2020 Petit Institute Annual Awards

Exterior photo of the IBB Building

Join us in congratulating these deserving members of the Petit Institute community for their hard work, accomplishments, and dedication throughout 2020.



  • Edward Botchwey, Ph.D. - Biomedical Engineering - Georgia Tech / Emory - Ed has engaged the IBB and Georgia Tech community in challenging, meaningful, and important discussions about racial injustices. Furthermore, he inspired others to use research as a way to address racial differences that affect medical conditions.
  • Gregory Gibson, Ph.D. - Biological Sciences - Georgia Tech - Greg worked with others in IBB and GTRI to build Georgia Tech’s COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Program. He recognized the critical role that testing would play in managing the spread of COVID-19 on campus and has played an important role in the implementation of this program.


  • Jackson Medical - Spun out from Georgia Tech in 2018, Jackson Medical is a healthcare safety-focused company. The company’s surgical safety solution, GloShield, enhances safety in operating rooms by reducing surgical fire and burn risks associated with fiber-optic light cables. In addition, James and Kamil mentor IBB entrepreneurs.
    • James Rains - President, Chief Executive Officer
    • Kamil Makhnejia - Chief Operating Officer


  • Nettie Brown - Ph.D. Candidate - BMED, Johnna Temenoff, Ph.D., Advisor - Georgia Tech / Emory - Nettie represents graduated students on IBB’s Diversity Committee and worked with SGA to support Georgia Tech’s COVID-19 response.
  • Jessica Lin - Ph.D. Candidate - BMED, Wilbur Lam, Ph.D., Anton Bryksin, Ph.D., Co-Advisors - Georgia Tech / Emory - Jessica played a key role in implementing design and validation for one of the first nationwide COVID-19 tests to use saliva instead of nasal swab and helped to generate and prepare data for submission for the test Emergency Use Authorization to FDA. Jessica also set up the Realtime PCR reactions for the campus surveillance samples.
  • Zoe Mote - Ph.D. Candidate - BMEJ, Johnna Temenoff, Ph.D., Advisor - Georgia Tech - As BBUGS’ the communications committee chair, Zoe worked to completely and creatively revamp the group’s marketing communications campaigns towards improving open rates and participation in events and BBUGS' initiatives.
  • Eric Parigoris - Ph.D. Candidate - BMED, Shuichi Takayama, Ph.D., Advisor - Georgia Tech / Emory - TEric is a dedicated mentor through the Petit Scholar Program and also gives his time to serve as president of the Microphysiological Systems Student Organization.
  • Michelle Quizon - Ph.D. Candidate - BMED, Andrés García, Ph.D., Advisor - Georgia Tech - Michelle initiated and runs the BBUGS Wellness committee and also started the BBUGS mentorship program, which pairs incoming students with current students based on research and personal/professional goals.
  • Phoebe Welch - Ph.D. Candidate - BIOE, Chengzhi Shi, Ph.D., Advisor - Georgia Tech - Phoebe has been a key leader on the BGA executive board and helped BioE students with organizing social activities to preparing for qualifying exams.


  • Anton Bryksin, Ph.D. - Director, Molecular Evolution Core, IBB - Anton worked tirelessly with others at IBB and GTRI to leverage technology in the IBB Molecular Evolution Core Facility to build and manage the Georgia Tech’s COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Program, an effort that included establishing a new CLIA certified laboratory at Georgia Tech. Since August 2020, over 158,000 salvia test samples have been analyzed in this facility.
  • Karen Ethier - Admininistrative Manager, IBB - Karen worked tirelessly to provide HR support to the Georgia Tech COVID-19 Surveillance Program while also finding time to manage the facility operations for the Petit Biotechnology Building (including sustainability initiatives), putting in many long hours throughout the year.
  • Michelle Wong - Assistant Director, IBB - In a year of endless challenges, Michelle has been the quintessential go-to problem solver for everyone in our community. From helping with facilities issues, grant submissions, and board meetings, and even taking care of the wildlife around the bio-quad, she is the picture of dedication and commitment to IBB.


  • Gary Newnam - Hud Lab Manager, IBB - Gary helped to cover the IBB facilities manager responsibilities which included ensuring there was a ready supply of liquid nitrogen for researchers and enabling vendors to quickly repair equipment, autoclaves, and fume hoods.

The F.L. "Bud" Suddath Memorial Award was established by Bud Suddath's family, friends, and colleagues in memory of his contributions to Georgia Tech. The award is given annually to graduate students at Georgia Tech who have demonstrated significant bio-research accomplishments while conducting biological or biochemical research at the molecular or cellular level.

  • Cristian Crisan - 1st Place - Ph.D. Candidate, Biological Sciences, Georgia Tech - Brian Hammer, Ph.D., Advisor - "Competition Dynamics of the Vibrio Cholerae Type VI Secretion System"Cristian will present his work on the opening day of the 2021 Suddath Symposium, January 28, 2021
    • For his Ph.D. thesis work Cristian has studied the waterborne human pathogen Vibrio cholerae, the microbe responsible for Cholera, a devastating and often fatal disease. His work has focused on the chemical weapons that V. cholerae use against other bacteria so as to dominate their local environment. Christian discovered that human-derived strains of V. cholerae can have anti-bacterial weapons that are in addition to those of strains isolated from environmental sources. Building on this work, Christian has shown that one of the newly discovered anti-bacterial weapons of V. cholerae acts by permeabilizing the cell membranes of other bacteria. Additionally, Christian and his collaborators have shown how other bacteria can guard against attack by V. cholerae. This fundamental research could be of great importance for understanding the virulence of pathogenic V. cholerae.
  • Casey Vantucci - 2nd Place - Ph.D. Candidate, Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Tech / Emory - Krishnendu Roy, Ph.D., Advisor - "Immunoengineering Strategies to Improve Healing following Severe Musculoskeletal Trauma"
    • Casey’s graduate research is focused on improving our understanding of systemic immune dysregulation following severe musculoskeletal trauma. Casey and her coworkers have identified elevated levels of immunosuppressive myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) to be a hallmark of systemic immune dysregulation and have observed a direct correlation between higher levels of MDSCs and poor functional outcomes. Casey has utilized a novel synthetic nanoparticle strategy, called Synthetic Nanoparticle-Antibodies (SNAbs), to treat systemic immune dysregulation following severe trauma by reducing systemic levels of MDSCs. These results demonstrate that SNAbs are a versatile and effective alternative to existing therapeutics.
  • Anderson Speed - 3rd Place - Ph.D. Candidate, Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Tech / Emory - Bilal Haider, Ph.D., Advisor - "Information Content and Routing of Visuomotor Signals in the Cortex"
    • Anderson’s research seeks to extend the study of mechanisms of visual attention to mice. The vast majority of research in this area has been conducted in humans and non-human primates, but mice provide multiple advantages for neuroscience research. Anderson has demonstrated that neural activity in the visual cortex of behaving mice shows signatures which correlate with correct and incorrect perceptual behavior, and in collaboration with other students in lab, has shown that these neural signatures of poor behavioral performance are more prominent in mouse models of neurological disease. Anderson’s goal is to elucidate the neural mechanisms underlying complex behaviors at all scales, which could be instrumental in identifying mechanisms underlying sensory and motor deficits in neurological disorders.
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