Georgia Tech Welcomes First GRA Distinguished Investigator, New Eminent Scholar

The Georgia Institute of Technology is pleased to announce the appointment of the Institute’s first Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) Distinguished Investigator, Jason Azoulay, as well as a new GRA Eminent Scholar, Lynn Kamerlin — bringing the Institute’s total of GRA Eminent Scholars to 27. 

Established in 1990, GRA is a public-private partnership that supports the recruitment of top scientists to Georgia universities, expanding research and entrepreneurship at Georgia’s universities to grow the state’s economy and national competitiveness.

Annually, $688 million in outside research funding is attracted by GRA Scholars, and 25% of research funding coming to the state of Georgia is attracted by a GRA Scholar.

Azoulay will come to Georgia Tech in Spring 2023 from the School of Polymer Science and Engineering at The University of Southern Mississippi and will work as an associate professor and Vasser-Woolley GRA Distinguished Investigator in Sensors and Instrumentation in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, with a joint appointment in the School of Materials Science and Engineering.

Kamerlin, currently a professor in the Biochemistry Program of the Department of Chemistry at Uppsala University, Sweden, will arrive at Georgia Tech in October 2022, as professor and Vasser-Woolley GRA Eminent Scholar Chair in Molecular Design, also in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

“Lynn Kamerlin’s exploration of enzymes and proteins is nothing short of astounding,” said GRA President Susan Shows. “The research she is doing opens up paths to all kinds of exciting outcomes, from major advances in biomedicine to new ways of breaking down toxic materials. And, her passion for educating the next generation of scientists will be a great asset to Georgia Tech.”

Kamerlin is an international leader in the use of computational methods to understand how enzymes function and how to design them for desired properties. Particular areas of emphasis in the Kamerlin Lab include ligand-gated conformational changes in enzyme catalysis, protein-DNA recognition, protein dynamics as a key component of evolutionary selection and in the behavior of disordered peptides, and new methods for computational enzymology.

“Professor Kamerlin’s wide-ranging group will add exciting strength to the outstanding biochemistry and chemical biology community in Atlanta and the state,” said M.G. Finn, chair of the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech. “She also adds essential capabilities and perspective to Georgia Tech’s multifaceted leadership in the study of molecular and biological evolution.”

As Georgia Tech’s inaugural GRA Distinguished Investigator, Azoulay joins a group of rising star scientists who are exploring commercial opportunities for their research.

“We are also very fortunate to have recruited a scientist of the caliber of Jason Azoulay as Georgia Tech’s first GRA Distinguished Investigator,” Shows said. “Not only has he built a world-class research program in polymer science and electronic materials, he also has the vision and drive to bring inventions to the marketplace. He is the kind of enterprising scientist GRA aims to bring to Georgia.”

“Professor Azoulay is an organic, organometallic, and polymer chemist and internationally recognized leader in the development of light-active and electrically active materials,” said Finn. “The Azoulay Laboratory is highly interdisciplinary with efforts spanning new catalytic methods for polymer synthesis, recycling, and upcycling; electronic, photonic, magnetic, and quantum materials; and the advancement of new infrared devices and chemical sensors. Georgia Tech’s many efforts in soft-matter and functional materials development will benefit greatly from the Azoulay group’s presence on campus.”

Azoulay and Kamerlin are among four new faculty members set to join the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech in the upcoming school year.

Earlier this year, Suman Datta, one of the nation’s top researchers in semiconductor and nanoelectronic device research, was also named a GRA Eminent Scholar at the Institute. Previously an adjunct professor for Georgia Tech while at the University of Notre Dame, he will begin work in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering as Joseph M. Pettit Chair, with a joint appointment with the School of Materials Science and Engineering, this fall.