Petit Institute Adds 20 Researchers

<p>Meet the 20 newest members of the Petit Institute (clockwise from top left): Joe Brown, John Peroni, Lewis Wheaton, Jerry Qi, Steve Diggle, Eva Dyer, Anthony Clavo, Marvin Whiteley, Xing Xie, Rebecca Levit, Neha Garg, Peter Yunker, Thomas Orlando, Cassie Mitchell, James Rains, Seth Hutchinson, Brent Keeling, Courtney Coulter, C.P. Wong, and Kyle Allison.</p>

Meet the 20 newest members of the Petit Institute (clockwise from top left): Joe Brown, John Peroni, Lewis Wheaton, Jerry Qi, Steve Diggle, Eva Dyer, Anthony Clavo, Marvin Whiteley, Xing Xie, Rebecca Levit, Neha Garg, Peter Yunker, Thomas Orlando, Cassie Mitchell, James Rains, Seth Hutchinson, Brent Keeling, Courtney Coulter, C.P. Wong, and Kyle Allison.

The Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at the Georgia Institute of Technology experienced a dramatic expansion with the addition of 20 new faculty researchers.

Joining the community of multidisciplinary principal investigators at the Petit Institute are: Kyle Allison, Joseph Brown, Anthony Clavo, Colleen Coulter, Stephen Diggle, Eva Dyer, Neha Garg, Seth Hutchinson, Brent Keeling, Rebecca Levit, Cassie Mitchell, Thomas Orlando, John Peroni, Jerry Qi, James Rains, Lewis Wheaton, Marvin Whiteley, C.P. Wong, Xing Xie, and Peter Yunker.

These 20 researchers come from a broad range of backgrounds, from Georgia Tech, Emory, the University of Georgia, and elsewhere, increasing the depth and breadth of research expertise at the institute, now with nearly 230 researchers.

Meet the new group:

• Kyle Allison, assistant professor, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology. A former Forbes 30-under-30 selection, Allison is interested in the response of bacteria to antibiotics in order to develop new methods for eradicating persistent bacteria, which contribute to chronic infections and are a major medical problem.

• Joseph Brown, assistant professor, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech. Brown’s research and teaching interests straddle the intersection of environmental engineering and public health, including water infrastructure sustainability, detection methods for pathogens and pathogen indicators in the environment, water treatment technology characterization and innovation, and human health effects of exposure to waterborne pathogens. 

• Anthony Clavo, Spine Center Atlanta. Clavo is an M.D. and a registered pharmacist who has been providing care to patients in the metro Atlanta area for almost 20 years. He’s interested in providing interventional therapies for patients, including stem cell therapy, neuro-augmentation/spinal cord stimulation, radio-frequency ablation/rhizotomies, epidural steroid injections, diagnostic and therapeutic nerve blocks, and joint and soft tissue injections.

• Colleen Coulter, a physical therapist, is adjunct assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at Emory and a team leader in the limb deficiency program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. She focuses on how torticollis (“twisted neck”) on the skull, posture, and movement. She also serves as the physical therapist in the cranial remolding and scoliosis programs at Children’s.

• Steve Diggle, associate professor, School of Biological Sciences. Diggle runs a lab that investigates the evolution of microbial cooperative behaviors and signaling systems, and the implications for the evolution of virulence and antibiotic resistance during infection, with an emphasis on chronic infections such as those found in cystic fibrosis lungs, diabetic ulcers and non-healing wounds.

Eva Dyer, assistant professor, Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering. Dyer is principal investigator of the NerDS Lab (Neural Data Science Lab) at Georgia Tech, where researchers are developing computational approaches to make sense of large-scale neural data sets. They’re partnering with researchers at Argonne National Laboratory to develop data analysis pipelines for mapping brains with X-ray microCT and nanoCT.

• Neha Garg, assistant professor, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Garg’s lab uses a combination of tools (including bioinformatics, clinical microbiology, mass spectrometry, DNA sequencing, and mass spectrometry-based 2D and 3D spatial imaging) to better understand the molecular interactions between a eukaryotic host and its microbiome, with the hope of developing new therapeutics.

• Seth Hutchinson, professor, School of Interactive Computing. Hutchinson, the KUKA Chair for Robotics at Georgia Tech and associate director for the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, is renowned robotics expert, keenly interested in vision-based control, motion planning, planning under uncertainty, pursuit-evasion, localization and mapping, locomotion, and bio-inspired robotics.

• Brent Keeling, assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery, Emory University School of Medicine. Keeling, the chief of cardiothoracic surgery service at Grady Memorial Hospital, is interested in investigating novel pulmonary embolism therapies to provide a better understanding of the role of novel technologies in the treatment of high-risk cases.

• Rebecca Levit, MD, assistant professor, Emory School of Medicine. Levit’s lab is dedicated to developing new therapies to help cardiac patients by identifying, testing, and moving new therapies towards clinical use. This includes studying stem cell therapies to prevent heart damage and promote repair, and the use of biomaterials to increase cell retention, increase efficacy, and target activity.

• Cassie Mitchell, assistant professor, Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering. She is principal investigator of the Laboratory for Pathology Dynamics, which uses a combination of computational, analytical, and informatics-based techniques to identify complex disease etiology, predict new therapeutics, and optimize current interventions.

• Thomas Orlando, professor, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Orlando runs the Electron- and Photon-Induced Chemistry on Surfaces Lab (EPICS), a primary surface chemistry and physics group focusing on the use of high-powered pulsed lasers, low-energy electron scattering, micro-plasmas, mass spectrometry, and ultrahigh vacuum surface science techniques.

• John Peroni, associate professor, University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. Peroni’s lab explores the use of regenerative therapies, ranging from cellular to blood derived products, to treat musculoskeletal injuries, with a concentration on minimally-invasive surgery, such as laparoscopy, thoracoscopy and arthroscopy.

• Jerry Qi, professor, School of Mechanical Engineering. Qi directs the Laboratory for Mechanics of Soft  Active Materials and 3D Printing. The team has so far developed a wide spectrum of 3D printing capabilities, allowing the development of new printing materials to meet evolving requirements. They are also pioneering work in 4D printing, in which soft active materials are integrated with 3D printing to enable shape change.

• James Rains, professor of practice, Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering. As director of the BME Capstone program, Rains facilitates one of the most active and translatable capstone groups on the Georgia Tech campus. With a particular interest in design, medical device development, and entrepreneurship, Rains brings clinicians and industry together with talented students to develop solutions for unmet clinical needs.

• Lewis Wheaton, associate professor, School of Biological Sciences. Wheaton directs the Cognitive Motor Control Laboratory, where the focus is on understanding neural systems that can suffer injury or dysfunction related to deficits in skillful motor control, and how to utilize surrogate neural circuits in restorative motor therapies in stroke and upper limb amputation.

• Marvin Whiteley, professor, School of Biological Sciences. The Whiteley lab is interested in the social lives of bacteria, using new technologies combined with classical genetic techniques to address questions about microbial physiology, ecology, virulence, and evolution. Located at Georgia Tech, the lab is also affiliated with the Emory-Children’s Cystic Fibrosis Center.

• C.P. Wong, professor, School of Materials Science and Engineering. Wong, who served a two-year postdoctoral fellowship with Nobel Laureate Henry Taube at Stanford University, is the Charles Smithgall Institute Endowed Chair and Regents Professor, whose wide-ranging research interests have led to more than 65 U.S. patents and numerous international patents.

• Xing Xie, assistant professor, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Xie’s research is focused on the applications of innovative materials and processes for sustainable and reliable water and energy. Essentially, he’s combining his background in environmental microbiology with his knowledge of materials for three main goals: killing bad microbes, using new materials to grow good microbes to clean waste water, and creating new processes to monitor microbes.

• Peter Yunker, assistant professor, School of Physics. Yunker’s research team is all about the “Soft Matter of Life and Death” – they research the soft matter physics underlying squishy materials and living creatures, disparate systems united by a focus on nonequilibrium systems (like human beings). They are investigating the unique and potentially “universal” physics of densely-packed living matter, such as bacterial biofilms and multicellular yeast clusters.

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Parker H. Petit Institute for
Bioengineering and Bioscience