrating the study of human behavior with computational data-driven models. (Georgia Tech graphic)]]> image/png 1663946512 2022-09-23 15:21:52 1663946526 2022-09-23 15:22:06
<![CDATA[Professor Dusts Off High School Musical Skills for “The Mold That Changed the World”]]> 34434 When he was 14 years old, Brian Hammer learned the hard way about the dangers of bacteria, and the wonders of penicillin, thanks to a wrestling bout with a sibling.

“My older brother thought it would be fun to wrestle me holding my dad’s fishing knife,” said Hammer, an associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences. What wasn’t fun: accidentally ending up with a stab wound in his leg.

The next day he couldn’t walk and had a high fever, thanks to a blood infection caused by Staphylococcus bacteria on his skin ending up in his wound. “Those bacteria can grow very quickly in your blood. And they should never be there,” Hammer said. Doctors gave him penicillin intravenously, and Hammer remained in a hospital for nearly a month before recovering.

Now, this November, Hammer — who performed in high school and college musicals and choruses — will get to sing the praises of Alexander Fleming, the Scottish scientist who indirectly healed him by discovering the antibacterial qualities of penicillin.

Hammer will be in the chorus at the Science Gallery at Pullman Yards Nov. 1-6, 2022 when the musical “The Mold That Changed The World” comes to Atlanta during its U.S. tour. It will be the second stop for the show, which has its stateside premiere in Washington, D.C.

Hammer, who is also a faculty member of Georgia Tech’s Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection (CMDI), is getting a chance to dust off singing skills because the musical is giving local professionals in science and health-related industries a chance to join the chorus when the show comes to their city. Colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control, which is co-sponsoring the musical’s 2022 U.S. tour, have also successfully auditioned to sing in the Atlanta performances, as have other area scientists and researchers, along with an emergency medical technician and a veterinarian.

For Hammer, there are strong similarities in singing about science, and teaching it at Georgia Tech. “There's a lot of entertainment in teaching, a lot of showmanship. It’s the way I got interested in microbiology, when the teacher was pretty charismatic and dynamic. So I've always wanted to be that kind of teacher.”

Singing for science education

“The Mold That Changed The World” doesn’t just focus on Fleming’s discovery. It also shows how Fleming overcame social obstacles to finding life-saving qualities in a “nasty mold,” as Hammer put it, and conveys in singing and music the dangers of relying too much on antibacterial drugs — an ongoing worry that has Hammer and several other CMDI researchers looking for new treatments.

“Fleming won the Nobel Prize for discovering the first antibiotic, penicillin, and even in his Nobel Prize speech, he predicted the dangers of the emergence of resistant microbes,” Hammer said. “He said then that he can imagine a scenario in the future where if someone doesn't take their antibiotics correctly, you could end up with resistant ‘superbugs’ that get transferred to another person. And then you don't have a treatment. He said that in 1945.”

Warning children about antimicrobial resistance (AMR) was the chief reason the Charades Theater Company in the United Kingdom staged “The Mold That Changed the World,” which was first performed for primary grades. The company thought it would be a fun and effective way to teach children ages 9-12 about the proper use of antibiotics. It was that educational aspect that attracted Hammer. 

“It's one way of communicating science,” he said. “We scientists, we have to do a better job of communicating science, in all ways. That may mean different media, different settings. It's just got to be part of what we do now. This is one unusual example of how to do that. But why not, right?”

The musical did prove effective. A 2020 UK study showed that students answered more questions about AMR correctly and retained more of the science information after seeing the musical.

Researching cholera, and challenging stereotypes

As a teenager, Hammer sang in high school musical productions like “Godspell.” He then went to Boston College, where he joined the university chorale and got to sing for Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

But Hammer was also busy earning his B.S. in biology. He went on to receive his M.S. in conservation biology and a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from the University of Michigan. He said his desire to sing was overcome by his desire to learn everything about microbes and how they impact ecosystems and biodiversity — and then what they can do to humans. 

In the Hammer Lab at Georgia Tech, he and his team study microbial interactions at scales that span genes and genomes, regulatory networks, cells, populations, and communities. His longtime focus has been on Vibrio cholerae, the waterborne pathogen that causes cholera

“It’s this combination of thinking about pathogens and their ecological environment,” Hammer explained. “It's still fascinating to me how microbes can do all they need to do to live out there somewhere else, and then they can adapt to life in our bodies and wreak havoc. That single cells can do this still blows my mind, and how they do it, and what the consequences are. And cholera was the first 'bug' that I worked on that had this kind of dual lifestyle.”

Hammer was preparing for the Fall 2022 semester when his wife, Tracy, a fifth-grade teacher, said she would be taking her students to a children’s version of “The Mold That Changed The World” when the musical’s cast came to Atlanta. “She found out about it because some of the parents in her school work at the CDC,” he said. “She knew that I had done this (sung in musicals).” A visit to the musical’s website led him to audition for the special chorus.

Hammer said that his chance to perform on stage again isn’t just about educating audiences. It’s also about showing humanity in science, he added. 

“I think part of this is also to remind people that we scientists are just normal people too. I think there's this misperception that scientists are elitists who don't know how to interact with other people, or choose not to, or can’t. We're not elitist, we just have an area that we think about a lot – just like everyone else has subjects that they think about, and have strong opinions about and expertise in. So we're no different.”

“The Mold That Changed the World” runs Nov. 1-6 at Science Gallery@Pullman Yards,  225 Rogers St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30317.  Tickets go on sale soon and can be purchased here

 

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1663619960 2022-09-19 20:39:20 1677787833 2023-03-02 20:10:33 0 0 news A touring musical celebrating the man who gave us penicillin is inviting local scientists to join the chorus for its Atlanta shows — and School of Biological Sciences Associate Professor Brian Hammer is ready for showtime. 

 

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2022-09-22T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-22T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-22 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston

 

]]>
661324 661295 661323 661296 661324 image <![CDATA[A rehearsal for "The Mold That Changed the World" musical. (Photo Charades Theater Company).]]> image/png 1663706803 2022-09-20 20:46:43 1663706803 2022-09-20 20:46:43 661295 image <![CDATA[Brian Hammer in his office with an image from Alexander Fleming's original 1928 penicillin agar plate. (Photo Renay San Miguel)]]> image/jpeg 1663620800 2022-09-19 20:53:20 1663620800 2022-09-19 20:53:20 661323 image <![CDATA[Brian Hammer in high school musical productions: "Irene" (left) and a vintage photo from "Godspell." (Photos courtesy Brian Hammer)]]> image/jpeg 1663705415 2022-09-20 20:23:35 1663705415 2022-09-20 20:23:35 661296 image <![CDATA[Brian Hammer's copy of the chorus lyrics from The Mold That Changed the World musical. (Photo Renay San Miguel) ]]> image/jpeg 1663620883 2022-09-19 20:54:43 1663620883 2022-09-19 20:54:43 <![CDATA[CMDI: Mighty Microbial Dynamics for a Healthier People and Planet]]> <![CDATA[Add One More Weapon to Cholera’s Deadly Arsenal]]> <![CDATA[No Separations: Meet Ellinor Alseth, CMDI’s First Early Career Award Fellow]]> <![CDATA[The Hammer Lab at Georgia Tech ]]>
<![CDATA[College of Sciences Celebrates Six New Haley Fellows]]> 34434 Six graduate students, one from each school in the College of Sciences, are among the latest recipients of the Herbert P. Haley Fellowship at Georgia Tech. The initiative recognizes significant accomplishments and outstanding academic achievements for graduate students at Georgia Tech.

College of Sciences’ 2022-2023 Haley Fellows are Karim Lakhani, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Cody Mashburn, School of Psychology; Andrew McAvoy, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry; Joshua Pughe-Sanford, School of Physics; Roberta Shapiro, School of Mathematics, and Cassandra Shriver, School of Biological Sciences.

Haley scholars receive a one-time merit award of up to $4,000 thanks to the generosity of the late Marion Peacock Haley. Haley’s estate established the creation of merit-based graduate fellowships at Georgia Tech in honor of her late husband, Herbert P. Haley, ME 1933. It is an award which may be held in conjunction with other funding, assistantships, or fellowships, if applicable. 

Meet the scholars

Karim Lakhani is a 5th-year Ph.D. student who is studying paleoceanography in ADVANCE Professor Jean Lynch-Stieglitz’s lab. The fellowship will allow Lakhani to spend more time on research, where he is currently “looking at the transition between the surface ocean and the deep ocean and how that was different, so the shells I look at are from organisms that floated at specific depths in the ocean in the past.”

Cody Mashburn’s research interest is the cognitive basis of individual differences in intelligence and reasoning. “Basically, why do we see variability in how well people are able to perform on intelligence tests, and how well they are able to problem solve,” he said. Mashburn will use the funds to add “more tools to my research arsenal” and to attend relevant workshops. 

Andrew McAvoy is a fifth-year Ph.D. student who plans to use the Haley funds for registration and travel-related expenses so he can present his research at scientific conferences.

“My graduate research involves studying small molecule production in Burkholderia cepacia complex bacteria, one of the most feared pathogens infecting cystic fibrosis patients,” McAvoy said.

Joshua Pughe-Sanford’s fascination with dynamics — how things move, breaking down complex behavior into simpler parts — drives his physics research. “Dynamics can describe how elementary particles collide, how neurons fire in our brain, how traffic accrues, how galaxies collide,” he said. “The list goes on and on and, in essence, the work I do can be applied to all these different fields.” 

Roberta Shapiro’s research centers on using topology — the study of geometric properties that stay the same, even when they are distorted — to answer questions in complex dynamics. Saying that “mathematics is all about collaboration,” the fourth-year graduate student plans on using the funds to attend conferences “and make connections with future collaborators. That means there's more math coming soon!”

Cassandra Shriver, who is starting her second year in the Quantitative Biosciences graduate program, studies comparative biomechanics and conservation science. “Specifically, I'm curious how various morphological differences and scaling constraints affect climbing kinematics, and how these strategies might change as you increase in size from something as small as a squirrel to as large as a bear.”

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1663011841 2022-09-12 19:44:01 1677787883 2023-03-02 20:11:23 0 0 news Graduate students from each of the six College of Sciences schools have received 2022-2023 Herbert P. Haley Fellowships to expand their research — and connect with fellow scientists and mathematicians at conferences and events.

 

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2022-09-14T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-14T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-14 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

 

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661130 661114 661115 661116 661117 661118 661119 661130 image <![CDATA[Tech Tower]]> image/png 1663014539 2022-09-12 20:28:59 1663014539 2022-09-12 20:28:59 661114 image <![CDATA[Karim Lakhani]]> image/jpeg 1663012112 2022-09-12 19:48:32 1663012112 2022-09-12 19:48:32 661115 image <![CDATA[Cody Mashburn ]]> image/jpeg 1663012226 2022-09-12 19:50:26 1663012226 2022-09-12 19:50:26 661116 image <![CDATA[Andrew McAvoy ]]> image/png 1663012418 2022-09-12 19:53:38 1663012418 2022-09-12 19:53:38 661117 image <![CDATA[Joshua Pughe-Sanford ]]> image/png 1663012509 2022-09-12 19:55:09 1663012509 2022-09-12 19:55:09 661118 image <![CDATA[Roberta Shapiro ]]> image/png 1663012579 2022-09-12 19:56:19 1663012579 2022-09-12 19:56:19 661119 image <![CDATA[Cassandra Shriver ]]> image/jpeg 1663012660 2022-09-12 19:57:40 1663012660 2022-09-12 19:57:40 <![CDATA[Honoring Excellence: College of Sciences Students, Teaching Assistants, Future Faculty Earn Top Annual Awards]]>
<![CDATA[IHE-LeaD: New Fellowship Aims to Accelerate Translation of Scientific Discoveries in Health, Environment into Community-Facing Solutions]]> 34434 A new Georgia Tech program has launched to support the next generation of leaders who can take their scientific discoveries and translate them into public action to improve human and environmental health.

The Interdisciplinary Health and Environment Leadership Development (IHE-LeaD) Program at Georgia Tech recently welcomed its inaugural cohort of 11 graduate student fellows from the College of Sciences, the College of Engineering, and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. The IHE-Lead program is supported by a grant from The Burroughs Wellcome Fund, a non-profit medical research organization supporting biomedical science and STEM education.

The goal of the IHE-LeaD Program

Human and environmental health are intertwined. Early career researchers are acutely aware of ways in which their research has a chance to make a difference, but doing so requires collaboration across disciplinary boundaries and with community stakeholders.  

“The IHE-LeaD program is designed to decrease the barriers to the translation of science for the public good”, said Joshua Weitz, professor and Tom and Marie Patton Chair in the School of Biological Sciences and the IHE-LeaD Program’s co-principal investigator. “The leadership program is intended to be a critical first step towards building an integrative research and training environment at Georgia Tech that can address some of our most challenging problems, whether in the areas of health disparities, emerging infectious disease, air quality, climate change and beyond.”

Fellows were selected based on their interest for interdisciplinary exchange and their innovative ideas for collaborative, public facing actions that advance human and environmental health. Six faculty advisers will support the researchers with the goal of turning their scientific discoveries into applications that directly benefit communities. 

“For me, the responsibility of the scientific enterprise is first and foremost to be of public service for the greater good,” said Gabi Steinbach, scientific project coordinator and data communications specialist in the Weitz Group in the School of Biological Sciences, and the IHE-LeaD Program’s principal investigator. “The fellowship program captures two aspects that directly address this goal. One is the topical focus on interconnected human and environmental health, and the other is the impact-driven nature of the program.”

What to expect in the IHE-LeaD Program

Between August 2022 and May 2023, fellows will receive training in leadership and translational development. Workshops range from team dynamics to community engagement and system thinking, led by local, national, and Georgia Tech experts. The program also features a monthly seminar series with speakers from across the Institute’s colleges. That series will be open “to allow colleagues, partners, and the public to engage with our growing community,” Steinbach said.

During the program, IHE-LeaD fellows will jointly plan and implement activities based on their shared goals related to human and environmental health, which may include  collaborative research, outreach events, and the development of online platforms. 

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund support will also enable a two-day symposium, planned for early summer 2023. Fellows will invite and engage with regional and national academic experts, trainees, community leaders, and policy makers in their field of interest. That will give them a chance to establish professional networks, develop skills for implementing science-informed actions, and be directly involved in shaping a collaborative, interdisciplinary community.

The inspiration for IHE-LeaD

Steinbach said it is becoming increasingly obvious that human prosperity cannot be addressed effectively without considering environmental aspects such as climate change and air quality. “To reach those goals, it is crucial to focus on the interconnectedness of human health and environmental systems.” The IHE-LeaD program is built around that focus, bringing together experts at Georgia Tech who work at the forefront of advancing and protecting health from different human and environmental aspects. 

“While innovative scientific progress is a necessary condition for progress, it does not readily translate into societal impact,” she said. “Established academic training focuses on scientific practice, often separated by disciplines, but can too commonly feel isolated from real-world scenarios. This absence of connection can leave individual trainees and researchers feeling disempowered, and too often disappointed.”  

Steinbach and the other IHE-LeaD Fellows believe “the scientific voice” is a crucial component in tackling real-world problems. “With our program, we aim to bridge that gap and provide students with the training and opportunity to connect their passion for science with their desire to contribute to effective impact.”

Interdisciplinary connections 

Steinbach said with her background in physical and biological sciences, it has always been her goal to bridge disciplinary boundaries and connect with social scientists and experts from other fields. “This enables me to see my disciplinary blind spot and to jointly work towards truly effective and sustainable innovations,” she said. 

For Sonja Brankovic, Ph.D. candidate in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, it’s the translational aspects of the program that got her attention. “ I’m interested in going into industry. I think it’s just a natural fit to learn more about that — how what I study can be more impactful. So this is something I’m really interested in.”

Nidhi Desai, Ph.D. candidate in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences explained her interest. “As an air quality instrumentalist, I feel like we talk a lot about the science, but not about the human health effects as much. So I’m really interested in learning as much as I can from this program and thinking about that more.” 

Becoming an IHE-LeaD Fellow proved to be a case of perfect timing for Stephanie Bilodeau, Ph.D. candidate in the School of Biological Sciences. “I’ve just started doing local research on freshwater ecosystems in Georgia. So for the first time, I’m doing research that actually has applications for the community around Atlanta. This opportunity is ideal to help me build my skills and learn to connect my research better to the Georgia Tech community and Atlanta.”

Steinbach, IHE-LeaD’s principal investigator, hopes the initiative becomes an annual program. “We hope that the first cohort fellows will become mentors for following cohorts, and that we can grow a sustainable interdisciplinary network which facilitates public-facing impact and helps fellows develop interdisciplinary and dynamic careers.”

Learn more about the Interdisciplinary Health and Environment Leadership Program (IHE-LeaD) at Georgia Tech.

By: Renay San Miguel
Interviews: Audra Davidson

 

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1662747602 2022-09-09 18:20:02 1677787912 2023-03-02 20:11:52 0 0 news The Interdisciplinary Health and Environment Leadership Development (IHE-LeaD) Program announces its first cohort of graduate student fellows from the College of Sciences, the College of Engineering, and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.

 

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2022-09-14T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-14T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-14 00:00:00 Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-894-5209

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston

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661120 661125 661123 661030 661029 661031 661120 image <![CDATA[The inaugural cohort for the Interdisciplinary Health and Environment Leadership Development (IHE-LeaD) Program at Georgia Tech. Info on the cohort's fellows is found at the IHE-LeaD website. ]]> image/jpeg 1663013265 2022-09-12 20:07:45 1663013265 2022-09-12 20:07:45 661125 image <![CDATA[Members of the inaugural cohort of fellows for the Interdisciplinary Health and Environment Leadership Development (IHE-LeaD) Program discuss program goals. ]]> image/jpeg 1663013674 2022-09-12 20:14:34 1663013674 2022-09-12 20:14:34 661123 image <![CDATA[Gabi Steinbach]]> image/jpeg 1663013539 2022-09-12 20:12:19 1663013539 2022-09-12 20:12:19 661030 image <![CDATA[Nidhi Desai]]> image/png 1662752382 2022-09-09 19:39:42 1662752382 2022-09-09 19:39:42 661029 image <![CDATA[Sonja Brankovic]]> image/png 1662752266 2022-09-09 19:37:46 1662752266 2022-09-09 19:37:46 661031 image <![CDATA[Stephanie Bilodeau]]> image/jpeg 1662752536 2022-09-09 19:42:16 1662752536 2022-09-09 19:42:16 <![CDATA[Joshua Weitz Named a Simons Investigator of Theoretical Physics in Life Sciences]]> <![CDATA[Joshua Weitz Named Blaise Pascal International Chair of Excellence]]> <![CDATA[Timing is Everything: Researchers Shed Light on How Diverse Microbes May Co-Exist Despite Scarce Resources]]> <![CDATA[Surveillance Testing Shown to Reduce Community Covid-19 Spread]]> <![CDATA[Add One More Weapon to Cholera’s Deadly Arsenal]]> <![CDATA[Kendeda, Where the Building is the Lesson, Welcomes Science Classes]]> <![CDATA[Stories From an Unprecedented Semester]]>
<![CDATA[Flourishing at Georgia Tech: As Students Return to Campus, Wellness Classes Help Them Thrive]]> 34434 As students kick off fall semester, mental health and wellness-focused classes in Applied Physiology are helping them learn time and stress management skills, while also encouraging them to give back to their communities and foster conversations with their peers. 

“I was involved in the initial strategic planning efforts for Cultivate Well-being and I think it will have a significant impact on campus,” said Teresa Snow, senior academic professional in the School of Biological Sciences. “Implementation is being rolled out, particularly for students right now, with more information for faculty and staff coming soon. Currently, I co-chair the JED Academic Culture sub-committee and will continue to work with colleagues to improve the academic environment.”

Snow, who is also a 2022 Serve-Learn-Sustain (SLS) teaching fellow, credits three Applied Physiology classes, one of which is required for all students before they graduate, for teaching students important practical skills. APPH 1040, 1050, and 1060 teach students how to manage stress and work through anxiety in healthy ways, and come up with resilience strategies they can rely on — not just in higher education, but for the rest of their lives.

“(APPH 1040, Scientific Foundations of Health) is a course that is directly applicable to everyday life,” Snow said, “and we want them to take those concepts and apply them. We try to adapt the curriculum, so we have been focusing more on stress and coping skills, but we also talk about healthy lifestyle, cultural differences, diversity and sustainability.”

Snow is focused on the health and wellness of first-year students, in particular.

“It’s important to get the [first-years] coming in, and help them with the transition to college life. It’s an extreme change for them. That time of adjustment and making new friends is very important,” Snow said. “We’ve been in tune with our student needs and will continue to adapt to them. Certainly we’re having conversations about student stress. We have all of our classes addressing it. We have the newer APPH 1060 class (Flourishing: Strategies for Well-being and Resilience), which is really focused on mental health. As a team we are committed to meeting students' needs and helping them thrive at Georgia Tech. 

“On campus we need to do as much as we can to help them make connections, and know the resources that are available to them, and we also need to be flexible,” she said. “In our conversations with students struggling, the focus should be not only on connecting  them with resources, but also giving them the flexibility to recover and succeed academically.”

Over the past two school years, she added, “students have dealt with anxiety and social isolation — they’re still trying to adjust — some classes are still in hybrid mode, but I think this semester will be a little bit more of a return to normalcy. We have to watch the Covid rates and see if the guidelines change, but being present in the classroom is important.”

Volunteerism as effective wellness tool

Snow, who used to be the sole coordinator for the Georgia Tech wellness requirement, helped develop the APPH 1050 Science of Physical Activity and Health course. As it grew, she and others in the School of Biological Sciences realized they needed another director. Christie Stewart, senior academic professional, now fills that role. School of Biological Sciences senior lecturers Michele Rosbruck and Adam Decker, and adjunct Leslie Baradel also teach the APPH classes; both Baradel and Stewart are certified Thriving and Resilience Facilitators through the National Wellness Institute.

Snow saw the wellness advantages of having students get off campus and spend time in communities working with community partners. “We give them an opportunity to do basic volunteer work, have fun and socialize,” Snow said. “We also give them opportunities to choose higher-level projects. During Covid, student teams worked remotely designing infographics and other materials with the Fulton County Health Heart Coalition to get messages out about protecting yourself and wearing masks.”

The classes are also working with partners to help children in hospitals, as well as people in between living situations and those without permanent housing in Atlanta. “Some of those [organizations] have specific projects and want to get our students’ ideas and input. They need our help and our students can use these projects to make an impact in the community.” 

For several years, students in Snow’s courses have volunteered with local agencies. 

In 2019, a team from APPH 1040 volunteered their time to help clean and stock Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, a non-profit home improvement store offering donated appliances, furniture, and other household items. Volunteer and Georgia Tech student Kara Ann said in a YouTube video produced for ReStore that the topic of the health class project “was working with a community partner, creating something special to give back to the community partner.”

In other projects APPH 1040 students volunteer to work on educational and garden maintenance projects at the Friends School of Atlanta, Walter’s Woods (which recently received Audubon Certification in part due to student efforts) and East Decatur Greenway. Snow told the Friends School’s Friendly Light Magazine that Georgia Tech students can use the course “to help them focus outside of themselves and do something useful for their community.”

“These projects build leadership, communication, organizational skills and self-confidence while making social connections,” Snow said. “It's a great way to improve personal well-being and mental health while helping communities and getting real-world experience.”

Links to resources 

AAPH 1040 Facebook page shows other partner projects that Teresa Snow’s class have staffed with volunteers. 

Georgia Tech Student Engagement and Well-Being

Mental Well-Being for Students — This 45-minute online course helps learners practice self-care strategies, recognize when they or their peers are in distress, and take action to find additional support.

Student Life: Mental Health and Well-Being — A listing of campus resources 

Georgia Tech Counseling Center — Counselors available 24/7. Business hours: 404-894-2575. After business hours: 404-894-2575 or 404-894-3498

Georgia Tech Campus Police — on campus, 404-894-2500; off campus, 9-1-1.

College of Sciences satellite counselor Tara Holdampf’s office is in the Molecular Science and Engineering Building (MoSE), Room 1120B. Consulting hours are Mondays, Tuesdays, & Fridays — 10:00 AM-11:00 AM; Wednesdays, & Thursdays — 2:00 PM-3:00 PM. Click here for more info on her satellite counseling services, or call the Georgia Tech Counseling Center at 404-894-2575. 

 

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1663010487 2022-09-12 19:21:27 1677787938 2023-03-02 20:12:18 0 0 news Senior academic professional and wellness requirement co-director Teresa Snow talks about volunteering, a key aspect of her Serve-Learn-Sustain (SLS) affiliated APPH 1040 course, Scientific Foundations of Health, which is available to all undergraduates.

 

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2022-09-12T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-12T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-12 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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661131 661111 661112 661110 661131 image <![CDATA[Members of Teresa Snow's Spring 2020 AAPH 1040: Scientific Foundations of Health class pose with birdhouses built for East Decatur Greenway. (Photos East Decatur Greenway). ]]> image/jpeg 1663014998 2022-09-12 20:36:38 1663014998 2022-09-12 20:36:38 661111 image <![CDATA[Students from Teresa Snow's AAPH 1040: Scientific Foundations of Heath class, help with birdhouse construction for Walter's Woods near East Decatur Greenway.]]> image/jpeg 1663011018 2022-09-12 19:30:18 1663011018 2022-09-12 19:30:18 661112 image <![CDATA[An East Decatur Greenway Facebook post showing educational signage designed by students in Teresa Snow's AAPH 1040: Scientific Foundations of Health class. (Photo by East Decatur Greenway). ]]> image/png 1663011240 2022-09-12 19:34:00 1663011240 2022-09-12 19:34:00 661110 image <![CDATA[Teresa Snow ]]> image/jpeg 1663010591 2022-09-12 19:23:11 1663010591 2022-09-12 19:23:11 <![CDATA[Pilot Course Provides Student Toolkit for Stress Management, Positive Coping Strategies, Thriving and Resilience]]> <![CDATA[New Course on Wellness, Managing Stress, and Dealing with Adversity Offered to Undergraduate Students this Summer]]> <![CDATA[Fostering Happiness]]> <![CDATA[College of Sciences Adds Satellite Counselor to Support Student Well-being and Mental Health]]> <![CDATA[Teresa Snow: 2018 Geoffrey G. Eichholz Faculty Teaching Award]]>
<![CDATA[Q&A: Meet Three College of Sciences Advisory Board Members ]]> 34434 Over the past school year, the College welcomed five new members to the College of Sciences Advisory Board (CoSAB). Board members serve a three-year term and provide advice, feedback, and support to the Dean and School Chairs in advancing the education, research, and service missions of the College.

We recently heard from three appointees — Karla Haack, Kelly Sepcic Pfeil, Christa Sobon — on wisdom for current students, their own educational and career paths, their plans as new board members, and about the legacy and impact of giving back at Georgia Tech.

 

Karla Haack, Ph.D. BIO 2009

Karla Haack is an associate medical writer at Merck with more than 10 years of previous experience in research and teaching in academia. Karla utilizes her background in physiology to assist in the composition of regulatory documents. Haack is the current chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for the American Physiological Society. 

Kelly Sepcic Pfeil, M.S. CHEM 1992, Ph.D. CHEM 2003

Kelly Sepcic Pfeil is president of ArrowInno, specializing in product design and innovation consulting. She served as vice president for Frito Lay North America and PepsiCo Research and Development from 2007-2015. Prior to joining Frito Lay in 2007, she spent 14 years with The Coca-Cola Company. 

Christa Sobon, M.S. PSYCH 1996

A native of Atlanta, Christa also spent part of her childhood in the suburb of Chicago. Christa is a program manager in Manheim Digital for Cox Automotive, where she leads IT and process change implementations. In that role, she delivers large scale change programs that impact operations and drive measurable business results. 

 

Why did you want to attend Georgia Tech?

Haack: I chose to attend Georgia Tech for its reputation as an Institute where curiosity and problem solving go hand in hand. I also knew that at Tech I would be trained in the specifics of my discipline, and I would learn how to be a scientist — how to think in a cross-disciplinary way and how to engage in scientific inquiry. 

Sepcic Pfeil: While completing my undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of South Carolina, I completed summer internships at Milliken Research Center. Milliken had a liaison with a Georgia Tech chemistry professor, Charlie Liotta. He encouraged me to apply for graduate school.  

Sobon: Having attended Emory University for my undergraduate degree, I wanted to attend another world-class institution to round out and augment my education.

What was it about your major or discipline that attracted your interest? 

Haack: I love the field of physiology because it is the study of the interdependent mechanisms a functioning organism uses to maintain homeostasis. I was able to pursue a cell physiology project within the School of Biological Sciences

Sepcic Pfeil: Initially I wasn’t sure if I would go to medical school or work in science research. As I furthered my education, I was more attracted to chemistry than biology. I ended up majoring in chemistry and minoring in biology in my undergraduate degree. I was always interested in the ingredients inside of products and what made them work. As a child, I read the back panel of ingredients of shampoo bottles! 

Sobon: I loved that the School of Psychology was in the College of Sciences. Additionally, I was drawn by the opportunities for hands-on research and professors who were well known and well regarded in their field.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your time at Georgia Tech?

Haack: To be successful, you have to work smart and hard. 

Sepcic Pfeil: The most important lesson I learned while completing M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry at Georgia Tech was a realization that science is ever-changing and you have to continue to learn and grow in your field of science. I realized I needed advanced degrees to continue to understand and grow in the field of chemistry and further my career. My Ph.D. degree certainly helped me to advance throughout the executive roles with both PepsiCo and Frito Lay research and development departments.

Sobon: Georgia Tech pushed me as a student and stretched me well outside of my comfort zone. I really developed a confidence that I could do challenging things and solve hard problems, whatever they may be.

The best advice you can give current students?

Haack: Innovation comes when individuals with diverse perspectives and experiences work as a collective. Bring your authentic self and experiences to your work.

Sobon: There is a lot more you can do outside of research. If research is your passion, then that’s wonderful. However, if you want to contribute in ways outside of that, there are a lot of opportunities!

What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the College’s Advisory Board? 

Haack: I hope to continue to make CoS and Tech a place where any student can feel valued and succeed. I look forward to helping create additional professional development opportunities for students.

Sepcic Pfeil: I hope to contribute to the College of Sciences Advisory Board to help shape the future pipeline of students. Recently my husband and I endowed a faculty chair fund to the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The endowment is designed to increase the number of women faculty within the school. So few women obtain chemistry degrees and work in the field of chemistry. I hope to make a difference for our future female scientists. 

Sobon: I’m truly honored to serve on the CoSAB. My hope is to stay even more well informed of the many great things happening within the CoS and figure out how I can help the College and the associated professionals achieve goals there. To me, giving back to Georgia Tech is a combination of leveraging my time and talent (and treasure too, of course) to be a visible and engaged ambassador for the CoS.

 

Karla Haack, Kelly Sepcic Pfeil, Christa Sobon are joined in their CoSAB appointments by fellow new board members Mercedes Dullum and Nsé Ufot — look out for more interviews with CoSAB members over the school year ahead. 

Mercedes Dullum, B.S. BIO 1975

Mercedes Dullum is a retired cardiothoracic surgeon with over 30 years of clinical practice in numerous leadership roles in hospital settings, private practice, and integrated medical practices. She served as medical director of clinical outcomes at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., and surgical director of the Heart Failure Center at Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston.

Nsé Ufot, B.S. PSYCH 2002

Nsé Ufot is the chief executive officer of the New Georgia Project and its affiliate, New Georgia Project Action Fund. Prior to joining the New Georgia Project, Ufot worked as the assistant executive director for the Canadian Association of University Teachers, Canada’s largest faculty union. She also served as senior lobbyist and government relations officer for the American Association of University Professors.

]]> Renay San Miguel 1 1662732166 2022-09-09 14:02:46 1677787961 2023-03-02 20:12:41 0 0 news Three new appointees — Karla Haack, Kelly Sepcic Pfeil, Christa Sobon — talk about what they learned while at Georgia Tech, and how they hope to advise the College on support for students and their former disciplines.

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2022-09-12T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-12T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-12 00:00:00 Writer: Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences
404-984-5209

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston

]]>
661012 661012 image <![CDATA[From left to right: Karla Haack, Kelly Sepcic Pfeil, Christa Sobon, new members of the College of Sciences Advisory Board ]]> image/jpeg 1662732386 2022-09-09 14:06:26 1662732386 2022-09-09 14:06:26 <![CDATA[College of Sciences Advisory Board ]]> <![CDATA[Raquel Lieberman Named First Chair of Alumna-funded Effort to Boost Women Faculty in Chemistry and Biochemistry]]>
<![CDATA[Q&A: 22 Questions with the Kashlan Triplets (Neuro '22)]]> 35599 As triplets, Adam, Rommi, and Zane Kashlan are used to doing things together. After three years at Georgia Tech, the brothers added one more thing to that list: graduating with a trio of Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience degrees this past May and gearing up for medical school.

Neuroscience is the fastest growing undergraduate major in the College of Sciences at Georgia Tech, and prospective and current students often enjoy hearing from our alumni about their experiences in the program.

We recently spoke with the NEURO ‘22 Kashlan brothers about their time at Georgia Tech, advice for students, and a look at what’s next on the horizon:

MAJORING IN NEUROSCIENCE


Why did you decide to study Neuroscience at Georgia Tech?

Zane: The Neuroscience program at Georgia Tech is unique in that it's incredibly interdisciplinary. As Neuroscience majors, students can freely take courses in Georgia Tech's top-ranked programs like engineering, computer science, and even business on top of a regular course load filled with biology and other science core curricula.

In addition, the broad nature of the curriculum offers students an opportunity to explore all areas of Neuroscience, including Biological Neuroscience, Neuroengineering, Computational Neuroscience, and several other pathways that help develop essential lifelong skills. It is a fantastic STEM major to pick as students who want to explore different career paths and pick up different skills. We enjoyed charting our individual experiences within Neuroscience and are so grateful for the advisors and professors who supported us along the way.

What made you all decide to go to Georgia Tech together?

Zane: Georgia Tech has always felt like a second home to us. We were born and grew up in the Atlanta area. Georgia Tech offered a strong list of notable faculty members. The modern campus is big enough to explore different interests in a wide variety of subjects. Tech offered a special place for us to be challenged, make new friends, and grow independently as a trio.

Rommi: I would add the fact that Georgia Tech offered an unparalleled value of education.

Two questions in one: Who were your favorite professors, mentors, TAs — and why?

Rommi: There were so many professors and mentors that helped shape me into the person that I am today. For example, my involvement with Dr. Ragan in the BRAIN Initiative helping promote neuroscience to students in schools around the Atlanta area, enforced my love for neuroscience and giving back to the community. Dr. Decker, who mentored me as a TA, instilled and enforced my passion for teaching. Dr. Shepler, who I worked closely with in mentoring students in Chemistry under the PLUS Program, further deepened my love for teaching science. Dr. Harrison, who guided me through my first teaching experience in the biology department, is another example. Like all other professors, they were vital in facilitating an engaging, fun, and highly memorable learning environment.

Zane: From the very long list of professors I had an extraordinary time learning from, I especially enjoyed being a TA for Dr. Decker in Anatomy and Pathology. Dr. Tyson helped develop my interest in mentoring others and deepening my experience in Organic Chemistry. Dr. Senf provided continuous support in sponsoring the Students Against Alzheimer's organization I helped found and fostered my passion for scientific communication and advocacy. Also, a thank you to the GT 1000 program for allowing me to be a part of mentoring the next generation of Yellow Jackets – Sandi Bramblett and Dr. Rafael Bras for showing me the ropes of leading by example and to Savitra Y Dow and Dr. Lacy Hodges for their constant support.

Adam: I'm so grateful for all the professors I had the privilege of learning from and taking classes with over my tenure at Georgia Tech, such as Dr. Decker, Dr. Tyson, Dr. Holder, Dr. Weigel, Dr. Whyte, Dr. Howitz, Dr. Kerr, Dr. Harrison, and Dr. Duarte. I especially value my experience with Dr. Shepler, with whom I took chemistry in my first year because she made the learning of science meaningful and fun. Dr. Senf helped develop my scientific writing skill, which is critical in neuroscience research. Dr. Ragan, with whom I took NEUR 4001, for learning so much about research methods, proper presentation creation and delivery, paper writing, and making the atmosphere of every class fun and engaging.

Would you all intentionally take classes together?

Rommi: Sometimes it worked out that we would have similar classes since we're all neuroscience majors. Still, most semesters, we would only share a required class or two, while some classes might be with different professors because of time conflicts with other courses. We each prioritized taking whatever classes worked best with our individual schedules and graduation plans, but taking a lesson or two [together] was always fun.

Coolest thing you've learned about the human brain?

Rommi: The most remarkable thing I've learned about the human brain is how much we don't know about it. Out of every meticulous detail we know about human physiology and function we have barely scratched the surface of our cognition and thinking. This leaves so much room for exploration in neuroscience research because there is so much yet to be uncovered.

CAMPUS LIFE


During the school year, did you have any daily routines or habits?

Adam: After my first year, my earliest class usually started around 10 a.m. On a typical day, I liked to wake up at around 9 a.m. if I didn't have any events or important assignments to complete. After taking some of my morning classes, I would almost always go to the fourth floor of the Crosland Tower [in the Price Gilbert Memorial] Library to do my assignments and study before lunch or my following classes. After grabbing some lunch and attending the rest of my classes that day, I usually went to the CRC to play basketball with my friends or eat dinner. On busy days though, I went back to studying or completing projects and other longer assignments in preparation for exams or important deadlines.

What was your most memorable experience from the past few years?

Adam: I would probably have to say graduation. While it is a bit cliché, knowing that your years of hard work through trials and tribulations have finally amounted to something great is amazing.

Any recommendations for places to visit around campus and Atlanta?

Adam: I enjoyed Six Flags Night with my friends in the fall; Lake Lanier to enjoy the water; and the [Atlanta] Beltline, which has an amazing history. I had the opportunity to visit [there] with my English class during my first year.

Rommi: I'll add the Georgia Aquarium to that list — the whale sharks and penguins make it an awesome experience.

Were you involved in any clubs or organizations?

Zane: During my first semester, I enjoyed my experience in GT1000 and looked up to my team leader for the class. I joined the GT1000 program because of that experience and served as a team leader for my first two years on campus and then as an ambassador for my last year. I enjoyed helping students work through many of the challenges I had once experienced as a first-year. Since my first year, I have spent a good portion of time outside class as a volunteer and advocate for the Alzheimer's Association, where we urge our national leaders to support increased care and research funding to one day end Alzheimer's.

By connecting with other volunteers in the state and country, I saw the need for younger voices to get involved in the cause. I founded Students Against Alzheimer's, a student-led organization that works with the Alzheimer's Association to get younger advocates involved. I'm also grateful to have had the opportunity to go to Washington D.C. with other advocates, where we met Senator Raphael Warnock and other states/national representatives to push for updates in legislation. I would spend a lot of time with family or having fun in the Atlanta area in my free time.

Adam: I joined and participated in the Georgia Tech Swim Club, founded a GT chapter of the American Parkinson's Disease Association, and was part of Student Government during my first year. Outside of school, I was heavily involved with my research at the Woolf Lab for the past two years. I volunteered as a medical assistant at the Good Samaritan Health Clinic. I was also a part of several organizations where I tutored and supported Georgia's refugee children, which I have been involved in since middle school.

Rommi: The organization I was involved in the most was Teaching and Academic Services at Tech. I participated as a PLUS leader and one-on-one tutor, assisting in events such as Studypalooza. The opportunity to give back to my peers through teaching and guidance was a great experience. Outside the classroom, I helped lead the BRAIN initiative, whereas as a neuroscience student, I went to schools around the Atlanta area to hold activity-filled seminars promoting the learning of neuroscience.

The students observed activities such as a human brain dissection, controlling nerves in your arm, and a "mind control" machine. These activities deepened my love and advocacy for neuroscience. I also discovered my passion for helping others, volunteering as a trained nurse assistant at the Good Sam Health Clinic. I also had the privilege to be part of the task force set up to design the process of Covid-19 testing for the students and the community at GT in preparation for reopening the campus.

What's the most important thing you've learned through Tech?

Zane: Aside from balancing time and managing classes, the most important and unexpected lesson I have learned is knowing when to ask for help. It was important along our journeys to connect with fellow students and professors to get extra support during the more challenging weeks or when making career plans. I feel that Tech's most valuable resource doesn't come from the new buildings or courses, it's the role models – our peers and mentors – that we engage with daily.

Rommi: GT enforced several lessons — including problem-solving, how to persevere, self-motivation, and putting things into perspective.

What was the hardest class you took, and why?

Adam: I would definitely have to say that Principles of Neuroscience (NEUR 2001) was the hardest class that I have taken at Georgia Tech. It's a four-credit class I took my first semester and included a lab component. You essentially learn most of the basic neuroscience curriculum in one extremely demanding class. The lab consists of lots of reports that have to be extremely in-depth and are significantly longer than normal papers. The lecture had a significant portion of the grade dedicated to exams which were incredibly detailed and required memorization of the minor details. It was a challenging experience, but looking back I'm grateful because it allowed me to adjust to Georgia Tech's rigorous curriculum early and understand foundational neuroscience, which helped my research.

STEM RESEARCH, CAREERS IN HEALTH AND MEDICINE


What's your advice for young people interested in STEM research?

Zane: I think the most important part of being interested in STEM is just that — curiosity. Being curious about everyday scientific phenomena is the crux of being a good researcher or engineer. Just by staying curious so many doors are open for learning. A student can start with some YouTube videos, hone that passion by taking a course or joining a lab, and who knows, maybe one day that passion will turn into a career.

Advice for students who are interested in a career in health and medicine?

Zane: Building a career in medicine takes a long time, maybe up to 12 years or more after college. Get involved through internships and research as early as your first year and take the time to figure out what about medicine and health interests you. There are so many opportunities, not only within the scope of being a clinician, but also in medical research; medical technology; medical business; and medical law. Going down the path of a physician is certainly not the only way to have a career in health.

Make sure that you network with your peers and alumni to find out what others have career ideas that can serve as inspiration for yourself. I especially recommend taking a gap year or two before making such an impactful commitment to exploring all potential career opportunities that might interest you before dedicating yourself to a life in medicine.

Adam: I agree with Zane that you must do a lot of soul-searching when you commit to the field of medicine. This is a highly specialized career you will spend the rest of your life doing. Remember that you need to love what you do; otherwise, you will not be happy, and your patients will pick up on that.

ACADEMICS AND STUDY TIPS


Did you have any study strategies or habits?

Rommi: I'm an early morning person, so most of my studying took place before I began my first class, which was typically in the late morning or afternoon. The rule of thumb is to study for two to three hours for every lecture hour, so I always tried to study the material ahead of the lectures to get familiar with the topics being presented in class as they are taught and then revisit the material immediately after.

Adam: Spaced repetition, consistency, and time management is the key to excelling in school. I can confidently say that you don't need to be the smartest person to get the best grades because you can outweigh that by being more disciplined and efficient. Finding a study habit that works for you is the key. Oftentimes, what works for one person most likely won't work for another. You must learn and discover what works best for you through iteration in your first semester.

Discover the studying habit that helps you perform best on exams and assignments. What worked for me was spacing out my studying ahead of exams and using spaced repetition, so I would revisit concepts multiple times before taking an exam rather than moving through the material progressively and not reviewing old lectures.

In addition, I would ramp up my studying a few days before an exam with the most time spent the day before and the day-of, because I found it easier to recall small details from a PowerPoint slide when reviewing it an hour prior to taking the exam (after multiple run-throughs, though).

The strategy can sometimes vary between classes: brute repetition and memorization works in a subject like biology — but not so much in a conceptual subject like physics and math that requires more practice than learning.

The second half of doing well in classes is understanding the syllabus and finding what assignments or exams you need to score well on. Maximizing your grade in non-exam/quiz assignments gives you the highest chance of getting an A in the class and oftentimes gives you a buffer to score an 80 or 85 exam average.

Favorite study spot on campus?

Adam: My favorite study spots on campus would have to either be the fourth and fifth floor of the Crosland Tower Library or the third floor of the CULC. The Library's first floor is always packed, so the quiet upper floors were great for studying. The bridge connecting the two main libraries was also a relaxing spot to study since the windows give a nice view of the city and keep the area well-lit.

What were your go-to study snacks?

Rommi: I'm a big sandwich guy; throughout my time at Georgia Tech, I've probably had upwards of a thousand sandwiches between classes. You can always count on the 14th Street Jimmy John’s.

How do you recharge after a tough exam or difficult class?

Rommi: I crashed a lot on the beanbags on the fourth floor of CULC building, hung around the dorms a lot, tried to forget about it, and worked towards the next assignment or class to study for.

What motivated you when you were struggling in a class?

Adam: When struggling in a class, I always reminded myself that I wasn't alone. I stressed that I should continue to persevere and not get demoralized if I got a bad exam grade, or didn't understand some concept right away. I noticed that classes at Georgia Tech usually got harder as the semester progressed, until the eighth or ninth week, then eased off significantly as the final exam approached.

My biggest piece of advice for all students would be to focus on scoring as high as possible on all non-exam grades, like participation and homework assignments that you have the most control over. Getting close to a 100 percent in those sections carries your average significantly and allows you to have the room to tank a few bad quiz or exam grades, and gives you lots of buffer for the final exam.

It's also important to keep track of your grade in the class and what grade section you're underperforming in (homework, quiz, test, etc.). This lets you know what assignments mean the most to your grade and prioritize time between different classes and assignments to maximize your chances of keeping your averages high.

Rommi: I think not falling too far behind made it much easier to prepare and be ready. Don't wait; go seek help if you don't understand a topic fully. GT has a lot of resources for help when needed. Take advantage of all that is available. A key piece of advice, read your syllabus at the beginning of the semester and fully understand the professor's expectations. Study ahead and follow the syllabus.

What's the best advice you've learned about balancing school and life?

Adam: Balancing school, sleep, and a social life can be challenging. I always liked to keep a few consistent hobbies fit into my schedule, like playing basketball at the CRC or even just walking around campus at night so I could have some escape from the pressure of school.

I learned that getting into a routine and set schedule also helps with this balance because you get more hours out of your day when your time is managed properly. Unfortunately though, there will be times when you will have to sacrifice going out on a Friday night to complete a project or make sure that you perform well on an exam.

I encourage you not to feel bad about making these hard decisions because it all becomes worth it come graduation day. That said, having some avenue to de-stress from school and have fun is super important, even if it's a small activity for a few minutes a day because studying at Tech without taking a break will burn you out quickly.

Also, sleep is your friend — don't ignore it. It's a cheat code to improve your mood and mental health, reflect on your school performance and social relationships, improve your mood, etcetera.

2022 AND BEYOND


What are your plans for the rest of 2022 and beyond?

Adam: After graduating in the spring, I moved to Boston to work as a research assistant in the Woolf Lab at Harvard Medical School. We study non-opioid-based analgesic drugs used in the treatment of chronic pain. I will apply to medical schools next summer and want to pursue a career as a physician focusing on improving immigrant and refugee health in the United States- my passion since middle school.

Zane: In late April, I switched my research work from Yale Medical to the Woolf Lab at Harvard Medical. In the future, I plan to combine my passion for research and medicine as a physician-scientist to improve patients' lives suffering from neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's.

Rommi: I moved to Boston with Zane and Adam and have been focusing on volunteering at various clinics and studying for my MCAT exam. After taking the MCAT exam this fall, I will start working as a research assistant.

SPIRIT OF GEORGIA TECH


Best part of being a Yellow Jacket?

Zane: The decision has to be between making great friends and calling such an amazing school home.

Rommi: The best part of being a Yellow Jacket is knowing that I am ready to face any new challenge, confident that I will do well.

Adam: Developing many relationships and connections with friends, mentors, and professors at the school have continued to benefit me even after graduation. Also, coming from Georgia Tech opens up many doors and opportunities that you otherwise wouldn't get at other schools — the name and prestige of the school mean a lot to employers and graduate schools.

 

]]> sperrin6 1 1661870822 2022-08-30 14:47:02 1680031886 2023-03-28 19:31:26 0 0 news As triplets, Adam, Rommi, and Zane Kashlan are used to doing things together. After three years at Georgia Tech, the brothers added one more thing to that list: graduating with a trio of Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience degrees and gearing up for medical school. We recently spoke with the Kashlans about their time at Georgia Tech, advice for students, and what’s next on the horizon.

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2022-09-01T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-01T00:00:00-04:00 2022-09-01 00:00:00 Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

Special thanks to Dean Kashlan for organizing this interview, and to Georgia Tech Office of Undergraduate Education and our College of Sciences student writers for sharing questions for this story.

]]>
660692 660695 660693 660795 660694 660696 660692 image <![CDATA[The Kashlan Triplets, NEURO '22]]> image/jpeg 1661876050 2022-08-30 16:14:10 1662042841 2022-09-01 14:34:01 660695 image <![CDATA[Zane volunteering with the Students Against Alzheimer's organization he helped found.]]> image/jpeg 1661876197 2022-08-30 16:16:37 1662042886 2022-09-01 14:34:46 660693 image <![CDATA[Rommi working as a teaching assistant (TA) in an anatomy course.]]> image/jpeg 1661876106 2022-08-30 16:15:06 1662042920 2022-09-01 14:35:20 660795 image <![CDATA[Adam at Harvard Medical Lab]]> image/jpeg 1662043175 2022-09-01 14:39:35 1680031872 2023-03-28 19:31:12 660694 image <![CDATA[Adam, Rommi and Zane Kashlan with their parents, Dean and Judy, and Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera (M.S. PSY ‘93, Ph.D. PSY ‘95).]]> image/jpeg 1661876149 2022-08-30 16:15:49 1662042949 2022-09-01 14:35:49 660696 image <![CDATA[Commencement Weekend, Spring 2022]]> image/jpeg 1661876241 2022-08-30 16:17:21 1662043053 2022-09-01 14:37:33 <![CDATA[Three Brothers. Three Valedictorians. Three Yellow Jackets.]]> <![CDATA[3 for 3: Georgia Tech triplets graduate a year early]]> <![CDATA[Three of a Kind: The Kashlan Triplets]]>
<![CDATA[Fall 2022 GT Astrobiology Distinguished Lecture and Social Event!]]> 36360 Please join us for the Fall 2022 GT Astrobiology Distinguished Lecture and Social Event!

Title: Contending with the Truly Alien: Agnostic Approaches to Life Detection

Presented by: Dr. Sarah Stewart Johnson, Georgetown University -  Provost's Distinguished Associate Professor

Date/Time: Friday, Sept. 2nd 11:00 AM–12:30 PM

Location: virtual via Zoom or view with others in MoSE G021

 (link: https://gatech.zoom.us/j/98659257400)

In the afternoon, there will be a social event with food and refreshments beginning at 4:00 PM, located at the Molecular Science and Engineering (MoSE) outdoor patio, ground floor. We will also be taking a group photo at this time, so bring your GT Astrobiology shirts! No shirt? No worries! We will be handing out updated shirts at the start of the social event for our wonderful new members! For up-to-date information about this event, see https://astrobiology.gatech.edu/category/events/.

We hope to see you there!

Organized by Astrobiology Fellows, 2022-2023:

Claire Elbon, Tatiana Gibson, Emmy Hughes, and Sharissa Thompson

]]> sthompson318 1 1661559397 2022-08-27 00:16:37 1661805207 2022-08-29 20:33:27 0 0 news Please join us for the Fall 2022 GT Astrobiology Distinguished Lecture and Social Event! In the afternoon, there will be a social event with food and refreshments beginning at 4:00 PM, located at the Molecular Science and Engineering (MoSE) outdoor patio, ground floor. We will also be taking a group photo at this time, so bring your GT Astrobiology shirts!

 

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2022-08-26T00:00:00-04:00 2022-08-26T00:00:00-04:00 2022-08-26 00:00:00 660610 660610 image <![CDATA[Fall 2022 GT Astrobiology Distinguished Lecture and Social Event]]> image/png 1661556243 2022-08-26 23:24:03 1661556243 2022-08-26 23:24:03
<![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 1661879074 2022-08-30 17:04:34 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.

]]>
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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660533 660533 image <![CDATA[RN logo]]> image/jpeg 1661436728 2022-08-25 14:12:08 1661436728 2022-08-25 14:12:08
<![CDATA[Lewis Wheaton Named Inaugural Director of the Center for Promoting Inclusion and Equity in the Sciences (C-PIES) at Georgia Tech]]> 35575 From rehabilitation research to Smyrna City Council, School of Biological Sciences Associate Professor Lewis Wheaton has served as a leader in many areas throughout his time at Georgia Tech. With new appointments as the inaugural director of the College of Science’s Center for Promoting Inclusion and Equity in the Sciences (C-PIES) and as an advisor on the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Advisory Board on Medical Rehabilitation Research, Wheaton will lead in two more spaces on campus, in community, and beyond.

 

The Center for Promoting Inclusion and Equity in the Sciences

The creation of C-PIES is a new milestone in the College’s long standing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, as well as a key pillar of its 10-year strategic plan.

With a mission “to recruit, support and retain a diverse population for all sectors of our community ― staff, faculty, and students ― and build an inclusive community that broadens access to science and mathematics and creates opportunities for advancement,” C-PIES will continue to expand DEI programming across the College of Sciences community.

Prior to the creation of C-PIES, Keith Oden, who retired in December 2020 following a 35-year career with Georgia Tech, served as director of Academic Diversity for the College for ten years. With a focus on student recruitment and retention, Oden’s expertise, outreach, and mentoring transformed the lives of students and the College of Sciences community.

“From reflections and conversations with College of Sciences colleagues, I became convinced that a center focused around broadening access and creating a diverse community would be more effective than tasking a single individual with all programmatic elements needed to advance our DEI mission,” said College of Sciences Dean and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair Susan Lozier in a community letter this summer.

Now, working in tandem with Dean Lozier, ADVANCE Professor Jean Lynch-Stieglitz, and the College’s associate and assistant deans, as inaugural C-PIES Director, Wheaton will lead the Center in implementing recommendations from the College’s Task Force on Racial Equity, coalescing collaborative work across the College’s six schools, and leading new and ongoing DEI efforts.

“I am excited about this new direction and its potential for making significant progress toward our goal of creating a diverse and inclusive community,” Lozier noted in sharing Wheaton’s appointment with the College of Sciences community earlier this August.

 

Science and Service

Along with leading C-PIES, Wheaton will continue his focus on research and community leadership beyond Georgia Tech. Since joining Georgia Tech in 2008, Wheaton has directed the Cognitive Motor Control Lab, where he strives to improve the lives of people with upper-limb amputations and those who have had strokes through a deeper understanding of the neurophysiology of motor learning.

Outside the lab, Wheaton has worked across communities on campus – serving on the College of Sciences Task Force on Racial Equity and Georgia Tech’s working group on Race and Racism in Contemporary Biomedicine, and being named the 2021 Faculty Diversity Champion for Georgia Tech – as well as throughout Georgia.

Along with serving as a member of the Smyrna City Council since first elected in 2019, Wheaton also helped shape rehabilitation policy and management in the state of Georgia as a Governor-appointed member of the State Rehabilitation Council during a six-year term.

We recently spoke with Wheaton about C-PIES, serving on NIH’s National Advisory Board on Medical Rehabilitation Research, and progress and service across Georgia Tech, and beyond.

 

A Conversation with Lewis Wheaton

Q: What was your initial reaction to the creation of the C-PIES, when it was announced in April?

A: Probably a mix of excitement, enthusiasm, and a little bit of trepidation to be honest. I think when you start talking about equity and inclusion, those are loaded concepts and very loaded terms, and people define them very differently. So, the trepidation side was more ‘Okay, how is the community going to receive something like this center as a whole?’

At the same time, I reflected on a lot of the conversations that I had with people one-on-one, and also as a result of being a part of the [College of Sciences Task Force on Racial Equity], and there’s a lot of encouragement there. This is the kind of thing that I think, by and large, people in the College want to see and are excited about. It’s a new type of opportunity for the College and it’s something that people want to rally around. So, it was a constellation of all of that all at once.

 

Q: What interested you about the opportunity to direct the Center?

A: Similarly, my initial feelings, honestly, including the trepidation.

I love science. I’m really, really passionate about what I do, and I’m passionate to the point of wanting to make sure that everyone gets the opportunity to at least be exposed to the possibility of doing science – and specifically doing it here at Georgia Tech. That means a lot to me. Given where [Georgia Tech is] seated within this community, within this region, within this area, we have a unique opportunity here. We should be an attractive force for doing not only science that focuses on or considers equity and inclusion, but that is being done by a population of scientists that is reflective of the broader community around us.

Those opportunities really jumped out to me as something that would be exciting to me – exciting to lead, exciting to figure out how to collaborate with other groups to [accomplish these goals]. Pulling from some other experiences that I’ve had at other places, I just thought, “you know, this could be fun.” And I think we are at a good time to do something like this.

 

Q: You’ve been involved in a lot of community efforts – a race and racism in biomedicine working group, middle school outreach with Georgia Tech CEISMC (Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing), Science Day in the Park with GTRI (Georgia Tech Research Institute), and more. What is your approach to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as a sense of community?

A: I think it starts with having honest conversation. By that, I mean really getting past statistics, talking points, and all these other things. Really get to understanding what the challenges are and what the perceptions are.

Also, because I tend to like to know how we’re going to move forward, it’s being very focused on very actionable goals. Being very clear about “Okay, these are the things that we can do now, these are the things that we can maybe target down the line, and these are the things that will be in our 10-year plan.”

We have very concrete, actionable steps that we can take to move things forward. But at the same time, also always communicating with people about what we’re doing, maybe even sometimes what we’re not doing. That clarity and that focus are, I think, what you have to have when you’re dealing with this type of issue, unfortunately because it is sensitive sometimes. But I think that’s what’s needed here.

 

Q: What are some of the main challenges you see this center as a whole facing?

A: You know, I think perception is everything. I’m going to be honest, [this topic] can be very uncomfortable for some people, and something that some people just disagree with – or that they think they disagree with, I should probably say.

Perception suggests that this center might focus on one thing, but in reality, the perspective is usually much broader. I think a lot of people will immediately think “Oh, this is just about bringing in more women or more people of color into different units.” It could include that. But it could also be, “What scientific questions are we asking? How are we responding to equity needs of our immediate community? To the state? To the nation? Are we asking sharp enough scientific questions that are immediate to some of the needs that are clearly emerging from funding agencies and other organizations that focus on inequity?” That is a part of this, too.

 

Q: As the inaugural leader of the Center, what immediate goals do you envision for yourself? Your long-term goals for C-PIES?

A: To start with the latter, I hope that the Center, as it evolves, turns into a real catalyst for change. Change not just in building a better community, diversifying our community, and promoting better inclusion, but also creating a catalyst for new questions, new horizons that we should be pursuing that are really addressing the needs of the community. I would love to see the Center evolve in that direction.

To get there though, the first things I’m excited about doing initially are having conversations. Let’s, as campus leaders, get people together and really, just conversate about these issues. Let’s see what our various levels of comfort and sensitivity are around these things. Do we even understand some of these words and phrases and what they mean? Because they’re complicated and they come with a lot of emotion.

Also, starting to identify opportunities for growth within various units within the College that are ripe for development in this area, and going after resources nationally or at the state level to try to move the needle forward in terms of the type of people we have in our labs, the type of people we have teaching, the types of folks that we have sitting in faculty units across campus. Let’s really think innovatively about how we can be a leader in this area.

What’s exciting and inspiring to me is that we see a lot of other universities around the country, and even some of our competitors, that are boldly pursuing sustainable DEI efforts. That tells me it can be done — we just have to do it. That’s all it is, it’s very simple. It sounds complicated and messy, but in reality, it’s incredibly simple. You just have to want to do it.

 

Q: What are you most looking forward to as you start this new position?

A: I’m just excited to get started. I’m excited to do the work and see the change.

I am convinced that once we, as a community, acknowledge that this is not as hard and messy and complicated as it sounds – once we’re over that barrier, then we can really have progress. But we still have to make sure that we are all united, and clear on that barrier. And that’s what I’m excited about.

 

Rehabilitation Research and Beyond

Q: As a member of NIH’s National Advisory Board on Medical Rehabilitation Research board, you will be advising the directors of NIH, National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Can you elaborate on what that will entail?

A: A lot of this really focuses on trying to get feedback from the scientific community about the types of discoveries that we need to be making to really move the rehabilitation needle forward. Rehabilitation, in the broadest terms, includes disorders, nervous system injuries, all kinds of things that need rehabilitation.

That’s a broad aspect of NIH’s portfolio. This board will be critical to ensuring that NIH-funded medical rehabilitation research continues to be at the tip of the spear of innovation. I am excited to be on the Advisory Board to make sure that we are thinking proactively about the way that science is emerging, even how our trainees are emerging, to make sure that the funding priorities are aligned with the questions that we need to ask on the ground.

 

Q: What was your reaction to NIH asking you to serve on this board?

A: I was kind of surprised, actually. I think this is a really exciting opportunity, and it felt good for NIH to reach out and ask me to do something like this. To me it was absolutely a no brainer to accept it.

 

Q: What are your main goals as an advisor?

A: I’m certainly in a space where I care a lot about rehabilitation, particularly with limb loss and stroke. But I’m also very interested in understanding how we can better intersect computational and engineering aspects into sciences to ask better questions — and how we can use all these things together to understand how to move rehabilitation forward. I’m excited to share my perspective from this space, and to really get at the root of some of these questions.

Another big area is “telerehab” – it’s taking off as an industry and taking off as a science, as well. That’s great, but we still have bedrock scientific questions that we need to understand about the efficacy of telerehab approaches. So those are the types of things I’m excited to think about on this advisory panel, and to try to hopefully have some influence on how we’re shaping these types of things and the funding priorities that need to emerge from NIH.

 

Q: In addition to these new positions, you are also a member of Smyrna City Council — and you teach, advise students, and run a research lab. How do you balance all of that?

A: I have a wonderful wife – we are very supportive of each other when it comes to this kind of stuff.

Also, it’s really seeing the common threads of thought between everything. Being on City Council, in many ways, is not unlike being in academia. There are a lot of meetings, that’s very similar. But the thought process, the way you’re doing things, the way you’re going about trying to solve problems is very scientific. So, it feels kind of natural. When I go into all of the spaces that I’m in, I try to at least have that as a common thread, where I’m approaching things in the most genuine way that I can. I’m a scientist, so that’s how I’m going to approach things.

At a practical level, it’s finding balance between these things so that I can honestly give them my full commitment and know that in that moment, that’s what I’m focusing on. If I’m talking to one of my students, in that moment they have all of my attention. If I’m talking to a constituent in my ward, they have my full attention. I want to be actionable and responsive to all the needs of that person. It’s not easy — I’m not going to say it’s trivial, but it’s a balance that you just learn how to strike.

As well, I’ll say, in all aspects of these areas, there are great people. The staff that I get to work within each one of these spaces is exceptional. I’d be lying if I said I was doing it all myself – there are a lot of people that help pull me through all these areas. They really deserve a lot of credit.

]]> adavidson38 1 1660749550 2022-08-17 15:19:10 1661462480 2022-08-25 21:21:20 0 0 news The College of Sciences is pleased to announce that Lewis Wheaton has been appointed the inaugural director of the Center for Promoting Inclusion and Equity in the Sciences (C-PIES) in the College. Wheaton, an associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences, is also an advisor on the National Institute of Health’s National Advisory Board on Medical Rehabilitation Research, among several other leadership roles.

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2022-08-25T00:00:00-04:00 2022-08-25T00:00:00-04:00 2022-08-25 00:00:00 Writer: Audra Davidson
Communications Officer
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

Editor and Media Contact: Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

]]>
660552 660553 632660 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 660553 image <![CDATA[Lewis Wheaton, Inaugural Director of the Center for Promoting Inclusion and Equity in the Sciences (C-PIES) at Georgia Tech]]> image/jpeg 1661458931 2022-08-25 20:22:11 1680031855 2023-03-28 19:30:55 632660 image <![CDATA[Lewis Wheaton is also director of the Cognitive Motor Control Lab. ]]> image/jpeg 1582142962 2020-02-19 20:09:22 1680031861 2023-03-28 19:31:01 <![CDATA[College of Sciences Faculty, Staff Honored at 2021 Diversity Symposium]]> <![CDATA[Using Rocks to Hammer Out a Connection Between Visual Gaze and Motor Skills Learning ]]> <![CDATA[Lewis Wheaton: Scientist, Citizen, Councilman ]]> <![CDATA[How to Promote Diversity Daily with Lewis Wheaton ]]> <![CDATA[Unlocking the Mind-Body Connection ]]>
<![CDATA[No Separations: Meet Ellinor Alseth, CMDI’s First Early Career Award Fellow]]> 34528 Ellinor Alseth works on the bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii mainly because she’s curious about its unusual evolution and ecology, but also because it’s an important pathogen.

“I’ve always thought that it would be nice if you can answer clinically relevant questions and more broadly evolutionary ones at the same time. Maybe I’m just very ambitious, but I don’t see why those two things always have to be so separated,” she said. Research funding is often siloed to answer either medical or basic research questions, less often both on a single project.

Alseth is in the right place to be ambitious. She started this March as the first Early Career Award Fellow at the Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection (CMDI) at Georgia Tech, which prides itself on building connections across disciplines. Its 12 participating labs hail from three schools in the College of Sciences: Biological Sciences, Physics, and Chemistry and Biochemistry. They share a common research focus on the role of microbes like bacteria and viruses in human and environmental health.

The fellowship will fund Alseth and her research for three years. “There’s nothing like this on campus, to my knowledge,” said Sam Brown, CMDI’s director. The most important aspect of the fellowship, he said, is independence: “It’s unusual to be able to put junior scientists truly in the driver’s seat with their research agenda, especially at the junior postdoc level. We have a panel of mentors that offer support, but not instruction.”

That promise of independence was a major pull for Alseth, who moved from Europe to Atlanta for the fellowship. She’s from Norway and completed her Ph.D. at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, and cited the chance to do interdisciplinary microbial research at CMDI as a primary reason she decided to make the move.

“It’s nice to complement my evolutionary and ecology skills with molecular work, because that’s where I feel like I have the biggest gap in knowledge,” Alseth said. Studying molecules (such as chemical signals between bacteria) requires quite a different set of skills than ecology and evolution. “And CMDI has everything you could possibly dream of for answering fairly complicated molecular questions.”

Alseth’s research in CMDI will focus on phage therapy, combining approaches and ideas from community ecology, evolutionary biology, and molecular biology. Phages are viruses adapted to infect bacteria, and they are harmless to humans. That means they can serve as alternative or supplemental treatments to antibiotics, with fewer side effects. Many bacteria have evolved to escape and resist antibiotics, leading to a major global public health threat expected to worsen in the decades ahead. Phage therapy is one possible solution in an arsenal of tools, but it is not nearly as well-understood as therapeutic drugs.

Phage therapy is typically a last-ditch therapy after antibiotics have failed. However, fighting biology with biology is complex and may have unintended consequences. “Phage therapy is the concept that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend,’” Alseth said. “But as an evolutionary biologist, I want to know what the consequences might be. How will the bacteria respond? The worst-case scenario is that [scientists] will do what we did with antibiotics and go in blind, thinking we have a solution that will last forever.”

So, Alseth is working with the bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii to understand how it evolves to resist phages. A. baumannii is one of the so-called ‘ESKAPE’ pathogens, an acronym of the names of six bacteria that are resistant to many antibiotics and commonly spread in hospital settings. A. baumannii is interesting to Alseth because “It’s very good at scooping up DNA from its environment,” which helps it evolve to escape antibiotics by picking up genes from other microbes around them. In hospitals and in the human body, A. baumannii may be surrounded by other bacteria. Each species is evolving new strategies to escape its phage, and A. baumannii might be able to develop a formidable defense strategy by combining them all.

Alseth’s Ph.D. research, published in the journal Nature, found that growing multiple microbe species together affected the course of phage resistance evolution in the more commonly studied bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Although Pseudomonas is studied by several labs in CMDI, for her postdoctoral studies Alseth chose to switch to A. baumannii, a species that she found had strong effects on evolution of other bacteria. Alseth noticed there was very little known about its evolution and ecology. “I realized that there is a gap here that I was quite curious about,” she said.

That interdisciplinary curiosity was important to the fellowship selection committee, said Brown, the CMDI director. Another reason Alseth was a good fit was her impactful research: “science that would change the way other people were doing science,” as he put it. “This is a great way to bring the brightest talent to Georgia Tech, because we’re offering an unprecedented deal in terms of the fellow’s ability to lead their own science, and that’s really valuable.”

“Looking to donors, the hope is that we can extend our funding, and really expand this to have a cohort [of fellows],” Brown added, which would continue to boosting the research agenda and profile of CMDI, College of Sciences, and Georgia Tech. “We hope and expect this is the launching pad for really bright careers.”

 

Funding: The Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection (CMDI) Early Career Award Fellowship is supported by CMDI faculty funding.

Story and photo by Carina Baskett.

]]> jhunt7 1 1661377252 2022-08-24 21:40:52 1661377395 2022-08-24 21:43:15 0 0 news The Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection’s inaugural Early Career Award Fellow shares about launching her interdisciplinary postdoctoral research program and asks: Can a bacteria that’s “good at scooping up DNA” teach us about harnessing viruses to battle bacterial infections?

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2022-08-24T00:00:00-04:00 2022-08-24T00:00:00-04:00 2022-08-24 00:00:00 Writer: Carina Baskett
Senior Research Scientist and Grant Writer
Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection
Georgia Institute of Technology

Editor: Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences
Georgia Institute of Technology

]]>
660518 660518 image <![CDATA[Ellinor Alseth]]> image/jpeg 1661377278 2022-08-24 21:41:18 1661377278 2022-08-24 21:41:18 <![CDATA[CMDI: Mighty Microbial Dynamics for a Healthier People and Planet]]>
<![CDATA[Computational Neuroscience Digging Deep at Georgia Tech]]> 28153

The human brain, composed of about 86 billion noisy neurons, is a reliable, durable, complex, and cryptic biological supercomputer. A community of multidisciplinary researchers at Georgia Tech is decrypting that neuronal chatter, which may hold the key to better treatments for disease and addiction, advanced robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), and even global energy efficiency.

These researchers work in the realm of computational neuroscience, a branch of neuroscience that uses mathematical models, computer simulations, and theoretical analysis of the brain to gain a deeper understanding of the nervous system.

"We want to understand the brain and the important data that we gather from this amazing, mysterious organ,” said Chethan Pandarinath, assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. “But for a long time, we really didn’t have the adequate tools.”

Basically, the ability to look at the brain and gather large amounts of data from it has advanced rapidly — faster than our ability to understand it all.

“There has been an explosion of technology over the past five or 10 years,” Pandarinath said. “So, we’re moving into a different space in the ways we approach the brain, and the ways we think about it.”

Much of that explosion — manifested at Georgia Tech and its partner institutions, like Emory, in the form of additional academic offerings as well as research interest — has been fueled by the BRAIN Initiative, launched by President Barack Obama in 2014. That global research program has identified computational neuroscience (among other things) as an area where progress is most needed.

The wish list includes improvements in machine learning, AI, and crowdsourcing approaches to translating the massive volume of data being gathered from human brains. And Georgia Tech researchers have their hands in every area.

Pandarinath’s lab, for example, is using AI tools and the insights gained from the brain’s neural networks — and support from the National Institutes of Health —  to develop revolutionary assistive devices for people with disabilities or neurological disorders.

He also spearheaded the Neural Latents Benchmark Challenge on GitHub. These competitions attracted a diverse range of teams that created new models for analyzing large data sets of neural activity.

“This was our effort to accelerate progress at the intersection of neuroscience, machine learning, and artificial intelligence,” Pandarinath said.

The challenge illustrated a need for multiple perspectives and disciplines in computational neuroscience — the winning team of the first competition in January was a firm called AE Studio, a software development, data science, and product design company that doesn’t ordinarily focus on neuroscience but develops potent mathematical and machine-learning tools.

“This field is multidisciplinary and collaborative by nature and necessity,” said Tansu Celikel, chair of Georgia Tech’s School of Psychology, who wants to understand complex behaviors controlled by the brain in order to make smarter, more intuitive robots.

“It begs for biologists, psychologists, mathematicians, physicists, data scientists — people from the machine learning and AI worlds — to come together and advance the state of computation and brain research," Celikel added. "With that in mind, Georgia Tech is in an excellent position to make a significant impact and become a global center for this kind of research.”

Celikel and Pandarinath are just two of the researchers at Georgia Tech in computational neuroscience, a wide-ranging field that relies on collaborations between data scientists, experimentalists, and clinicians, who are forming partnerships across schools, colleges, universities, and disciplines. A small sampling of the people connecting the brain’s neuronal dots and expanding this body of research at Georgia Tech include:

 

Hannah Choi

• Assistant Professor, School of Mathematics

• Research Group in Mathematical Neuroscience

Neuroscience wasn’t part of Choi’s plans. But while working toward her Ph.D. in applied ­mathematics, “I got really interested in nonlinear dynamical systems, a big topic in applied mathematics,” she said. Such systems seem to be chaotic, unpredictable, and counterintuitive — pretty much like most systems in nature. “I soon realized the brain is the most exciting nonlinear dynamical system, and that I could apply my mathematical tools and develop computational theories to better understand the brain.”

Earlier this year, Choi’s work in applying math to neuroscience earned her a prestigious 2022 Sloan Research Fellowship, which goes to the nation’s most promising young scientific researchers. Since launching her lab at Georgia Tech in January 2021, Choi has continued her collaboration with the Seattle-based Allen Institute in studying how information is processed in neural networks of many different scales, while starting partnerships with several Georgia Tech and Emory researchers, including Simon Sponberg, Anqi Wu, Nabil Imam, Chris Rodgers, Ming-fai Fong, and Dieter Jaeger, working in the sprawling computational neuroscience world.

Like some of her Georgia Tech colleagues, Choi also wants to address the problem of the environmental footprint being made by all of this computation and AI in her chosen field. “The idea is to apply what we have learned about our very energy-efficient brains to the development of better, more efficient artificial neural networks.”

 

Eva Dyer

• Assistant Professor, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering

• Neural Data Science (NERDS) Lab

Dyer leads a diverse team of researchers in developing machine learning approaches to analyze and interpret massive, complex neural data sets. Winner of a McKnight Technology Award and BRAIN Award in recent years, Dyer’s interest in the brain is rooted in her love of music — being keen on how we perceive sound at the neuronal level.

As a postdoctoral student she developed a cryptography-inspired strategy for decoding neural conversations. Now one of the leading young researchers in computational neuroscience, Dyer directs a lab that routinely presents research at high-profile conferences like NeurIPS. Her team is “essentially interested in how the coordinated activity of large collections of neurons are being modified or changing in the presence of something like disease,” she said.

“Ultimately, with the information we gather and analyze, we hope to discover biomarkers of Alzheimer’s and other diseases,” added Dyer, who worked with Pandarinath to develop the Benchmark Challenge. “The idea is to catch changes in neural activity that are happening before we actually see the cognitive deficits.”

 

Dobromir Rahnev

• Associate Professor, School of Psychology

• Perception, Neuroimaging, and Modeling Lab

Rahnev uses a combination of neuroimaging and computational modeling to reveal the mechanisms of perception and decision-making in humans.

A recipient of the American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology and the Vision Science Society Young Investigator Award, Rahnev has already made important contributions to our understanding of how people perceive the world and make decisions. He has recently started to investigate how deep neural networks — which have established themselves as state-of-the-art computer vision algorithms — can serve as excellent models for the perceptual and decisional processes in the human brain.

“One of my strongest passions is to make science more open in every sense of the word,” said Rahnev, who organized the Confidence Database, the largest field-specific database of open data in the behavioral sciences. “It’s important for me to be involved in efforts to attract and retain people from underrepresented groups in cognitive and computational neuroscience.”

 

Chris Rozell

• Professor; Julian T. Hightower Chair, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering

• Sensory Information Processing Lab

Rozell describes his lab’s focus on computational neuroengineering as a combination of data science, neurotechnology, and computational modeling, with the goal of advancing the understanding of brain function, leading to the development of intelligent machine systems and effective interventions for disease.

“One of the projects in our lab that is really compelling right now is a novel therapy for patients with treatment-resistant depression,” said Rozell, whose lab is partnering with a clinical team to improve this experimental treatment for patients who have not responded to any currently approved therapy. “So, no drugs help them. No psychotherapy. No electroconvulsive therapy. We’re using deep brain stimulation.”

The results have been positive for patients, and the researchers are, “getting an objective readout, for the first time, of what’s happening in their brains,” Rozell said, thanks to a new generation of machine-learning tools called “explainable AI.” “With these new approaches, we can gain a deeper understanding of the disease, which can lead to more personalized therapies.”

 

Lewis Wheaton

• Associate Professor, School of Biological Sciences

• Cognitive Motor Control Lab

When he isn’t helping to lead the city of Smyrna as a city councilman, Wheaton is leading a research effort that could lead to user-friendly prosthetic devices and improved motor rehabilitation training, particularly for people with upper limb amputation.

“There are a lot of beautifully developed upper limb prostheses available right now, but one of the big challenges is they’re just not heavily used by individuals — partly because they’re really, really expensive, but also because they’re such an easy thing to not use,” said Wheaton. “It’s very easy to just take it off and never wear it at all.”

Which is why much of Wheaton’s research is focused on acquiring and studying data that shows what upper limb amputees are thinking or feeling while using, or trying to use, a prosthesis. Integrating a patient’s neural activity with observations of behavior and gaze patterns, the team is “gathering data that’s never really been acquired before,” Wheaton said.

“This will help us gather more information that is helpful in developing new rehabilitation protocols for persons learning how to use prostheses. A better understanding of how rehabilitation efforts are influenced by different types of prostheses can also inform engineers and the marketplace on the type of prostheses we should be developing.”

 

Anqi Wu

• Assistant Professor, School of Computer Science and Engineering

• BRAin INtelligence and Machine Learning Laboratory

One of Georgia Tech’s newest computational neuroscientist faculty members, Wu is building her research enterprise around building advanced machine-learning models for neural and behavioral analyses.

“I want to help experimental neuroscientists to understand their data and draw scientific conclusions,” she said, pointing out that these collaborators are collecting larger and larger populations of neurons across the whole brain, as well as more naturalistic animal behaviors. “How to integrate these big data sets and extract multilayer knowledge to understand different perspectives of the brain is a very challenging problem.”

Wu, who came to Georgia Tech in Spring 2022, aims to develop sophisticated latent variable models to address those issues. These computational models are essentially used to project high-dimensional data from large neural populations across large brain areas into useful, low-dimensional (i.e., interpretable) information that experimental neuroscientists can use.

More Neuro News

Ballet and Neuro Ethics Come Together at Georgia Tech

Serpooshan Lab Creates 3D-Printed Tool to Study Neuroblastoma

 

Writer: Jerry Grillo

Photos: Joya Chapman

]]> Jerry Grillo 1 1661284631 2022-08-23 19:57:11 1661786698 2022-08-29 15:24:58 0 0 news Researchers at Georgia Tech are working in the realm of computational neuroscience, a branch of neuroscience that uses mathematical models, computer simulations, and theoretical analysis of the brain to gain a deeper understanding of the nervous system.

]]>
2022-08-23T00:00:00-04:00 2022-08-23T00:00:00-04:00 2022-08-23 00:00:00 660459 660460 660461 660462 660463 660464 660465 660459 image <![CDATA[Chethan and Tansu]]> image/jpeg 1661283709 2022-08-23 19:41:49 1661283709 2022-08-23 19:41:49 660460 image <![CDATA[Hannah Choi]]> image/jpeg 1661283757 2022-08-23 19:42:37 1661283757 2022-08-23 19:42:37 660461 image <![CDATA[Eva Dyer]]> image/jpeg 1661283804 2022-08-23 19:43:24 1661283804 2022-08-23 19:43:24 660462 image <![CDATA[Doby Rahnev]]> image/jpeg 1661283851 2022-08-23 19:44:11 1661283851 2022-08-23 19:44:11 660463 image <![CDATA[Chris Rozell]]> image/jpeg 1661283880 2022-08-23 19:44:40 1661283880 2022-08-23 19:44:40 660464 image <![CDATA[Lewis Wheaton]]> image/jpeg 1661283925 2022-08-23 19:45:25 1661283925 2022-08-23 19:45:25 660465 image <![CDATA[Anqi Wu]]> image/jpeg 1661283961 2022-08-23 19:46:01 1661283961 2022-08-23 19:46:01
<![CDATA[Tech's Fossil Hunters: Citizen Scientists Welcome]]> 34528 Channel your inner Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern’s character in "Jurassic Park") at Tech’s Spatial Ecology and Paleontology Lab for Fossil Fridays. Sifting through dirt pulled from the Natural Trap Cave in Wyoming, community members can help researchers find fossils up to 30,000 years old. “We’re interested in ‘citizen science’ and making sure our community knows what we’re working on and feels included,” says Julia Schap, a third-year PhD candidate and one of the hosts of Fossil Fridays. “We don’t like this idea that science happens behind closed doors.”

Fossil Fridays begin Friday, September 2. Learn more and register here.

"CITIZEN SCIENTISTS" ARE WELCOME DURING FOSSIL FRIDAYS AT GEORGIA TECH.

This story by Jennifer Herseim first appeared in Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine.

Eleven-year-old Matthew and his brother Joey, age 7, are hunched over a small pile of dirt in Tech’s Spatial Ecology and Paleontology Lab. The brothers aren’t students at Georgia Tech—at least not yet, says their mother, Christine Conwell, PhD Chem 04, who works at Georgia Tech and is married to fellow Yellow Jacket David Gaul, PhD Chem 98.

Nevertheless, the two young fossil hunters are doing important work for the lab: helping researchers find fossilized bones, some of which could be 30,000 years old. Matthew and Joey are just two of the citizen scientists who have lent a hand during “Fossil Fridays,” an open, two-hour session when members of the community can come learn about paleontology and dig through dirt samples in search of real fossils.

“We’re interested in ‘citizen science’ and making sure our community knows what we’re working on and feels included,” says Julia Schap, a third-year PhD candidate and one of the hosts of Fossil Fridays. “We don’t like this idea that science happens behind closed doors.”

The program started in 2014 as a hands-on community activity, but also, partly, as a much-needed solution to help researchers in Jenny McGuire’s Spatial Ecology & Paleontology Lab at Georgia Tech sift through literally a ton of dirt pulled from the Natural Trap Cave in Wyoming.

As the name implies, the cave’s unique geography has made it an ideal spot for paleontologists—a large hole in a plateau above the cave acts as a natural trap. For hundreds of thousands of years, animals have fallen through the hole to an 80-foot drop below, explains Schap. The stack of bones below the hole is a treasure trove for researchers like Schap. She visited the cave with McGuire last summer. Their team bagged and shipped 2,000 pounds of sediment back to Atlanta. 

Some of the fossils found in the samples come from rodents, rabbits, lizards, snakes, birds, frogs, and occasionally fish that get brought in by the birds. “A lot of Tech students like Fossil Fridays, especially those who are interested in medical school, because they become more familiar with what animal bones look like compared to humans,” Schap says. “Also, people think it’s just fascinating that you can touch fossils.”

The lab uses fossils in a variety of research areas. Schap studies fossils of small mammals to find out how these species were affected by climate at different periods of history. Her findings are useful for current conservation efforts.

Fossil Fridays are on pause for the summer but will resume in the fall. During a typical session, Schap likes to play movie soundtracks in the background to help fossil hunters unwind.  “I sometimes play the Jurassic Park soundtrack to really help everyone get in the mood and to feel like they’re doing really important work—because they are.

]]> jhunt7 1 1660753587 2022-08-17 16:26:27 1661549033 2022-08-26 21:23:53 0 0 news Channel your inner Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern’s character in "Jurassic Park") at Tech’s Spatial Ecology and Paleontology Lab for Fossil Fridays. Sifting through dirt pulled from the Natural Trap Cave in Wyoming, community members can help researchers find fossils up to 30,000 years old.

]]>
2022-08-17T00:00:00-04:00 2022-08-17T00:00:00-04:00 2022-08-17 00:00:00 Jess Hunt-Ralston
Director of Communications
College of Sciences at Georgia Tech

]]>
660261 660262 653919 660261 image <![CDATA[A jawbone unearthed in Natural Trap Cave, summer 2021. (Photo: Jess Hunt-Ralston)]]> image/jpeg 1660753677 2022-08-17 16:27:57 1660753677 2022-08-17 16:27:57 660262 image <![CDATA[Fossil Fridays are open to citizen scientists of all ages. (Photo: Christine Conwell)]]> image/jpeg 1660753832 2022-08-17 16:30:32 1660753832 2022-08-17 16:30:32 653919 image <![CDATA[Jenny McGuire rappels into Natural Trap Cave in northern Wyoming. (Photo: Jess Hunt-Ralston)]]> image/jpeg 1640279162 2021-12-23 17:06:02 1640279162 2021-12-23 17:06:02 <![CDATA[Focus on Fossils: Paleobiologists to Unearth Ancient Megafauna in East Africa, Forecast How Humans and Climate Affect Wildlife]]> <![CDATA[Survival of the Smallest: Georgia Tech Researchers Uncover Unequal Effects of Human Activity on Mammals]]> <![CDATA[Hunting for Leftovers in a Refrigerator Cave ]]> <![CDATA[Can Lessons From Fossils Guide Earth's Future?]]>
<![CDATA[Now Online in the MCF: Inorganic Mass Spectrometry Capabilities]]> 27863 The Materials Characterization Facility (MCF) at Georgia Tech has installed a new inorganic m spectrometry facility. The facility includes two new inductively couple plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) systems: a Thermo iCAP RQ quadrupole ICP-MS for streamlined and high-throughput determinations of elemental concentrations and a Thermo Neoma multicollector ICP-MS with collision cell technology for the precise determinations of isotope ratios within a given sample.

Each instrument can measure elemental variability in both dissolved aqueous samples as well as solids/minerals via laser ablation microsampling from a Teledyne Iridia laser ablation system. Together the system can measure isotopes at precision in elemental systems from Li and U.

Planned applications include: (1) high-resolution measurements of Ca, Sr, Ba, Mg, and B elemental and isotopic variability in seawater and marine and terrestrial carbonates for paleoclimate reconstructions, (2) (U-Th)/Pb dating and Hf isotope measurements to study the origin of critical mineral deposits, with a potential engineering application and the development of novel methods for increasing precision/accuracy and minimizing sample consumption during routine analyses of water quality and environmental contamination.

The MCF welcomes users interested in these and other potential applications of this new facility to their scientific and engineering research to contact David Tavakoli (atavakoli6@gatech.edu).

]]> Christa Ernst 1 1659719201 2022-08-05 17:06:41 1660067458 2022-08-09 17:50:58 0 0 news The Materials Characterization Facility (MCF) at Georgia Tech has installed a new inorganic mass spectrometry facility. It includes two new inductively couple plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) systems: a Thermo iCAP RQ quadrupole ICP-MS for streamlined and high-throughput determinations of elemental concentrations and a Thermo Neoma multicollector ICP-MS with collision cell technology for the precise determinations of isotope ratios within a given sample.

]]>
2022-08-05T00:00:00-04:00 2022-08-05T00:00:00-04:00 2022-08-05 00:00:00 David Tavakoli (atavakoli6@gatech.edu).

]]>
659967 659967 image <![CDATA[Inorganic Mass Spectrometry at MCF]]> image/png 1659718945 2022-08-05 17:02:25 1659718945 2022-08-05 17:02:25
<![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: