Recent studies show nearly half of the world’s species are on the move because of the changing climate and habitat disruption. Apart from slowing fossil fuel production and prioritizing carbon storage, a direct solution for species inching north as temperatures rise is improving climate connectivity, a term likely coined by researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology in a 2016 study. The idea builds on the established science of wildlife corridors and land conservation that supports the migration of animals. School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Assistant Professor Jenny McGuire, who worked on the study, said this kind of movement differs from traditional migration patterns. Instead of departing annually and returning, species are permanently moving to areas they’re finding more hospitable. “They’re moving in such a way that they’re tracking the climates they’re suited to live in or able to live in, and then staying in those places,” McGuire said.

Adirondack Explorer

It’s been 10 years since the Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, successfully launched the astronomy outreach program called Aloha Explorations at the Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing site, or AMOS, in Maui, Hawaii. This STEM outreach project uses an 11-inch Celestron telescope, also known as the Aloha Telescope, to provide students in grades K-12 the ability to view live images from their classrooms and remotely control the telescope via an internet connection. The idea for this project originated from Dr. James Sowell, an astronomer and observatory director at the School of Physics. (This story also appeared at Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.)

Air Force Research Laboratory

A surge in tools that generate text is allowing research papers to be summarized for a broad audience, and in any language. But some scientists feel that improvements are needed before we can rely on AI to describe studies accurately. Will Ratcliff, an associate professor at the School of Biological Sciences, argues that no tool can produce better text than can professional writers. Although researchers have different writing abilities, he invariably prefers reading scientific material produced by study authors over those generated by AI. “I like to see what the authors wrote. They put craft into it, and I find their abstract to be more informative,” he says.

Nature Index

Ph.D. Robotics Student in Robotics Tianyu Wang and Postdoctoral Physics Scholar Christopher Pierce are developing snakelike, limbless robots. The robots could come in handy in search-and-rescue situations, where they could navigate collapsed buildings to find and assist survivors — and could readily move through confined and cluttered spaces such as debris fields, where walking or wheeled robots and human rescuers tend to fail.

The Conversation

Georgia Tech students associated with the Astronomy Club are traveling to Missouri in order to be in the path of totality for the April 8 solar eclipse. The path of totality is the prime spot for viewing the moon travel between the Earth and the Sun. For the eclipse viewing trip, the Club plans to bring along astrophotography gear, an 8-inch Celestron telescope with a solar filter, and other equipment for members to use. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also covered this story.)

11 Alive

Mega Millions breached the $1 billion mark, and it looks like the Powerball jackpot isn't too far behind. Yet, lottery games are mostly only lucrative for the private companies that states hire to run them, said Lew Lefton, emeritus faculty member with the Georgia Tech School of Mathematics, in a USA Today article. In fact, winning big in Mega Millions and Powerball is even harder now because recent rules make the odds even longer so lottery games can sell more tickets, he added.

The Tennessean - USA TODAY Network

The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae isn’t exactly known for being tough, but when researchers propagated only the biggest yeast cells for thousands of generations, these single-celled fungi went from making snowflake-esque clusters “weaker than gelatin” to clumps “as strong as wood” and 20,000 times the size of initial flakes. Partly to thank for this impressive transformation is the chaperone protein Hsp90, which helps fold other proteins into their proper shapes, School of Biological Sciences Associate Professor William Ratcliff and his colleagues report.

Science Magazine

In new research published in Nature Communications, School of Biological Sciences researchers Mark Hay and Cody Clements and their colleagues demonstrated that when sea cucumbers were removed from coral reef, tissue death of Acropora pulchra, a species of staghorn coral, more than tripled, and mortality of the whole colony surged 15 times. The reasoning is that sea cucumbers are like "little vacuum cleaners on the reef" digesting and eliminating microbes that can lead to coral disease and demise — threats that are exacerbated by a warming and increasingly polluted ocean.

NPR

One of the hallmarks of humanity is language, but now, powerful new artificial intelligence tools also compose poetry, write songs, and have extensive conversations with human users. Tools like ChatGPT and Gemini are widely available at the tap of a button—but just how smart are these AIs? A new multidisciplinary research effort co-led by Anna (Anya) Ivanova, assistant professor in the School of Psychology at Georgia Tech, is working to uncover just that. The results could lead to innovative AIs that are more similar to the human brain than ever before—and also help neuroscientists and psychologists who are unearthing the secrets of our own minds.

Tech Xplore

A recent publication from the group of Prof. Dan Goldman made it to the Cover of Physical Review Letters vol. 132, issue 8 (https://journals.aps.org/prl/covers/132/8). The research article “Probing Hydrodynamic Fluctuation-Induced Forces with an Oscillating Robot”, by Steven W. Tarr, Joseph S. Brunner, Daniel Soto, and Daniel I. Goldman, Phys. Rev. Lett. 132, 084001 was published on 20 February 2024, and was also selected as an Editor’s Suggestion (https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.132.084001).

Physical Review Letters

Young Jang, an associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences, has received a five year, $2.2 million award from the National Institutes of Health to study heterochronic parabiosis and identify anti-aging factors in blood. The study will be done under the auspices of the NIH's National Institute on Aging.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Coral reefs play a crucial role in the region’s biodiversity, food security, employment, tourism, and medical research, but many reefs are suffering degradation due to pollution, ocean warming and overfishing. Growing sea cucumbers in underwater nurseries could be a way of restoring their services as “vacuum cleaners” of the ocean to protect the Asia-Pacific’s declining coral reefs, Biological Sciences Researchers Mark Hay and Cody Clements suggest in their recently released study. (This was also covered at New AtlasGizmodo Japan and The Good Men Project.)

SciDev.Net

The way muscles work changes when a person goes from slow, even movements to rapid, unsteady movements. Anyone who’s pulled a muscle after a sudden motion knows that. What we don’t know is exactly how muscle function changes when dynamic movement is introduced. A new NSF-funded project co-led by Simon Sponberg, Dunn Family Associate Professor in the School of Physics and School of Biological Sciences, will examine dynamic muscle function of humans and animals with the goal of creating improved physical therapy and rehabilitation programs and mobility assistance devices. That translates to more humans who can move with less pain. 

Northern Arizona University

Students in Brandon Tate's (Ph.D. CHEM '15) chemistry lab are developing new ways to hasten the formation of renewable fuels, like hydrogen, to replace fossil fuels. Tate, a visiting assistant professor of chemistry and environmental studies at Bowdoin College, is working on a long-term goal to help introduce a sustainable source of energy that, like oil or gas, can power the needs of long-distance air and vehicle travel.

Bowdoin News

Odd things can happen when a wave meets a boundary. In the ocean, tsunami waves that are hardly noticeable in deep water can become quite large at the continental shelf and shore, as the waves slow and their mass moves upward. In a recent study led by School of Physics Dunn Family Professor Daniel Goldman and published in the journal Physical Review Letters, scientists have shown that a floating, symmetric oscillating robot will experience forces when it comes close to a boundary. These forces can be used for self-propulsion without the need for more typical mechanisms such as a propeller.

Tech Xplore

In a new study led by Georgia Tech and University of Helsinki, researchers have discovered a mechanism steering the evolution of multicellular life. Co-authored by the School of Biological Sciences’ Dung Lac, Anthony Burnetti, Ozan Bozdag, and Will Ratcliff, the study, “Proteostatic tuning underpins the evolution of novel multicellular traits”, was published in Science Advances this month, and uncovers how altered protein folding drives multicellular evolution. (This research was also featured in Mirage News).

The Times of India

In preparation for NASA's SpaceX 30th commercial resupply mission, the agency streamed an International Space Station National Lab science webinar at 1 p.m. EST Friday, March 8, to discuss the hardware, technology demonstrations, and science experiments headed to the space station. School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Ph.D. Student Jordan McKaig served as an expert participant in the webinar.

NASA

The interdisciplinary nature of the semiconductor industry requires not just one education pipeline but many: Graduates with advanced degrees across the sciences are essential, but so are people with the skills to operate equipment as new fabs go online. Arijit Raychowdhury, chair of Georgia Tech's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, praised the College of Sciences for our research in physics, chemistry, and quantum computing that is vital to semiconductors and manufacturing. 

Electrical Engineering Times

Northern peatlands store approximately one-third of Earth’s terrestrial soil organic carbon due to their cold, water-saturated, and acidic conditions, which slow decomposition. To learn more, researchers — including School of Biological Sciences and School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Professor Joel Kostka — leveraged the SPRUCE experiment, where scientists can combine air and peat warming in a whole-ecosystem warming treatment. Peatlands build carbon stocks over centuries, but rising temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations rapidly changed the equilibrium at SPRUCE within a 4-year timescale, highlighting the vulnerability of these carbon-rich ecosystems to global climate change.

U.S. Department of Energy

This past summer, waters around the world experienced what has been referred to as marine heatwaves. In this episode of the podcast Grass Roots Health, host Tim Jordan explores the issue of our water and land growing warmer with special guest, Annalisa Bracco, associate chair and professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

1795 Group, Grass Roots Health

Recent advancements in artificial intelligence research have marked a significant step forward in refining the reasoning capabilities of large language models (LLMs). A collaborative effort by the team from Facebook AI Research (FAIR) at Meta, Georgia Institute of Technology, and StabilityAI, has introduced a breakthrough approach aimed at enhancing LLMs' self-improvement processes in complex tasks like mathematics, science, and coding. Alexander Havrilla, a machine learning Ph.D. student based in the School of Mathematics, is lead author of the study published as a pre-print.

BNN Breaking

Even after decades of study, mathematicians find themselves unable to answer questions about the repeated execution of very simple rules — the most basic “dynamical systems.” But in trying to do so, they have uncovered deep connections between those rules and other seemingly distant areas of math. School of Mathematics Professor Matt Baker offered his thoughts on a seemingly simple set of functions, the Mandelbrot set, that gives rise to limitless novel patterns when examined closely.

Quanta Magazine

In a new report by the led by Mark Hay and Cody Clements, the School of Biological Sciences researchers raised concerns about the overharvesting of sea cucumbers that can harm the coral reefs. According to the study published in Nature Communications, sea cucumbers are crucial to ensuring clean reef sediments and preventing the spread of microbial pathogens — and their apparent decline is bad news for coral reefs.

Nature World News

When Intel co-founder Gordon Moore made the observation that came to be known as Moore's Law, he projected that transistor density would continue doubling in density every two years... for another ten years. Working with Tianjin University in China, though, researchers at Georgia Tech have made a breakthrough in this department by growing graphene on doped silicon carbide wafers, introducing impurities into the graphene that give it a usable band gap, enabling the researchers to create graphene transistors the size of a carbon atom. In research led by School of Physics Regents' Professor Walter De Heer, these switches can reach into the teraHertz range and run cooler than silicon transistors, potentially breathing new life into the aging Moore's Law.

RedShark News

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, working with a team from China’s Tianjin University, claim to have developed the first functional semiconductor from graphene, a single-layer carbon structure renowned for its robust bonds. Led by Walter De Heer, Regents' Professor in the School of Physics, the study published in Nature details a graphene semiconductor compatible with standard microelectronic processing methods, a fundamental requirement for any viable alternative to silicon.

Electronic Engineer Times Europe

For the scientific community, names and labels help organize the world's organisms so they can be identified, studied, and regulated. But for bacteria, there has never been a reliable method to cohesively organize them into species and strains. An international research team sought to overcome this challenge, which has long plagued scientists who study bacteria. Recently published in Nature Communications, Ocean Science and Engineering Ph.D. Student Roth Conrad contributed to the study.

Mirage News

Are our bodies solid or liquid? This question begins the exploration of a study led by Zeb Rocklin, an assistant professor in the School of Physics at Georgia Tech, that blurs the lines between solid and liquid states by examining materials that exhibit properties of both. The study, titled 'Rigidity percolation in a random tensegrity via analytic graph theory,' published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), introduces a novel approach to understanding the behavior of deformable solids through the incorporation of cable-like elements, offering insights with significant implications for biology, engineering, and nanotechnology.

BNN

The secret to the evolutionary success of organisms like plats, green algae, and cyanobacteria is light-harvesting proteins that harness energy from the sun. Long before photosynthetic proteins dominated the planet, another group of light-harvesting proteins made their debut: rhodopsins. Now, reporting in Current Biology, a team of evolutionary and synthetic biologists reenacted this process by transferring a rhodopsin gene from one eukaryotic species to another to see whether it still functioned in its unfamiliar host, offering a glimpse into how rhodopsins found their way into eukaryotic evolutionary history. Study authors include biology Ph.D. student Autumn Peterson, Research Scientist Anthony Burnetti, CMDI grant writer Carina Baskett, and Associate Professor William Ratcliff.

The Scientist

Scientists have long wondered how some organisms seem to change very little, even over eons, despite the pressures of natural selection. The prevailing hypothesis for this “stasis paradox” has been that natural selection keeps some species unchanged by selecting for moderate or average traits (so-called stabilizing selection) rather than selecting for more extreme traits that would cause a species to change (directional selection). But a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA contradicts this idea, showing that evolution constantly favors different traits in seemingly unchanging animals that improve short-term survival. In the long term, though, “all that evolution cancels out and leads to no change,” says the study's lead author, James Stroud, a biologist at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Scientific American

Coral reefs all over the world are in serious danger. However, a critical way to keep reefs healthy likely comes from an unexpected place: the humble sea cucumber. According to a study published February 26 in the journal Nature Communications led by School of Biological Sciences researchers Mark Hay and Cody Clements, about 25 percent of coral reef’s health is dependent on sea cucumbers that keep the reefs clean. 

Popular Science

Scientists have been trying to build snakelike, limbless robots for decades. These robots could come in handy in search-and-rescue situations, where they could navigate collapsed buildings to find and assist survivors. Georgia Tech researchers Tianyu Wang, a robotics Ph.D. student, and Christopher Pierce, a postdoctoral scholar in the School of Physics, recently shared how they go about building these robots, drawing inspiration from creatures like worms and snakes. Wang and Pierce work with Daniel Goldman, Dunn Family Professor in the School of Physics. This story has been republished in Know Techie, IOT World Today and The Good Men Project.

The Conversation

Ocean waters are constantly on the move, traveling far distances in complex currents that regulate Earth's climate and weather patterns. How might climate change impact this critical system? Oceanographer, College of Sciences Dean, and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair Susan Lozier dives into the data in her TED Talk. Her work suggests that ocean overturning is slowing down as waters gradually warm — and her talk takes us on board the international effort to track these changes and set us on the right course while we still have time.

TED

The CDC says right now, there is no routine screening or early diagnostic test for ovarian cancer. But that’s something that researchers like Jeffrey Skolnick and John McDonald at Georgia Tech's School of Biological Sciences are hoping to change. The researchers are developing a new test they say detects ovarian cancer with a 93% success rate. Skolnick explained that after patients give a blood sample, artificial intelligence scans the metabolic profile to determine the probability that someone does or does not have cancer. (The study was also covered at Diagnostics World and Clinical Research News.)

Atlanta News First

Bolstered by state and national workforce needs and their promising return on investment, the STEM track represents a gold mine for colleges and universities that want to ensure credentials from their institution are providing students with good job prospects and gainful employment. Meanwhile, the humanities and social sciences are taking a back seat. But something exciting is happening in the world of higher education. Colleges and universities hailing from both sides of the fence are inching ever closer to the middle, integrating lessons in the humanities with STEM-based curriculum—and vice versa. School of Biological Sciences and School of Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor Julia Kubanek, who also serves as the Institute's vice president for Interdisciplinary Research, shared her thoughts on the positive impacts of this on institutions like Georgia Tech.

University Business

Comprehensively mapping the genetic basis of human disease across diverse individuals is a long-standing goal for the field of human genetics. A key limitation in efforts to build this catalogue has been the historic under-representation of large subsets of individuals in biomedical research including individuals from diverse ancestries, individuals with disabilities and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. The All of Us Research Program, which includes School of Biological Sciences Professor I. King Jordan, is a longitudinal cohort study aiming to enroll a diverse group of at least one million individuals across the USA, advancing the promise of genomic medicine for all.

Nature

You may be familiar with yeast as the organism content to turn carbs into products like bread and beer when left to ferment in the dark. In these cases, exposure to light can hinder or even spoil the process. In a new study published in Current Biology, researchers in Georgia Tech’s School of Biological Sciences have engineered one of the world’s first strains of yeast that may be happier with the lights on. Study authors include biology Ph.D. student Autumn Peterson, Research Scientist Anthony Burnetti, CMDI grant writer Carina Baskett, and Associate Professor William Ratcliff.

Ethanol Producer Magazine

Moving with an exoskeleton sounds a bit like science fiction, but it’s actually the cutting edge of what’s possible. The EPIC (Exoskeleton and Prosthetic Intelligent Controls) and PoWeR (Physiology of Wearable Robotics) labs at Georgia Tech are working to create exoskeletons that restore and even enhance walking abilities. Here, Senior Research Scientist and clinician Kinsey Herrin works to improve 14-year-old Sebastian Andres Sacerdoti's ability to walk after suffering from a tumor impaired his movement at seven years-old. The PoWeR lab is run by Greg Sawicki, an associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering.

Atlanta News First

A new theory allows researchers to create easy-to-solve mathematical models using cables, a previously challenging mathematical problem — offering key insights into the behavior of deformable solids, with applications spanning from engineering and biology to nanotechnology. The work, also shared on Phys.org, was led by School of Physics Assistant Professor Zeb Rocklin and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mirage News

The adage “you don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it” rings true for a Georgia Tech psychology major after she began experiencing rapid hearing loss. But softball player Chandler Dennis credits a her cochlear implant with drawing her out of self-isolation and helping her reconnect with friends and family. Dennis is set to graduate this spring, with plans to pursue a career in sports psychology. But first, she’s laser-focused on her final season of pitching.

Atlanta News First

Brandon Pries is a graduate student in the School of Physics who researches computational astrophysics with Professor John Wise, using machine learning to study the formation and evolution of supermassive black holes in the early universe. Pries has also done extensive research with the NSF IceCube Collaboration. Pries recently shared a deep dive on neutrinos with astrobites, a daily literature journal (an "astro-ph reader's digest") supported by the AAS.

astrobites

In the world of competitive speed puzzling, where an eye for detail and fast handiwork can impact completion time — down to the second — the ability to assemble hundreds of pieces quickly no matter where players stand gives them an edge. They are part of a growing group of jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts who participate in the sport — a fast-moving, hyper-focused variant of the relaxing pastime that has seen a resurgence in popularity. Faith Lindell-Taylor, Research Grants and Operations Manager in the College of Sciences, is quoted in this Washington Post story, and for good reason: she is a co-founder and current treasurer of the USA Jigsaw Puzzle Association. Lindell-Taylor told the Post that speed-puzzling organizers try to pick unreleased images to avoid giving any competitors an advantage.

The Washington Post

In a warming climate, meltwater from Antarctica is expected to contribute significantly to rising seas. For the most part, though, research has been focused on West Antarctica, in places like the Thwaites Glacier, which has seen significant melt in recent decades. In a paper published Jan. 19 in Geophysical Research Letters, researchers at Stanford have shown that the Wilkes Subglacial Basin in East Antarctica, which holds enough ice to raise global sea levels by more than 10 feet, could be closer to runaway melting than anyone realized. One of the study's co-authors is Winnie Chu, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Mirage News

Evolution can perform spectacular makeovers: today's airborne songbirds descended from the wingless, earthbound dinosaurs that roamed millions of years ago, for example. But some organisms seem to change very little, even over eons. Scientists have long wondered how these species withstand the pressures of natural selection. The prevailing hypothesis for this “stasis paradox” has been that natural selection keeps some species unchanged by selecting for moderate or average traits (so-called stabilizing selection) rather than selecting for more extreme traits that would cause a species to change (directional selection). But a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA contradicts this idea, showing that evolution constantly favors different traits in seemingly unchanging animals that improve short-term survival. In the long term, though, “all that evolution cancels out and leads to no change,” says the study's lead author, James Stroud, assistant professor and Elizabeth Smithgall-Watts Endowed Faculty in the School of Biological Sciences

Scientific American

Eighteen-year-old Anu Iyer, a recent Little Rock, Ark., high school graduate now studying for her bachelor's degree at the School of Biological Sciences, has collaborated with a University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) research team and is the lead author for a research study in Scientific Reportspart of the Nature portfolio journals. The publication stems from Iyer’s work with other researchers using machine learning to detect Parkinson’s disease. Iyer was able to confirm the reliability of telephone voice recordings to detect Parkinson’s. The UAMS study team collected telephone voice samples from 50 people diagnosed with Parkinson’s and 50 healthy control participants, then applied machine learning classification with voice features related to phonation.

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences News

Researchers from University of California San Diego, as part of a large collaboration with scientists around the world, have developed a new search tool to help researchers better understand the metabolism of microorganisms. Microbes are key players in virtually all biological and environmental systems, yet limitations in current techniques used to study microbial metabolism make it difficult to decode their interactions and activities.The new research, published in Nature Microbiology, directly addresses these limitations, which could ultimately transform understanding of both human health and the environment. Two of the many co-authors of the study are from the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry Neha Garg, assistant professor, and Nicole Aiosa, graduate scholar.  

UC San Diego Today

Integer linear programming can help find the answer to a variety of real-world problems. Now researchers have found a much faster way to do it. It's for when you need to optimize for problems involving whole-number amounts. What good is a factory optimization plan that manufactures 500.7 couches? For this, researchers often turn to a variant of linear programming called integer linear programming (ILP). It’s popular in applications that involve discrete decisions, including production planning, airline crew scheduling, and vehicle routing. “Basically, ILP is the bread and butter of operations research both in theory and practice,” said Santosh Vempala, adjunct professor in the School of Mathematics and the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and Frederick G. Storey Chair in Computing and professor in the College of Computing.

Quanta Magazine

This story about three alumni from Ohio Northern University's School of Science, Technology, and Mathematics who are making a mark in the world of physics and mathematics include Matthew Golden, who is now a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Physics. Golden's research in the Extreme Astrophysics lab focuses on the interface of machine learning and physics.

Ohio Northern University

Atlanta’s Snowmageddon, or Snowpocalypse, was 10 years ago this weekend. The winter storm brought the metro area to a complete halt. It also changed the way many in Georgia looked at winter weather. About two-and-a-half inches of snow fell on January 28, 2014, but it was enough to turn interstates across the metro into parking lots. Everyone tried to get home all at once as the snow fell. Slush froze on the roadways, trapping drivers. Children were forced to sleep at schools and some drivers chose to abandon their cars and walk instead. "The air was so cold. I think forecast models struggled to completely estimate correctly the type of wintery precipitation that was about to happen," Zachary Handlos, senior academic professional in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, explained. (This story was reprinted at AOL.com)

Fox 5 Atlanta

Chemical disequilibrium quantified using the available free energy has previously been proposed as a potential biosignature. However, researchers remotely sensing exoplanet biosignatures have not yet investigated how observational uncertainties impact the ability to infer a life-generated available free energy. This study's researchers pair an atmospheric retrieval tool to a thermodynamics model to assess the detectability of chemical disequilibrium signatures of Earth-like exoplanets, focusing on the Proterozoic eon when the atmospheric abundances of oxygen–methane disequilibrium pairs may have been relatively high. One of the study's authors is Chris Reinhard, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Nature Astronomy

Joe Mendelson, adjunct professor in the School of Biological Sciences and director of research at Zoo Atlanta, writes about a study currently underway at the zoo on play behavior in diamondback terrapins. Play behavior is exactly the way someone would interpret it as a human — something that’s fun and silly and sometimes is for a purpose, and sometimes the purpose seems to be simply fun. Students from Georgia Tech and Georgia State University are helping Mendelson in making these observations, and they're hoping to make the case soon that they've documented purposeless play behavior in a turtle. 

Zoo Atlanta

Atlanta Science Festival (ASF) presented by Delta Air Lines, the city’s ultimate celebration of all things science and one of the largest of its kind in the country, returns March 9-23. All ages can experience more than 100 interactive and educational events. The Exploration Expo, a giant science bash in Piedmont Park, returns as the grand finale of the Festival. The Festival will kickstart with the Science and Engineering Day at Georgia Tech. An array of hands-on STEAM activities, exhibits, and demonstrations will feature robotics, brains, biology, space, art, nanotechnology, paper, computer science, wearable tech, bioengineering, chemical engineering, systems engineering, and more. 

Atlanta Daily World

Yeast is maybe the best-understood microorganism in the world. Humans have leveraged yeasts' biochemical abilities to produce bread, alcohol, and fermented milk products since the dawn of civilization. Yeasts are also one of the most common organism “models” in biology laboratories. And important bio-factories for plenty of medicines and useful biomolecules. Still, yeasts need to be fed with sugar or other compounds to stay alive. At least, that was true until Anthony Burnetti, a research scientist working in the lab of William Ratcliff’s, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences, managed to make yeast able to harvest the energy of light. The story highlights the potential impact of the research on biofuel production.

Securities.io

A major bottleneck in early detection is the molecular heterogeneity between ovarian cancer (OC) patients, which limits the likelihood of identifying individual biomarkers that are shared among patients. In a new study “A personalized probabilistic approach to ovarian cancer diagnostics,” published in Gynecologic Oncology, researchers from Georgia Tech have addressed this challenge by applying machine learning (ML) on patient metabolic profiles to identify biomarker patterns for personalized OC diagnosis. The Georgia Tech researchers include John McDonald, Professor Emeritus, School of Biological SciencesDongjo Ban, a Bioinformatics Ph.D. student in McDonald’s lab; Research Scientists Stephen N. Housley, Lilya V. Matyunina, and L.DeEtte (Walker) McDonald; and Regents’ Professor Jeffrey Skolnick, who also serves as Mary and Maisie Gibson Chair in the School of Biological Sciences and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Computational Systems Biology. (The study was also covered at The New York Post, Technology Networks, Medical XpressNews-Medical.netMedscape and Diagnostics World.)

Inside Precision Medicine

Expedition cruises are the choice of adventurous, nature-loving and sustainability minded passengers who want to visit remote places, while also having a luxury experience. The locations of these expeditions are often threatened by climate change, giving travellers a chance to see endangered landscapes or species, possibly before they disappear. But burning fossil fuels to visit threatened environments definitely feels ironic. The desire to witness these endangered landscapes like Greenland, which is experiencing record melting, is sometimes labelled “last-chance tourism.” Meghana Ranganathan, a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is quoted in this article 

Canadian Geographic

Silicon has long reigned as the material of choice for the microchips that power everything in the digital age, from AI to military drones. Silicon chips have been bumping against the limits of miniaturization for years, dividing chip makers on whether Moore’s law, the longstanding assumption that transistors will steadily get smaller and computers more powerful, is already dead. But the global semiconductor industry is still under just as much pressure to produce ever more powerful chips, and keep up the pace of technological progress. This month, researchers at Georgia Tech, led by Walter de Heer, Regents' Professor in the School of Physics, created the world’s first functional graphene-based semiconductor, marking what de Heer dubbed a “Wright brothers moment” for the next-generation materials that could make up the electronic devices of the future.  (This research was also covered at Physics WorldTech Briefs, TechSpot, Freethink, McGill Daily, and Fudzilla.)

Politico

What a strain is and how many strains make up a natural bacterial population remain elusive concepts despite their apparent importance for assessing the role of intra-population diversity in disease emergence or response to environmental perturbations. A research team sequenced 138 randomly selected Salinibacter ruber isolates from two solar salterns and assessed these genomes against companion short-read metagenomes from the same samples. In its paper published in Nature Communications, the team says its methodology and ANI thresholds outlined should represent a useful guide for future microdiversity surveys of additional microbial species. The researcher include Ph.D. Scholar Roth E. Conrad and Professor Kostas Konstantinidis, both in the School of Biological Sciences. Konstantinidis is also the Richard C. Tucker Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Nature Communications

Spring, summer, fall and winter – the seasons on Earth change every few months, around the same time every year. It’s easy to take this cycle for granted here on Earth, but not every planet has a regular change in seasons. So why does Earth have regular seasons when other planets don’t? Gongjie Li, assistant professor in the School of Physics, explains about axial tilts of planets, which have big implications for everything from seasons to glacier cycles, since that tilt can determine just how much sun a planet will get. The magnitude of that tilt can even determine whether a planet is habitable to life. (This article by Li was also reprinted in in IFL Science, Qrius, and the Longmont (Colorado) Leader.

The Conversation

The pandemic changed how we work and how we think about commuting. Workers are now more likely to see the daily commute as part of their workday. In this episode of WBUR Radio's On Point program, panelists are asked if employees should get paid for their commute. Included on the panel is Christopher Wiese, assistant professor of industrial/organizational psychology in the School of Psychology

WBUR On Point

In the cosmos, the rhythm of seasons is a dance choreographed by the distinct axial tilt of each planet. The study of these celestial ballets has been the focus of astrophysicist Gongjie Li, assistant professor in the School of Physics. Funded by NASA, Li’s research delves into the reasons behind seasonal patterns, centering on the effects of a planet’s axial tilt or obliquity. Earth has an axis tilted about 23 degrees from vertical, a feature that triggers the varying intensity of sunlight across different hemispheres, resulting in changing seasons. Li articulates that planets ideally aligned axially with their orbit around the sun, assuming a circular orbit, wouldn’t bear witness to seasons due to a constant influx of sunlight.

BNN Breaking

Unlike some pretty metal plants that thrive in the darkness, yeast generally doesn’t function well in the light. This fungi turns carbohydrates into ingredients for beer or bread when left to ferment in the dark. It must be stored in dark dry places, as exposure to light can keep fermentation from happening all together. However, a group of School of Biological Sciences researchers have engineered a strain of yeast that may actually work better with light that could give these fungi an evolutionary boost in a simple way. The findings are described in a study published January 12 in the journal Current Biology. Co-authors are Research Scientist Anthony Burnetti, Ph.D. Scholar Autumn Peterson, Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences William Ratcliff, and Carina Baskett, Head of Grant Writing and Trainee Development for Georgia Tech's Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection. (This research was also covered at Technology NetworksNew Atlas, ScienceDaily, Interesting EngineeringBiofuels Digest, Infobae, and Phys.org.)

Popular Science

School of Biological Sciences students are currently getting a taste of a New Zealand summer during their studies. The students are participating in the Pacific Study Abroad Program in Biology. They are spending the first six weeks in Dunedin, staying at Hayward College, and will spend a second six-week block in Australia. It is part of their spring semester program, and they will take classes in subjects such as physics, public policy and conservation biology. Professor Michael Goodisman said Georgia Tech brought over its own faculty lecturers. When they're not studying, the students and faculty will get a chance to explore New Zealand and Australia during the weekends. 

Otago Daily Times

While 2023 has already been called the world's hottest year, the full set of climate data up to December 31 shows global temperatures reached "exceptionally" high levels last year, according to the European Union's key climate service. It found Earth was 1.48 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels, with temperatures during the year overtaking the previous record set in 2016 by a large margin. This story offers a glimpse of some of the defining events from the world's hottest year in pictures and charts. Annalisa Bracco, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, said it was "very plausible" that intensely warm ocean temperatures aided several of these events, including extreme rainfall and severe coral bleaching, although formal studies would be required to confirm it.

Australian Broadcasting Company

Alien hunters should search for technological life on planets that possess a high oxygen abundance in their atmospheres, according to new research that aims to hone the search for technosignatures from extraterrestrial civilizations. The study from scientists at the University of Roma Tor Vergata in Italy and the University of Rochester in the U.S. argues that a planet's atmosphere needs to contain at least 18 percent oxygen to facilitate a technological civilization. The reason for this, they say, is a simple one: oxygen is needed for fire. This story cites another study detailing a future oxygen-related challenge for the Earth — as the sun ages and brightens in a billion years to produce more heat that warms our planet in turn, Earth's atmosphere will become deoxygenated, with oxygen levels dropping below 10 percent. That study's co-author is Christopher Reinhard, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Space.com

Africa is on fire. It has been for thousands of years. The continent contains more than 50 percent of the total area on Earth that is burning, on average, and there is no sign of it stopping; indeed, the migrating hemisphere-hopping African wildfire season is steadily increasing. The fire is essentially feeding itself in a vicious cycle involving aerosols, tiny particles that have a large impact on Earth's climate. Their interaction with the climate is intricate; they reinforce regulations of African ecosystems and pave the way for evolving wildfire patterns each year. The findings appear in a new study co-authored by Yuhang Wang, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Nature World News

No one knows whether artificial intelligence will be a boon or curse in the far future. But right now, there’s almost universal discomfort and contempt for one habit of these chatbots and agents: hallucinations, those made-up facts that appear in the outputs of large language models like ChatGPT. It's a big problem when chatbots spew untruths. But Wired writer Steven Levy says we should also celebrate these hallucinations as prompts for human creativity and a barrier to machines taking over. Santosh Vempala, professor in the School of Computer Science, the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and adjunct professor in the School of Mathematics, has studied AI hallucinations and is quoted in the article. 

Wired

In the 21st century, there is a need to develop electronic devices that are both smaller and faster, whether for applications in the medical sector or robotics. Experts have been busy working on producing advanced materials for modern electronic devices to meet this demand. A significant milestone in this endeavor has been achieved by a team of researchers at Georgia Tech, who have successfully engineered the world's first functional semiconductor using graphene. "To me, this is like a Wright brothers moment," said Walter de Heer, Regents' Professor in the School of Physics, who led this development. Silicon, commonly used in semiconductors, is nearing its limits in the face of increased demand for quicker processing and smaller electronic devices. Graphene is a two-dimensional honeycomb-like structure formed by a single layer of carbon atoms organized in a hexagonal lattice. It is well-known for having strong electrical conductivity, mechanical strength, and flexibility. "It's an extremely robust material, one that can handle very large currents and can do so without heating up and falling apart," said de Heer. (This story was also covered at Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, Fox5 AtlantaLiveScienceScienceDailySemiconductor Engineering, Chemistry WorldGlobal TimesScienceX, The Print, New ScientistTechnology NetworksTom's Hardware, South China Morning Post, AZO Nano, SystemTek, Gearrice, ConnexionblogInnovation News Network, EENewsMedriva, MintLoungeEngineering and TechnologyInceptive MindBNN Breaking, Cosmos Magazine, TechXplore, JagranJosh, ABPLive, ChinaDaily, WinBuzzer, and Sportskeeda. ) 

Interesting Engineering

James Stroud, assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences, had a problem. The evolutionary biologist had spent several years studying lizards on a small island in Miami. These Anolis lizards had looked the same for millennia; they had apparently evolved very little in all that time. Logic told Stroud that if evolution had favored the same traits over millions of years, then he should expect to see little to no change over a single generation. Except that’s not what he found. Instead of stability, Stroud saw variability. One season, shorter-legged anoles survived better than the others. The next season, those with larger heads might have an advantage. This story builds on Stroud's recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Quanta Magazine

James Stroud, assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences, joined Fox Weather to talk about the "falling iguana alerts" now issued by the National Weather Service in Miami when temperatures dip unseasonably lower during the winter, causing the large lizards to fall out of Florida trees. Stroud, an evolutionary ecologist, spoke of his lab's studies to find out whether iguanas are adapting to colder temperatures brought on by climate change, or whether genetic factors are involved. Iguanas, normally found in hotter Central and South American climates, are considered an invasive species for Florida. 

Fox Weather

Thomasville native Jacques Gay, a Ph.D. scholar in physical chemistry in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has been selected for the National Science Foundation's International SuperComputing collaborative NSF IRES ASSURE Program. As a US graduate student, Gay will get to collaborate with supercomputing centers in China, Japan and Germany through the program. He has been selected to work with Dr. Paolo Carloni of Forschungszentrum Julich in Germany. There, Gay said he will help develop molecular mechanic-based drug design computations with quantum accuracy. According to the NSF, only 20-25 students throughout the United States are chosen for this prestigious program.

The Thomasville Times-Enterprise

Global forest fires emitted 33.9 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) between 2001 and 2022, according to a report by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). This makes the CO2 emissions generated by forest fires each year higher than those from burning fossil fuels in Japan — the world’s sixth-largest CO2 emitter. Driving the emissions spike was the growing frequency of “extreme forest-fire events”. Yuhang Wang, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, tells Nature the report complements his work, which “indicates a roughly 20 percent rise in global burnt area by the 2050s compared to the 2000s”.

Nature

Terry Maple, emeritus professor in the School of Psychology who is credited with transforming Zoo Atlanta from one of the worst in America to one of the best in the world, has died at 77. Atlantans of a certain age will recall that Zoo Atlanta was in a dismal state in the 1970s and 1980s before Maple took over as director in 1984. But Maple believed Zoo Atlanta had promise, and his first mission was to free Willie B, a western lowland gorilla, from the concrete bunker he lived in with a tire swing and television to keep him company. Maple, who had grown up in San Diego and frequented its world-famous zoo, envisioned a large outdoor habitat where Willie B. and other gorillas could live naturally rather than in confinement. (This story was also covered in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

RoughDraft Atlanta

India was the world’s third-most-prolific publisher of research papers in 2022, but it was ranked only 153rd for the number of citations it received per paper. Indeed, in 2020, about 30 percent of papers from India were not cited at all, compared with 20 percent in both the United States and China. These trends are mirrored in many other low- and middle-income countries whose researchers struggle to get published in high-impact journals. But despite this challenging publishing environment, some Indian scientists have produced influential, highly cited studies in a number of fields in the past few years. One of those researchers, Sachin Gunthe, who studies aerosols at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, teamed with Pengfei Liu, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, to study the origins of air pollution in Delhi. 

Nature

Systems consisting of spheres rolling on elastic membranes have been used to introduce a core conceptual idea of general relativity: how curvature guides the movement of matter. However, such schemes cannot accurately represent relativistic dynamics in the laboratory because of the dominance of dissipation and external gravitational fields. A new study from School of Physics researchers demonstrates that an “active” object (a wheeled robot), which moves in a straight line on level ground and can alter its speed depending on the curvature of the deformable terrain it moves on, can exactly capture dynamics in curved relativistic spacetimes. The researchers' mapping and framework facilitate creation of a robophysical analog to a general relativistic system in the laboratory at low cost that can provide insights into active matter in deformable environments and robot exploration in complex landscapes. Researchers includes Hussain Gynai and Steven Tarr, graduate students; Emily Alicea-Muñoz, academic professional; Gongjie Li, assistant professor; and Daniel Goldman, Dunn Family Professor. 

Nature Scientific Reports

Blimps are indeed part of this "Innovations" roundup, but it's the collaborative abilities of army ants that have led engineers from Northwestern University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology to speculate that the insects' behavioral principles and brains could one day be used to program swarms of robots. David Hu, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering (with an adjunct appointment in the School of Physics), is quoted regarding his research on fire ant raft constructions during flooding, comparing the insects to neurons in one large brain.

Mastercard Newsroom

Diverse and full of sea life, the Earth’s Devonian era — taking place more than 370 million years ago — saw the emergence of the first seed-bearing plants, which spread as large forests across the continents of Gondwana and Laurussia. However, a mass extinction event near the end of this era has long been the subject of debate. Some scientists argue the Late Devonian mass extinction was caused by large-scale volcanic eruptions, causing global cooling. Others argue a mass deoxygenation event caused by the expansion of land plants was to blame. 
recently published study in the journal Communications Earth and Environment now posits that both factors played a role — and draws attention to the environmental tipping points the planet faces today. Chris Reinhard, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, contributed to the study. (This story also appears in SciTechDaily and ScienceDaily.) 

Indiana University

The sudden buzz of a fly has most people flapping their hands wildly as if attempting to ward off an evil spirit. Seeing a wall or ceiling-hugger has others running quickly past or under, as if their mere shadow might prompt the insect to launch an aerial attack. Still others pick the fight response, choosing to squash the danger. But here’s the bug-zillion dollar question: Why do creepy-crawlies cause us to react this way? A 2018 Georgia Tech study that included Eric Schumacher, professor in the School of Psychology, found that the strongest neurological reaction elicited by bugs is disgust. It’s a result borne of a mix of things, from social conditioning and negative connotations to understanding their disease-carrying potential and, unfortunately, judging the book by its spindly, slimy, antennaed cover.

The National

This roundup of some of the most unique excrement in the animal kingdom, showcasing the fascinating diversity of animal waste, includes a 2018 Georgia Tech study of how wombats manage to produce square-shaped feces. The study's authors include David Hu, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, with an adjunct appointment in the School of Physics. As it turns out, the elastic nature of the marsupial's intestinal walls is a key factor.

Interesting Engineering

Ever wondered why your dog’s back-and-forth shaking is so effective at getting you soaked? Or how bugs, birds, and lizards can run across water—but we can’t? Or how about why cockroaches are so darn good at navigating in the dark? Those are just a few of the day-to-day mysteries answered in the new book How to Walk on Water and Climb Up Walls: Animal Movement and the Robots of the Future, by David Hu, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, with an adjunct appointment in the School of Physics. The book answers questions you probably won’t realize you even had, but they’re questions with serious answers that span the worlds of physics, fluid mechanics, and biology. Throughout the book, Hu demonstrates the extraordinary value day-to-day curiosity brings to science.

WNYC Science Friday

Pentoses are essential carbohydrates in the metabolism of modern lifeforms, but their availability during early Earth is unclear since these molecules are unstable. A new study led by the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, reveals a chemical pathway compatible with early Earth conditions and by which C6 aldonates could have acted as a source of pentoses without the need for enzymes. Their findings provide clues about primitive biochemistry and bring us closer to understanding the Origins of Life. Charles Liotta, Regents' Professor Emeritus in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry with a joint appointment in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is a co-author of the study. 

Tokyo Institute of Technology

The United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, or USAFSAM, part of the Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, is collaborating with Georgia Tech and the Georgia Tech Research Institute, or GTRI, on a new research project to design strains of probiotic bacteria that can provide health benefits to stimulate immune recognition of influenza. Developing more effective methods to combat influenza could reduce impacts on military readiness and training from outbreaks and augment vaccine efforts to increase force health protection capabilities. Brian Hammer, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences, co-wrote a proposal that met Air Force requirements, and he will work with other researchers to develop the proof-of-concept project. 

Air Force Materiel Command

Oxidation is the process where atoms lose electrons during a chemical reaction. Among the radioactive elements, neptunium and plutonium are much harder to oxidize than uranium. To study these elements, scientists have designed donor ligands — molecules that contribute electron density to metal centers. This allows scientists to stabilize these metals as they become more electron-poor. Accessing and studying the high oxidation states of uranium, neptunium, and plutonium complexes helps scientists understand their chemical reactivities—how easily they form new chemical compounds. These studies can shed light on how radioactive materials may behave in nuclear waste streams and waste storage. This study summary was written by Henry La Pierre, associate professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Director of the National Nuclear Security Administration Transuranic Chemistry Center of Excellence. 

U.S. Department of Energy

Carbon nanotubes are a large family of carbon-based hollow cylindrical structures with unique physicochemical properties that have motivated research for diverse applications; some have reached commercialization. Recent actions in the European Union that propose to ban this entire class of materials highlight an unmet need to precisely define carbon nanotubes, to better understand their toxicological risks for human health and the environment throughout their life cycle, and to communicate science-based policy-driving information regarding their taxonomy, safe sourcing, processing, production, manufacturing, handling, use, transportation and disposal. In this Perspective, the authors discuss current information and knowledge gaps regarding these issues and make recommendations to provide research and development, and regulatory clarity, regarding the material properties of different carbon nanotube materials. A co-author of this article is Mijin Kim, assistant professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Nature Reviews Materials

Climate change is threatening the survival of plants and animals around the globe as temperatures rise and habitats change. Some species have been able to meet the challenge with rapid evolutionary adaptation and other changes in behavior or physiology. Dark-colored dragonflies are getting paler in order to reduce the amount of heat they absorb from the sun. Mustard plants are flowering earlier to take advantage of earlier snowmelt. Lizards are becoming more cold-tolerant to handle the extreme variability of our new climate. However, scientific studies show that climate change is occurring much faster than species are changing. James Stroud, assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences, co-authored this article. (This article was also covered at The Good Men ProjectBeaumont EnterpriseYahoo! News and CapeTalk 567AM.)

The Conversation

School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences researchers find dangerous sulfates are formed, and their particles get bigger, within the plumes of pollution belching from coal-fired power plants. Previous studies have found that the particles that float in the haze over the skies of Beijing include sulfate, a major source of outdoor air pollution that damages lungs and aggravates existing asthmatic symptoms, according to the California Air Resources Board. Yuhang Wang, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, and his research team have conducted a study that may have the answer: All the chemical reactions needed to turn sulfur dioxide into sulfur trioxide, and then quickly into sulfate, primarily happen within the smoke plumes causing the pollution.

Phys.org

Isabella Muratore at the New Jersey Institute of Technology says studying army ants comes with certain occupational hazards, like their very aggressive nature. But what's truly remarkable is when the ants encounter obstacles — such as a gap between leaves or branches — they build living bridges out of their bodies, hooking themselves together like a barrel of monkeys. This story includes comments from David Hu, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, with an adjunct appointment in the School of Physics. Hu has studied how fire ants use their bodies to build rafts. He says this type of work reveals how ants make collective decisions, which could have implications for controlling swarms of robots. (This story was also covered on Houston Public Media, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and National Public Radio.)

Alabama Public Radio

Georgia Tech scientists will soon have another way to search for neutrinos, those hard-to-detect, high-energy particles speeding through the cosmos that hold clues to massive particle accelerators in the universe—if researchers can find them. "The detection of a neutrino source or even a single neutrino at the highest energies is like finding a holy grail," says Nepomuk Otte, professor in the School of Physics. Otte is the principal investigator for the Trinity Demonstrator telescope that was recently built by his group and collaborators, and was designed to detect neutrinos after they get stopped within the Earth.

Science X

For the undergraduate students who interned in quantum science laboratories and research groups as part of the second cohort of the Chicago Quantum Exchange’s (CQE) Open Quantum Initiative (OQI) Fellowship Program, this summer was a chance to immerse themselves in a fast-growing field — one that is driving the development of cutting-edge technology by harnessing the properties of nature’s smallest particles. Eight of the 18 fellows contributed to Q-NEXT, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Quantum Information Science Research Center led by DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory. One of the fellows is Anais El Akkad in the School of Physics, whose research this summer focused on studying the phenomenon of superradiance in a rare-earth doped crystal, which has potential applications to the development of quantum memories.

Argonne National Laboratory

"Get your head out of the clouds." "Why is your mind always a million miles away?" These are some of the statements that might have been thrown at you if you engaged in daydreaming as a child. In fact, letting your mind wander from the task at hand has often been associated with something negative — until science found proof that daydreaming can actually be good for you. This story highlights an oft-quoted 2017 study co-authored by Eric Schumacher, professor in the School of Psychology, that links letting your mind wander with intelligence and creativity.

HealthDigest

In a new study, researchers investigated whether 25 rare gene variants known to be associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) play a role in risk for African Americans. While the rare variant associations were recently discovered in individuals of European ancestry, contributing to about 15% of cases, it was unknown if and how those same rare gene variants might affect risk for African Americans. Co-authors of the study are Greg Gibson, Regents Professor, Tom and Marie Patton Chair in the School of Biological Sciences, Director of the Center for Integrative Genomics, and member of the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience; and Courtney Astore, Ph.D. Bioinformatics scholar. (This study was also covered in ScienMag.) 

ScienceDaily

The American Physical Society (APS) recently honored five MIT community members for their contributions to physics. The recipients include MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics postdoctoral scholar Chao Li, who received his Ph.D. from the School of Physics in 2022. He was awarded the Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in Beam Physics Award from the APS.

MIT News

Don't worry; it's not expected to happen for another billion years or so. But when Earth's atmosphere does indeed revert back to one that's rich in methane and low in oxygen, it's going to happen fairly rapidly, according to a 2021 study co-authored by Chris Reinhard, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. This shift will take the planet back to something like the state it was in before what's known as the Great Oxidation Event (GOE) around 2.4 billion years ago. What's more, the researchers behind the study say that atmospheric oxygen is unlikely to be a permanent feature of habitable worlds in general, which has implications for our efforts to detect signs of life further out in the Universe.  (This study was also covered at Financial Express, MSNScienceAlertIndia Today and WION.)

ScienceAlert

Two researchers from Georgia Tech are part of a multi-university team collaborating on a $4.5 million project to better understand cislunar space — the area between Earth and the moon — which is critical for future space exploration. The Characterizing Highways and Automated Navigation in Cislunar Environment (CHANCE) project is funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and involves scientists from Purdue University, Penn State University, Georgia Tech, and the University of Texas at Austin. With the moon’s gravity being one-sixth of Earth’s gravity, significantly less propulsion is required to navigate within cislunar space and the costs to explore the solar system using the moon as a launching platform are much cheaper. John Christian, associate professor in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering, is a co-principal investigator, and Anton Leykin, professor in the School of Mathematics, is a collaborator.

Penn State University

Who will achieve high marks in school, flourish in their career or become an Olympian? Current theories of achievement provide answers that are intuitively appealing but scientifically flawed. Consequently, most of what people believe about how to achieve success is likely to be incorrect. Alexander Burgoyne, research scientist in the School of Psychology, is one of the co-authors of this study in Nature Reviews Psychology

Nature Reviews Psychology

The transferability and clinical value of genetic risk scores (GRSs) across populations remain limited due to an imbalance in genetic studies across ancestrally diverse populations. The researchers here conducted a multi-ancestry genome-wide association study of 156,319 prostate cancer cases and 788,443 controls of European, African, Asian and Hispanic men, reflecting a 57% increase in the number of non-European cases over previous prostate cancer genome-wide association studies. School of Biological Sciences researchers involved in the study include Joe Lachance, associate professor, and Rohini Janivara, Ph.D. Bioinformatics student.

Nature Genetics

In certain areas of mathematics, a sphere attached to a sphere is still a sphere, though perhaps a bigger or lumpier one. And if a sphere gets glued onto a doughnut, you still have a doughnut — with a blister. But if two doughnuts merge together, they form a two-holed shape. To mathematicians, that’s something else completely. That quality makes spheres a crucial test case for geometers. Mathematicians can often transfer lessons learned on spheres to more complex shapes by looking at what happens when you sew the two together. Included in this all-around look at spheres is a comment from John Etnyre, professor in the School of Mathematics

Quanta Magazine

Crevasses, as discovered through groundbreaking research led by Cornell, are not just fissures in the ice; they serve a crucial function in the circulation of seawater beneath Antarctic ice shelves. This unique study, carried out with the assistance of an innovative underwater robot, suggests that crevasses may have a significant impact on the stability of these ice shelves. The Icefin robot, operated remotely, made an ascent and descent within a crevasse located at the base of the Ross Ice Shelf. This operation marked a significant milestone by providing the first 3D measurements of ocean conditions at the vital intersection where the ice shelf meets the coastline, commonly referred to as the grounding zone. Georgia Tech scientists included in this research include Benjamin Hurwitz, an Ocean Science and Engineering Ph.D. scholar, and Justin Lawrence, Ph.D. scholar in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. (This story was also covered at India Education Diary.) 

AZO Robotics

The average American commute is about 27 minutes. While people in many industries were able to start working from home during the pandemic, recouping their travel time, nearly half of U.S. workers kept devoting a good chunk of their day — sometimes an hour or more — to being in transit. Pandemic-era commuting has widened several divides: between those who can work remotely and those who can’t, and between those who drive and those who use public transportation. The decrease in travel by those able to work remotely has changed the nature of commutes for everyone else — streamlining rush-hour traffic, for example, but making trains run less often. This examination of how commutes have changed over the last three years includes comments from Christopher Wiese, assistant professor in the School of Psychology.

The New York Times

A team of infectious disease researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine, working with colleagues from the Georgia Institute of Technology, has found via clinical trial that fecal transplants after kidney transplantation reduce the susceptibility of patients to infections by multi-drug-resistant organisms (MDROs). In their study, reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group tested the impact of fecal microbiota transfer (FMT) on kidney transplant patients receiving care at Emory Transplant Center, in Atlanta. One of the researchers involved in the study is Roth E. Conrad, an Ocean Science and Engineering Ph.D. scholar in the School of Biological Sciences

Medical Xpress

On a mid-October Monday, shortly before 9 a.m., 179 elite puzzlers made their way into the ballroom of a Toronto hotel and found their allocated seats for the World Sudoku and Puzzle Championships. The annual championship event comprises two days of Sudoku, followed by three days of other types of pencil-and-paper logic puzzles. Although puzzlers qualify for the event on a national level, most attend just for fun and for the community — to revel with people who share in the same nerdy delight. The top solvers are also there to win. (The glory comes with a trophy, but no prize money.) For the Sudoku event, the leading contenders this year included Tantan Dai, 23, who grew up in Beijing and is pursuing a Ph.D. in the School of Mathematics

The New York Times

Bacteria form colonies on many natural surfaces, from tree bark to our own teeth. Now, a team of evolutionary biologists in Switzerland has identified genetic mutations that enable some bacterial colonies to expand rapidly. The findings, recently reported in PLoS Biology, suggest that mutations in just a few key genes can have widespread impacts on gene expression as bacteria replicate and move into new territory. “It’s really creative work,” says evolutionary biologist William Ratcliff, Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences in the School of Biological Sciences, who was not involved in the study. “Understanding the way that [bacteria] might evolve in nature, the complex life cycles that they possess, and how they respond to different kinds of environments can be really hard.”

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

In fulfillment of Georgia Tech's Strategic Plan for Expanding Access, the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) has established the first cohort of the Georgia Tech STEM Educators' Network (GTSEN). The goal of this initiative is to give teachers and administrators the tools and information to help them prepare the youth in their communities to become college and career ready. The group attended a two-day kick-off event held at Georgia Tech in late September. The visit included a trip to Zoo Atlanta for some educational activities related to bio-inspired design led by Marc Weissburg, professor in the School of Biological Sciences

Savannah-Chatham County Public School System

One of the most consequential places on earth is also one of its least accessible: Antarctica’s icy underbelly. The grounding line is where the terrestrial ice sheet reaches the sea and begins floating, becoming the ice shelf. As global temperatures rise, seawater is eating away at that belly, forcing the grounding line to retreat and speeding the decline of Antarctica’s glaciers. Two new papers, though, are shining light on this mysterious realm. Alexander Robel, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences who leads Georgia Tech's Ice and Climate Group, did not participate in the studies but is quoted in the article. 

Wired

A new computer simulation of the early universe has been built by researchers, and it closely matches data obtained with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The results, which were presented in The Open Journal of Astrophysics, were obtained by Maynooth University and Georgia Tech researchers. They demonstrate that the data obtained with JWST are consistent with theoretical expectations. The team’s “Renaissance simulations” are a set of extremely complex computer models of galaxy formation in the early universe. The School of Physics researchers are John Wise, Professor and Director of the Center for Relativistic Astrophysics (CRA), and Samantha Hardin, graduate student. (This study was also covered at CityLife, Silicon RepublicSciTechDailyPhys.org and List23.)

AZoQuantum

More than merely cracks in the ice, crevasses play an important role in circulating seawater beneath Antarctic ice shelves, potentially influencing their stability, finds Cornell-led research based on first-of-its-kind exploration by an underwater robot. The remotely operated Icefin robot’s climb up and down a crevasse in the base of the Ross Ice Shelf produced the first 3D measurements of ocean conditions near where it meets the coastline, a critical juncture known as the grounding zone. The robotic survey revealed a new circulation pattern – a jet funneling water sideways through the crevasse – in addition to rising and sinking currents, and diverse ice formations shaped by shifting flows and temperatures. Included in the Cornell research team is Justin Lawrence, a visiting Ph.D. scholar from the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Cornell Chronicle

This fall, the Institute will launch a foundational, interdisciplinary program to lead in research related to neuroscience, neurotechnology, and society. The Neuro Next Initiative is the result of the growth of GTNeuro, a grassroots effort over many years that has led in the hiring of faculty studying the brain and the creation of the B.S. in neuroscience in the College of Sciences, and contributed to exciting neuro-related research and education at Georgia Tech. Guided by faculty members Christopher Rozell, professor and Julian T. Hightower Chair in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Simon Sponberg, Dunn Family Associate Professor of Physics and Biological Sciences; and Jennifer S. Singh, associate professor in the School of History and Sociology, the Neuro Next Initiative at Georgia Tech will lead the development of a community that supports collaborative research, unique educational initiatives, and public engagement in this critical field.

India Education Diary

Valerie C. Montgomery Rice, MD, FACOG, is a distinguished infertility specialist and researcher, renowned for her exceptional contributions to the field of medicine. She earned her bachelor's degree from the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry from Georgia Tech and furthered her education with a medical degree from Harvard Medical School. In addition to her clinical and research achievements, Rice is a dedicated educator and mentor. Her talk at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) 2023 Scientific Congress & Expo in New Orleans, Louisiana, reflects her vast experience and wisdom in the medical field. Rice's impact as a practitioner, educator, and leader underscores her significant influence on health care.

American Journal of Managed Care

Researchers at Georgia Tech have received funding to study the concept of using modified strains of probiotic bacteria – that are already part of the human gut microbiome – to stimulate the formation of antibodies against the flu virus in the body’s mucosal membranes. The research, supported by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), will study whether or not the harmless bacteria can be successfully modified to carry snippets of a viral coat protein that could stimulate the desired response in mucosal membranes lining the gut. “We’re using some well-established probiotic bacteria that have been utilized for dozens of years, are well vetted and safe for humans,” said Brian Hammer, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences who specializes in bacterial genetics. 

India Education Diary

A new kind of polymer membrane created by researchers at Georgia Tech could reshape how refineries process crude oil, dramatically reducing the energy and water required while extracting even more useful materials. The so-called DUCKY polymers are reported in Nature Materials. And they’re just the beginning for the team of Georgia Tech chemists, chemical engineers, and materials scientists. They also have created artificial intelligence tools to predict the performance of these kinds of polymer membranes, which could accelerate development of new ones. “We're establishing concepts here that we can then use with different molecules or polymers, but we apply them to crude oil because that's the most challenging target right now,” said M.G. Finn, professor and James A. Carlos Family Chair in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. (This research was also covered at ScienceDaily.) 

Lab Manager

Mijin Kim, assistant professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and a former postdoctoral researcher at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), has been recognized with the prestigious Wunderkind award by STAT, the well-regarded news site covering science and medicine. Kim's research at MSK’s Sloan Kettering Institute (SKI) focused on biosensor development for cancer research and diagnosis using carbon nanotubes, which can be altered to emit infrared light in the presence of specific molecules. This award also helps mark a major milestone in her career, as the MSK community and Dr. Kim celebrated her transition to leading her own laboratory at Georgia Tech. 

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Annalisa Bracco, professor and Associate Chair in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is interviewed on Fox Weather about what can be expected from the 2023-24 winter version of El Niño, the climate pattern that can mean heavier rains/snow for the southern U.S., and dryer, warmer-than-usual weather in eastern states and Canada. 

Fox Weather

Metagenomes encode an enormous diversity of proteins, reflecting a multiplicity of functions and activities. Exploration of this vast sequence space has been limited to a comparative analysis against reference microbial genomes and protein families derived from those genomes. Here, to examine the scale of yet untapped functional diversity beyond what is currently possible through the lens of reference genomes, a team of scientists has developed a computational approach to generate reference-free protein families from the sequence space in metagenomes. The researchers include Joel Kostka, professor and Associate Chair of Research in the School of Biological Sciences (part of the Novel Metagenome Protein Families Consortium), and Kostas T. Konstantinidis, Richard C. Tucker Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. (This research was also covered at Berkeley Lab.)

Nature

The Elgin, S.C., community has been shaken by over 80 earthquakes since December 2021, and after four months of no tremors, the area has started shaking again. “We weren't expecting anything to come back, and then these two in the last three days have reminded us it’s not over yet," said Daniel Frost, Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina Department's of Earth, Ocean & Environmental College. After studying the data, Frost and his collaborator, Zhigang Peng, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, have come up with an idea. “Our theory is they are occurring on a fault of the Eastern Piedmont fault system, which is a known fault system, not an active fault system but known," Frost said. "Any earthquakes happening on these pre-existing faults are just kind of resettling and shuffling, maybe a little of disturbance because something has changed, but it's not the kind of ongoing tectonics like on the West Coast.” 

WLTX Columbia, S.C.

If you notice an odor when you open your refrigerator, it might be time for a deep clean. But even immaculate shelves and crystal clear crisper drawers won’t save your fridge from that not-so-fresh smell if you frequently fill it with fancy cheese and fragrant leftovers. For most people, the solution is a box of baking soda. It’s a housekeeping hack that has stood the test of time because it works. But contrary to the story we’ve all been sold, baking soda doesn’t make your fridge smell better by “absorbing” unpleasant food odors. In fact, according to Anthony Rojas, senior academic professional in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the neutralization actually happens outside the box.

Epicurious

Godzilla first tore across screens in the 1954 Japanese movie Godzilla. Since then, he’s had many different forms in films and books. But most Godzilla forms feature his signature power move: atomic breath. This powerful beam of radiation shoots from his mouth as he roars. Maybe Godzilla’s awe-inspiring atomic breath could be possible. But it would take some special tricks of biology. No matter the shape of the emitted breath, Godzilla would need a source of radiation. Perhaps the radioactivity is coming from some truly awful breath. “If I was going to think about what’s the most noxious breath and lizards, it would probably be a large meat-eating lizard, like a Komodo dragon,” says James Stroud. an assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences

Science News Explores

By lassoing lizards, putting tiny chips on their legs, and tracking them for three years, Georgia Tech’s James Stroud revealed why species often appear unchanged for millions of years despite Charles Darwin’s theory of constant evolution. Darwin said that evolution was constantly happening, causing animals to adapt for survival. But many of his contemporaries disagreed. Everything changed in the past 40 years, when an explosion of evolutionary studies proved that evolution can and does occur rapidly — even from one generation to the next. Evolutionary biologists were thrilled, but the findings reinforced the same paradox: If evolution can happen so fast, then why do most species on Earth continue to appear the same for many millions of years? Stroud, an assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences, set out to investigate it. (This research was also covered at Scientific AmericanStudy Finds, India Education DiaryBNN BreakingSciTechDailyScienceDailyEarth.com, and Washington University/St. Louis.) 

Technology Networks

Animals under managed care in zoos and aquariums are ideal surrogate study subjects for endangered species that are difficult to obtain in the wild. A team including School of Biological Sciences researchers compared the fecal and oral microbiomes of healthy, managed African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) to those of other domestic and wild vertebrate hosts to determine how host identity, diet, and environment shape the penguin microbiome. Future studies should link these results to microbial functional capacity and host health, which will help inform conservation efforts. The researchers include Ph.D. scholar Ana G. Clavere Graciette, Adjunct Associate Professor Frank J. Stewart, and Zoe Pratte, postdoctorate scholar. 

Nature Scientific Reports

The World Health Organization has identified antimicrobial resistance as a worldwide concern because most clinical antibiotics are no longer effective against certain pathogenic bacteria. Antibiotics work by targeting specific parts of a bacteria cell, such as the cell wall or its DNA. Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics in a number of ways, including by developing efflux pumps — proteins that are located on the surface of the bacteria cell. When an antibiotic enters the cell, the efflux pump pumps it out of the cell before it can reach its target so that the antibiotic is never able to kill the bacteria. However, in a new study published in Nature Communications, scientists say they've found a new class of molecules that inhibit the efflux pump and make the antibiotic effective again. The researchers include Katie M. Kuo, Ph.D. scholar in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and James C. Gumbart, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry with an adjunct appointment in the School of Physics

SciTechDaily

Thanks to recent funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, a team of scientists at Montana State University will examine a group of unique organisms that consume the gas methane while simultaneously removing forms of nitrogen linked to agricultural fertilizers from their environment. Leading the team is MSU senior research scientist Anthony Bertagnolli, a former postdoctoral scholar in the School of Biological Sciences. 

KBZK

An annular "ring of fire" eclipse will stretch from Oregon to Texas next Saturday, October 14. During this type of eclipse, the Moon is near its farthest point from Earth, so it does not completely cover the Sun. The Moon appears as a dark disk on top of a larger, bright sun. In Georgia, we will see a partial solar eclipse. James Sowell, principal academic professional in the School of Physics and director of the Georgia Tech Observatory, said over the three-hour event the sun will take on a different appearance. "For those of us in Atlanta, it’s a little more than 50 percent. So you’d have the disk of the sun, and part of it would be blocked out. So you would first see a little blocked out, and ultimately about 50 percent... The sun would be a crescent and then the moon would work its way out," Sowell said. If you want to view the eclipse, you must do so safely. You'll need special protection. Special solar-safe glasses can be purchased online, which are much, much stronger than a normal pair of sunglasses. (11Alive also spoke with Sowell on Oct. 12)

11Alive WXIA

Some insects can flap their wings so rapidly that it’s impossible for instructions from their brains to entirely control the behaviour. Building tiny flapping robots has helped researchers shed light on how they evolved to do this. For some insects, including mosquitoes, their brain signals and flapping are out of sync. After the initial signal to contract, the insects’ muscles undergo additional contract-relax cycles before they even receive another impulse from the brain. This so-called “asynchronous” flight allows them to flap their wings at exceptionally high rates. Several researchers from Georgia Tech set out to study the evolutionary history of this form of flight. Those researchers include Simon Sponberg, Dunn Family Associate Professor in the School of Physics and the School of Biological Sciences; Brett Aiello, former postdoctoral scholar in Sponberg's Agile Systems Lab; Ethan Wold, Ph.D. scholar in the School of Biological Sciences and the Quantitative Biosciences Graduate Program; and Jeff Gau, Ph.D. scholar in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the Interdisciplinary Bioengineering Graduate Program. (This research was also covered at India Education DiaryArsTechnicaUC San DiegoEarth.com and Phys.org.)

New Scientist

Around the coasts of the continents, where slopes sink down into the sea, tiny cages of ice called clathrates trap methane gas, preventing it from escaping and bubbling up into the atmosphere. Until now, the biological process behind how methane gas remains stable under the sea has been almost completely unknown. In a breakthrough study, a cross-disciplinary team of Georgia Tech researchers discovered a previously unknown class of bacterial proteins that play a crucial role in the formation and stability of methane clathrates. College of Sciences team members include Jennifer Glass, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Raquel Lieberman, professor and Sepcic-Pfeil Chair in the School of Chemistry and BiochemistryDustin Huard, a researcher in Lieberman’s lab and first author of the study;  Abigail Johnson, a former Ph.D. student in Glass’ lab and co-first author on the paper, and James (JC) Gumbart, professor in the School of Physics. (The study was also covered at India Education DiarySciTechDaily, Space.com, and Astrobiology.) 

ScienceDaily

A pair of Georgia Tech students are among the 75 recipients of the Simons Foundation's Shenoy Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Neuroscience (SURFiN). The talented undergraduates will gain hands-on research experience and contribute to neuroscience research. The SURFiN program, named in memory of neuroscientist Krishna Shenoy, aims to spark and sustain interest in neuroscience among undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in neuroscience research. The Georgia Tech students include a College of Sciences undergraduate, Felipe Oliveira, who is studying for his B.S. in Neuroscience. The other Georgia Tech student is Nghi (Hailey) Ho, working for her B.S. in Computer Science, who researches in the Systems Neural Engineering Lab

Simons Foundation

Laura Cadonati, Associate Dean for Research in the College of Sciences and a professor in the School of Physics, will serve as a General Councilor for the American Physical Society, following recent APS elections. Her term will begin January 1, 2024. Cadonati, who is also a member of Georgia Tech's Center for Relativistic Astrophysics, will join other elected members to advise the Society on all matters regarding science and membership, including science policy. "Throughout my research journey in nuclear physics, astrophysics, and gravity, along with my active participation in large scientific collaborations, I have developed an understanding of the interconnectedness and the different traditions in various branches of physics," Cadonati says. "These insights will enable me to represent the wide constituency of APS."

American Physical Society

This summer, wildflowers brought an unusually bright splash of color to Colorado’s hillsides. Although the blooms were largely the product of a slow-melting snowpack and a wet spring, native pollinators like bees and butterflies played a critical role in creating these colorful habitats. But a new study shows that these flying insects are in trouble. Researchers at Colorado University of Denver and Georgia Tech analyzed data on 800 species of insects around the world and discovered that flying insects — many of which play a crucial role in pollinating the world’s plants and crops — are migrating at slower rates than their non-flying counterparts and appear to be dying at faster rates. James T. Stroud, assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences, is a co-author of the study. (This study was also covered at Mirage.)

 

Colorado Public Radio

The baculovirus–insect cell expression system — insect cells used in conjunction with the baculovirus expression vector system (BEVS) —  remains a crucial technology for manufacturing large and complex proteins. This eukaryotic expression system offers inherent safety, ease of scale-up, flexible product design, and versatility for a broad range of proteins. This Insight from Industry Report features comments from Amy Sheng, currently Chief Research Officer at Sino Biological, who received her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology in 2017 from the School of Biological Sciences.


 

News Medical Life Sciences

Earth might be the showiest blue marble, but Jupiter’s moons Europa and Ganymede, Saturn’s moons Enceladus and Titan, and more objects in the outer solar system have turned out to be remarkably active ocean worlds. Their interiors are filled with exotic forms of ice and vast seas of water. They may have hydrothermal vents feeding into oceans. All of these characteristics add up to potential habitability. The driver for much of this dynamism is volcanism. The mix of heat, water, ice, and rock makes these worlds fascinating to planetary and Earth scientists alike. Could these icy, volcanic moons host life? What does it take to create habitable zones in the outer solar system? One of the scientists interviewed for their thoughts on this is Jennifer Glass, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

Eos

Gloeocapsopsis dulcis strain AAB1 is an extremely xerotolerant cyanobacterium isolated from the Atacama Desert (the driest and oldest desert on Earth) that holds astrobiological significance due to its ability to biosynthesize compatible solutes at ultra-low water activities. A team including Postdoctoral Scholar Rachel A. Moore (the study's lead author) and Assistant Professor Christopher Carr, both with the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, developed a genome-scale model to explore the metabolic capacity of G. dulcis undergoing desiccation. Understanding specific metabolic adaptations employed by extremely desiccation-tolerant cyanobacteria like G. dulcis could be critical in identifying strategies for the survival of life in arid planetary environments such as Mars, especially given that the Atacama Desert is an established Martian analog.

Nature Scientific Reports

As an organic chemist who designs molecules to exhibit traits needed by other researchers, James Wilson relies on team science to shape his work. Outside of the classroom and lab, Wilson is a solo warrior who pushes his body to the limits as a competitive cyclist. He recently completed the infamous GAPCO (Great Allegheny Passage and Chesapeake and Ohio Canal), a 335-mile gravel ride from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., in 19 hours and 39 minutes — one of the fastest times ever recorded. He did it by himself, without sleeping and without support. A track athlete in high school, Wilson began cycling as an undergraduate at the University of South Carolina. He competed in local and national events, then tapered his riding while completing his Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 2004 from the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry

University of Miami

Anheuser-Busch says it will end the practice of amputating the tails of its signature Budweiser Clydesdale horses, following a pressure campaign from the animal rights group PETA. The beer company said the practice of equine tail docking was discontinued earlier this year, according to a statement from an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson. The practice of docking has its roots in a tradition meant to keep a horse's tail from becoming tangled in the harness or equipment, but today it is mainly done for cosmetic purposes. A tail is important for a horse's welfare, as it is its instrument for swatting away biting insects, wrote David Hu, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, in a 2018 Scientific American article. (This story was also covered at 90.5 WESA.) 

National Public Radio

What major challenges will higher education face in 2018? In addition to funding, free speech, and student safety issues, the authors of this story wonder about university presidents "using their bully pulpits, and their voices, to advance their principles and institutions." They include College of Sciences alumnus Angel Cabrera, president of Georgia Mason University, among a new breed of thought leaders. The authors cite this November 2016 Cabrera message to the George Mason community as an example. Cabrera received his M.S. from the School of Psychology in 1993, and a Ph.D. in psychology from Tech in 1995.

Inside Higher Ed

A $72.5 million investment from the National Science Foundation will drive the design, discovery and development of advanced materials needed to address major societal challenges. The Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future (DMREF) program will fund 37 new four-year projects. One of those projects, Organic Materials Architectured for Researching Vibronic Excitations with Light in the Infrared (MARVEL-IR), will be led by principal investigator Jason Azoulay, Associate Professor and Georgia Research Aliance Vasser Woolley Distinguished Investigator in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. (This research is also covered at Manufacturing.net.)

Mirage News

The winners of the 2023 World Laureates Association Prize were recently announced, and the Prize in Computer Science or Mathematics was awarded to Arkadi Nemirovski, adjunct professor in the School of Mathematics, and Professor Yurii Nesterov at Université Catholique de Louvain "for their seminal work in convex optimization theory, including self-concordant function and interior-point methods, a complexity theory of optimization, accelerated gradient methods, and robust optimization methodological advances." Nemirovski is also Professor and John P. Hunter Chair in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering. (This story was also covered in ScienceTechnode GlobalYahoo! FinanceChina Dailyecns.cn and Cision.)

Shine

The first enzyme was discovered in 1833, almost 200 years ago and long before the nature of proteins was appreciated. The field of enzymology came into its own in the 20th century. Technological advances in the hands of creative enzymologists led to an ever-growing understanding of how enzymes achieve enormous rate accelerations as well as the structural basis for substrate specificity and allosteric regulation. A session scheduled for the Discover BMB convention in San Antonio March 23-26 will feature Raquel Lieberman, Professor and Sepcic-Pfiel Chair in Chemistry in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, speaking on the topic, Enzymes for a Sustainable Future.

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Southern California is no stranger to earthquakes, but tropical storms like Hilary are rare. It’s even rarer for a magnitude-5.1 earthquake near Ojai, Calif. to strike on the same Sunday afternoon (Aug. 20, 2023) that a tropical storm swept through Southern California. This uncommon confluence of events has sparked a heightened curiosity in the general public, including popular memes and the portmanteau “hurriquake.” But is there a physical connection between these events beyond mere coincidence in space and time? Zhigang Peng, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, was part of a research team that studied available meteorological and seismic data to reveal that the quake near Ojai, Calif. was almost certainly not triggered by Hilary, which had been downgraded to a tropical storm at the time the earthquake struck.

Temblor

Lynn Ingram writes that she thought she'd found the state seashell of North Carolina, a Scotch bonnet, on one of the state's beaches. But she soon discovered that the shell was a species of sea snail that is only found in the Pacific Ocean. How did it end up in the Atlantic? Joseph Montoya, professor in the School of Biological Sciences who is also director of Georgia Tech's Ocean Science and Engineering program, says one possibility involves ballast tanks of oceangoing ships; sometimes these shells start as larvae living in plankton that may have been caught up in a ship's ballast water. 

Okracoke Observer

At the apex of the Greenland ice sheet, a community of 41 scientists and support staff carry out cutting-edge research into everything from climate change to particle physics. This story details recent research underway at Summit Station, located close to the apex of the Greenland ice sheet and one of the most remote scientific stations on Earth. One of two ice-coring projects at Summit Station involved Rachel Moore, a postdoctoral scholar in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Moore will use the core samples to study bacteria and other latent biological entities once afloat in the atmosphere and now buried in the ice sheet. Her research will provide a window into the Earth’s environmental history and changing atmospheric patterns that goes back about six centuries.

Geographical

Zhong Lin Wang, Hightower Chair and Regents' Professor in the School of Materials Science & Engineering, with an adjunct appointment in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, will take part in a webinar sponsored by the IOP Publishing journal, JPhys Materials, to explore the immense potential of ambient energy harvesting materials. Wang pioneered the nanogenerators field for distributed energy, self-powered sensors, and large-scale blue energy. The webinar is scheduled for 11 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT Tuesday, September 26; click here for registration.

Physics World

Wetlands serve as a natural protection from storms, fires, and floods. But those protections can be deadly at times. Joel Kostka, professor and Associate Chair of Research in the School of Biological Sciences (with an adjunct appointment in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences), talks about the nation's wetlands in the latest episode of The Earth Unlocked, The Weather Channel's weekly series on the planet's natural wonders and the roles extreme weather, constant geologic change, and biological evolution play. The series airs at 8 p.m. ET Sundays, and can also be viewed on demand on The Weather Channel app (subscription required.) 

The Weather Channel

Valerie Montgomery Rice, president and CEO of Morehouse School of Medicine and a Georgia Tech alumna, has received a major honor from the National Medical Association. The organization is giving its 2023 Scroll of Merit Award, its highest honor, to Montgomery Rice. The award recognizes someone who has made significant contributions to medicine, health advocacy or service to the association. Montgomery Rice, who received her bachelor's degree from the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is the first woman to lead the private historically Black medical school in Atlanta. (This award was also covered in the Atlanta Tribune.) 

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Researchers are exploring how active matter can be harnessed for tasks like designing new materials with tailored properties, understanding the behavior of biological organisms, and even developing new approaches to robotics and autonomous systems. But that’s only possible if scientists learn how the microscopic units making up active matter interact, and whether they can affect these interactions and thereby the collective properties of active matter on the macroscopic scale. School of Physics Professor Roman Grigoriev and his research colleagues have found a potential first step by developing a new model of active matter that generated new insight into the physics of the problem. They detail their methods and results in a new study published in Science Advances, “Physically informed data-driven modeling of active nematics.” Lead author of the study is graduate researcher Matthew Golden. Co-authors are graduate researcher Jyothishraj Nambisan and Alberto Fernandez-Nieves, professor in the Department of Condensed Matter Physics at the University of Barcelona and a former associate professor of Physics at Georgia Tech. (This research was also covered in WorldTimeTodays andCityLife.)

Phys.org

Santosh Vempala, the Frederick Storey II Chair of Computing and Distinguished Professor in the School of Computer Science, with courtesy appointments in the School of Mathematics and H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineeringhas been named a 2023 Simons Investigator in theoretical computer science by the Simons Foundation. Simons Investigators are outstanding theoretical scientists who receive a stable base of research support from the foundation, enabling them to undertake the long-term study of fundamental questions in mathematics, physics, astrophysics and computer science. Vempala is the second Georgia Tech scientist to be named a Simons Investigator; in 2022, Joshua Weitz, former professor in the School of Biological Sciences, was supported by the Foundation for research in theoretical physics in life sciences. 

Simons Foundation

There’s no artist more vibrant, spiritual, or creative than Mother Earth. Then, we have mortals like Georgia Tech School of Physics alumni Dylan Diamond, who execute Mother Earth’s designs into functional tools or, in this case, a timepiece: “Moss Clock.” The clock has its own gear train and servo, or motors. The bottom line: this technology is a clock composed of living moss. Diamond had the idea to make a “digitally inspired” clock where moving panels of different colored moss resemble a classic digital clock display. "My physics degree helped, but I firmly believe that in the age of information, with public access to so many free tutorials and teachers online, anyone can do something like this," Diamond said. 

Atlanta Jewish Times

The Ocean Visions-U.N. Decade Collaborative Center for Ocean-Climate Solutions, which launched in November, is a partnership between the Georgia Aquarium, Georgia Tech, and the nonprofit Ocean Visions.The center leads and supports ocean-based climate solutions that mitigate and reverse the effects of climate change. Headquartered at the Georgia Aquarium, the center is part of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals to achieve by 2030. The center is also looking at ocean-based renewable energy technologies, and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture to produce low carbon food, just to name a few. Center officials hope to partner with local communities and universities throughout the state.

An international center focused on ocean-based climate solutions launched last month in Atlanta

In a physics lab in Amsterdam, there’s a wheel that can spontaneously roll uphill by wiggling. This “odd wheel” looks simple: just six small motors linked together by plastic arms and rubber bands to form a ring about 6 inches in diameter. When the motors are powered on, it starts writhing, executing complicated squashing and stretching motions and occasionally flinging itself into the air, all the while slowly making its way up a bumpy foam ramp. The odd wheel’s unorthodox mode of travel exemplifies a recent trend: Physicists are finding ways to get useful collective behavior to spontaneously emerge in robots assembled from simple parts that obey simple rules. Daniel Goldman, Dunn Family Professor in the School of Physics (who did not work on the odd wheel study), uses the term "robophysics" to describe this latest trend in robotics.

A Wheel Made of ‘Odd Matter’ Spontaneously Rolls Uphill

Although it’s understood that water ice exists below the lunar regolith (broken rock and dust), scientists don’t yet know whether surface ice frost covers the floors inside cold, dark craters. NASA is sending Lunar Flashlight, a small satellite (or SmallSat) no larger than a briefcase to find out. The mission, which will use lasers to shed light on those dark craters, will launch in mid-November aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Lunar Flashlight will be operated by Georgia Tech with its data set to be studied by the REVEALS (Radiation Effects on Volatiles and Exploration of Asteroids and Lunar Surfaces) Lab, a collaborative effort involving students and researchers from the Colleges of Sciences and Engineering. Thomas Orlando, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and an adjunct professor in the School of Physics, is the principal investigator with REVEALS.

NASA’s Lunar Flashlight Ready to Search for Water Ice on the Moon

Retired engineer Tom Crowley proves that you can play around with a hobby you love and see it grow into something extraordinary. The 80-year-old has turned his love of astronomy into consulting work with Georgia Tech's Aloha Telescope outreach program. He operates the robotic telescope on Maui through high-speed internet connections from his home in Stone Mountain. Crowley works in partnership with James Sowell, principal academic professional and astronomer in the School of Physics, and director of the Institute's observatory. Together, they’re bringing live video images of the moon into Georgia K-12 classrooms. (More information is available at the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s Direct to Discovery outreach program website, which is creating a Zoom option so that multiple schools can participate at the same time.)

Georgia Tech’s Aloha Telescope brings thrilling images to K-12 classrooms

The tax bite is not the only issue to worry about when playing the Powerball lottery. Maximizing your chances at winning what is now a record-breaking payout would mean buying more tickets. "The investment you make by playing multiple games also goes up, and the payoffs in a real lottery vary," said Lew Lefton, senior academic professional in the School of Mathematics, and assistant dean of IT and associate vice president for research in the College of Sciences. In other words, investing more money into a higher number of tickets may not always be worth the expense.

Powerball jackpot makes history as it grows to record-breaking $1.9 billion, but winner could face massive tax bill

On Oct. 5th, 2022, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (RSAS) announced it would be awarding the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to three individuals “for the development of click chemistry and bio-orthogonal chemistry" — Carolyn R. Bertozzi of Stanford Univ., Morten Meldal from the Univ. of Copenhagen, and K. Barry Sharpless from Scripps Research in La Jolla, California. M.G. Finn, professor and chair of the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, deals directly with click and bio-orthogonal chemistry in his lab and research. Finn was also co-author on the original click chemistry paper alongside Hartmuth C. Kolb and Nobel laureate Sharpless.

Chemistry Nobel Prize awarded for click chemistry

Climate change and melting glaciers are synonymous at this point when the topic is discussed, and usually addresses the future impacts of melting ice and its effects on coastal communities. But how do we determine what those impacts are and when they could occur? Joining the Weather Geeks podcast to talk about this topic is Alex Robel, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and a climate researcher who helps to develop mathematical models that provide this information.

Weather Geeks: Cryospheric Changes & Coastal Communities

Scientists with the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica have now analyzed a decade's worth of such neutrino detections and discovered evidence that an active galaxy called Messier 77 (aka the Squid Galaxy) is a strong candidate for one such high-energy neutrino emitter, according to a new paper published in the journal Science. It brings astrophysicists one step closer to resolving the mystery of the origin of high-energy cosmic rays. The IceCube international collaboration of scientists includes Ignacio Taboada, professor in the School of Physics who also serves as IceCube's spokesperson. (Coverage of this story also appears at Space.com, MSN.com, the Wall Street Journal (registration required), Phys.org, CNET, SciTechDaily, and Inverse.)

IceCube neutrino analysis pegs possible galactic source for cosmic rays

The Artemis 1 mission to the Moon, launched from Kennedy Space Center on Nov. 16, did not have astronauts on board. It did have what NASA is calling "moonikins" — dummies wearing special spacesuits that will measure data on vibration, acceleration, and cosmic radiation. Thomas Orlando, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and an adjunct professor in the School of Physics, will study that data. Orlando is also the principal investigator for Georgia Tech's REVEALS (Radiation Effects On Volatiles And Exploration Of Asteroids And Lunar Surfaces), which will help NASA design the next generation of spacesuits and astronaut habitats. 

How Artemis rocket launch will prepare astronauts to head back to moon

On a Midwestern farm growing corn and beans, a tractor will soon spread 1,543 tons of rock dust over 140 acres. The goal: fighting climate change. Over the next two growing seasons, the dust — crushed basalt — is expected to capture 384 tons of carbon on the farm while helping crops grow. The farm is one of 14 that are working with Lithos, a new startup pioneering an unusual approach to carbon capture. Instead of pulling carbon dioxide from the air, when rain falls, it combines with atmospheric carbon dioxide to make it slightly acidic, and when the combination hits certain kinds of rocks, it causes a chemical reaction that slowly removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Chris Reinhard, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is a Lithos cofounder. (This story is also covered in GeekWire and Carbon Herald.)

This US startup uses volcanic rock dust to capture carbon on farms

On paper, it might come as no surprise that Svetlana Jitomirskaya, born in Kharkiv, Ukraine, in 1966, became a mathematician. Everyone in her family was one, and her mother was Ukraine’s only female full professor of mathematics. Jitomirskaya is now an award-winning mathematician, a distinguished professor at the University of California, Irvine, and was recently named the Elaine M. Hubbard Chair in the School of Mathematics. In this Q-and-A with Quanta Magazine, Jitomirskaya talks about her research, her experiences as a young Jewish woman in the former Soviet Union, and her hopes for math education. 

A Mathematician Who Fled to Freedom but Still Stares Down Doubts

For centuries, mathematicians have sought to understand and model the motion of fluids. The equations that describe how ripples crease the surface of a pond have also helped researchers to predict the weather, design better airplanes, and characterize how blood flows through the circulatory system. Perhaps the oldest and most prominent of these equations, formulated by Leonhard Euler more than 250 years ago, describe the flow of an ideal, incompressible fluid: a fluid with no viscosity, or internal friction, that cannot be forced into a smaller volume. In a new study, mathematicians show that a particular version of the Euler equations does indeed sometimes fail. The proof marks a major breakthrough — and while it doesn’t completely solve the problem for the more general version of the equations, it offers hope that such a solution is finally within reach. Rafael de la Llave, professor in the School of Mathematics who did not work on the study, comments on its findings. 

Computer Proof ‘Blows Up’ Centuries-Old Fluid Equations

Most people may think of bacteria, regardless of species and shape, as a single cell, or maybe several free-living cells. The problem with this image, according to microbiologists, is that it doesn’t reflect how most bacteria are likely to live. Often, bacteria use sticky molecules to anchor themselves to a surface, growing in collectives called biofilms. A new study shows that even bacteria floating in the open ocean, which lack an anchoring point for forming large conglomerates, exist in multicellular forms. The study builds on 2021 published research from Georgia Tech scientists that showed unicellular yeast forming multicellular clusters. The School of Biological Sciences researchers include Ozan Bozdag, research scientist; William Ratcliff, associate professor; Kai Tong, Ph.D. Quantitative Biosciences student, and Penelope Kahn. School of Physics researchers involved include Peter Yunker, assistant professor;  Thomas C. Day, graduate student; and Seyed Alireza Zamani-Dahaj, Ph.D. student. 

Ocean Bacteria Reveal an Unexpected Multicellular Form

Scientists working at the ongoing Department of Energy’s (DOE) Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Changing Environments (SPRUCE) experiment use the site’s northern Minnesota bog as a laboratory. SPRUCE allowed scientists to warm the air and soil by zero to 9 degrees C above ambient temperatures to depths more than 2m below ground. This warming simulates the effects of climate change on the carbon cycle at the whole ecosystem scale over the long term. The research found that the production of the potent greenhouse gas methane increased at a faster rate than carbon dioxide in response to warming. The results indicate that carbon dioxide release and methane production are stimulated by plants‘ release of metabolites, chemicals that plants create for protection and other functions. The scientists included a team from Georgia Tech led by Joel Kostka, professor and associate chair of research for the School of Biological Sciences, with an adjunct appointment in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Whole Ecosystem Warming Stimulates Methane Production from Plant Metabolites in Peatlands

Imagining what it would be like to visit another planet has been a staple of science fiction for decades. Whether it's here in the Solar System or out somewhere else in the universe, other worlds tend to intrigue us. Yet it's worth remembering that humans exist on Earth, and not somewhere like Mars, for a reason — it's the only place in the universe that we know of that would not kill us horribly within minutes or less. This Newsweek story list the different ways humans would die on each planet in the Solar System, with Jennifer Glass, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, providing gruesome details on the effects of asphyxia (lack of oxygen), extreme temperatures, and crushing atmospheric pressure on the human body. 

Here's How You Would Die on Each Planet of the Solar System

Georgia Tech alumna C. Denise Okafor (M.S. Chemistry 2010, Ph.D. Biochemistry 2015) is the subject of this recent feature from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Okafor was heading to a career in medicine before following up on a suggestion to apply for a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). The decision changed her life, and led to her graduate student experiences at Georgia Tech, and her current position as an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State. Okafor, who recently received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development, or CAREER Award, credited her professors for helping her find the right academic path to follow.

 

Understanding protein dynamics to design better drugs

In this story about the puzzling behavior that goes on inside black holes, Quanta Magazine uses the 2017 first-ever image of the black hole at the heart of the M87 galaxy captured by an Event Horizon Telescope research team. That team included EHT founding members Feryal Özel, professor and chair of the School of Physics, and Dimitrios Psaltis, a professor in the School. The story also includes the recent machine learning-enhanced version of the image. 

Quanta Magazine

After years of planning and two Covid-induced delays, the TRACER (TRacking Aerosol Convection interactions ExpeRiment) field campaign began last fall in the Houston, Texas, region, collecting data on clouds, aerosols, precipitation, meteorology, and radiation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A four-month intensive operational period began June 1, bringing many more instruments and detailed measurements to the campaign. This allowed a group of undergraduate and high school interns at Brookhaven National Laboratory to gain firsthand experience analyzing real atmospheric data and contribute to the science coming from TRACER. One of those undergraduate interns is Emily Melvin of the School of Physics, who blogs that she was "allowed to practice my forecasting skills and explore some of the resources available to meteorologists."

TRACER Talk: Student Interns Contribute to Early Research Efforts

Georgia Tech is a Top 50 institution of higher learning, according to the latest annual U.S. News and World Report college rankings. Included in the information about Tech is an 11Alive News video featuring Adam, Rommi, and Zane Kashlan, triplets who recently graduated from the College of Sciences — after just three years — each with a B.S. in Neuroscience.  

U.S. News Best Colleges & Universities report: Top-ranked Georgia schools

Electrical signals tell the heart to contract, but when the signals form spiral waves, they can lead to dangerous cardiac events like tachycardia and fibrillation. Researchers at Georgia Tech and clinicians at Emory University School of Medicine are bringing a new understanding to these complicated conditions with the first high-resolution visualizations of stable spiral waves in human ventricles. The Georgia Tech School of Physics researchers are Flavio Fenton, professor, and IIija Uzelac, research scientist.

Researchers map rotating spiral waves in live human hearts

NASA is preparing to enter a new space age from Florida's space coast, and a scientist in Georgia is helping newly tapped Artemis astronauts step onto the moon with next-generation suits. Thom Orlando, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and the School of Physics, is a co-founder of the Center for Space Technology and Research. Orlando has been working with NASA to design the space suits that future astronauts will wear as they walk on the lunar surface.

How this Georgia Tech professor is fashioning the next generation of NASA space suits

Randall (Randy) W. Engle has received the 2022 Psychonomic Society Clifford T. Morgan Distinguished Leadership Award, which recognizes “those who have made significant contributions to the field of cognitive psychology, and who have demonstrated sustained leadership and service to the discipline.” Engle is a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Psychology who leads the Institute’s Attention & Working Memory Lab. He is joined in receiving this year’s honor by Jeremy M. Wolfe of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Randall W. Engle Receives Morgan Distinguished Leadership Award

It used to be that people had to worry about not getting enough water during the course of their day. But this All Things Considered segment busts some dehydration myths to include the risks of drinking too much water, which could throw your water-sodium balance out of whack. Mindy Millard-Stafford, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and director of the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at Georgia Tech, comments on the effects of mild dehydration on higher-level mental functions. 

How much water do you actually need? Here's the science

Astronauts could return to the moon in a few years, and if they do, they might be wearing spacesuits designed with the help of Thom Orlando, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and the School of Physics. Orlando, who is also a co-founder of Georgia Tech's Center for Space Technology and Research, spoke with GPB's Peter Biello about the science of spacesuit design.

Georgia Tech professor helps design NASA’s latest generation spacesuits

Carolyn R. Bertozzi, K. Barry Sharpless, and Morten Meldal were jointly awarded this year's Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing a way of “snapping molecules together ... sort of like molecular Lego” that can be used to explore cells, map DNA and design drugs that can target diseases such as cancer more precisely. School of Chemistry and Biochemistry Chair M.G. Finn, who completed his Ph.D. with Sharpless and later collaborated with him on the Nobel-winning work, said click chemistry’s use in biology and drug development was still “at its infancy,” with more exciting discoveries to come.

Related coverage: Smithsonian Magazine, STAT News, Times of San Diego, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo! Life, Firstpost, Business Mirror, Chemistry World.

Nobel Prize for 3 chemists who made molecules 'click'

Don’t laugh off the potential value in finding nitrous oxide (N2O) in space atmospheres—scientists say the laughing gas could be a key biosignature in the search for life beyond our own planet. In a paper published earlier this month in The Astrophysical Journal, researchers say we’ve focused plenty on oxygen and methane as biosignatures, but skipping out on nitrous oxide “may be a mistake.” Researchers used simulations to show that with different stars from the sun we know and love, the biosignature search could well include N2O. One of those researchers is Chris Reinhard, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Laughing Gas Could Be the Key to Hunting Down Alien Life

A recently discovered, never-before-seen phenomenon in a type of quantum material could be explained by a series of buzzing, bee-like “loop-currents.” The discovery from physicists at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) and Georgia Tech may one day help engineers develop new types of devices, such as quantum sensors, or the quantum equivalent of computer memory storage devices. The Georgia Tech researchers from the School of Physics who co-authored the study are Itamar Kimchi, assistant professor, and Sami Hakani, graduate student.

Molecular Beehive: Physicists Probe “Astonishing” Morphing Properties of Honeycomb-Like Quantum Material

October is National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month, and The Able Channel is celebrating by raising awareness about the importance of work for those living and working with disability. Hosted by Paralympic Gold Medal-winning swimmer Mallory Weggeman, "Together We Are Able" showcases the stories of 10 Americans who have redefined perceptions of what the word able is all about. College of Sciences Advisory Board member Paul S. Goggin (Physics 1991, M.S. Atmospheric Sciences 1994) is the founder and chief operating officer of The Able Channel. "Together We Are Able" will air on NBC, CBS, Fox, and other channels, and on The Able Channel's streaming service. 

Able Channel Announces One Hour Television Special "Together We Are Able"

A Georgia Tech alumnus, and School of Biological Sciences Professor and Associate Chair of Research Joel Kostka, are working to restore seven acres of degraded salt marsh in historic Ashleyville, S.C. Albert George, who received an M.S. from Georgia Tech, is a former conservation director with the South Carolina Aquarium who is credited with spearheading work to restore the marsh. A group led by Kostka, who has a joint appointment in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and is researching coastal wetlands, received a grant from the National Coastal Resilience Fund for the marsh restoration project. Ashleyville was formerly known as Maryville, once a self-sustaining Black community, chartered and settled in 1886. It offered formerly enslaved people safe places to buy land, raise families, and work in the Jim Crow era. South Carolina's Department of Natural Resources will work with Georgia Tech to monitor the restoration efforts.

Historic Maryville marsh damaged by drought getting new life with volunteers in the muck

Atlantic staff writer Katherine J. Wu wanted to find out if she could fix the air quality in her New England apartment. That led her to discover carbon dioxide-monitoring devices with varying degrees of success. Wu turned to climate and air quality experts for some advice, and learned that other pollutants besides CO2, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and ozone, can be even more harmful to health and environments. There's also the matter of, well, particulate matter, and whether the devices pick those up on their monitors. One of the experts Wu consulted is Nga Lee (Sally) Ng, Love Family Professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

I Bought a CO2 Monitor, and It Broke Me

Excess greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are a major driver of climate change. Mitigating climate change in the future will require both decarbonization — such as transitioning to renewable energy sources — and carbon dioxide removal, which involves extracting already existing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. A recent study led by Georgia Tech and Yale University has proposed a unique approach to permanently capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through coastal ecosystem restoration. Chris Reinhard, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is one of the study's authors. (The study was also covered in ScienceDaily.)

Earth.com

A research team from Georgia Tech is one of five chosen by NASA to collaborate on lunar science and lunar sample analysis research to support future exploration of the Moon as part of the agency’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI). SSERVI will support each of the new teams for five years at about $1.5 million per year, jointly funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. The Center for Lunar Environment and Volatile Exploration Research (CLEVER) is led by Thomas Orlando, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry with an adjunct appointment in the School of Physics, The team will characterize the lunar environment and volatile inventories required for near-term sustained human exploration of the Moon. Orlando is principal investigator for another lunar-related research team, Radiation Effects on Volatiles and Exploration of Asteroids and Lunar Surfaces (REVEALS), which is also a part of SSERVI. (Read more about this story here. This story was also covered at Newswise and SpaceRef.com)

NASA

NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with Regina Barber and Emily Kwong, hosts of the Short Wave podcast, about the top science stories of the week, including the mysteries of multicellular organisms as researched by William Ratcliff, associate professor and co-director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences program in the School of Biological Sciences. Ratcliff and several colleagues, including research scientist Ozan Bozdag, used snowflake yeast to initiate the first long-term evolution experiment aimed at evolving new kinds of multicellular organisms from single-celled ancestors in the lab. Other College of Sciences researchers involved include Seyed Alireza Zamani Dahaj, computational biologist, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Biosciences, and the School of PhysicsThomas C. Day, Ph.D. candidate, School of Physics, and Peter Yunker, associate professor, School of Physics.  Anthony J. Burnetti, research scientist; Penelope Kahn, research technician; Dung T. Lac, research technician; Kai Tong, postdoctoral scholar; and Peter Conlin, postdoctoral scholar, are all from the School of Biological Sciences. (This segment was also run on Connecticut Public Radio and Georgia Public Broadcasting.) 

National Public Radio

Digital learning provider Stride has announced a partnership with nonprofit research network Ocean Visions to build instructional content for Minecraft: Education Edition to teach students about the science of oceans and support the goals of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, according to a news release. Ocean Visions selected Stride to be its lead education partner as it ramps up efforts to introduce students around the globe to the nonprofit’s Global Ecosystem for Ocean Solutions Decade Programme, or GEOS, through Minecraft. The new content will also be embedded within Stride’s curriculum. Annalisa Bracco, professor and Associate Chair for Research in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is on the Ocean Visions Network's leadership team. 

THE Journal

The Atlantic's Pulitzer Prize-winning staff writer Ed Yong writes about the unique snowflake yeast experiment conducted by Georgia Tech researchers that shows how multicellular organisms might have evolved from single-celled ancestors. The study, published recently in Nature, provided new insight into how "that change from micro to macro, from one cell to many, was one of the most pivotal evolutionary journeys in Earth’s history." William Ratcliff, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences and co-director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences program led the research team. Other researchers include Ozan Bozdag, research scientist, School of Biological Sciences; Seyed Alireza Zamani Dahaj, computational biologist, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Biosciences, and the School of PhysicsThomas C. Day, Ph.D. candidate, School of Physics, and Peter Yunker, associate professor, School of Physics.  Anthony J. Burnetti, research scientist; Penelope Kahn, research technician; Dung T. Lac, research technician; Kai Tong, postdoctoral scholar; and Peter Conlin, postdoctoral scholar, are all from the School of Biological Sciences. ((Atlantic subscription required; read more about the research here.)

The Atlantic

In a rhythm that’s pulsed through epochs, a river’s plume carries sediment and nutrients from the continental interior into the ocean, a major exchange of resources from land to sea. More than 6,000 rivers worldwide surge freshwater into oceans, delivering nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorus, that feed phytoplankton, generating a bloom of life that in turn feeds progressively larger creatures. They may even influence ocean currents in ways researchers are just starting to understand. But today, in rivers around the world, humans are altering this critical phenomenon. In many places, the culprit is a dam. Researchers led by Annalisa Bracco, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, investigated these dynamics in a study of the plume created by the Mekong River, the 12th-longest river in the world. The study found that current and proposed Mekong River dams will dramatically reduce its annual mean flow, its seasonal cycle, and sediment loading. The scientists argue that a reduced productivity of the offshore water of the South China Sea along the pathway of the summer jet may be an undesirable outcome as well. Other EAS researchers in the study are Xiyuan Zeng, graduate student, and Filippos Tagklis, postdoctoral scholar. 

Nautilus

Model systems are a cornerstone of microbiology. However, despite microbiology’s heavy reliance on laboratory models, these systems are typically not analyzed systematically to improve their relevance. This limitation is a primary challenge to understand microbes’ physiology in natural environments. This study, which includes members of Georgia Tech's Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection (CMDI), provides a proof of concept for generalizable approaches for model improvement using transcriptomic data of the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa from sputum of patients with cystic fibrosis. The study's researchers include Marvin Whiteley, professor in the School of Biological Sciences, Georgia Tech Bennie H. and Nelson D. Abell Chair in Molecular and Cellular Biology, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, and Co-Director, Emory-Children’s Cystic Fibrosis Center; Other School of Biological Sciences and CMDI researchers include Gina R. Lewin, postdoctoral scholar, and research scientists Daniel Cornforth and Francis Diggle

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

On May the Fourth, a.k.a. Star Wars Day, Discover took a look at the science behind Georgia Lucas' pop culture phenomenon. It cited a previous Georgia Tech story that quizzed faculty about various aspects of the movie franchise, including A. Nepomuk Otte, professor in the School of Physics, and his argument that The Force ignores a central pillar of physics by acting in a one-sided manner, as when Yoda raised Luke's X-wing fighter from the Dagobah swamp. “Didn't we learn from physics classes about Newton’s third law?” Otte said in the story. “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. So why doesn't the little fella get squished like a mosquito?” 

Discover

Blinking is crucial for the eye. It's how animals clean their eyes, protect them, and even communicate. But how and why did blinking originate? Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Seton Hill University, and Pennsylvania State University studied the mudskipper, an amphibious fish that spends most of its day on land, to better understand why blinking is a fundamental behavior for life on land. By comparing the anatomy and behavior of mudskippers to the fossil record of early tetrapods, the researchers argue that blinking emerged in both groups as an adaptation to life on land. One  of the researchers, Brett Aiello, an assistant professor of biology at Seton Hill University, is a former postdoctoral fellow in the Agile Systems Lab at Georgia Tech. Saad Bhamla, assistant professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is a co-author of the study.  (This story is also covered in Earth.comSciTechDaily and the Latrobe Bulletin.) 

ScienceDaily

In most of the numerical simulations that depicted the motions of the solar system's planets in the future, everything proceeded as expected. But in one percent of those simulations, things when literally sideways — thanks to Mercury's orbit flattening, causing chaos to other planet's orbits. Perhaps the solar system was not as stable as people once thought. For centuries, ever since Isaac Newton formulated his laws of motion and gravity, mathematicians and astronomers have grappled with this issue. Now, in three research papers, a trio of scientists have proved for the first time that instability inevitably arises in a model of planets orbiting a sun. Rafael de la Llave, a professor in the School of Mathematics whose speciality is dynamical systems, didn't work on the research papers but is quoted in the article. 


 

Quanta Magazine

A group including Georgia Tech is pursuing up to $500 million for a new regional hub focused on clean energy manufacturing, an industry bringing thousands of jobs to the state. The plan is to apply for the Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs program, federal funding to build tech hubs in key U.S. regions. The process could open this summer and is expected to be highly competitive. The idea is to create additional areas of tech expertise in the country, similar to Silicon Valley or Seattle, said Julia Kubanek, vice president of Interdisciplinary Research, and a professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. It could bring more economic development and secure a more reliable domestic supply chain, Kubanek added.

Atlanta Business Chronicle

The Roger A. and Helen B. Krone Engineering Biosystems Building (EBB) at Georgia Tech is an interdisciplinary facility for researchers from biology, chemistry, and engineering, all working to elevate understanding of living systems and bring about new cures for diseases. The facility houses the Children’s Pediatric Technology Center, a research partnership with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University. This Forbes profile of alumni Roger A. Krone, who is retiring as CEO of government information system provider Leidos, looks back on his business career and his ability to adapt to changing times. 

Forbes

Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun, has long captivated the curiosity of scientists. Some of the most intelligent minds agree that humankind should work towards occupying Mars. And there is a good reason for that. When life on Earth was evolving, Mars was going through significant climate change. Studying the red planet, both its past and present, can help us understand the details of the evolution of Earth and other planets in the solar system. One of the technologies that can help humans establish a base on Mars, fuel-generating microbes, was suggested in a Georgia Tech study led by Pamela Peralta-Yahya, associate professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry

JumpStart

Technically speaking, there is no noise in deep space. A lack of molecules means there is no medium through which sound waves can travel. Essentially, most of the universe is a giant, near-perfect vacuum. But hot turbulent gas in stars produce internal and surface waves which can be picked up by telescopes. Space telescopes also measure wavelengths of light and send that data back to Earth. Sonification allows the astronomical data transmitted by telescopes to then be turned into sound. Sonification is not only creating greater opportunities for scientific inclusion, but helping astronomers to fine-tune their celestial observations. "The auditory system is a fantastic pattern recognition device. We accomplish speech by listening to changes in a person's voice over time. We can use the same capabilities to listen for changes in a dataset," says Bruce Walker, professor in the School of Psychology and the School of Interactive Computing, and director of Georgia Tech's Sonification Lab

Australian Broadcasting Company

A small but growing group of researchers is fascinated by an organ we often take for granted. We rarely think about how agile our own tongue needs to be to form words or avoid being bitten while helping us taste and swallow food. But that’s just the start of the tongue’s versatility across the animal kingdom. Without tongues, few if any terrestrial vertebrates could exist. The first of their ancestors to slither out of the water some 400 million years ago found a buffet stocked with new types of foods, but it took a tongue to sample them. The range of foods available to these pioneers broadened as tongues diversified into new, specialized forms — and ultimately took on functions beyond eating. This examination of how animal tongues shaped biological diversity includes research from David Hu, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Physics

Science

A major challenge for earth scientists is to understand how oceans respond to decreasing oxygen levels. Areas of low oxygen, oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) and anoxic marine zones (AMZs), are predicted to increase in both expanse and frequency in response to climate warming and human modifications of coastal zones. Global warming is causing oxygen-deficient waters to expand and intensify. Therefore, studies focused on microbial communities inhabiting oxygen-deficient regions are necessary to both monitor and model the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystem functions and services. This study presents a compendium of 5,129 single-cell amplified genomes (SAGs) from marine environments encompassing representative OMZ and AMZ geochemical profiles. The study's researchers include Frank Stewart, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Montana State University and an adjunct professor in the School of Biological Sciences

Nature Scientific Data

Fermented foods like kimchi have been an integral part of Korean cuisine for thousands of years. Today, most kimchi is made through mass fermentation in glass, steel, or plastic containers, but it’s long been claimed that the highest quality kimchi is fermented in traditional handmade clay jars called onggi. David Hu, a professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the Georgia W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, used fluid dynamics to prove how onggi make kimchi taste so good. The results were published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. (This story was also covered in list23SFGateThe Washington PostScientific AmericanGulf News, Yahoo!NewsArs Technica and Technology Networks.)

Cosmos Magazine

A team of mechanical engineering students and alumni at Georgia Tech began developing and testing ForageFeeder, a $400 machine partly inspired by deer feeders that can disperse gorillas’ their meals at random intervals and locations throughout the day. Much like modern humans, zoo animals frequently deal with obesity due to a lack of activity. Tools and techniques such as the ForageFeeder not only promote Zoo Atlanta gorillas’ movement, but better simulate their natural foraging world. David Hu, professor in the School of Biological Sciences, the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, and the School of Physics, was faculty advisor for this project. (Read more about the story here.) 

Popular Science

Precisely how multicellular organisms evolved from single-celled ancestors remains poorly understood. The transition happened hundreds of millions of years ago, and early multicellular species are largely lost to extinction. To investigate how multicellular life evolves from scratch, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology decided to take evolution into their own hands. Led by William Ratcliff, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences and director of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Biosciences, a team of researchers has initiated the first long-term evolution experiment aimed at evolving new kinds of multicellular organisms from single-celled ancestors in the lab. In this case, the cells are snowflake yeast, and they grew so large they could be seen with the naked eye. Other researchers include Ozan Bozdag, research scientist, School of Biological Sciences; Seyed Alireza Zamani Dahaj, computational biologist, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Biosciences, and the School of Physics; Thomas C. Day, Ph.D. candidate, School of Physics, and Peter Yunker, associate professor, School of Physics.  Anthony J. Burnetti, research scientist; Penelope Kahn, research technician; Dung T. Lac, research technician; Kai Tong, postdoctoral scholar; and Peter Conlin, postdoctoral scholar, are all from the School of Biological Sciences. (This story was also covered at ScienceAlert, NPRInteresting Engineering, New AtlasNewswise, and Tech Explorist. Read more about the research here.)

The New York Times

This story about an AI enhancement of the famous 2018 photo of the first-ever image of a black hole — captured by the Event Horizon Telescope featuring EHT founding members and School of Physics professors Feryal Ozel (also school chair) and Dimitrios Psaltis — is also covered in Scientific American, Ars Technica, The Washington Post, Phys.org, NPR, Sky News, MSN, USA Today, Yahoo!News, CBS News, Space.com, The Associated Press,   LiveScience, Smithsonian Magazine, Economic Times, Voice of America News, and UK Daily Mail

The New York Times

More than 40 partners  —  including Georgia Tech and other higher education institutions, non-profits, corporations, community groups, researchers and arts organizations  —  have joined together to collaborate on climate change solutions at The New York Climate Exchange. Georgia Tech is also a leading partner of the Ocean Visions – UN Decade Collaborative Center for Ocean-Climate Solutions, an international center headquartered at the Georgia Aquarium that aims to co-design, develop, test, fund, and deliver scalable and equitable ocean-based solutions to reduce the effects of climate change and build climate-resilient marine ecosystems and coastal communities. Championed at Georgia Tech by Susan Lozier, dean and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair in the College of Sciences, the Center also supports opportunities to accelerate ocean-based carbon dioxide removal research and advance sustainable ocean economies.

Stony Brook University

This feature article is a written version of a lecture that Dan Margalit, professor in the School of Mathematics, gave at the 2022 Joint Mathematical Meetings of the American Mathematical Society (AMS). The Society established the Maryam Mirzakhani Lecture in 2018 to honor the memory of Mirzakhani, the first woman and first Iranian to win the Fields Medal, one of the highest honors in math. Margalit writes that on a basic level, Mirzakhani’s work centers around the geometry of surfaces, as understood through their simple curves: "Starting from this humble-seeming topic, Mirzakhani made surprising and sweeping connections between numerous fields of mathematics, including algebraic geometry, Teichmüller theory, moduli spaces, dynamics, homogeneous spaces, symplectic geometry, and billiards."

American Mathematical Society

Peat, the ingredient that makes bagged soil light and spongy, comes from wetlands. It can increase the amount of water soil holds onto while also, paradoxically, increasing its drainage ability — creating an ideal environment for nurturing plants. But while it does all of those things, extracting it is problematic because it strips the bogs it comes from of their carbon stores, and hinders their ability to keep storing carbon — both important parts of fighting climate change. Caitlin Petro, a research scientist in the School of Biological Sciences who studies peatlands and the plants in them, explains that it can take millennia for just a few feet of peat to form. 

Washington Post

Chia seeds sprouted in trays have experimentally confirmed a mathematical model proposed by computer scientist and polymath Alan Turing decades ago. The model describes how patterns might emerge in nature, such as desert vegetation, leopard spots and zebra stripes. But proving that Turing’s model explains patterns in the real world has been challenging. It could be that the idea is a mathematical just-so story that happens to produce similar shapes in a computer, says Flavio Fenton, professor in the School of Physics. Brendan D'Aquino, a Northeastern University computer science undergraduate student who studied in Fenton's lab in the summer of 2022, described his Turing-based experiment at the recent American Physical Society March meeting. (This story also appeared in LiveScience.)

Science News

Georgia Tech researchers show that rising temperatures in northern regions may damage peatlands, critical ecosystems for storing carbon from the atmosphere — and could decouple vital processes in microbial support systems. Joel Kostka, professor and associate chair of Research in the School of Biological Sciences, and Caitlin Petro, research scientist who works with Kostka, recently led a collaborative study to investigate how this critical type of ecosystem (and the "missing link" of microbial processes that support it) may react to the increased temperature and carbon dioxide levels predicted to come with climate change.

Science Daily

Scientists believe the Milankovitch cycles have influenced Earth's climate for millions of years, causing climate shifts such as ice ages and warmer periods. These cycles are the periodic variations that influence a planet's orbital properties. This, in turn, controls how much sunlight the planet receives over time and thus plays an important role in determining the planet's climate and habitability. A new study, inspired by Milankovitch cycles, has attempted to investigate how orbital changes may affect the climate of exoplanets. They investigated orbit variations in compact multiplanet systems for this purpose. Gongjie Li, assistant professor in the School of Physics, was a co-author of the study. (This story was also covered at Phys.org.)

Interesting Engineering

A tiny NASA moon probe continues to battle thruster issues as it attempts to reach its destination, but there's still time left to make a fix. Lunar Flashlight launched in December 2022 on a quest to seek lunar ice. But on the way to the moon, the cubesat experienced thruster glitches on its mission to test a new "green" propellant. NASA officials downgraded its mission from orbiting to lunar flybys weeks ago. NASA and mission partners at the Georgia Institute of Technology emphasize the lunar flybys will still be valuable, as they will bring the Cubesat by the south pole of the moon where NASA's Artemis program aims to land astronauts as soon as 2025. A team from the Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering runs mission control activities, and Georgia Tech's REVEALS (Radiation Effect on Volatiles and Exploration of Asteroids and Lunar Surfaces) team, led by principal investigator Thomas Orlando, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and adjunct professor in the School of Physics, will study any data collected on lunar ice.

Space.com

Green companies across the U.S. have developed innovations geared toward minimizing humanity’s carbon dioxide emissions. While carbon dioxide is naturally released from events like volcanic eruptions and wildfires, it’s also the primary greenhouse gas released by transportation, electricity, industrial processes and other activities. Many climate tech businesses are hard at work developing solutions to shrink our carbon footprint. One of the companies highlighted in this profile is Lithos, a carbon capture innovator focused on the agriculture industry. The company’s rock weathering solution is based on a biogeochemical process that uses volcanic basalt rock dust to decompose carbon in fields, as well as nourish growing crops. Chris Reinhard, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is a Lithos co-founder.

Built In

Buildings equipped to mitigate the heat, flooding and other impacts of climate change — and to limit the structures’ own harm to the environment — are not new. But a new fusion of nature and technology is taking sustainable design a step further to create tangible benefits for people and communities. Projects underway across the world reveal what’s possible in Florida’s future if people begin to reject risky coastal development for homes and workplaces built to keep them safe and healthy and lower carbon emissions. The first example cited in the story is the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at Georgia Tech. Several College of Science classes are taught in the building. 

WUSF Public Media

Toad tongues are ready for their closeup — extremely close closeups — in this video from San Francisco PBS station KQED. The closeups and slow-motion photography are necessary to show the role toad saliva plays in snatching crickets, worms, and other prey in the blink of an eye. Thanks to research from the team of David Hu, professor in the School of Biological Sciences with an adjunct appointment in the School of Physics, science learned that a toad’s saliva starts off thick and sticky. But when the saliva hits prey at a high speed, it thins out dramatically, pouring into every nook and cranny the tongue touches. And then, it becomes sticky again, drawing that meal down the hatch.

KQED

Two New Orleans high school seniors who say they have proven Pythagoras’s theorem by using trigonometry – which academics for two millennia have thought to be impossible – are being encouraged by a prominent US mathematical research organization to submit their work to a peer-reviewed journal. Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson, who are students of St Mary’s Academy, recently gave a presentation of their findings at the American Mathematical Society Southeastern Section meeting at Georgia Tech, hosted by the School of Mathematics. They were reportedly the only two high schoolers to give presentations at the meeting, attended by math researchers from institutions including Georgia Tech and the universities of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana State, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. (This story was also covered in NOLA.comEssenceBlackNews.com, ComplexYahoo! EntertainmentCrusader Newspaper GroupAtlanta Black Star, and Greek Reporter.) 

The Guardian

Eric Schumacher's 2018 research paper on daydreaming and intelligence sets the stage in this column celebrating the power of imagination. Schumacher, professor in the School of Psychology, found that those who let their minds wander score higher on creativity and intelligence tests. Columnist Paul Geisler argues that no matter who many advances the technology world gives us, such as ChatGPT, they will never replace a human's ability to create worlds inside their heads, and possible solutions to problems, via daydreaming. 

The Facts

College of Sciences alumna Natalie Lembeck ('15 Psychology) is included in Psychedelic Spotlight's 30 Under 30 feature on rising stars in the psychedelic field, as they work towards psychedelic legalization and decriminalization, research discoveries, harm reduction, and adequate mental health care. Lembeck has worked in labs and clinics involved in Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies-sponsored research, focusing on the use of cannabis and MDMA to aid in the treatment of PTSD. She currently works as the executive assistant to Dr. Michael Mithoefer, clinical researcher and psychotherapist. 

Psychedelic Spotlight

Karla Haack, who received her Ph.D. in 2009 in molecular biology from the School of Biological Sciences, and is a member of the College of Sciences Advisory Board, is one of five new 2023-2024 member leaders of the American Physiological Society (APS). Haack, a medical writer for Merck, was elected as a councilor during the recent APS Summit in Long Beach, California. Prior to joining Merck in 2021, Haack taught anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology courses at Kennesaw State University (KSU) in Georgia. Haack completed her postdoctoral research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Newswise

The 2019 release of the first image of a black hole, captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), was hailed as a significant scientific achievement. But truth be told, it was a bit blurry — or, as one astrophysicist involved in the effort called it, a "fuzzy orange donut." Scientists on Thursday unveiled a new and improved image of this black hole — a behemoth at the center of a nearby galaxy — mining the same data used for the earlier one but improving its resolution by employing image reconstruction algorithms to fill in gaps in the original telescope observations. The use of machine learning to improve the photo is detailed in a study in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. Two professors in the School of Physics who are EHT founding members — Feryal Ozel, who is also school chair, and Dimitrios Psaltis — are co-authors of the study. (This story was also covered in Space DailyScienceDaily and the Calgary Herald.)

Reuters

In February, the countries of Turkey and Syria were devastated by a pair of high-magnitude earthquakes occurring nine hours apart. The two events, 7.8- and 7.5-magnitudes respectively, caused thousands of deaths and widespread destruction of infrastructure. Both occurred along the East Anatolian fault, one of Turkey’s two main earthquake zones. A team of scientists from Georgia Tech, the University of Missouri, and the Scientific and Technological Research Institution of Turkey (TUBITAK) are working to better understand the makeup of the earthquake zone and surrounding areas to help scientists better explain why February’s earthquakes were unusually intense. Zhigang Peng, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, will join colleagues in placing 250 autonomous, wireless sensors near the fault. (This story was also covered in the Columbia Daily Tribune.)

University of Missouri

Yeast are carb lovers, sustaining themselves by fermenting sugars and starches from sources such as dough, grapes, and grains, with bread, wine, and beer as happy byproducts. Now, researchers have made one type of yeast a little less dependent on carbs by enabling it to use light as energy. The work, reported last week on the preprint server bioRxiv, is “the first step in more complex modes of engineering artificial photosynthesis,” says Magdalena Rose Osburn, a geobiologist at Northwestern University who was not involved in the research. The study's four co-authors are all with the School of Biological Sciences and Georgia Tech's Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection: Ph.D. student Autumn Peterson, senior scientist and grant writer Carina Baskett; Will Ratcliff, associate professor and co-director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences; and research scientist Anthony Burnetti

Science

Life depends on molecular machines made of proteins that interact with each other to form functional complexes. Researchers need accurate descriptions of protein-protein interactions to understand molecular biosystems, but obtaining such descriptions is very challenging, especially for theoretical approaches. Generalizing AlphaFold 2, a powerful deep learning algorithm for predicting protein structures from sequence, researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology and Oak Ridge National Laboratory proposed a computational approach, AF2Complex, to not only predict the atomic structural models of interacting proteins, but also to predict whether multiple proteins interact, even if they experience transient interactions that are difficult to capture experimentally. The Georgia Tech School of Biological Sciences researchers are Mu Gao, senior research scientist, and Jeffrey Skolnick, Regents' Professor; Mary and Maisie Gibson Chair & GRA Eminent Scholar in Computational Systems Biology. (Their study is funded in part by the U.S. Dept. of Energy and the National Institutes of Health.)

U.S. Department of Energy

Understanding the universe isn't just about visually mapping celestial bodies, it's also about listening to the heavens. Data sonification takes astronomical data and turns it into sound. It could help find new patterns in the huge amount of digital information. And it's a way of enhancing astronomy by promoting greater engagement and accessibility — a musical mix of science, art and cold, hard data. Bruce Walker, professor in the School of Psychology and the School of Interactive Computing, and director of Georgia Tech's Sonification Lab, joins a panel of scientists for an April 15 program on what sonification can add to astronomy. 

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio National

Nadia Qutob, a fourth-year astrophysics undergraduate in the School of Physics, is one of 413 Goldwater Scholarship winners announced by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. "The Department of Defense’s continued partnership with the Goldwater Foundation ensures we are supporting the development of scientific talent essential to maintaining our nation’s competitive advantage,” said Dr. Jagadeesh Pamulapati, acting deputy director of Research, Technology and Laboratories. Qutob conducts research for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Collaboration at Georgia Tech, and was also a research assistant during the summer of 2022 for the LIGO Collaboration at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Qutob plans to work toward a Ph.D. in astrophysics and ultimately conduct research on observational gravitational wave physics, and also hopes to teach at the university level.

Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation

Two prominent origin-of-life chemists have published a new hypothesis for how the first sugars — which were necessary for life to evolve — arose on the early Earth. In a paper in the journal Chem, chemists from Scripps Research and the Georgia Institute of Technology propose that key sugars needed for making early life forms could have emerged from reactions involving glyoxylate (C2HO3–), a relatively simple chemical that plausibly existed on the Earth before life evolved. Charles Liotta, Regents' Professor Emeritus in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is one of the study's authors. (This study was also covered in Astrobiology and Mirage News.)

Scripps Research Institute

If you’ve ever dreamed of skating on Saturn’s rings or making a pit-stop on Venus, maybe those fantasies are best kept to dreamland. In reality, each of the planets in our solar system besides Earth would immediately annihilate you — in pretty much the worst way possible. In short, not even a spacesuit would save you from Jupiter’s insane atmospheric pressure or Venus’s 900-degree temperatures. Unfortunately, you’d pretty much be gone in the blink of an eye — but it’s still fascinating to know exactly how that would happen. Jennifer Glass, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, details how you'd die on Mercury: "“If you died on the hot side, you would be burned to death in seconds, while asphyxiating and having all the water vaporize from your body.” (This story includes other information from an October 2022 Newsweek story, which has more quotes from Glass.) 

Mitú

The Planetary Society has announced the second round of winners of its Science and Technology Empowered by the Public (STEP) grant program, in which society members and donors have crowdfunded science and technology projects that advance space science and exploration. A winner of a 2023 STEP grant is a team led by Dartmouth College, which was awarded for their project to study small, extremely salty lakes in British Columbia, Canada, that may be analogous to ancient Mars as well as some of the Solar System’s ocean moons, places of key interest in the search for life. A member of that research team is Emily Hughes, a graduate student in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

The Planetary Society

Ocean temperatures have been off the charts since mid-March 2023, with the highest average levels in 40 years of satellite monitoring, and the impact is breaking through in disruptive ways around the world. The sea of Japan is more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) warmer than average. The Indian monsoon, closely tied to conditions in the warm Indian Ocean, has been well below its expected strength. Spain, France, England and the whole Scandinavian Peninsula are also seeing rainfall far below normal, likely connected to an extraordinary marine heat wave in the eastern North Atlantic. Annalisa Bracco, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, partially blames El Niño, but underlying everything is global warming — the continuing rising trend of sea surface and land temperatures for the past several decades as human activities have increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. (This story was also covered by The ConversationAustralian Broadcasting CorporationBloombergReutersFast Company, U.S. News & World ReportIdaho PressYahoo! NewsYahoo! FinanceNasdaqDaily MailToday (Singapore)The Straits TimesTimes of San Diego, Lake County News, and Pressenza.) 

The Conversation

Could the system of ocean currents that regulates the climate for a swath of the planet — currents known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) — collapse sooner than expected? New research, published in the journal Nature Communications, show that a sharp weakening of the currents, or even a shutdown, could be upon us by century’s end. In interviews, several researchers who study the overturning applauded the new analysis for using a novel approach to predict when we might cross a tipping point. But they voiced reservations about some of its methods, and said more work was still needed to nail down the timing with greater certainty. Susan Lozier, Dean and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair of the College of Sciences, and a professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, has researched the AMOC in the past and is involved in new efforts to directly measure its currents. But the projects began collecting data in 2004 at the earliest, which isn’t enough time to draw firm long-term conclusions. “It is extremely difficult to look at a short record for the ocean overturning and say what it is going to do over 30, 40 or 50 years,” Lozier said.

The New York Times

The work of School of Biological Sciences researchers William Ratcliff and Ozan Bozdag makes its way into this Cosmos Magazine column from Redmond Symons, who waxes eloquent how his body developed from a single cell. In May 2023, Ratcliff, an associate professor and co-director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences, along with Bozdag, a research scientist, released a study on how they developed multicellular colonies from single cells of snowflake yeast. The team showed how the cells evolved to be physically stronger and more than 20,000 times larger than their ancestor. This type of biophysical evolution is a pre-requisite for the kind of large multicellular life that can be seen with the naked eye. Their study is the first major report on the ongoing Multicellularity Long-Term Evolution Experiment (MuLTEE), which the team hopes to run for decades.

Cosmos Magazine

J. Robert Oppenheimer, now the protagonist of a much-anticipated film, is today most known for his scientific leadership of the U.S. Manhattan Project, the World War II–era crash program to build the first-ever atomic bombs. But just a few years earlier, Oppenheimer had found himself pondering very different “weapons” of mass destruction: black holes — although it would be decades before that name arose. “It was influential; it was visionary,” says Feryal Özel, professor and chair of the School of Physics, of Oppenheimer’s work on black holes and neutron stars, the superdense corpses of expired massive stars. “He has a lasting impact.” Özel is a founding member of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, which released the first-ever image of a black hole in 2019 — 80 years after Oppenheimer co-authored a paper theorizing that such objects could exist.

Scientific American

Extreme weather isn't exclusive to the planet; storms twice the size of Earth, winds faster than the strongest hurricanes, and towering tornadoes thousands of miles high all rage in the distant corners of the universe. Episode 1 of the second season of The Weather Channel's show The Earth Unlocked features commentary from Annalisa Bracco, professor and associate chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Bracco's research includes a study of the atmospheric "oceans" of Jupiter and its polar cyclones. (DirecTV subscription required to view episodes.) 

The Weather Channel

One of those signs involves being a bit absent-minded, but don't worry. If you’re a deep thinker, you’ll always be lost in your thoughts. Your brain is always busy imagining scenarios and solving problems big and small. This story points to a 2017 Georgia Tech-led study showing that daydreaming may be a sign of a creative, intelligent person. Eric Schumacher, professor in the School of Psychology, and then-Ph.D. scholar Christine Godwin were co-authors of that study.

Hack Spirit

Membrane efflux pumps play a major role in bacterial multidrug resistance. The tripartite multi-drug efflux pump system from Escherichia coli, AcrAB-TolC, is a target for inhibition to lessen resistance development and restore antibiotic efficacy, with homologs in other ESKAPE pathogens. Our results support a model where an inhibitor forms a molecular wedge within a cleft between the lipoyl and αβ barrel domains of AcrA, diminishing its conformational transmission of drug-evoked signals from AcrB to TolC. This work provides molecular insights into multi-drug adaptor protein function which could be valuable for developing antimicrobial therapeutics. Co-authors of the study include two School of Chemistry and Biochemistry researchers: Associate Professor James Gumbart and Ph.D. candidate Katie M. Kuo. (Gumbart is also an associate professor in the School of Physics.) 

Nature Communications

Four science instruments at Delta Junction, Alaska, have begun gathering air quality data as part of a multi-state project to determine the chemical content and physical properties of airborne particulate matter. The Delta Junction site, one of 12 in 10 states, is managed by associate professor Jingqiu Mao of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute and College of Natural Science and Mathematics. Nga Lee “Sally” Ng, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is the lead investigator. The instruments began operating June 26. The $12 million project, funded by the National Science Foundation, has created the nation’s first long-term network of monitoring stations on aerosol chemical content and properties.

Delta Wind

As an organic chemist at Harvard Medical School, Liz Jones loves to study how bonds are made and broken in the molecules in our bodies. She manipulates those bonds when building molecular probes to study the gut microbiome and developing potential new drugs to treat microbiome-related illnesses. She also forges bonds among people, both as a scientist and as an Ultimate Frisbee coach.“I’m super drawn to team environments,” said Jones, research fellow in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS. Jones received her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Harvard Medical School

This summary of new courses, programs, and buildings available for the 2023-2024 school year at Georgia's college campuses includes mention of three new majors in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciencesenvironmental scienceatmospheric and ocean sciences, and solid earth and planetary sciences.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The science world is remembering W. Jason Morgan, who in 1967 developed the theory of plate tectonics — a framework that revolutionized the study of earthquakes, volcanoes and the slow, steady shift of the continents across the earth’s mantle. Morgan, who died July 31 at his home in Natick, Mass., attended Georgia Tech and received his B.S. from the School of Physics in 1955. 

The New York Times

New research led by scientists working with Georgia State University’s TReNDS Center has identified age-related changes in brain patterns associated with the risk for developing schizophrenia. The discovery could help clinicians identify the risk for developing mental illness earlier and improve treatment options. The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The research is part of a collaboration by experts from the University of Bari Aldo Moro, the Lieber Institute of Brain Development and the Tri-institutional Center for Translational Research in Neuroimaging and Data Science (TReNDS) based at Georgia State University. The TReNDS Center is a collaboration among Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, and Emory University.

Georgia State University

Up to twice the amount of subglacial water that was originally predicted might be draining into the ocean — potentially increasing glacial melt, sea level rise, and biological disturbances. Two School of Earth and Atmospheric Scientist researchers — Alex Robel, assistant professor, and Shi Joyce Sim, research scientist — have collaborated on a new model for how water moves under glaciers. The new theory shows that up to twice the amount of subglacial water that was originally predicted might be draining into the ocean. (The research is also covered at SciTechDaily and Earth.com.)

Phys.org

For centuries, ever since Isaac Newton formulated his laws of motion and gravity, mathematicians and astronomers have grappled with the long-term stability of planetary orbits in the solar system. In the simplest model, which considers only the gravitational forces exerted by the sun, the planets follow their elliptical orbits like clockwork for eternity. But once you account for gravitational attraction between the planets themselves, everything gets more complicated. You can no longer explicitly calculate the planets’ positions and velocities over long periods of time, and must instead ask qualitative questions about how they might behave. Might the effects of the planets’ mutual attraction accumulate and break the clockwork? Now, in three papers that together exceed 150 pages, a trio of mathematicians have proved for the first time that instability inevitably arises in a model of planets orbiting a sun. Rafael de la Llave, a professor in the School of Mathematics, didn't work on the research but is quoted in the article.


 

Quanta Magazine

One of the most popular pop psychology concepts to take hold in recent years is that of the “growth mindset.” The belief that you can improve your mental powers (grow your brain) can be a powerful tool in helping you actually achieve the success you desire. The converse mindset, or “fixed,” keeps you tied so heavily to the idea that you need to perform well that you fear doing anything that could jeopardize a favorable outcome. But what if your mindset doesn’t really matter? What if the idea is just an oversimplification, as so many pop psychology concepts are? Alexander Burgoyne, postdoctoral researcher in the School of Psychology, co-authored research on 63 studies of growth mindsets showing that there was "no support for meaningful changes in motivation and behavior." Also, many of the studies showed inadequate study design, reporting flaws, and bias. 

Psychology Today

When traveling on rough and unpredictable roads, the more legs the better — at least for robots. Balancing on two legs is somewhat hard; on four legs, it’s slightly easier. But what if you had many many legs, like a centipede? Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have found that by giving a robot multiple, connected legs, it allows the machine to easily clamber over landscapes with cracks, hills, and uneven surfaces without the need for extensive sensor systems. Their results are published in a study this week in the journal Science. The researchers from the School of Physics include Daniel Goldman, Dunn Family Professor, and Baxi Chong, postdoctoral scholar and a Ph.D. graduate student in the Quantitative Biosciences program. Two scientists from the School of Mathematics involved in the study are Grigoriy Blekherman, professor, and Daniel Irvine, postdoctoral scholar. And three members of Goldman's Complex Rheology and Biomechanics (CRAB) Lab are study co-authors: Ph.D. graduate students Juntao He and Tianyu Wang, and Daniel Soto, postgraduate research assistant. (This story is also covered in QHubo NewsCBC RadioTech Briefs, New Atlas, the BBC, and ScienceDaily. Popular Science also mentions the Georgia Tech research in its story on a separate multi-legged robot developed by researchers in Japan. And Baxi Chong wrote about the research in The Conversation which was reprinted in RoboHub.)

Popular Science

Researchers have developed a method to construct solid objects that roll down pre-determined paths, which they reckon could have applications in quantum mechanics and medicine. To get a ball of malleable clay to roll down a simple path, you can force it down a specific path once, squashing it as you go. Take it to the top again, restart it from the initial starting point on the ball's surface, and it will roll down the same path. The researchers took this principle to develop an algorithm that could produce a shape capable of following almost any pre-determined path, even making the weird-shaped solids out of 3D-printed plastic and solid ball-bearings (for weight) to prove the point. Elisabetta Matsumoto, assistant professor in the School of Physics, co-wrote an accompanying article to the study saying "future work developing for more precise mathematical understanding of the issue would help to connect this work to applications, as well as to open up more purely mathematical veins of research."

The Register

Fossils aren’t only useful for learning about the past. They can also suggest how plants and animals might respond to future events — most pressingly, climate change. For example, Jenny McGuire, assistant professor and conservation paleobiologist in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and her colleagues studied fossilized pollen grains to see how 16 important plant taxa from North America responded to climate change over the past 18,000 years. Did the plants shift their ranges to follow their preferred climate, the researchers wondered, or did they stay put and make the best of things as the climate changed around them? Twelve of the 16 taxa changed their geographic distribution to maintain similar climate niches, the researchers found — even in periods when the climate was changing rapidly. (This story was first published in Knowable Magazine.) 

The Atlantic

On a cold March evening in 1964, a colossal earthquake struck off the coast of Alaska. At magnitude 9.2, it was the largest earthquake ever recorded in North America, and it triggered massive tsunamis that killed more than 120 people and leveled communities. But no wave reached Anchorage, the state’s biggest city. Many concluded that nearby geography makes the city immune to tsunamis. A new study published this week by the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys (DGGS), however, finds Anchorage simply got lucky in 1964—and might not the next time an earthquake strikes the seismically active region. Hermann Fritz, professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ocean Science and Engineering, and the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, did not work on the study but is quoted in this article. 

Science

A team led by members of the Department of Chemistry at King’s College London, in collaboration with scientists from the University of Oklahoma and the Georgia Institute of Technology, have reportedly discovered a new molecular method that could enable more effective and cheaper prevention of bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics. The School of Chemistry and Biochemistry researchers involved in the study are James Gumbert, professor, and Katie Kuo, Ph.D. scholar. 

PharmaPhorum

Human beings for millennia have gazed with awe at the vast torrent of stars — bright and dim — shining in Earth's night sky that comprise the Milky Way. Our home galaxy, however, is now being observed for the first time in a brand new way. Scientists said on Thursday they have produced an image of the Milky Way not based on electromagnetic radiation - light - but on ghostly subatomic particles called neutrinos. They detected high-energy neutrinos in pristine ice deep below Antarctica's surface, then traced their source back to locations in the Milky Way - the first time these particles have been observed arising from our galaxy. "This observation is ground-breaking. It established the galaxy as a neutrino source. Every future work will refer to this observation," said Ignacio Taboada, professor in the School of Physics and spokesperson for the IceCube research collaboration in Antarctica that produced the image. (The story was also covered in NPR, Popular MechanicsSmithsonian Magazine, Yahoo! News UKYahoo! News CanadaThe Jerusalem PostKPBSInteractions.org, APS (American Physical Society), Vice, El Pais, VOA Learning Englishbdnews24, SciTechDaily, PetaPixel, and Sinc.)

Reuters

Like a massive, watery battery, the Atlantic Ocean powers hurricanes. As the ocean warms throughout the summer, it sends moisture into the atmosphere—heat energy that combines with wind to spin up storms. And the surface of the North Atlantic has never been hotter at this time of year — the early stages of hurricane season — at least since routine satellite measurements began in the early 1980s. Because of this change, a showdown over this year’s hurricane season is literally heating up in the Atlantic. Hurricanes could feed on that warm ocean water. But at the same time, an El Niño has also formed in the Pacific and could provide conditions that prevent hurricanes. Annalisa Bracco, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, mentions other factors that may influence the 2023 hurricane season. 

Wired

Deep sonar and more high-tech ships were involved in the search to find a missing submersible which disappeared June 18 on the way to the ruins and wreckage of the Titanic with five people aboard. The search area grew exponentially to twice the size of Connecticut. Susan Lozier, Dean and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair of the College of Sciences, and a professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, said the spot where the RMS Titanic wrecked in 1912 is home to treacherous conditions both above and below the water. “The thing to keep in mind, just the surface conditions, boats and everything involved in this rescue operation, this part of the ocean is where the Gulf Stream continues up northward very energetically, and interacts with the atmosphere, a stormy area,” said Lozier, a physical oceanographer who has researched ocean currents in the North Atlantic. (Lozier was also interviewed by Atlanta News First.)

WSB-TV

Researchers at Seton Hill University, Pennsylvania State University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology looked to the mudskipper, the amphibious fish that spends more than half of its adult life on land to study the evolution of blinking. The study, published in an April edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that blinking may be one of the overlooked and yet important traits that allowed for the successful transition to life on land. Simon Sponberg, Dunn Family Associate Professor in the School of Physics and the School of Biological Sciences, was one of the researchers for the study. (The study was also covered in the Los Angeles Times High School Insider.)

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In a study recently published in the journal Chem, respected origin-of-life chemists from Scripps Research and Georgia Tech put forth a new theory about the origin of the first sugars, integral to the evolution of life, on primitive Earth. They postulated that essential sugars required for creating primordial life forms might have been a result of reactions with glyoxylate (C2HO3–), a fairly basic chemical that plausibly existed on Earth before life evolved. The co-author of the study is Charles Liotta, Regents' Professor Emeritus in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

SciTechDaily

In this panel from SXSW (South By Southwest) 2023 in March, leading ocean experts discussed the ocean’s role in climate, the potential for ocean-based carbon dioxide removal, and a code of conduct for CO2 removal that could maximize collective societal and environmental benefits for our ocean planet. One of the panelists was Susan Lozier, Dean of the College of Sciences, Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair, and professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Lozier, a physical oceanographer, spoke of her research on global currents, particularly the Atlantic Meriodonal Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which brings water from north to south and back in a long cycle within the Atlantic Ocean. 

YouTube

Ice is an important facet of Earth’s climate system. Since ice affects our climate and sea levels, understanding the way ice sheets develop and change over time helps us better predict the future of our planet. So, what are researchers finding? Alexander Robel, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences who leads the Georgia Tech Ice and Climate Group, joins the Finding Genius podcast to provide updates on the latest research. By studying the causes of ice sheet change, Robel is on a mission to develop conceptual, mathematical, and computational tools to predict future changes.

Finding Genius Podcast

After a three-year hiatus, scientists in the U.S. have just turned on detectors capable of measuring gravitational waves — tiny ripples in space itself that travel through the universe. Unlike light waves, gravitational waves are nearly unimpeded by the galaxies, stars, gas, and dust that fill the universe. This means that by measuring gravitational waves, astrophysicists can peek directly into the heart of some of these most spectacular phenomena in the universe. Since 2020, the Laser Interferometric Gravitational-Wave Observatory — commonly known as LIGO— has been sitting dormant while it underwent some exciting upgrades. These improvements will significantly boost the sensitivity of LIGO and should allow the facility to observe more-distant objects that produce smaller ripples in spacetime. Faculty and students in the School of Physics and Georgia Tech's Center for Relativistic Astrophysics were part of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration when the observatory made the first direct observation of gravitational waves. Laura Cadonati, professor in the School of Physics and associate dean for Research in the College of Sciences, served as LIGO deputy spokesperson and was on its data analysis team.

Inverse

As the Class of 2023 puts high school in its rearview mirror, graduates will go out into the world and wrestle with some of the same problems that their parents’ and grandparents’ generations have. But, in addition to racism and environmental crises, metro Atlanta valedictorians say they expect their generation to face new challenges, such as the ones brought on by rapid technological advances. Whether the problems are old or new, the top students at area schools are confident their peers will bring a new mindset when searching for solutions. Duluth High School’s Hiteshri V. Chudasama, who will be studying biology at Georgia Tech, expects one of the primary issues for the Class of 2023 will be “battling boundaries regarding social media and AI.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Yale University are proposing a novel pathway through which coastal ecosystem restoration can permanently capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Seagrass and mangroves – known as blue carbon ecosystems – naturally capture carbon through photosynthesis, which converts carbon dioxide into living tissue. Chris Reinhard, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, was a researcher for the study. 

Mirage News

Georgia Tech’s newest interdisciplinary degree program, the Environmental Science B.S. degree (ENVS), developed jointly by faculty of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and the School of Biological Sciences, has launched and is now enrolling students. The ENVS degree will provide a strong foundation in the basic sciences, requiring core content in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, earth sciences, and environmental policy. Flexible electives in upper-level coursework will allow students to customize their program of study to their interest and career goals. A launch event for the degree program will take place at the Kendeda Building on the afternoon of Friday, August 25, 2023.
 

India Education Diary

Georgia Tech researchers have been selected by NASA to lead a $7.5 million center that will study the lunar environment and the generation and properties of volatiles and dust. The Center for Lunar Environment and Volatile Exploration Research (CLEVER) will be led by Thomas Orlando, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry with an adjunct appointment in the School of Physics. CLEVER is the successor to Orlando’s pioneering REVEALS (Radiation Effects on Volatiles and Exploration of Asteroids and Lunar Surfaces) center, and both are part of NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) program. 

India Education Diary

One of the primary drivers of climate change is excess greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Mitigating climate change in the coming century will require both decarbonization — electrifying the power grid or reducing fossil fuel-guzzling transportation — and removing already existing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, a process called carbon dioxide removal. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Yale University have released research proposing a novel pathway involving seagrass and mangroves — known as blue carbon ecosystems — that naturally capture carbon through photosynthesis, which converts carbon dioxide into living tissue. Chris Reinhard, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is a co-author of the research.

India Education Diary

Ten years ago, Samer Naif made an unexpected discovery in Earth’s mantle: a narrow pocket, proposed to be filled with magma, hidden some 60 kilometers beneath the seafloor of the Cocos Plate. The observation provided an explanation for how tectonic plates can gradually slide, lubricated by partial melting. The study also “raised several questions about why magma is stored in a thin channel — and where the magma originated from,” says Naif, an assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology. Fellow researchers went on to share competing interpretations for the cause of the channel. Naif went looking for clues of mantle magmas that he first observed in his 2013 Nature study. The results of that search are detailed in a new Science Advances article, “Episodic intraplate magmatism fed by a long-lived melt channel of distal plume origin”, co-authored by Naif.  (Coverage of this study also appeared at Phys.org and Interesting Engineering.)

Newswise

Sonification — turning data into sound — and data accessibility were recurring themes at the January 2023 meeting of the American Astronomical Society.  Sonic representations of light echoing off hot gas around a black hole, sonifications designed to make solar eclipses accessible to the blind and visually impaired (BVI) community, and a proposal to incorporate sonification into astronomical data collected by the $600 million Rubin Observatory in Chile, were just three examples. The meeting was a microcosm of a bigger trend in science accessibility. “Astronomy is a leading field in sonification, but there’s no reason that work couldn’t be generalized,” says one astronomer. Bruce Walker, professor in the School of Psychology who runs the Georgia Tech Sonification Lab, is quoted in the article. 

MIT Technology Review

People with weakened immune systems are at constant risk of infection. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common environmental bacterium, can colonize different body parts, such as the lungs, leading to persistent, chronic infections that can last a lifetime — a common occurrence in people with cystic fibrosis. But the bacteria can sometimes change their behavior and enter the bloodstream, causing chronic localized infections to become acute and potentially fatal. How and why the switch happens in humans has remained unknown. However, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have identified the major mechanism behind the transition between chronic and acute P. aeruginosa infections. Marvin Whiteley -- professor in the School of Biological Sciences and Bennie H. and Nelson D. Abell Chair in Molecular and Cellular Biology -- and Pengbo Cao, a postdoctoral researcher in Whiteley's lab, discovered a gene that drives the switch. By measuring bacterial gene expression in human tissue samples, the researchers identified a biomarker for the transition. (This story was also covered in Technology Networks and News Medical Life Sciences.)

Science Daily

Cooperation is everywhere. Cells cooperate in multicellular organisms, individuals cooperate in societies, and different species cooperate. Why would it not be the case that microbes cooperate with each other? Researchers have known for more than 20 years that bacteria participate in collective behaviors such as forming biofilms and acquiring nutrients from the environment. But being part of a cooperative group does not necessarily mean that every individual bacterium plays by the rules. Occasionally, cheaters arise. Steve Diggle, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and director of Georgia Tech's Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection, weighs in on what keeps microbial cheaters from ruining biofilm structures. 

The Scientist

Ariel Marshall, who received a Ph.D. from the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 2014, is the new Chief of Staff, Office of the Under Secretary for Science and Innovation in the U.S. Department of Energy. Marshall, who joins the DOE after serving as legislative director for Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), will work alongside Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm to implement President Biden’s climate and energy agenda and the Administration’s investments in energy infrastructure across the nation.

Energy.gov

With the Powerball lottery once again in the news, people dream about becoming the lucky ones who put the mega in millions. Massive jackpots — that have only gotten more massive in recent years — feed those fantasies of mind-blowing winnings. But lottery games are mostly only lucrative for the private companies that states hire to run them, says Lew Lefton, who retired from the School of Mathematics faculty this year but is still affiliated with the Institute. Lefton is also a former Assistant Dean for Information Technology in the College of Sciences. 

USA Today

The heart’s electrical system keeps all its muscle cells beating in sync. A hard whack to the chest at the wrong moment, however, can set up unruly waves of abnormal electrical excitation that are potentially deadly. The resulting kind of arrhythmia may be what caused the football player Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills to collapse on the field after he took a powerful hit during a 2023 National Football League game. In this Quanta podcast, Flavio Fenton, a professor in the School of Physics who studies the electrical dynamics of the heart, tells host Steve Strogatz about a new method under development for treating arrhythmias by stimulating the heart with mild, precisely timed shocks — or possibly even with light.

Quanta Magazine

As a deadly heat wave continues to ravage the U.S., new evidence suggests the human body may stop functioning optimally when outside temperatures climb to 104 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Research presented at the recent annual Society for Experimental Biology conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, suggests that temperatures in that range raise a person's resting metabolic rate — the amount of energy needed to function at rest. Michael Sawka, adjunct professor and professor of the practice in the School of Biological Sciences, is quoted in the article. 

NBC News

Dormancy is an adaptation to living in fluctuating environments. It allows individuals to enter a reversible state of reduced metabolic activity when challenged by unfavorable conditions. Dormancy can also influence species interactions by providing organisms with a refuge from predators and parasites. This study tests the hypothesis that, by generating a seed bank of protected individuals, dormancy can modify the patterns and processes of antagonistic coevolution. The study's researchers include Joshua Weitz, professor and Tom and Marie Patton Chair in the School of Biological Sciences, Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences, and Blaise Pascal International Chair of Excellence at the Ecole Normale Superieure; and Andreea Magalie, Ph.D. Quantitative Biosciences student in the School of Biological Sciences. 

The ISME Journal

In an advisory meeting in late January, the FDA signaled its intention to start doling out COVID vaccines just like flu shots: once a year in autumn, for just about everyone, ad infinitum. Joshua Weitz is a professor and Tom and Marie Patton Chair in the School of Biological Sciences, co-director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences, and Blaise Pascal International Chair of Excellence at the Ecole Normale Superieure. Weitz said that recommendations on the proper timing and number of doses have changed so many times that many Americans have simply "checked out." After the bivalent recipe debuted, polls found that an alarming proportion of people didn’t even know the shot was available to them. That is what the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) for the week of January 20 found. Weitz and Stephen Beckett, a research scientist in the School of Biological Sciences, conducted research for the CDC report. 

The Flu-ification of COVID Policy Is Almost Complete

An unprecedented wave of minor earthquakes focused near Elgin, a small town in Kershaw County in South Carolina, have local residents struggling to describe what they’re experiencing. For a big chunk of 2022, “Did you feel that?” became almost as common a greeting as “How are you?” across the Midlands. The U.S. Geological Survey refers to the Elgin phenomenon as a “swarm.” It began Dec. 27, 2021, with a magnitude 3.3 earthquake. Since then, upward of 80 earthquakes have been recorded. Zhigang Peng, a professor of geophysics in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, says magma or fluid movement can cause quakes, but scientists haven't found evidence of those with the Elgin swarm.

Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Inside the Elgin earthquake swarm

Four early-career chemists, including a School of Chemistry and Biochemistry alumna, have been awarded funding to kickstart their research, ranging from biochemistry to polymers, thanks to a fund created to advance women in the chemical sciences. Marion Milligan Mason Award winners also receive leadership development, mentoring opportunities, and a network of women in the chemical sciences. One of the four Mason Award winners is Denise Okafor, MS CHEM 2010, Ph.D BIOCHEM 2015. Okafor is now an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State Eberly College of Sciences

Four Chemists Receive 2023 Marion Milligan Mason Award

A recent study led by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health has indicated that regular COVID-19 boosters may be key in reducing infection. The study found that receiving a booster shot once or twice a year significantly reduces the probability of COVID-19 infection. Despite hopes that the initial COVID-19 vaccination series would be effective at preventing long term infection, short-term studies involving SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies have indicated that antibody protection against infection wanes significantly post-vaccination and even post-booster. Researchers involved in the study include Hayley Hassler, a Ph.D. student in Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Biosciences (QBioS) at Georgia Tech.

Yale study finds significant protection in annual COVID-19 booster

2022 was an instrumental year for Zoo Atlanta’s research team, spearheading studies that change the way scientists and wildlife experts understand different species — ranging from mammals to reptiles — and inform best ways to care for and protect the animals. Last year, the team and partners published 16 peer-reviewed papers in total, according to Joseph Mendelson, adjunct professor in the School of Biological Sciences who is also Zoo Atlanta's Director of Research. For one paper, David Hu, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering was part of a study that focused on the mechanics of the skin wrinkles and folds in an elephant's trunk. Other School of Biological Sciences researchers assembled the genome of the critically endangered Guatemalan beaded lizard. Those researchers include former graduate student Carl J. Dyson, doctoral student Aaron Pfennig, Joseph Lachance, associate professor; Joseph Mendelson, and Michael Goodisman, professor. 

A look at Zoo Atlanta’s breakthrough research findings in 2022

Pushing a shovel through snow, planting an umbrella on the beach, wading through a ball pit, and driving over gravel all have one thing in common: They all are exercises in intrusion, with an intruding object exerting some force to move through a soft and granular material. Predicting what it takes to push through sand, gravel, or other soft media can help engineers drive a rover over Martian soil, anchor a ship in rough seas, and walk a robot through sand and mud. But modeling the forces involved in such processes is a huge computational challenge that often takes days to weeks to solve. Now, engineers at the Massachusette Institute of Technology and Georgia Tech have found a faster and simpler way to model intrusion through any soft, flowable material. Daniel Goldman, Dunn Family Professor in the School of Physics, joined MIT researchers for this project. 

How to push, wiggle, or drill an object through granular material

Governor Brian P. Kemp, in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), today announced that Georgia sustained its momentum through economic development projects in key industries during the first half of Fiscal Year 2023 (July 1 through December 31, 2022). The 218 locations or expansions supported by GDEcD’s Global Commerce division are expected to create approximately 17,500 new jobs and more than $13 billion in investment for the state. Both the number of locations and total investment amount increased over the same period last year. Included in the roundup is Science Square. Georgia Tech hosted an August groundbreaking for the purpose-built district near campus on North Avenue, designed as a hub for biosciences/life sciences research and development.

Key Industries Sustain Momentum for State's Economic Development

Peatlands store a significant amount of the Earth’s carbon and have functioned as an important moderator of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for thousands of years. But as peatlands are lost to overextraction and affected by a warmer climate, the impact on these natural carbon scrubbers remains unclear. A team of researchers from Florida State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Oak Ridge National Lab and the University of Arizona received a $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to investigate the status of carbon stored in peatlands, environments that are at risk of carbon release due to climate change. The Georgia Tech researchers include Joel Kostka, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Kostas Konstantinidis, Richard C. Tucker Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Ocean Science and Engineering interdisciplinary graduate program; and Caitlin Petro, research scientist, and Katherine Duchesneau, doctoral student, both with the School of Biological Sciences. (Here's how the College of Sciences covered this story in October 2022.)

FSU climate scientists receive Department of Energy funding to study greenhouse gas emissions from peatlands

The updated COVID-19 booster shot that targets two omicron subvariants as well as the original coronavirus strain has been available to most Americans for more than four months, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says just 18% of adults have gotten it. Despite COVID deaths in the U.S. once again being on the rise, the months-long booster campaign appears to have an education problem, according to a report published Thursday by the CDC. The most common reason given for not getting the booster shot was a lack of knowledge about eligibility for it, followed by a lack of knowledge about vaccine availability, and a perceived belief that they were already protected against infection. Two School of Biological Sciences,researchers were involved in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR):  Joshua Weitz, professor, Tom and Marie Patton Chair, Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences, and Blaise Pascal International Chair of Excellence at the Ecole Normale Superieure; and Stephen Beckett, research scientist. (The CDC report is also mentioned in this story by the Los Angeles Times.)

Survey Finds Americans Still Don’t Know They’re Eligible for Updated COVID-19 Booster Shot

Ants are social insects and the Solenopsis invicta species —known as the fire ant— is no exception. The social interactions of this invasive insect, which comes from South America, are framed within the context of the theory of Active Matter, which would explain the ants’ group behaviour as a reaction to the intrinsic mechanisms in the system. This is one of the conclusions of an article published in the journal Science Advances by two University of Barcelona researchers along with Guillermo Goldsztein, professor in the School of Mathematics

Active matter theory explains fire-ant group behavior

The legendary ability of cats to fall back on their paws could one day help humans walk better after a spinal cord injury, according to research done at the Université de Sherbrooke. The knowledge could also help seniors whose sense of balance is more precarious. In collaboration with researchers from Georgia Tech and Drexel, the Sherbrooke researchers wanted to better understand how what science calls a somatosensory return allows a cat to coordinate the movement of its four legs. Boris Prilutsky, a professor in the School of Biological Sciences, collaborated on the research.

Cats land on their feet, which could help humans walk better

A new paper in Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health, published by Oxford University Press, indicates that antibiotic resistance may result from poor hygiene practices in hospitals or other medical facilities. Researchers addressed whether hygiene weakens the effect of antibiotic pressure on resistance evolution. The authors first developed a mathematical model of resistance to predict how good or poor hygiene might affect how rapidly resistant bacteria increase in abundance due to antibiotic treatment. Kristofer Wollein Waldetoft, a postdoctoral researcher with the Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection (CMDI) in the School of Biological Sciences, and Sam Brown, professor in the School and former CMDI director, collaborated on the research.

How clean hospitals can reduce antibiotic resistance and save lives

Georgia Tech has announced its commitment to addressing climate change by launching a Climate Action Plan. Its development began in 2022 and the plan will be put into place this year.  According to a press release from the Institute, the plan “will include developing a greenhouse gas inventory, modeling potential mitigation strategies and engaging with faculty, students and staff from across campus.” Some of those students, including Rachel Chin, a fifth-year student in the School of Biological Sciences, are anxious to know more about carbon neutrality goals and other aspects of the plan.

Tech initiates new carbon neutrality plan by 2050

Elisabetta Matsumoto, an associate professor in the School of Physics, will present “Knotty Knits: A Chat about Math and Crafts” beginning at 3 p.m. March 3, at Southern Illinois University's Guyon Auditorium. Matsumoto, whose research interests include soft condensed matter physics and the geometry of materials, uses knitting to illustrate the math and mechanics within the craft, and how studying the physics of knitting could lead to applications such as wearable electronics. 

SIU’s Tenney lecture to focus on interdisciplinary teaching of math, art and science

Is science better when it disrupts or when there are just incremental improvements to previous knowledge? The topic was analyzed in a recent study, and it seems that researchers have spent these past years improving things rather than trying to revolutionize everything. The study suggests that the level of "disruptiveness" in scientific research has gone way down in the 2000s compared to the last half-century. Yian Yin, a computational social scientist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, highlights how disruptiveness is not inherently good, and incremental science is not necessarily bad. Yin cites the first direct observation of gravitational waves, a landmark discovery that was both revolutionary and the product of incremental science. Georgia Tech researchers, many from the School of Physics, worked with researchers at the Laser Interferomoter Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) on the gravitational wave observations. (This coverage also appeared in Nature and Inside Higher Education.)

Science isn't as disruptive as it used to be. Now we need to understand why

The White House has announced that former College of Sciences professor Kim Cobb, currently a professor in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences at Brown University, has been named to the President's Intelligence Advisory Board. Prior to joining Brown in 2022, she served as director of the Global Change Program at Georgia Tech, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and ADVANCE Professor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Cobb is also director of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society (IBES). 

President Biden Announces Key Appointments to Boards and Commissions

Two College of Sciences alumni are included in Atlanta Magazine's 2023 list of the Atlanta 500, highlighting the city's leaders in a variety of fields. Georgia Tech President Angel Cabrera, MS Psy 93, PhD Psy 95, is the Institute's 12th president. During his first year as president, he steered the institution through the Covid-19 pandemic and produced a new strategic plan focused on impact, access, and inclusive innovation. Also, Valerie Montgomery Rice, BS CHEM 83, is the President and Dean of Morehouse School of Medicine, and was the first woman to serve in that role. Montgomery Rice was founding director of the Center for Women’s Health Research at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, one of the nation’s first research centers devoted to studying diseases that disproportionately affect women of color.

2023 Atlanta 500: Education & Healthcare

Beginning Summer 2023, prospective and current Georgia Tech students will have three new Bachelor of Science degrees to choose from in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, including one that involves the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Peachtree City as an integral partner in providing practical instruction for students in the B.S. Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences (AOS) Degree. The AOS degree program uses the current Meteorology track as its foundation and will include aspects of Atmospheric Sciences, Oceanography and Climate Sciences. The AOS degree is designed to take advantage of Atlanta as a “hotspot” for major meteorological organizations including The Weather Channel, CNN, local stations in a top 10 TV market, and the National Weather Service (NWS) Peachtree City, Georgia office.

Local weather forecast office to partner in new Georgia Tech degree program

Comet Lulin, a rare green comet discovered in 2007, is set to make its closest approach to the Earth around Feb. 24. The comet's green color comes from the gases that make up its atmosphere. Its closest approach to Earth will be 38 million miles. James Sowell, principal academic professional in the School of Physics and director of the Georgia Tech Observatory, joins Atlanta News First to talk about the best times to view the comet, where it may have originated, and how rare green comets are in the universe.  

Green comet will pass by Earth this month

Susan Lozier, Dean of the College of Sciences, Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair, and a professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, will appear on a panel examining climate change and the Earth's oceans at the 2023 South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference in Austin, Texas, March 10. Lozier, who also serves as president of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), will join leading ocean experts to discuss the ocean’s role in climate, the potential for ocean-based carbon dioxide removal, and a code of conduct for CO2 removal that could maximize collective societal and environmental benefit for our ocean planet. 

Looking to Our Ocean for Climate Solutions

A research team featuring Georgia Tech scientists has designed an instrument to aid in the analysis of Martian ice cores. The Melter-Sublimator for Ice Science, or MSIS, methodically melts and sublimates ice samples. With humans likely to visit the Red Planet in the coming decades, exploring ice-rich areas like its South Pole, now seems an excellent time to test out the MSIS. The device consists of two separate components, the Melter on top and the Sublimator beneath it. When combined, they allow the controlled initial processing of an ice core or smaller ice fragments, turning a sample ice into either vapor or meltwater, after which specialized tools could be used to perform a detailed analysis, perhaps searching for concentrations of isotopes or the signatures of microorganisms. Chris Carr, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is one of the MSIS researchers. 

Wibbly wobbly melty welty: A new tool for processing Martian ice cores

Carolyn Bertozzi, professor of chemistry at Stanford University, and K. Barry Sharpless, a professor at Scripps Research, were two of the three winners of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their role in developing bioorthogonal reactions, which enable scientists to explore cells and track biological processes without interfering with the normal chemistry of the cell. That has led to development of a safe way to deliver high doses of chemotherapy without impacting nearby tissues. M.G Finn, professor and chair of the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and James A. Carlos Family Chair for Pediatric Technology, developed so-called click chemistry with Sharpless in 2001. It involves chemical reactions in which specific pairs of molecules react selectively with one another and ignore their environment.

Nobel laureate takes pride in success of bioorthogonal chemistry for cancer treatment

Skipping a stone across water requires skill and patience and, of course, a great stone. Personal preference may send you to a flat, light one, which seems to skip easier. But scientists have found that is not the only way to get impressive leaps. A recent University of Bristol study researched how shape and mass affect the way objects interact with water. And it found that a heavier rock with a good curve — imagine the shape of a mango but smaller —  can get an impressive bounce. David Hu, a professor with the School of Biological Sciences and the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, and an adjunct professor in the School of Physics, did not take part in the study but comments on how surprised he was that the Bristol scientists studied curved objects. 

Heavier, curvy stones can give surprising results in skipping, physicists say

The InspiHer program created by Dr. Jennifer Williams has a mission that runs deep in Newton County. In fact, it was an inspired Williams who piloted the program seven years ago for purpose of exposing females — specifically minority females — to coding and computer science at a young age. That small, founding club has evolved into a county wide movement to inspire young females students throughout all Newton County schools to consider careers in coding and computer technology. Partnerships included Georgia Tech’s CEISMC program (Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing) sending five women to lead a session of the Earsketch program, a branch of InspiHer where girls get to code music and create original songs. Lizanne DeStefano is CEISMC's executive director and a professor in the School of Psychology. 

‘InspiHER movement’ helps Newton County female students see future in tech industry

At the 2022 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in December, planetary scientists gathered to discuss their visions for the future of solar system exploration — visions that include drilling into the surface of the moon, peering into the atmosphere of Mars, sniffing out what's in water spurting out of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus, and more. One of those projects is the Ice Shell Impact Penetrator (IceShIP), a probe that would hit the icy ocean surface of Jupiter's moon Europa "faster than a bullet" according to Chinmayee Govinda Raj, a doctoral candidate in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The impact would melt some of the ice, and the probe would also carry heaters to help melting along. Then, the spacecraft would sip up that extraterrestrial liquid, sending it to internal instruments that could analyze it for signs of life. Raj and a team of scientists conducted a 2022 study of IceShIP's post-impact components.

Wild mission concepts would melt into icy moons, surf on sunlight to the ice giants, and more

In this episode of the Talk Nerdy podcast, host Cara Santa Maria is joined by Feryal Özel, professor and chair of the School of Physics. They talk about her incredible career as a theoretical astrophysicist, her important work on the recent imaging of a black hole with the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration, and the critical need for representation in science.

Black Hole Astrophysics w/ Feryal Özel

Over the past two years, artificial intelligence has shown it can predict what many cellular components look like. For instance, the AlphaFold deep-learning tool developed by Google sister company DeepMind has decoded how nearly every amino acid sequence folds into defined shapes. With a grant of computing time from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) Leadership Computing Challenge, a team led by Jeffrey Skolnick, Regents' Professor, Mary and Maisie Gibson Chair & GRA Eminent Scholar in Computational Systems Biology in the School of Biological Sciences, is extending that work to unfurl how those proteins interact and form complex, working structures in living systems. More details on this development can be found at the College of Sciences News Center here

Computing function from form

Henry Segerman, a British American mathematician and mathematical artist at Oklahoma State University, has invented a puzzle to help explain the Earth's annual trip around the sun: Continental Drift, a 3-D sliding puzzle that made its debut earlier this year. The underlying geometric concept is holonomy: When you travel a loop on a curved surface and return to the starting point, you arrive somewhat turned around, rotated, perhaps by 180 degrees. It's just one of Segerman's inventions that help visualize mathematics. A few years ago, Dr. Segerman demonstrated Extensors: a construction kit for making extending mechanisms from scissor-like hinged parts. Sabetta Matsumoto, an associate professor in the School of Physics, applied mathematician, and Dr. Segerman’s partner, gave input into the contraption’s development and came up with the name Extensor. Between them, math is “a pretty common conversation,” said Matsumoto, who was featured in a 2019 New York Times story about her project to investigate the mathematics and mechanics of knitting. (This story also appears in Yahoo! News.)

A New Puzzle Turns Earth Into a Rubik’s Cube, but More Complex

It sounds like a firework, a bang followed by a crackle of faint sparkles. Then, a background hum builds. Soon, that is overtaken by what sounds like crashing waves. In between them, random notes beep. This is the sound of a black hole. Specifically, a “black hole-star system” around 7800 light years from Earth called V404 Cygni. The firework is the sound of the black hole. This isn’t what a black hole would sound like in reality. It is a soundscape created by NASA to represent data from telescopes. Using sound this way, known as sonification, isn’t new. But in recent years, more and more astronomers are realizing the benefits of “listening” to the universe. “Our auditory system can often discern patterns and extract meaning, even when our visual system is not able to do so,” says Bruce Walker, professor in the Schools of Psychology and Interactive Computing who directs the Georgia Tech Sonification Lab.

How sounds from space are revealing otherwise hidden cosmic phenomena

By growing an unusual tentacled microbe in the lab, microbiologists may have taken a big step toward resolving the earliest branches on the tree of life and unraveling one of its great mysteries: how the complex cells that make up the human body — and all plants, animals, and many single-celled organisms — first came to be. Such microbes, called Asgard archaea, have previously been cultured — once — but the advance reported in Nature marks the first time they’ve been grown in high enough concentrations to study their innards in detail. Jennifer Glass, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and a geo-microbiologist, didn't work on the study, but her research in 2020 finding unusual ribosome structures in Asgard microbes helped the scientists published in Nature zero in on what to look for in their specimens.

Strange, tentacled microbe may resemble ancestor of complex life

Many of us feel tethered to our water bottles because we've been told that being hydrated is key to being healthy. NPR's Life Kit and Short Wave colleagues teamed up to talk about what science says about hydrating. Turns out much of the lore is due for an update. Example: drinking eight glasses of water a day is good for you. That actually depends on body size and activity level. But Mindy Millard-Stafford, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and director of Georgia Tech's Exercise Physiology Lab, says even mild dehydration, or a two percent loss of water, can impact the brain's executive functions and ability to pay sustained attention. 

Encore: How much water do you actually need? Here's the science

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) awarded the University of Maryland a six-year, $505,000 grant to continue UMD’s work toward the inclusion of all students in science through HHMI’s Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) initiative. HHMI awarded IE3 grants totaling more than $60 million over six years to collaborate on strategies for creating more welcoming, inclusive learning experiences for students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). HHMI reviewed 354 proposals and awarded grants to 104 schools, dividing them into seven Learning Community Clusters, or LCCs. Georgia Tech is included in the University of Maryland's LLC. Lewis Wheaton, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences and Director of the Center for Promoting Inclusion and Equity in the Sciences (C-PIES); Carrie Shepler, principal academic professional in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Assistant Dean for Teaching Effectiveness in the College of Sciences; Jennifer Leavey, principal academic professional in the School of Biological Sciences and Assistant Dean for Faculty Mentoring in the College of Sciences; and David Collard, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Senior Associate Dean in the College of Sciences led this grant initiative for Georgia Tech.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Grant to Support Inclusive Science Education

This roundup of news items includes a report updating research on graphene, a possible successor to silicon as the foundation for all electronics, from Walter de Heer, Regent's Professor in the School of Physics. De Heer's latest advance involves developing a new  nanoelectronics platform based on graphene. The technology is compatible with conventional microelectronics manufacturing, a necessity for any viable alternative to silicon. In the course of its research, de Heer's team may have also discovered a new quasiparticle. Their discovery could lead to manufacturing smaller, faster, more efficient, and more sustainable computer chips, and has potential implications for quantum and high-performance computing.

Around the Web: Marketing Muster. Creating Crayons. Joe’s Journalism. Going Graphene. Feather Photography. Car Colors. Checking Chuckling. Fish Fiasco.

While the term doesn’t officially exist yet, a group of American researchers have discovered two groups of microorganisms that are neither animals, nor plants, nor fungi – but neither are they simple bacteria. While they are not the first virus-eating organisms to have been identified, they are apparently able to survive and thrive exclusively by feeding on viral material. The researchers have been studying viruses from a different perspective: not as pathogenic biological entities, but rather, as basic nutrients in the life cycle. One of those researchers is Joshua Weitz, Professor and Tom and Marie Patton Chair in the School of Biological Sciences, Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences, and Blaise Pascal International Chair of Excellence at the Ecole Normale Superieure.

Virivores, the organism can eat up to a million viruses a day

Understanding protein interactions is key to innumerable fields — including, notably, drug design. Now, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a machine learning tool to predict interactions between multiple proteins, paving the way for easier identification of drug targets for antibiotics and therapeutics. The open-source, publicly available tool is called AF2Complex — short for AlphaFold 2 Complex, since the tool is built on top of London-based artificial intelligence lab DeepMind’s AlphaFold 2 protein structure prediction program. Jeffrey Skolnick, Regents' Professor and Mary and Maisie Gibson Chair in the School of Biological Sciences, and Mu Gao, senior research scientist, are co-authors of the study. 

Summit Supercomputer, Deep Learning Power Protein Interaction Prediction

Cats always land on their feet, but what makes them so agile? Their unique sense of balance has more in common with humans than it may appear. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are studying cat locomotion to better understand how the spinal cord works to help humans with partial spinal cord damage walk and maintain balance. Georgia Tech partnered with researchers at the University of Sherbrooke in Canada and Drexel University in Philadelphia to better understand how signals from sensory neurons coordinate movements of a cat's legs. Leading the Georgia Tech research team is Boris Prilutsky, professor in the School of Biological Sciences. (This research was also covered in The Medical Republic.)

Cat locomotion could unlock better human spinal cord injury treatment

Blair D. Sullivan, B.S. MATH/CS 2003, will be one of four plenary speakers at the Spring Southeast Sectional Meeting of the American Mathematical Society, scheduled for March 18-19 at Georgia Tech. Sullivan is now an associate professor in the School of Computing at the University of Utah, with an adjunct appointment at North Carolina State University. Her research interests include parameterized algorithms, structural graph theory, applied discrete mathematics, random graphs, and combinatorial scientific computing. Sullivan was also a research scientist in the Computer Science and Mathematics Division at Oak Ride National Laboratory. Several School of Mathematics faculty members are organizing panels and other discussions during the Spring Southeast Sectional Meeting. 

School of Math Alumna to Speak at American Mathematical Society Sectional Meeting

After several drawings with no winner, the Mega Millions jackpot has soared to $1.1 billion. If someone wins Tuesday night’s drawing, it will be the third-largest jackpot in Mega Millions history, falling behind a $1.5 billion ticket sold in South Carolina in 2018 and a $1.3 billion ticket sold in Illinois last summer. If it seems like these enormous jackpots are happening more often, it’s because they are. And that’s not by chance. “They changed the rules so that the pool of numbers you’re selecting from is bigger, so it’s harder to actually get the winning numbers,” said Lew Lefton, who just retired after 23 years at Georgia Tech, where he was a senior academic professional in the School of Mathematics, as well as Assistant Dean for Information Technology and Associate Vice President for Research Computing with the College of Sciences. 

What are the odds of winning the Mega Millions $1.1B jackpot?

For centuries, mathematicians have sought to understand and model the motion of fluids. The equations that describe how ripples crease the surface of a pond have also helped researchers to predict the weather, design better airplanes, and characterize how blood flows through the circulatory system. Perhaps the oldest and most prominent of these equations, formulated by Leonhard Euler more than 250 years ago, describe the flow of an ideal, incompressible fluid: a fluid with no viscosity, or internal friction, and that cannot be forced into a smaller volume. Mathematicians have long suspected that there exist initial conditions that cause the equations to break down. But they haven’t been able to prove it. In a preprint posted online in October, a pair of mathematicians has shown that a particular version of the Euler equations does indeed sometimes fail. Rafael de la Llave, a professor in the School of Mathematics who studies dynamical systems and mathematical physics, comments on the findings. 

A New Computer Proof ‘Blows Up’ Centuries-Old Fluid Equations

Ahead of the fifteenth anniversary of the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, President Barack Obama held a roundtable discussion with six former campaign organizers to reflect on their work in Iowa and how, 15 years later, they have continued making an impact within their communities. “I really rode the wave of your work and that ultimately led to a historic election,” said President Obama, who spoke of how seeing campaign organizers and volunteers working so hard up close inspired him to be a better candidate and the role they played in the early victory that put him on a viable path to the presidency. One of those advisors is Shannon Valley, M.S. EAS 2016, Ph.D. EAS 2019. Currently, Valley is a American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow placed at the U.S. Agency for International Development. Before that, she was a postdoctoral scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutioAfAfter n.

President Obama Reunites with Iowa Campaign Organizers on 15th Anniversary of Caucus Win

Where is cutting-edge engineering research being conducted in the U.S.? What are our leading universities for sponsored research in engineering subfields such as chemical engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering? One answer to those questions can be found in the Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey, released in December by the National Science Foundation (NSF). That survey measures the dollars spent annually on research and development (R and D) at American colleges and universities. Georgia Tech is second on the overall list, with $839,071 on research and development expenditures. 

The Top 20 American Universities For R And D Funding In Engineering

As the home of prominent research universities like Georgia Tech, medical schools and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia is uniquely positioned to be a leader in public health — not just for the U.S. but around the world. Bolstered by the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA), whose mission is to bring government, business and academia together to expand and further university research, the state is able to recruit the scientists who are making breakthroughs in major health issues. These include forecasting the next pandemic, developing new antibiotics, and tackling chronic health problems like high blood pressure. Marvin Whiteley, professor in the School of Biological Sciences, Bennie H. and Nelson D. Abell Chair in Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar is interviewed about his research into the social behaviors of bacteria and how they can point the way to new treatments.

Pursuing Premier Public Health

Astrobites, a daily astrophysical literature journal written by graduate students in astronomy since 2010, features a guest column written by two Ph.D. students extolling the virtues of community college. One of the authors is School of Physics alumna Kiersten Boley, B.S PHYS 2019, now seeking a Ph.D. in astronomy from Ohio State University. Boley writes that she didn't want to become a physicist until she attended community college, where her professor in introductory physics "sparked my love of science." Boley credits that with helping her thrive at Georgia Tech. 

Breaking the Stigma around Community College

Fish that tend patches of stringy algae seem to shield branching corals from the worst effects of marine heat waves and help them recover after bleaching. In 2019, the reefs near the French Polynesian island of Moorea in the South Pacific Ocean endured their worst heat stress event in 14 years. Branching corals there bleached en masse. Some of those colonies were in "gardens" defended by farmerfish, which cultivate their own algae for food and chase off fish that eat plants and corals. The researchers discovered that, after one year, just 44 per cent of colonies inside gardens died compared with 67 per cent of those outside gardens. What’s more, colonies on the turf of the territorial fish were twice as likely to recover living tissue to the levels they had been before bleaching. Mark Hay, Regents Professor and Teasley Chair in the School of Biological Sciences, didn't work on the research but said that tissue recovery was "a big deal" and that the farmerfish seem to be having a positive effect. (Subscription required)

New Scientist

One of those sessions, Looking to Our Ocean for Climate Solutions, featured Susan Lozier, College of Sciences Dean and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair. As greenhouse gases warm our planet, our ocean plays a significant role in regulating heat and absorbing carbon dioxide, absorbing a third of the carbon and more than 90 percent of the extra heat we add to our atmosphere. There are consequences to this, as scientists track warming temperatures, depleting oxygen zones, a more acidic ocean, and rising sea levels. The ocean can also be a potential solution if we can leverage the ocean’s existing ability to remove carbon dioxide.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Expensive military hardware, like a new tank undergoes rigorous testing before heading to the battlefield. A startup called Istari, backed by Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google and chair of Alphabet, reckons some of that work can be done more effectively in the metaverse. Ishtari uses machine learning to virtually assemble and test war machines from computer models of individual components, such as the chassis and engines, that are usually marooned on separate digital drawing boards. Will Roper, B.S. and M.S. PHYS, and a former assistant secretary of the Air Force, is founder and CEO of Ishtari.

Wired

The final week of the Atlanta Science Festival (ASF) is underway (March 20-25), and there are still plenty of activities for families to enjoy around the city. Now in its 10th year, the festival explores the intersection of science, technology, engineering and math with food, nature and the arts. It’s an enlightening and entertaining way to learn about the many ways science is woven into our everyday lives. Several Georgia Tech College of Sciences faculty, staff, and students are taking part in the event. Check here for more ASF details. 

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Billions of years ago, before there were beasts, bacteria or any living organism, there were RNAs. These molecules were probably swirling around with amino acids and other rudimentary biomolecules, merging and diverging, on an otherwise lifeless crucible of a planet. Did one of those biomolecules lead to the development of 'protoribosomes' that would work their magic to kickstart life on early Earth? An Israeli biologist won a share of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for that theory. That scientist and another in Japan say they're closing in on building that protoribosome in their labs. Nature asked scientists to weigh in on that prospect, and one of them is Anton Petrov, research scientist and evolutionary biologist in the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Petrov is also a member of Georgia Tech's Center for the Origins of Life (COOL).

How did life begin? One key ingredient is coming into view

It was anticipated more than a century ago that the distribution of real-world observations' first digits would not be uniform but would exhibit a trend where numbers with lower first digits (1,2,...) occur more frequently than those with higher first digits (...,8,9). This phenomenon is known as Benford's law, the law of anomalous numbers, or the first-digit law. It was finally proven in 1995 by Theodore P. Hill, emeritus professor in the School of Mathematics. This law has been found to apply to a wide range of datasets, from countries' populations to financial data, physical constants and earthquakes. 

Benford's law applications and earthquakes

Can washing your hands help stop the evolution of antibiotic resistance? Mathematically, it’s possible. While bacteria that are more sensitive to the antibiotics are killed off, those that are able to survive will continue to reproduce with less competition. This results in increasing abundance of resistant bacteria that can undermine the effectiveness of the antibiotic. Kristofer Wollein Waldetoft is a postdoctoral fellow in infection medicine for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the School of Biological Sciences who researches in the lab of Sam Brown, professor and member of the Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection. Woldetoft collaborated with Brown and other colleagues to develop a mathematical model of antibiotic resistance evolution to learn the role hygiene plays in that process.

One easy way to fight antibiotic resistance? Good hand hygiene

Walk around a forest in Canada and you can’t miss the precise piles of round animal poop: Deer, moose, and rabbits. But there is one animal in the world (that we know of) that poops in cubes and it’s a wombat. How does the Tasmanian mammal do that? Yes, serious researchers want to know. A team from the University of Tasmania has determined that a wombat’s surprisingly long and intermittently stretchy intestines compress their poop (or stool) into cubes. David Hu, professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Biological Sciences, worked on the wombat research with the University of Tasmania.

Why wombats have cubed-shaped poop

The headline for this article refers to a Swedish technology startup company using origami-inspired techniques for its 3D printing services. But it also mentions Georgia Tech winning a Department of Defense grant for a project titled Programming Multistable Origami and Kirigami Structures via Topological Design, which investigated how concepts from the art of paper folding can be combined with 3D printing to create lightweight, flexible structures that can change shape. Zeb Rocklin, an assistant professor in the School of Physics, was part of the project team.

Adaxis Collaborates with Stilride to Incorporate 3D Printing in the Industrial-Origami Manufacturing Arsenal

Țară Stoinski, president/CEO and chief scientific officer for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, doesn't just have to worry about increasing the numbers of the various species of gorillas under her group's conservation care. Stoinski, who received her Ph.D. from the School of Psychology in 2000 and joined the Fossey Fund while working at Zoo Atlanta, also has to try to find more land for the animals, protect them from poachers, and deal with the challenges that arise from civil unrest in countries where the gorillas have their habitats. 

Tufts Now

For Homo sapiens, a dry-land species, discussions of the climate and how it is changing tend to revolve around what is going on in the atmosphere. This is a dangerously parochial attitude, for the atmosphere is but one of two fluid systems circulating above Earth’s solid surface. The other, the ocean, is in many ways the more important of the pair. Ocean circulation redistributes heat and swallows carbon dioxide. Susan Lozier, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Dean and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair of the College of Sciences, spoke about the assumptions many people have about oceans and ocean circulation during the recent American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) annual meeting. (This story was also covered in Yahoo!Finance and Science.)

The Economist

Even as some parts of West Antarctica rapidly melt, raising sea level, large swaths of the ice remain stable for the time being. Scientists have now explored one of those stable spots — an isolated nook where the ocean meets the ice. This environment is “really at the edge” between melting and freezing, says Justin Lawrence, Ph.D. student with the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. The delicate balance between these two processes is shaping the ice into those strange textures, and the result, at Kamb Ice Stream, is that massive cracks in the underside of the ice appear to be freezing back togetherBen Hurwitz, Ph.D. student in Ocean Science and Engineering, and Anthony Spears, Ph.D. student with the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, also contributed to the study, published in Nature Geoscience. (The study was also covered at Astrobiology.comAZO Robotics, Eos, and India Education Daily.) 

Science News

A collaboration of physicists working at different institutes in the U.S. — including two at Georgia Tech — has discovered a new quantum state in an alloy made of magnesium, silicon, and tellurium, a press release said. The finding could result in applications in quantum computing, such as building sensors and communication systems. The alloy is a crystalline structure denoted as Mn3Si2Te6 and consists of octagonal cells placed in a honeycomb-like arrangement when viewed from above. Though, when viewed from the side, it consists of stacked sheets. Two researchers in the School of Physics, assistant professor Itamar Kimchi and graduate student Sami Hakani, worked on the study announcing the new quantum state.

Interesting Engineering

A School of Mathematics alumna has been elected as the new chief insurance officer for GuideStone, which provides retirement solutions, insurance coverage and investment products and services to churches, ministries, organizations and institutions as well as ministry-minded individuals. Nadeena Kersey, B.S. MATH, will provide executive leadership and oversight to the insurance line of business, including product development, sales and marketing, services and operations of life and health plans, property and casualty coverage and ancillary products.

Baptist Press

Plants, like animals and people, seek refuge from climate change. And when they move, they take ecosystems with them. To understand why and how plants have trekked across landscapes throughout time, researchers are calling for a new framework. The key to protecting biodiversity in the future may be understanding the past. Jenny McGuire, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and the School of Biological Sciences, spearheaded a U.S. National Science Foundation-supported paper on the topic in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. McGuire and her collaborators highlight the outstanding needs for successful future conservation efforts. The paper brings together conservation research that illuminates the complex and constantly evolving dynamics brought on by climate change and the ever-shifting ways humans use land. These factors, McGuire said, interact over time to create dynamic changes and illustrate the need to incorporate time perspectives into conservation strategies by looking deep into the past. (This research was also covered in Time Magazine.)

National Science Foundation

A small but growing group of researchers is working to make science more accessible to scientists with limited vision. Innovative software and modes of presentation are helping to broaden access to scientific literature. Sonification provides a way for scientists with visual limitations to "see" data; by translating numerical values into sounds with certain parameters — for example, a star’s brightness might be encoded as pitch — researchers can home in on important changes. Highcharts, a charting library service, developed its free tool for exploring charts with sonification at Georgia Tech's Sonification Lab, an interdisciplinary research group based in the School of Psychology and the School of Interactive Computing.

Nature

A recent study finds that concerns about the health effects of Covid-19 are a key variable in determining whether people are hesitant to get vaccinated against the virus. The study also found that an individual’s tendency to plan for the future plays a surprising role in people’s vaccine hesitancy. At issue is a psychological trait called proactive coping that refers to a person’s tendency to think about and plan for the future. The study's first author is MacKenzie  Hughes, Ph.D. student in the School of Psychology; Clara Coblenz, Georgia Tech alumna (B.S. PSYCH) who is now a research technician in the School of Psychology's Adult Cognition Lab, is a co-author.

North Carolina State University News

Even if you failed chemistry in high school, there is guaranteed to be something that sparks your intrigue at the Atlanta Science Festival. With over 150 events taking place across the city leading up to one big scientific soiree in Piedmont Park, dive into myriad topics, from coding to astronomy, and enjoy the fresh air. Several College of Sciences faculty, staff, and students are taking part in many of the events. The Champion Newspaper in DeKalb County also previews the festival, as does the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (More information on the Atlanta Science Festival can be found here.) 

Atlanta Magazine

Black holes remain one of the great mysteries of the universe. Another enigma? Dark energy. Little is known about this concept, aside from the belief that dark energy accelerates the expansion of the universe. There’s a new theory that brings together black holes and dark energy into one mind-bending solution: research led by the University of Hawai’i at Manoa posits that dark energy could actually come from supermassive black holes at the center of galaxiesFeryal Özel, professor and chair of the School of Physics, and a founding member of the Event Horizon Telescope project that has captured images of black holes, joined host Ira Flatow to talk about the new development.

WNYC Science Friday

Walking into a high school classroom full of young, eager minds would intimidate some, but for Erica Borgers Klonkowski, who received her B.S. in Biochemistry from the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, it’s an opportunity to dazzle and spark inspiration in students with scientific magic. How does she rise to the task? By devoting her time, energy, knowledge and resources to volunteer at local schools and in the community through Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division’s (NSWCDD) STEM educational programs and sponsored events.

Naval Sea Systems Command

The Atlanta Science Festival will take place from March 10-25. This will be the 10th festival and is set to be the largest yet, with 150 science events over the course of 2 weeks (65 of which are free). These events are not just for kids. Some adult-friendly events to look out for are the recurring Breaking Down the Bean events, focused on coffee brewing, and the Water, the Source of Civilizations event exploring water’s role in human history through art. Several College of Sciences faculty, students, and staff are taking part in the festival. A recent Atlanta Science Festival media preview in Decatur included hive insects from the Goodisman Lab, led by Michael Goodisman, professor in the School of Biological Sciences. Also the last event in the Festival is set for Piedmont Park March 25. (More information on the Atlanta Science Festival can be found here.)

 

The thrill of discovery: Atlanta Science Festival returns next month

Machine learning can help conservationists monitor climate impacts across large swaths of marine ecosystems over extended periods of time, a task never possible before. The Delta Maps machine learning tool provides a new way to assess which reefs might be best-suited for survival and which play a key role in delivering larvae to others, and therefore should be targeted for preservation efforts, according to researchers in a paper published recently in the journal Communications Biology. Two scientists in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences conducted the research: Annalisa Bracco, professor and associate chair, and Lyuba Novi, postdoctoral fellow.

Machine learning makes long-term, expansive reef monitoring possible

Over 60 years ago, Ralph Fox posed a problem about knots that haunts mathematicians to this day. His question is now often formulated as the “slice-ribbon conjecture,” which posits that two seemingly distinct groups of mathematical knots are actually the same. With its suggestion of elegant simplicity within the world of knots, it’s become one of the most high-profile problems in knot theory. For decades, one particular knot was suspected to be a possible route to settling the conjecture. Yet in a paper posted last summer, five mathematicians found that this knot isn’t going to work after all. While the arguments they introduced will provide new insights into a broader class of knots, the work as a whole leaves mathematicians uncertain about the conjecture. Jen Hom, associate professor in the School of Mathematics, has previously collaborated with two of the new paper's authors, and she weighs in on the results. 

Mathematicians Eliminate Long-Standing Threat to Knot Conjecture

The sheer speed of temperature increases in the climate crisis era, combined with the fragmentation of landscapes by human activity, is making it harder for trees and other plants to follow their preferred climate conditions. These changes are disrupting a millennia-old process of plant migration, and it could pose a major challenge to global efforts to protect wildlife and reforest land to fight climate change. A study published Feb. 6 by Georgia Tech researchers found that 75% of the dominant plant groups in North America, including trees like pines and oaks, have migrated across the region over the last 18,000 years to track the movement of their ideal growing conditions. That plant migration will be harder to pull off over the coming decades, according to Jenny McGuire, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and the School of Biological Sciences, and a co-author of the study. “There’s so many barriers and filters to plant movement now. That could prevent them from shifting in some places,” she says.

Plants Must Migrate to Survive Climate Change. But They Need Our Help

Matt Baker, professor in the School of Mathematics and associate dean for Faculty Development in the College of Sciences, is on the cover of the current issue of Math Horizons, a journal of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). Baker, who is also a two-time winner of the Greater Atlanta Magician of the Year Award, is profiled about his love of math and magic, and his use of magic in researching and demonstrating math theorems. "I thought math and magic were two separate things," Baker said. "Until I was really shown the connection, I didn’t try too hard to think about creating my own magic tricks based on math principles, and now I’m kind of obsessed with that and spend a lot of time doing it."

On Magic and Math—A Conversation with Matt Baker

Florida State University climate scientists and others were recently granted $3.2 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to investigate carbon storage in the peatlands environment. Peatlands can be found across the globe, covering almost every continent. The largest area of peatlands can be found towards the Northern and Southern hemispheres and closest to the equator. In Florida, the greatest example of a peatland environment is the Everglades. FSU will work with Georgia Tech researchers on the DOE grant, including Joel Kostka, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Department of Energy funds peatlands greenhouse gas study conducted by FSU Scientists

Without conservation-based understanding and intervention, plant and animal species across the globe face rapidly changing ecosystems that will require dynamic adaptation or lead them toward extinction. A special feature titled “The past as a lens for biodiversity conservation on a dynamically changing planet” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the overview article of the same name delves into how recent work in conservation biology, ecology and paleontology reveals how plants and animals respond to rapid and dynamic environmental changes. Jenny McGuire, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Science and the School of Biological Sciences, is a co-author of the study.

Special feature looks at history for biodiversity conservation

Coral reef conservation is a steppingstone to protect marine biodiversity and life in the ocean as we know it. The health of coral also has huge societal implications: reef ecosystems provide sustenance and livelihoods for millions of people around the world. In the face of climate change, Annalisa Bracco, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Lyuba Novi, a postdoctoral fellow, offer a new methodology that could revolutionize how conservationists monitor coral. The researchers applied machine learning tools to study how climate impacts connectivity and biodiversity in the Pacific Ocean’s Coral Triangle — the most diverse and biologically complex marine ecosystem on the planet.

Machine learning predicts biodiversity and resilience in the Coral Triangle

Lithos Carbon, a US-based startup transforming farmland into carbon removal centers using the power of volcanic rocks, aims to capture 10,000 tons of carbon this year. Lithos accelerates mineral weathering by spreading basalt on croplands to increase dissolved inorganic carbon with eventual storage as ocean carbonates. Its technology uses novel soil models and machine learning to maximize carbon dioxide (CO₂) removal while boosting crop growth. Chris Reinhard, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is one of the three co-founders of Lithos Carbon. 

This startup aims to capture 10,000 tons carbon from farmland this year using volcanic rock dusts

Just like fashioning decorative shapes and figures using the Japanese art of folding paper, tracing when and where origami originated is complicated. But what cannot be disputed is its incredible influence in modern engineering. While styles of origami can be incredibly diverse, the art is rooted in mathematical principles that make it applicable to science and industry. This story in E&T mentions scientists at Georgia Tech exploring origami, kirigami (where paper is cut as well as folded) and specific folding techniques for building everything from furniture to bridges. One of those scientists is D. Zeb Rocklin, assistant professor in the School of Physics

How origami inspires world-changing technology

In early February, Isaiah Bolden (B.A. Bowdoin '15) moderated a discussion on climate change with Vice President Kamala Harris at Georgia Tech, where he is an assistant professor at the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Addressing a venue "filled to the brim," Harris emphasized the importance of creating an equitable clean-energy economy as we transition away from fossil fuels. “In order for us to truly achieve that, it’s going to require all to be involved"--scientists, researchers, and academics, she said. Bolden described being greatly affected by witnessing a terrible flood displace whole communities in Nashville, Tennessee, his hometown. “I had this passion burgeoning right then and there as someone who has this aptitude for science, this aptitude for math, but then seeing that the science is not reaching the public in a way that it should,” he said. “What can I then do with my career as an environmental scientist to generate data and get that data into the hands of people who could do something with it?”

Oceanographer Isaiah Bolden ’15 Discusses Climate Change with Top White House Official

C. Denise Okafor (M.S. CHEM 2010, Ph.D. CHEM 2015), assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and of chemistry at Penn State, has been selected as a recipient of the 2023 Marion Milligan Mason Award for Women in the Chemical Sciences by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The Mason Award commemorates the late chemist and AAAS member Marion Tuttle Milligan Mason, who wanted to support the advancement of women in the chemical sciences. Okafor’s research combines computational and experimental investigations to develop a fundamental understanding of how protein function is regulated.

Penn State biochemist Denise Okafor receives 2023 Marion Milligan Mason Award

Last month, mathematicians Karen Vogtmann and Michael Borinsky posted a proof that there is a truckload of mathematical structure within a hitherto inaccessible mathematical world called the moduli space of graphs, which Vogtmann and a collaborator first described in the mid-1980s. “That’s a super hard problem. It’s amazing they were able to,” said Dan Margalit, professor in the School of Mathematics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. (Margalit did not work on the moduli space proof.) 

Quantum Field Theory Pries Open Mathematical Puzzle

Thwaites, a notoriously unstable glacier in western Antarctica, is cracking and disintegrating, spelling bad news for sea level rise across the globe. Efforts are afoot to understand the geometry and chemistry of Thwaites, which is about the size of Florida, in order to gauge the impact that warming waters and climate change may have on it. An 11-foot tube-like underwater robot called Icefin — first developed at Georgia Tech — is offering us a detailed look deep under the ice at how the vulnerable ice shelf in Antarctica is melting. By way of two papers published this week in the journal Nature, Icefin has been providing pertinent details regarding the conditions beneath the freezing waters. Justin Lawrence, a graduate student in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is one of the co-authors of the papers. (This research is also covered in Wired, BBC.com, and at NYU.edu. Alexander Robel, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences who leads the Ice and Climate Group, is quoted in the Wired article.)

A torpedo-like robot named Icefin is giving us the full tour of the ‘Doomsday’ glacier

Marshall Shepard, Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor and director of the University of Georgia's Atmospheric Sciences Program, wrote this article on the experience of sharing a Ferst Center for the Arts stage February 8 with Vice President Kamala Harris and oceanographer Isaiah Bolden, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. The topic was climate change from an economic and racial justice viewpoint, but Shepard writes about the impact of the event happening during Black History Month. While Shepard writes that more work is needed diversifying the atmospheric and ocean sciences, "this moment in Black History cannot be overlooked. In February 2023 two black scholars and a black woman, who just happens to be the Vice President of the United States, sat on a stage discussing climate, environmental policy, and why it matters to all communities, but particularly those with people that look like them." (The climate conversation at Georgia Tech was also covered by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fox5 Atlanta, Georgia Public Broadcasting, E&E News, and the Technique. A White House transcript of the event is found here.)

A U.S. Vice President, Atmospheric Scientist, And Oceanographer - That’s Black History

Beginning this upcoming summer term, Georgia Tech’s School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences (EAS) will offer three new Bachelor of Science degrees. These undergraduate opportunities will expand the breadth of the EAS program while simultaneously allowing students in the program to develop a more specialized plan of study in a field that aligns with their interests. The University System of Georgia (USG) has approved two new degrees within the school: Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences (AOS) and Solid Earth and Planetary Sciences (SEP). They also approved a new bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences (ENVS) that will be an interdisciplinary degree between EAS and the School of Biological Sciences (BIOS). (More information is available here.)

EAS school unveils three new major programs

One of those "comets" named to Forbes' 2023 30 Under 30 For Science list is Emma Xu, who graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a B.S. in Physics in 2015. While at UTD, Xu's research advisor pointed her towards a summer National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at Georgia Tech. Xu credits that experience with helping her win an NSF graduate research fellowship. Xu is now the co-founder and CEO of her own science startup, and she is working on her Ph.D. at Columbia University. 

Two Comets Shine Brightly on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for Science List

This roundup of all the major construction projects happening now in Downtown Atlanta includes Science Square. Developers broke ground last summer on a 13-story laboratory and office tower, the first building in the 18-acre, $1 billion development. The project is dedicated to life sciences research and biomedical technology. The development is located at the south end of campus at North Avenue and Northside Drive. 

A quick guide to what’s in development in downtown Atlanta, what’s proposed, and what might have been

Want to touch a human brain, learn the mechanics behind animation or attend the “nerdiest fashion show of the year”? At the Atlanta Science Festival, you can. The Atlanta Science Festival (ASF) is back for its 10th edition from March 10 to 25. ASF is an annual celebration of learning, science and STEM career opportunities around the Atlanta region. This year, the line-up features 150 events across 80 locations in the city and metro area. Faculty members, staff, and students from the College of Sciences will be taking part in the two weeks of activities. (Schedule of events and other information is available here.)

Atlanta Science Festival brings 150-plus events to 80 locations throughout metro area

A pressing quest in the field of nanoelectronics is the search for a material that could replace silicon. Graphene has seemed promising for decades. But, its potential faltered along the way, due to damaging processing methods and the lack of a new electronics paradigm to embrace it. With silicon nearly maxed out in its ability to accommodate faster computing, the next big nanoelectronics platform is needed now more than ever. Walter de Heer, Regents’ Professor in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has taken a critical step forward in making the case for a successor to silicon. De Heer and his collaborators, including Claire Berger, fellow School of Physics professor, developed a new nanoelectronics platform based on graphene — a single sheet of carbon atoms.

Making the case for a successor to silicon

More than 2,300 people have died and rescuers are racing to pull survivors from beneath the rubble after a devastating earthquake ripped through Turkey and Syria, leaving destruction and debris on each side of the border. One of the strongest earthquakes to hit the region in a century shook residents from their beds at around 4 a.m. on Monday, sending tremors as far away as Lebanon and Israel. Karl Lang, an assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, told CNN the area hit by the quake Monday is prone to seismic activity. “It’s a very large fault zone, but this is a larger earthquake than they’ve experienced any time in recent memory,” Lang said. (Lang's comments also appeared at Kake.com,  ABC7 Chicago, The Hindu, and Newsweek.)

More than 2,300 dead as powerful quake hits southern Turkey and Syria

Basic nutrition teaches that fat, when consumed in large quantities, is harmful to human health. However, the components that make up fats are complex. Good, unsaturated fats, or lipids, can lower disease risk. In fact, in a new study, researchers found that a good fat derivative may be able to relieve symptoms in patients suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases, such as multiple sclerosis. The study's authors include two researchers from the School of Chemistry and BiochemistryAdita Das, associate professor, and Justin Kim, postdoctoral fellow. 

Harnessing good fats to relieve MS symptoms