Petit Institute Grows by a Dozen

<p>The new Petit Institute faculty researchers are (clockwise from top left): Nian Liu, Annirudh Sarkar, Christopher Weise, Greg Sawicki, Hyojung Choo, Valerie Odero-Marah, Yajun Mei, Marcus Cicerone, Yuhang Hu, Swati Gupta, Ghassan AlRegib, and Candace Fleischer.</p>

The new Petit Institute faculty researchers are (clockwise from top left): Nian Liu, Annirudh Sarkar, Christopher Weise, Greg Sawicki, Hyojung Choo, Valerie Odero-Marah, Yajun Mei, Marcus Cicerone, Yuhang Hu, Swati Gupta, Ghassan AlRegib, and Candace Fleischer.

The Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at the Georgia Institute of Technology has expanded its roster of world class scientists and engineers with the addition of 12 new faculty researchers from three different universities: the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, and Clark Atlanta University.

As founding director of the institute, Bob Nerem, likes to say, “research is a people business.” Meet the 12 new people who have joined the Petit Institute community, bringing the total number of interdisciplinary researchers to 231.

Ghassan AlRegib, professor, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Tech. AlRegib is director of the Omni Lab for Intelligent Visual Engineering and Science (OLIVES) at Georgia Tech, where his group of more than 20 researchers (students and other investigators) work on projects related to machine learning, image and video processing, image and video understanding, seismic imaging, perception in visual data processing, healthcare intelligence, and video analytics.

Hyojung Choo, assistant professor of cell biology, Emory School of Medicine. Choo is interested in elucidating the mechanisms behind vastly different susceptibilities of craniofacial muscles, which she believes could lead to the development of therapeutics that would target specific skeletal muscles involved in particular types of muscular dystrophy. Part of her research involves differentiation of skeletal muscle progenitor cells from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) as a model system of neuromuscular disease.

Marcus Cicerone, professor, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Georgia Tech. A former group and project leader for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Cicerone joined Georgia Tech in January. His work is centered on the development and application of Raman imaging approaches and on the dynamics of amorphous condensed matter. His research group has logged many imaging firsts, including the first to obtain quantitative vibrational fingerprint spectra from mammalian cells using coherent Raman imaging, and the first to identify specific structural proteins from coherent Raman imaging.

Candace Fleischer, assistant professor, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory, and Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences, Emory School of Medicine. Fleischer’s highly collaborative research group focuses on the development of new MR spectroscopy and imaging technologies for biomedical and translational applications. Her team’s projects include development of magnetic resonance-based methods for identifying inflammatory biomarkers in malignant brain tumors; and creating new tools for non-invasively measuring brain temperature with applications in cerebrovascular and cardiovascular injury.

Swati Gupta, assistant professor, H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Georgia Tech. Gupta's work focuses on speeding up fundamental bottlenecks that arise in learning problems due to the combinatorial nature of the decisions, as well as drawing from machine learning to improve traditional optimization methods. She has worked on providing optimized inventory routing decisions under uncertain demand, and pricing items optimally while incorporating effects of sales and promotions.

Yuhang Hu, assistant professor, Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering/School of Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Tech. The Hu research team focuses on soft active materials, particularly those consisting of both solid and liquid. Their work lies at the interface of mechanics and materials chemistry, from fundamental mechanics to novel applications. Their current research is looking at chemomechanical modeling of soft materials, multi-scale mechanical characterization of soft materials, and the design and fabrication of new dynamic adaptive multi-functional materials for various applications.

Nian Liu, assistant professor, School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Tech. Liu’s lab focuses on the development of high-energy, low-cost, ultra-safe battery technologies; application-driven nanoscale materials design and manufacturing; and in-situ diagnosis and fundamental understanding of strategically important chemical and physical processes. Liu is the co-author of 60 published papers, and a former winner of the Young Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society’s Division of Inorganic Chemistry.

Yajun Mei, associate professor, H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Georgia Tech. Mei's research interests include change-point problems and sequential analysis in mathematical statistics; sensor networks and information theory in engineering; as well as longitudinal data analysis, random effects models, and clinical trials in biostatistics. Mei is president of the American Statistical Association, Georgia Chapter.

Valerie Odero-Marah, associate professor, Department of Biology, Clark Atlanta University: Odero-Marah’s research team focuses on epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a process that occurs during normal embryonic development and epithelial tumor progression. Several factors such as Snail transcription factor, are associated with EMT, and contribute to motility, invasion, and tumor progression. Understanding the factors that contribute to EMT and prostate cancer metastasis is crucial for development of cancer therapies. So, her lab explores on the role of Snail transcription factor in prostate cancer progression and metastasis and antagonizing signaling with natural products.

Anniruddh Sarkar, assistant professor, Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory. A new arrival in the Coulter Department (beginning Fall 2019), Sarkar’s research exploits physical phenomena at the micrometer to nanometer length scales to develop technology especially for applications in biology and medicine, with the goal of creating unique opportunities for micro-/nano-engineered tools to help in understanding complex biological phenomena, such as diseases like Tuberculosis (TB), HIV/AIDS, or cancer, and contribute to their prevention, diagnosis and therapy.

Greg Sawicki, associate professor, Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering/School of Biological Sciences, Georgia Tech. Sawicki is director of the Human Physiology of Wearable Robotics (PoWeR) laboratory, where the goal is to combine tools from engineering, physiology and neuroscience to discover neuromechanical principles underpinning optimal locomotion performance and apply them to develop lower-limb robotic devices capable of improving both healthy and impaired human locomotion.

Christopher Wiese, assistant professor, School of Psychology, Georgia Tech. Wiese, who earned his undergraduate degree and his Ph.D. at the University of Central Florida, becomes the Petit Institute’s only researcher from the School of Psychology, where his research has focused on three main areas: understanding and improving worker well-being; temporal dynamics in team contexts; and research methods.


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