Julia Kubanek

Julia Kubanek

Vice President of Interdisciplinary Research

Julia Kubanek serves as Georgia Tech’s Vice President for Interdisciplinary Research and is a professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. In this role, she oversees and supports interdisciplinary activities at Georgia Tech including the Interdisciplinary Research Institutes (IRIs); the Pediatric Technology Center (PTC), the Novelis Innovation Hub; the Center for Advanced Brain Imaging (CABI); and the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI). She also partners across the institute on developing and advancing new research initiatives based on student and faculty interests, expertise, and societal need.

Kubanek has held several previous leadership roles at Georgia Tech, including Associate Dean for Research in the College of Sciences and Associate Chair in the School of Biological Sciences. She joined the faculty at Georgia Tech in 2001. Her areas of research interest include chemical signaling among organisms (especially in aquatic systems), natural products chemistry, metabolomics, chemical biology, and drug discovery. She has authored approximately 100 research articles on marine plankton and coral reef chemical ecology, and on the discovery, mechanism of action, and biosynthesis of marine natural products. She was awarded the NSF CAREER Award in 2002, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2004, and was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2012. In 2016, she served as chair of the Gordon Research Conference in Marine Natural Products; since 2016, she has chaired the Scientific Advisory Board of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. Kubanek received her B.Sc. in Chemistry from Queen’s University, Canada, in 1991 and her Ph.D. in at the University of British Columbia in 1998, and performed postdoctoral research at the University of California – San Diego and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.



Office Location:
ES&T 2242


  • http://biosciences.gatech.edu/people/julia-kubanek

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    Georgia Institute of Technology

    School of Biological Sciences
    Research Focus Areas:
  • Drug Design, Development and Delivery
  • Health & Life Sciences
  • Systems Biology
  • Additional Research:

    All organisms use chemicals to assess their environment and to communicate with others. Chemical cues for defense, mating, habitat selection, and food tracking are crucial, widespread, and structurally and functionally diverse. Yet our knowledge of chemical signaling is patchy, especially in marine environments. In our research we ask, "How do marine organisms use chemicals to solve critical problems of competition, disease, predation, and reproduction?" Our group uses an integrated approach to understand how chemical cues function in ecological interactions, working from molecular to community levels. We also use ecological insights to guide discovery of novel pharmaceuticals and molecular probes. In collaboration with other scientists, our most significant scientific achievements to date are: 1) characterizing the unusual molecular structures of antimicrobial defenses that protect algae from pathogens and which show promise to treat human disease; 2) understanding that competition among single-celled algae (phytoplankton) is mediated by a complex interplay of chemical cues that affect harmful algal bloom dynamics; 3) unraveling the molecular modes of action of antimalarial natural products towards developing new treatments for drug-resistant infectious disease; 4) discovering that progesterone signaling and quorum sensing are key pathways in the alternating sexual and asexual reproductive strategy of microscopic invertebrate rotifers - animals whose evolutionary history was previously thought to preclude either cooperative behavior (quorum sensing) typically associated with bacteria and hormonal regulation via progesterone typically seen in vertebrates; 5) identifying a novel aversivechemoreception pathway in predatory fish thatresults inrapid recognition and rejectionofchemically defended foods, thereby protecting these foods (prey) from predators. Ongoing projects include: 1) Waterborne chemical cues in the marine plankton: a systems biology approach (including metabolomics); 2) Exploration, conservation, and development of marine biodiversity in Fiji and the Solomon Islands (including drug discovery, mechanisms of action, and chemical ecology); 3) The role of sensory environment and predator chemical signal properties in determining non-consumptive effect strength in cascading interactions on oyster reefs; 4) Regulation of red tide toxicity by chemical cues from marine zooplankton; 5) Chemoreception of prey chemical defenses on tropical coral reefs.

    Research Affiliations: Center for Bio-Imaging Mass Spectrometry, Integrated Cancer Research Center, Center for Drug Design Development & Delivery

    IRI Connection: