IBB Welcomes 16 New Faculty Members

The Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience (IBB) at the Georgia Institute of Technology has expanded its roster of world class researchers with the addition of 16 new faculty from four different universities, and the Georgia Tech Research Institute – the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, Georgia State University, and Spelman College. 

Meet the 16 people joining the IBB community.  

Erin Buckley, Ph.D., assistant professor, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Tech and Emory University. Buckley is currently working on the development and applications of novel bedside monitor of cerebral oxygenation, perfusion, and metabolism. The goal? Apply these innovative optical techniques to pediatric populations that could greatly benefit from a non-invasive continuous monitor of brain health.  

Vince Calhoun, Ph.D., professor, Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, and Emory University. Calhoun is the founding director of the tri-institutional Center for Translational Research in Neuroimaging and Data Science (TReNDS). He develops techniques for making sense of complex brain imaging data. He has created algorithms that map dynamic networks of brain function, structure, and genetics, and how these are affected while being stimulated by various tasks or in individuals with mental illness such as schizophrenia.  

Sheng Dai, Ph.D., associate professor and group coordinator, College of Engineering, Georgia Tech. Dai's research group strives to advance the fundamental understanding and predictive capabilities of subsurface geomechanics for energy recovery and geological storage of waste materials. His group develops novel experimental and numerical techniques to study geomaterials and geomechanics at elevated pressure and temperature conditions. Current projects in the group include hydrate-bearing sediments, microbial effects in porous media, bio-inspired drilling, granular flow of compressible particles, and seismic signal processing. 

Michael Farrell, Ph.D., chief strategist, Georgia Tech Research Institute. Farrell’s background includes the development and evaluation of advanced technologies for pathogen detection, identification, and characterization for both biodefense and public health. Farrell is leading a team that is developing a device that scans the air of the building for Covid-19 particles. They’ve been working on the SenSARS technology since the beginning of the pandemic and are close to making the idea a reality.  

Ming-fai Fong, Ph.D., assistant professor, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Emory University and Georgia Tech. Fong’s lab seeks to understand how activity and experience shape neural circuits and to develop plasticity-based interventions for treating neurological disorders. She uses a variety of approaches including electrophysiology, optogenetics, behavior, computational modeling, and control systems engineering. Current work focuses on the central visual pathway and neurodevelopmental visual impairment. 

Michelle Gaines, Ph.D., assistant professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Spelman College. Gaines is IBB’s first faculty member from Spelman College. Her research is themed around studying the interfacial properties of soft materials. The objective is to measure energy dissipation within thermo-responsive colloidal microgel particle systems and block copolymer materials, to develop next-generation separators in lithium-ion batteries and self-actuating biosensors. The Gaines lab also explores the interfacial chemistry between cells and hydrogels on biological interfaces, as a means to develop a synthetic 3D culture microenvironment to control cell behavior. The aim is to gain a sophisticated understanding on how cells respond to specific controlled variances in the material properties of the extracellular matrix, to predict strategies to issue control over cell behavior in physiological systems. Their goals are achieved by marrying Polymer Synthesis, Materials Science, Cell Biology & Spectroscopy.  

Katherine Hekman, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of surgery, Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Hekman runs a basic science laboratory with a primary research focus on stem cell-based regenerative medicine for treating vascular disease. Her clinical research interests include reducing surgical site infections, optimizing the care of venous thromboembolism, and promoting wellness in surgical training. Dr. Hekman’s clinical practice includes the vascular surgery services at Emory University Hospital and the Atlanta VA Healthcare System. 

Ching-Hua Huang, Ph.D., Turnipseed Family Chair and professor, College of Engineering, Georgia Tech. Huang's research and teaching interests are in environmental chemistry, advanced analytical chemistry, emerging contaminant transformation kinetics and mechanisms, innovative water/wastewater treatment technology, sustainable water reuse, waste remediation and resource recovery. Huang has directed many research projects funded by federal and state agencies and industrial sponsors on water treatment and contaminants issues. She has extensive research experience on emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, endocrine disruptors, nitrogenous disinfection by-products and heavy metals in natural and engineered water systems, as well as on the development of innovative treatment technologies for pollution mitigation. 

Takamitsu Ito, Ph.D., professor and chair of OSE graduate admissions, Georgia Tech. He is program faculty in the Quantitative BioScience and Ocean Science and Engineering Ph.D. program. Ito’s lab works at the interface of applied mathematics, physics, and chemistry to uncover underlying mechanisms of global climate, biogeochemical cycling, and ecosystem. 

Rishikesan Kamaleswaran, Ph.D., assistant professor, Emory University. Kamaleswaran’s current interests include severe sepsis detection and multi-organ dysfunction syndrome. His lab develops applications largely within the space of pediatrics, critical care, and neurology. Their expertise lies in using continuous physiologic data streams, such as EKG, along with other clinical data sources to enrich phenotypic and prognosis. Kamaleswaran’s contributions include clinical big data, real-time event stream processing, data analysis, data visualization and information systems design. 

Jeffrey Markowitz, Ph.D., assistant professor, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Emory University and Georgia Tech. Markowitz’s work focuses on how the brain decides which action to perform at each moment in time – that is, action selection. He is interested in the cortical and subcortical circuits that mediate this process, and how they go awry in neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. His lab performs measurements of large populations of neural activity in freely behaving mice using imaging and physiology and distill their behavior in real-time using 3D cameras and probabilistic approaches to machine learning. Additionally, they are pursuing new methods to control activity in these circuits using precision closed-loop deep brain stimulation. 

True Merrill, Ph.D., senior research scientist, Georgia Tech Research Institute. Merrill’s group focuses primarily on defense problems related to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense. He is on the team that developed and implemented Georgia Tech’s Covid-19 surveillance testing program which started tracking the virus in January 2020. Georgia Tech has conducted over 500,000 surveillance tests since August 2020.   

Jay Patel, Ph.D., assistant professor, Emory University. Patel’s research is focused on the repair and regeneration of musculoskeletal soft tissues. Specifically, he studies and enhances cellular activity in these micro-environments, with the goal of taking novel biomaterial and therapeutic approaches from conceptualization to the clinic. His lab leverages principles of mechano-biology and cell-biomaterial interactions to guide macro-scale tissue engineering and functional outcomes in large animal models. By using engineering and biological principles, along with novel mechanical and imaging modalities, the Patel lab strives to restore the structure, biology, and function of cartilage and meniscus tissues. 

Anupam Patgiri, Ph.D., assistant professor, Emory University School of Medicine. The Patgiri lab research examines the role of extracellular metabolites on cancer cell proliferation and immune cell activation in the tumor microenvironment. His team is developing engineered extracellular enzymes and small-molecule approaches to modulate metabolite concentrations in the tumor microenvironment. Patigiri’s lab takes a multidisciplinary approach that uses protein engineering, mass spectrometry-based metabolomics, and chemical biology. They expect that their research will lay the foundation for novel cancer immunotherapies and small-molecule therapies.  

Amit Prasad, Ph.D., associate professor, Georgia Tech. Prasad specializes in global, transnational, and de-colonial sociology of science, technology, and medicine. His research focuses on the complex, contested, and yet, often, hidden role of transnational/global flows of knowledge, technological artifacts, and people in constituting subjects, in imagining geographies, and in laboratory practices. His first book, Imperial Technoscience: Entangled Histories of MRI in the United States, Britain, and India (MIT Press, 2014), yokes together two important sociological concerns, namely empirical investigation of local cultures of sciences and unraveling of their hierarchical entanglements within national and transnational political economy and within Euro/West-centric discourses. The book, thus, excavates the mutually constitutive roles of temporally emergent and long enduring discourses and practices in science, technology and medicine. Prasad has also published on the shift in visual culture of medicine with the emergence of technologies such as MRI and on transnational hierarchies in overseas drug trials and medical transcription.  

Jun Ueda, Ph.D., professor, George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech. The goal of Ueda’s research is to expand the capability of actuation technology for fast, precise and robust motion control that can enhance human motor functions. His research achievement is twofold: 1) basic research to understand and characterize novel hierarchical cellular actuation principles inspired by biological muscles and to advance the potential of piezoelectric, pneumatic, and non-conventional electromagnetic actuators and transmission mechanisms; 2) applied research to integrate new actuators into surgery, physical therapy, and worker assistive technology where traditional actuators are not fully applicable. His research has developed theories to mathematically model the interaction between actuators and other dynamic components such as sensors, mechanical structure, control algorithms, and human factors, for effective integration of intelligent robotic systems. Ueda’s actuator research has been broadly applied to other disciplines such as biomedicine, computer vision, micro-electromechanical system (MEMS), search and rescue (SAR), and manufacturing, which allow his collaborators to explore new concepts to advance engineering and science in the areas. 

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