Notes from the Director, Spring 2017

Joshua Weitz

Joshua Weitz

We did it! The first year of the Quantitative Biosciences Ph.D. at Georgia Tech is now (nearly) official.

We did it!  The first year of the Quantitative Biosciences Ph.D. at Georgia Tech is now (nearly) official. The inaugural cohort of nine QBioS Ph.D. students have integrated themselves into classes, research, and the community. They are now wrapping up their Spring rotations and looking forward to the summer and official initiation of their dissertations.

How did we get here?  As the students know, it’s been a busy first year. In Fall 2016, all nine students took the new cornerstone course that I developed: Foundations of Quantitative Biosciences The Foundations class met six hours a week, for three hours of lecture and three hours of an in silico laboratory.  It was intense and rewarding. All of the students have enhanced their quantitative toolkit and their ability to translate biological concepts into computational models. 

Some have built models of cells and probed their electrophysiology, other have explored the consequences of antibiotic resistance and the bending of roots, and others have made multiple treks to Buford Highway to purchase duck feet for hydrodynamic experiments to probe organismal behavior (guess Hu’s project that was!).

Many of you have seen these students in action, in your laboratories and groups. The QBioS cohort is already garnering recognition for their efforts.  We are proud to share the news that Joy Putney was selected as a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship awardee, Elma Kajtaz was awarded an O’Hara dissertation fellowship from Georgia Tech, and Alex (Bo) Lee was selected as a GT representative to a AAAS workshop on the intersection of policy and science.

The students have also worked collectively to develop a new “Hands-on modeling” initiative: helping others in the Biology at GT and Spelman learn to integrate computational models into their research and courses – supported by the GT VP Innovation in Graduate Education Fund and by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.  The inaugural cohort were also instrumental recruiting our second cohort who will join us in August 2017. The group of seven students come from the USA, China, Taiwan, and India and are excited to join the growing QBioS community.

Finally, a word of congratulations. Our own Lisa Redding was awarded the GT Academic Advising Award for Excellence at the April 21st Faculty and Staff Honor Luncheon. All who work with Lisa know that she is an ideal recipient of this award and has been instrumental in caring for and encouraging the success of our students. I am deeply grateful for all of her contributions to QBioS and the allied biosciences community at Georgia Tech.

Best wishes for the summer,

Joshua Weitz
Professor of Biological Sciences
Director of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Biosciences
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA, USA