Notes from the Director, Spring 2018

Joshua Weitz

Joshua Weitz

The Quantitative Biosciences Ph.D. at Georgia Tech is now wrapping up its second year.

The Quantitative Biosciences Ph.D. at Georgia Tech is now wrapping up its second year.  We now have two cohorts and a third on the way.  In the process, the students and faculty of the QBioS Ph.D. are forging a genuine interdisciplinary community and taking critical steps towards discovering principles of living systems from molecules to cells to ecosystems.

A growing program also brings with it a chance to turn programmatic initiatives into institutional memory, what some might call traditions.  Last year we inaugurated the cornerstone class ‘Foundations of Quantitative Biosciences’, a seminar enabling small group interactions between faculty and students, as well as catalyzed a joint student and faculty-led hands-on modeling workshop for the greater life sciences community. This year, we did all of that and more.

I am pleased to report that all nine students in the incoming cohort are preparing their dissertation proposals. I am even more pleased to report that Elma Kajtaz is the first student to take (and pass) her proposal, and she is looking forward to completing her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Richard Nichols. As many of you know, all of the dissertation proposals are open to the public, and we invite all of you to attend and learn about the shape of research to come.

Like the first cohort, the second cohort of seven students are also actively engaged in classes, research, and outreach.  We are proud to share the news that Brandon Pratt was selected as a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship awardee for his proposed dissertation work with Prof. Simon Sponberg and that Daniel Muratore was recently accepted into a selective Marine Biological Laboratory summer course on analyzing microbial population structures.  In addition, all seven of our second cohort helped lead a successful hands-on modeling workshop in May 2018, have identified solo or joint thesis advisers, and are beginning to take their first steps towards developing a dissertation plan and proposal.

It is also my pleasure to announce that a third cohort of nine students will be arriving in August 2018. This group includes students from Carnegie Mellon, U of Chicago, U of Kansas, U of Maryland, Princeton University, U of Puerto Rico, Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst, UNAM (Mexico), and University Pierre and Marie Curie.  I am deeply grateful to the collective efforts of current QBioS students, QBioS faculty, and of course the indomitable Lisa Redding for the warmth and enthusiasm that made this a fun and successful recruitment.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the end of year picnic – another burgeoning QBioS tradition – and to everyone else: have a wonderful summer and you see back in August.

Best wishes,

Joshua Weitz

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