Petit Institute Grows Again

<p>The new Petit Institute researchers are (clockwise from left): Joel Kostka, Alberto Stolfi, Shu Jia, Chengzhi Shi, Paul Russo, John Blazeck, and Sven Behrens.</p>

The new Petit Institute researchers are (clockwise from left): Joel Kostka, Alberto Stolfi, Shu Jia, Chengzhi Shi, Paul Russo, John Blazeck, and Sven Behrens.

Bob Nerem, founding director of the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at the Georgia Institute of Technology, often says that research is a people business. In that case, the business has grown again with the recent addition of seven new faculty members, expanding the community of multidisciplinary bio-researchers to 223.

Joining the Petit Institute: Sven Behrens, John Blazeck, Shu Jia, Joel Kostka, Paul Russo, Chengzhi Shi, and Alberto Stolfi. They come from five different departments or schools across the Georgia Tech campus.

Meet the Petit Institute’s new researchers:

Sven Behrens, associate professor, School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering: The Behrens Research Group has successfully collaborated with industry on a diverse range of topics, including the interfacial assembly of colloidal particles in multi-phase systems, charging phenomena in nonpolar inks for electrophoretic displays, the encapsulation and controlled release of agrochemical actives, and the stabilization of therapeutic proteins.

John Blazeck, assistant professor, School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering: Blazeck, who comes to Georgia Tech in January 2019 from the University of Texas-Austin, will devote his research towards developing new biological tools and therapeutics to control metabolic and immune function, and looks forward to mentoring a new generation of scientists.

Shu Jia, assistant professor, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University: Jia’s research is focused on biophotonics, super-resolution and advanced optical microscopy. His lab is particularly interested in new imaging physics bottom-up opto-electronic system design, as well as new principles for light propagation, light-matter interaction and image formation in complex biological materials, especially at the single-molecule level.

Joel Kostka, professor, School of Biological Sciences: Kostka and his colleagues are microbial explorers studying the processes that impact Earth's biogeochemical cycles and provide ecosystem services to human beings. Microbes, the great decomposers in Earth ecosystems, break down dead and dying organic matter and recycle nutrients that are used by photosynthetic organism, releasing or consuming greenhouse gases that help to regulate Earth's climate.

Paul Russo, professor, Hightower Chair, School of Materials Science and Engineering (joint appointment with School of Chemistry and Biochemistry): Russo’s research interests are rooted in rod-like polymers, such as plant viruses, cellulose derivatives and aromatic backbone materials, with particular emphasis on molecular transport in complex fluids containing rods and to related measurement methods. His materials research has applications in a diverse range of areas, such as Alzheimer’s disease and marine oil spills.

Chengzhi Shi, assistant professor, Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering: Shi, leads the Meta Acoustic Lab, is interested in acoustics and dynamics, the mechanics of materials, bioengineering, and micro- and nano-engineering. His research focuses on the design of acoustic metamaterials and their applications in high-speed communication, cell motion control in microfluidics, brain imaging, and non-invasive surgeries.

Alberto Stolfi, assistant professor, School of Biological Sciences: Stolfi is interested in answering the question, “how does your brain form?” His lab seeks to answer how animal behavior is set up by the collective behaviors of individual cells, over the entire course of brain development, investigating how gene activity can instruct how each developing brain cell will move around, change shape, and connect to other cells. To do this, he studies the simple larval nervous system of humanity’s closest invertebrate relatives, tunicates.

News Contact

Jerry Grillo
Communications Officer II
Parker H. Petit Institute for
Bioengineering and Bioscience