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A QUEST TO THE BOTTOM OF THE FOOD CHAIN:
RESEARCH IN ANTARCTICA


School of Biology faculty member Jeannette Yen poses with her team in Antarctica.
From left to right, Rebecca Wolf, Deepak Adhikari, Jeannette Yen, and Rajat Mittal.

It’s 3:15 p.m. and the sun is setting at Anvers Island. Just off the Antarctic Peninsula, surrounded by 300-foot cliffs of ice, Jeannette Yen pauses outside Palmer Station to watch. The sun spills over the ice cliffs. The frozen landscape melts in a golden glow.

This is one of nature’s great laboratories. Yen and her team of scientists are conducting experiments here that are possible nowhere else. Outfitted in red parkas, they are not here to drill into frozen lakes or fly over thinning ice sheets. They spend what little daylight they have searching for tiny organisms in the frigid waters.

The scientists climb aboard the R/V Lawrence M Gould, a massive research vessel operated by the National Science Foundation (NSF). They cruise past giant icebergs and through rafts of loose ice to Palmer Deep, a location where the water is 2,000 feet (600 meters) deep. From the huge stern A-frame of the ship, they lower plankton nets into the zero-degree Celsius water and haul live animals aboard. In Antarctica, zero degrees Celsius is a pleasant day, but the recent bout of 80-knot wind gusts tells them the austral winter is on its way.

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FAST-TRACK TO BIOLOGY
RESEARCH SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM



Richard Lu, sophomore Biology major and research assistant working in the labs.
Every year Georgia Tech is awarded more than $750 million in sponsored research dollars, which puts us in the top three research universities in the southeast. To enhance the educational experience of our undergraduates, we leverage this research activity by involving undergraduates in research labs as early as the spring of their freshman year. With about 400 majors and 35 faculty, the School of Biology is able to place about 70 percent of our majors with research mentors who guide their individual research projects. This one of the strengths of our program and we would like to amplify its impact on our ability to attract and retain the very best students to Biology at Georgia Tech.
 
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A MESSAGE FROM WAYNE KERR '74

Dear fellow Biology alums,

When I transitioned my practice to new ownership two years ago, my wife and I funded a small endowment for the School of Biology from the proceeds of the sale. Since most gifting opportunities require sums far beyond our means, we were pleased to know that our modest gift would, in fact, make a positive impact in a surprising number of ways.
 
Now, through the leadership and insight of Professor and Chair, Dr. Terry Snell, graduates of the School of Biology have a unique and extremely affordable opportunity to name a “Fast Track” Scholarship to help our school remain competitive in an increasingly competitive environment.

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Wayne E. Kerr, DDS, MAGD
B.S. Applied Biology, 1973
M.S. Applied Biology, 1974

BIOLOGY FACULTY PUBLISH IN TOP SCIENTIFIC JOURNALS



Cover of the August 22, 2014 edition of Science featuring an article on reef recovery written by Drs. Danielle Dixson and Mark Hay.
Making discoveries and publishing the results are two of the primary goals of faculty in the School of Biology. Faculty strive to publish in the scientific journals with the highest impact so that their work will be read widely. Two journals, Science and Nature, stand above all others having very high impact and broad circulation to the worldwide scientific community. Last year was a banner year for the School of Biology with our faculty publishing four  papers in Nature (Lobachev, Storici, Streelman, Weitz) and two in Science (DiChristina, Dixson, Hay). Such recognition helps advance Georgia Tech Biology in international rankings as well as our reputation among biological scientists.

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FLIPPING THE CLASSROOM:
A NEW APPROACH TO TEACHING

This semester, Professor Greg Gibson decided to change up the way he teaches his new undergraduate course on personalized medicine. Flipping the classroom is where teachers expect and encourage students to read the material before coming to class, and use the lecture time instead to lead discussion, solve problems, debate the topic, and explore solutions. Much of the effort for the students in BIOL 8003C “Health, Genes and Society” was on term-projects produced groups of three or four students. Below is a brief description of some examples.

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Professor Greg Gibson

INTELLMEDIX LAUNCHES NEW PRODUCT
FOR GENOMIC SEQUENCING



Professor Jeff Skolnick
Besides teaching and conducting research, some Biology faculty are entrepreneurs. They take discoveries made in labs and commercialize them to produce products of social value. Professor Jeff Skolnick is an example of this entrepreneurial spirit. He works with a company called Intellimedix which has developed proprietary computer programs for analyzing nucleotide sequences. The new interpretative software is called PROGNOSTIX, and was developed by Dr. Skolnick and his research group at Georgia Tech.

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ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT

 

Fred F. Holt, MD, JD, AHFI  

Graduating from Georgia Tech in 1964, just four years after the School of Biology was established, Fred was among the first to obtain a degree in biology from Georgia Tech. He went on to become a medical doctor, practicing 24 years as an ear, nose, and throat specialist and surgeon. Along the way he managed to return to academia to complete a law degree, and spent 16 years in managed care as a medical director and medical fraud investigator. Fred is an Accredited Healthcare Fraud Investigator (AHFI), a Certified Professional Coder (CPC), and a Fellow of the American College of Legal Medicine. While in clinical practice he was a Clinical Professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine. In law school he was an editor of the West Virginia Law Review. Most recently he retired from his position as a Medical Director at BlueCross, BlueShield of North Carolina. This year Fred celebrates his 50th year as a Georgia Tech alumnus.

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Preston W. Campbell, III, M.D.

Executive Vice President
for Medical Affairs
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

After graduating from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Dr. Campbell earned his M.D. from the University of Virginia Medical School where he first became interested in cystic fibrosis as a CF camp counselor during the summer months. He was a Pediatric Resident and Chief Resident...

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Sarah Fankhauser, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow at Emory University

A 2007 graduate of the School of Biology, Dr. Fankhauser is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Emory University in the cystic fibrosis division. Prior to this she was a teaching fellow at Harvard University and a graduate student in the microbiology and immunobiology department. She received her Ph.D. immunology and microbiology from Harvard in 2013.

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(R)EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY: 2014 SCIENTIFIC RETREAT



Dean Paul Goldbart enjoying conversation with faculty between research talks.
Every other year, the School of Biology invites all faculty, research scientists, postdocs and graduate students to participate in a scientific retreat to showcase their talent. This year’s retreat started Saturday morning, September 6th at Unicoi State Park in the Georgia Mountains and extended through Sunday noon. It was run like a scientific meeting, with a series of five, 20 minute talks by faculty in the morning, followed by lunch and outdoor activities like hiking, soccer, and swimming.

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SCHOOL OF BIOLOGY
ACADEMIC PROGRAM REVIEW




Every five years, the School of Biology gets evaluated by a team of outside scientists who visits Georgia Tech for a few days and writes a report about our strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth. The purpose of this exercise is to continue to improve the research, teaching and service activities in the School. A visiting team of five scientists converged on...

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JOB OUTLOOK BRIGHTENS
FOR 2014 GRADUATES



The U.S. Labor Department said the U.S. economy as of June 2014 has 138.5 million jobs, slightly more than the previous high set in early 2008 — just as the Great Recession was tightening its grip. This post-recession peak came after employers added 217,000 jobs in May. That marked the fourth straight month when payrolls increased by at least 200,000.

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