Editor's note: Here is an update on the information at minute 1:36 in the video: The Center for Relativistic Astrophysics, which currently occupies the next space to be renovated, is now slated to move into the Klaus Building to form a new interdisciplinary research neighborhood focusing on astrophysics and planetary sciences.
Relentless construction in Georgia Tech makes it hard to keep track of what’s done and what’s just started. Earlier this year, the renovated first floor of the Gilbert Hillhouse Boggs building opened for business without fanfare. In the spring 2019 semester, upper-level laboratory courses in physics and biology quietly moved to spaces fashioned out of old offices and research labs.
On the outside, Boggs looks the same as it was in the 1970s, when it was built. But come in and you might exclaim, “Wow! I had no idea Boggs could look like this,” as Juan Archila says he has heard many people say. As the College of Sciences’ director of facilities and capital planning, Archila was heavily involved in the building’s makeover.
Repurposed Mingles with State-of-the-Art
The main drivers of the Boggs first-floor upgrade are safety, accessibility, and sustainability. “We now have windows between the biology labs,” Archila says. All door also have windows, “to create transparency and to promote safety and accountability.” For students with disabilities, labs now have benches that are shorter than standard.
Budget for the project was tight, Archila says. In the spirit of sustainability and economy, usable materials were reused. “We didn’t completely gut the old spaces,” Archila says. “We repurposed and moved a lot of the cabinetry.”
Amid the repurposed cabinets are state-of-the-art equipment.
“Last year we received Tech Fee Funds to purchase nine Class II Biological Safety Cabinets,” says Alison Onstine, laboratory manager in the School of Biological Sciences. Each cabinet is six feet long and can accommodate two students working side by side. These equipment expand the hands on experience for students in handling cells, as well as organisms that require Biosafety Level 2.
More equipment is forthcoming, including an ultra-low-temperature freezer for specimen preservation, fluorescent microscopes, incubators for microbial work, and additional physiology equipment.
Improvements in Learning and Instruction
Upper-level biology lab courses are now in Boggs, including genetics, microbiology, cell and molecular biology, anatomy, and physiology. Labs for advanced physics courses, as well as electronics and optics, also have moved to Boggs.
The advanced physics labs were previously taught in two small rooms in the Howey Building, says Claire Berger, a professor of the practice in the School of Physics who teaches the lab courses. In Boggs, “we have so much more space! It is clean and well-organized.
“It allows for more experiments to be set up and in better conditions. For example, the labs now have three separate dark rooms, equipped with water sinks, for the optical experiments.
“The labs are also less cluttered, therefore better in terms of safety. Because the teaching environment is less noisy, we can have one-to-one teaching on each of the individual experiments, as well as group teaching with a large, well-lit white board.”
The biology labs now in Boggs previously were taught in spaces spread across three floors of the Cherry Emerson Building. Now they are in one floor, sharing preparation rooms and equipment. “In Boggs, we have a strong nucleus that brings together the biology teaching lab community,” Onstine says.
“We have, for the first time, office spaces for teaching assistants and instructors to meet with students in close proximity to the labs,” Onstine says. “Additional benefits include two new shared equipment labs accessible to everyone, bringing our most advanced equipment within easy reach of students – including a bench-top flow cytometer, fluorescent plate readers, real-time PCR machines. These equipment spaces located between two teaching labs have promoted an open plan which we hope will create more connectivity between our core upper-level lab courses.”
With the advanced chemistry labs in the second-floor, Boggs has become an interdisciplinary space for upper-level science majors, Archila says. “People who are focused on different majors see each other. That’s when you realize that a lot of people are attacking the same problem, just from different angles. It makes sense for Georgia Tech to establish that culture from the very beginning.”
“We are fortunate to share the floor with a new neuroscience teaching lab and to be one floor away from the chemistry teaching labs,” Onstine says. She thinks this layout will foster interaction and interdisciplinary research among students of different majors.
The College of Sciences welcomes seven members of faculty who joined in 2019. They include Susan Lozier, the new dean, Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair, and professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Six others joined the Schools of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Physics, and Psychology, as well as the Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience.
Meghan Babcock, Academic Professional, School of Psychology
Meghan Babcock earned her Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Texas, Arlington, with an emphasis in social and personality psychology. As an academic professional, she is responsible for supporting undergraduate education through teaching and academic advising for all undergraduate psychology majors. She teaches undergraduate courses in psychology – including Research Methods in Psychology and Social Psychology – and manages the laboratory sections for the Research Methods course. In addition, she serves as a supervisor for undergraduate senior theses.
Marcus Cicerone, Professor, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Marcus Cicerone was a former group and project leader for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. His research centers on the development and application of Raman imaging approaches and the dynamics of amorphous condensed matter. His research group has logged many imaging firsts, including the first to obtain quantitative vibrational fingerprint spectra from mammalian cells using coherent Raman imaging and the first to identify specific structural proteins from coherent Raman imaging.
Glen Evenbly, Assistant Professor, School of Physics
Born in New Zealand, Evenbly earned physics degrees from the University of Auckland, in New Zealand (B.S.), and the University of Queensland, in Australia (Ph.D.). After postdoctoral work in California Institute of Technology and the University of California, Irvine, he served as an assistant professor in the University of Sherbrooke, in Canada. He researches the development and implementation of tensor network approaches for the efficient simulation of many-body systems, with additional applications to data compression and machine learning. He received the 2017 Young Scientist Prize in Computational Physics from the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics for developing new renormalization methods to study quantum systems.
Keaton Fletcher, Assistant Professor, School of Psychology
Keaton Fletcher is an industrial-organizational psychologist who studies work team leadership and associated outcomes for individuals, teams, and organizations. Specifically, he explores how a leader's differential treatment of team members can alter team dynamics, such as information sharing, trust, conflict, and cooperation, as well as individual outcomes such as health behaviors, job attitudes, and psychological and physical well-being. He examines these dynamics and implications in the field of healthcare, given the unique challenges healthcare teams face (e.g., interruptions, membership change). He also explores ways to improve leadership behaviors and workers’ well-being through training and intervention.
Joshua Kretchmer, Assistant Professor, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Joshua Kretchmer joined Georgia Tech after graduate and postdoctoral studies at the California Institute of Technology. He is a theoretical and computational chemist with the rare ability to combine the two important areas of electronic structure and quantum dynamics for large systems. His research focuses on developing new techniques to understand and predict the transport of charge and energy in complex environments and materials. He will apply his new techniques and insights to various applications, from chemical control in optical cavities, to light-harvesting materials, to surface catalysis.
Susan Lozier, Professor, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Susan Lozier is also the new dean and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair of the College of Sciences. As dean, she will continue her research, studying the large-scale overturning circulation of the ocean, which impacts regional and global climate through the redistribution of heat. Overturning circulation – also known as the ocean conveyor belt – is also responsible for taking anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere and sequestering it in the deep ocean. Lozier leads the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program (OSNAP), a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded, international collaboration that aims “to provide a continuous record of the full-water column, trans-basin fluxes of heat, mass and freshwater in the subpolar North Atlantic.”
Alonzo Whyte, Academic Professional, Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience
After Alonzo Whyte earned his Ph.D. in from the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, he completed an NIH-funded Fellowship in Research and Science Teaching (FIRST) at Emory University, focusing on developmental factors during adolescence that increase vulnerability to drug addiction and maladaptive decision-making. He teaches in the Principles of Neuroscience course and several upper-level neuroscience courses, in addition to coordinating the development of new experiments for the NEUR 2001 lab sections. He also provides academic advising to undergraduate neuroscience majors and serves on the Neuroscience Curriculum Committee for the management and development of neuroscience core and elective courses.
Susan Lozier began her service as the new Dean and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair of the College of Sciences on September 1.
Lozier’s path to Georgia Tech is marked by excellence in research, education, and leadership, as well as the integration of scientific disciplines and a passion for mentoring. As dean, she will bring her vast experience to bear in addressing the needs of the College as she leads it to the next levels of achievement.
In the next few months, Lozier will meet with and listen to the College’s diverse constituents. “Reaching out to everyone and understanding their concerns and their vision for the College moving ahead is important to me,” she says.
Broadly, Lozier has three goals as dean:
- To strengthen the sense of community among students, alumni, faculty, research scientists/postdocs, and staff
- To elevate sciences and mathematics research and education across Georgia Tech and beyond
- To develop resources to support College of Sciences innovators in pursuing special projects, new research directions, and teaching and outreach opportunities.
About the first goal, Lozier says, “I’m very interested in making sure everybody understands that they are valued members of the College and that their contributions are highly appreciated.” She’s especially keen to bolster students’ identification with the College as their home, in addition to their natural affinity for their schools.
Of the second goal, Lozier says she wants to “immerse myself in the work of the College so I can be an effective communicator of that work, which is necessary for me to achieve my third goal,” which is to develop resources for people to advance their innovative ideas.
For more about Susan Lozier's experience, science, and other interests, read the full story here.
An interdisciplinary team of researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Institut Pasteur has received a $2.5 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to advance the clinical potential of bacteria-killing viruses – also called bacteriophage, or phage.
Over the five years of the award, Joshua Weitz of the School of Biological Sciences at Georgia Tech and Laurent Debarbieux of the Institut Pasteur, in Paris, will jointly lead teams in the U.S. and France to research interactions between bacteriophage and the host’s immune response in treating acute respiratory infections caused by multi-drug-resistant bacteria.
The spread of antibiotic-resistant pathogens represents a significant public health challenge. In response, scientists and clinicians are exploring alternative ways to cure bacterial infections that cannot be treated with antibiotics. One approach is to use bacteriophage, which exclusively infect and eliminate bacteria. In a 2017 study published in Cell Host and Microbe, the teams of Weitz and Debarbieux showed that a synergy between an infected animal’s immune system and phage is essential to curing an infection.
Advancing the fundamental understanding of phage therapy will help advance its robust and reliable use in the clinic. The five-year NIH grant (1R01AI46592-01; Synergistic Control of Acute Respiratory Pathogens by Bacteriophage and the Innate Immune Response) will enable the U.S. and French teams to examine the dynamics of the synergy between phage and the immune response in treating acute respiratory infections.
“This project represents an important opportunity to integrate mathematical modeling into the foundations of phage therapy research,” Weitz says. “We look forward to extending our ongoing collaboration with the experimental phage therapy team led by Laurent Debarbieux to iteratively refine a mechanistic understanding of how phage therapy works in vivo and to develop candidate approaches to deploy phage therapy in translational settings.”
To achieve their goals, the principal investigators will combine mathematical modeling (at Georgia Tech) and animal experiments (at the Institut Pasteur). Building on their 2017 findings, the team will examine the interactions between therapeutic phage; neutrophils, which are the cells of the immune system involved in the synergy; and multi-drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa in an acute respiratory pneumonia mouse model system. The project will focus on understanding and optimizing synergistic interactions between phage and neutrophils in eliminating bacteria, even when the animal host’s immune response is impaired.
Overall, this project aims to provide a framework for advancing principles of phage ecology and innate immunology in the rational design of phage therapy for therapeutic use.
The School of Biological Sciences wants to extend a warm welcome, and a frozen treat, to our new and returning Biology Majors! The BioSci community is invited kick off the year with us at the Bio-Pop Social. Come to meet new people, enjoy King of Pops and collect a free “exclusive” Biology major t-shirt with your Buzzcard.*
In case of rain: ES&T 1st Floor Atrium
*Shirts are designed for undergraduate biology majors but are available to all members of the school. One t-shirt per person for those who don’t already have one.
Young Jang, Ph.D.
School of Biological Sciences
Georgia Institute of Technology
Age-related loss of muscle mass and function often referred to as sarcopenia dramatically affects the quality of life in the elderly population and predisposes them to an increased risk of morbidity, disability, and mortality. As the elderly population rapidly grows in the United States, the healthcare cost to treat sarcopenia and frailty-related is projected to grow exponentially in the next decades. The etiology of sarcopenia is a multifactorial process that involves both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. However, mounting evidence from both animal and human studies suggests a decline in muscle stem cell (MuSC) function and an inability to repair/regenerate muscle following injury directly contributes to age-acquired deficits in muscle function. Although stem cell interventions and cell-based therapeutic approaches seemed promising to treat age-dependent muscle wasting, only limited success has been achieved due to extremely low donor stem cell engraftment and survival in the aged host muscle. Consequently, there is a growing need for a clinically applicable therapeutic strategy to attenuate age-related muscle loss. To overcome this challenge, we engineered a biofunctional matrix that harnesses key characteristics of native muscle microenvironment and maximizes MuSCs myogenic potential. By capitalizing MuSC delivery in the biomimetic matrix, I will discuss some of the strategies we can use to understand the mechanisms of sarcopenia and describe advanced stem cell niche-based therapy that rejuvenates aging muscle. In the second part of the presentation, I will discuss how heterochronic parabiosis, in which young and aged animals are surgically attached to share circulation, and how exposure of aged muscle, to a “youthful” systemic environment, reverse many indicators of age-related pathology and restores robust muscle regeneration after injury. I will also describe how we can leverage the organ-on-a-chip and functional biomaterials to mimic parabiosis and understand the systemic regulations of muscle aging and other muscle-wasting conditions.
Yang Chai, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology
Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry
University of Southern California
Professor Chai holds the George and Mary Lou Boone Chair in Craniofacial Biology and is the associate dean of research and director of the Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology at the Ostrow School. Chai is internationally renowned for his research into the genetics, cellular signaling, and development of cranial and facial structures, including the causes of and potential preventive measures for facial deformities such as cleft palate. Among his many honors, he has received a National Institutes of Health MERIT Award, has been elected as an American Association for the Advancement of Sciences Fellow, has received an International Association for Dental Research Distinguished Scientist Award, and has served on the editorial boards of several scientific journals. He is also an alumnus of the Ostrow School of Dentistry and is an award-winning educator and a practicing dentist at the school.
Host: Shuyi Nie, Ph.D.
The way a ladybug folds its wings can help aerospace engineers design more compact satellites. Studying how ants dig tunnels could help us create our own tunnels more efficiently.
The idea of using nature’s examples to develop products and designs that benefit society is the cornerstone of a new project at Georgia Tech that aims to get more high school students interested in engineering.
Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the $3 million effort will put high school engineering teachers in research labs at Georgia Tech for five weeks. The teachers will be embedded with engineers and scientists, working at the forefront of what’s called biologically inspired design, and creating a curriculum for the teachers to use in their classrooms.
“Lots of people think animals and what they do is insanely cool — and the internet agrees — which means we can engage interest in engineering by making a link to biology as a way to solve engineering challenges,” said Marc Weissburg, project leader and professor in the School of Biological Sciences. “The act of trying to see how an animal might help find a solution to a problem is a very creative process. It challenges the notion that engineering is boring. High school engineering experiences vary widely, but they generally do not include the most cutting-edge topics, like bio-inspired design, which gets people really excited,” he said.
For the next four years, Weissburg will collaborate with researchers Meltem Alemdar, Michael Helms, Roxanne Moore and Michael Ryan at Georgia Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing. They’ll create and assess units for 10th, 11th and 12th graders that explore bio-inspired design in the context of problems that are relatable to teenagers.
In particular, the researchers see their approach as a way to reach girls, who may not have considered engineering as a potential career. Weissburg pointed to data from the Center for Digital Education that showed 24% of male high school students expressed interest in engineering. For young women, the number was just 11%.
“Too often, engineering is depicted as applied math and science, which completely neglects how human-centered engineering is,” said Weissburg, who also co-directs the Center for Biologically Inspired Design at Georgia Tech and is a Brook Byers Professor.
The project will generate a curriculum with design and build exercises, background materials for teachers, examples to spark discussion, tests, and other resources that can be used by teachers across the country. Researchers will examine how well the curriculum engages students, particularly those from groups underrepresented in engineering.
“States have different standards, and teacher goals and classes have to be responsive to their unique student audience,” Weissburg said. “Our series of resources, all of which will be online, will allow teachers to easily slot in material that fits for them. It will allow them to talk to us and each other about best practices.”
The research team has partnered with Gwinnett County Public Schools to identify the first group of teachers they’ll invite to participate. Weissburg said that will happen in late Spring 2020.
“Bio-inspired engineering is a unique way of thinking, and so we have to help the teachers understand how to encourage this in their students.”
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