Ultra-fast organismic physics, biological soft matter, frugal science and global health
The BhamlaLab explores fundamental and applied research questions through the development of new experimental tools and techniques at the intersection of soft matter, organismic physics and global health.
Ultra-fast Organismic Physics
Biologists are just starting to systematically examine ultrafast motion across species (jellyfish, mantis shrimp, trap-jaw ants), some of which achieve accelerations exceeding a million g-forces in nanoseconds. At the single-cell level, the physical biology of ultra-fast motility remains poorly understood. What is the fastest motion a single cell can achieve? How do single-cell organisms amplify power and survive repeated high accelerations? These fundamental questions guide our exploration of several non-model unicellular and multicellular organisms to uncover the principles of extreme motility at cellular scales.
Biological Soft Matter
Our bodies are composed almost entirely of soft, wet, squishy materials. How do the fundamental principles of soft matter and complex fluids enable us to grasp dynamic processes, from the self-assembly of proteins to the stretching of a spider web? We study a spectrum of biological soft matter, from the tears on our eyes to biological foams from insects, with the goal of connecting the microscale structures (lipids, proteins) to their consequences for macroscale biological function (contact lens-eye interaction, microbiome health). As engineers, we leverage this understanding for human-health applications, ranging from diagnostics and monitoring to artificial therapeutic replacements and biomedical devices.
Frugal Science and Global Health
Today, although information is free to anyone with internet, access to scientific tools and healthcare devices still has many barriers. How do we design and build tools that are scientifically rigorous, but cost a few cents on the dollar? Driven by the spirit of doing “frugal science”, we box ourselves in to find out of the box solutions for global challenges in science education, agriculture, and healthcare. Projects in this area include field-work, science outreach, and citizen-science initiatives.
Quantitative fluorescence microscopy and image analysis
Computational models of gene regulatory networks
Transcriptional regulation and developmental biology of plants
The past fifteen years has seen dramatic advancements in genome sequencing and editing. The cost of sequencing a genome has decreased by two orders of magnitude, giving rise to new systems-level approaches to biology research that aim to understand life as an emerging property of all the molecular interactions in an organism. At the same time, technologies that allow site-specific modifications of the genome are enabling researchers to manipulate multicellular organisms in unprecedented ways.
From reductionist approaches to systems biology, and from conventional plant breeding to synthetic biology, the future of plant biology research relies on the adoption of computational methods to analyze experimental data and develop predictive models. In biomedicine, mathematical models are already revolutionizing drug discovery; in agriculture, they have the potential to generate more efficient, faster growing crop varieties.
The goal of the Cheung lab is to bring quantitative techniques and mathematical modeling to plants in order to gain systems-level insight into their physiology and development – particularly to understanding how metabolic and gene regulatory networks interact to control homeostasis and growth.
My research interests focus on image-based computational design and 3D biomaterial printing for patient specific devices and regenerative medicine, with specific interests in pediatric applications. Clinical application interests include airway reconstruction and tissue engineering, structural heart defects, craniofacial and facial plastics, orthopaedics, and gastrointestinal reconstruction. We specifically utilize patient image data as a foundation to for multiscale design of devices, reconstructive implants and regenerative medicine porous scaffolds. We are also interested in multiscale computational simulation of how devices and implants mechanically interact with patient designs, combining these simulations with experimental measures of tissue mechanics. We then transfer these designs to both laser sintering and nozzle based platforms to build devices from a wide range of biomaterials. Subsequently, we are interested in combining these 3D printed biomaterial platforms with biologics for patient specific regenerative medicine solutions to tissue reconstruction.
Dr. Pokutta's research concentrates on combinatorial optimization and polyhedral combinatorics, and in particular focuses on cutting-plane methods and extended formulations. His industry research interests are in optimization and machine learning in the context of analytics with a focus on real-world applications, both in established industries as well as in emerging technologies. Application areas include but are not limited to supply chain management, finance, cyber-physical systems, and predictive analytics. To date, Dr. Pokutta has successfully deployed analytics methodology in 20+ real-world projects.
Gil Weinberg is a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Music and the founding director of the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology, where he leads the Robotic Musicianship group. His research focuses on developing artificial creativity and musical expression for robots and augmented humans. Among his projects are a marimba playing robotic musician called Shimon that uses machine learning for jazz improvisation, and a prosthetic robotic arm for amputees that restores and enhances human drumming abilities. Weinberg has presented his work worldwide in venues such as The Kennedy Center, The World Economic Forum, Ars Electronica, Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Museum, SIGGRAPH, TED-Ed, DLD and others. His music has been performed with orchestras such as Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the National Irish Symphony Orchestra, and the Scottish BBC Symphony while his research has been disseminated through numerous journal articles and patents. Weinberg received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT and his B.A. from the interdisciplinary program for fostering excellence in Tel Aviv University.
Research at the Center for Music Technology focuses on creating innovative musical technologies that can transform the way in which we create, experience, and learn music. Areas of interest include education, robotic musicianship, machine learning, digital signal processing, musical informatics, new interfaces for musical expression, sonification, acoustics, music cognition, mobile music, interactive music, networked music, among others.
Research in the Center is conducted under four main research groups: music informatics, robotic musicianship, computational music for all, computational and cognitive musicology, and brain music.
Margaret E. Kosal’s research explores the relationships among technology, strategy, and governance. Her research focuses on two, often intersecting, areas: reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and understanding the role of emerging technologies for security.
Her work aims to understand and explain the role of technology and technological diffusion for national security at strategic and operational levels. In the changing post-Cold War environment, the most advanced military power no longer guarantees national or international security in a globalized world in which an increasing number of nation-states and non-state actors have access to new and potentially devastating dual-use capabilities. The long-term goals of her work are to understand the underlying drivers of technological innovation and how technology affects national security and modern warfare. She is interested in both the scholarly, theoretical level discourse and in the development of new strategic approaches and executable policy options to enable US dominance and to limit the proliferation of unconventional weapons.
On the question of understanding the impact of emerging technology on national and international security her research considers what role will nanotechnology, cognitive science, biotechnology, and converging sciences have on states, non-state actors, balance of power, deterrence postures, security doctrines, nonproliferation regimes, and programmatic choices. Through examination of these real applications on the science (benign and defensive) and potential (notional) offensive uses of nanotechnology, she seeks to develop a model to probe the security implications of this emerging technology. The goal of the research is not to predict new specific technologies but to develop a robust analytical framework for assessing the impact of new technology on national and international security and identifying policy measures to prevent or slow proliferation of new technology - the next generation “WMD” - for malfeasant intentions.
Bilal Haider’s research seeks to identify cellular and circuit mechanisms that modulate neuronal responsiveness in the cerebral cortex in vivo. During his PhD at Yale University, he identified excitatory and inhibitory mechanisms that mediate rapid initiation, sustenance, and termination of activity in the cerebral cortex in vivo. His studies also revealed that inhibitory circuits strongly increase the selectivity, reliability and precision of visual responses to natural visual scences. During his post-doctoral studies at University College London, he extended investigation of inhibitory circuits to the awake brain. His work showed for the first time that synaptic inhibition powerfully controls the spatial and temporal properties of visual processing during wakefulness. His future research will continue building on these themes and investigate mechanisms used by excitatory and inhibitory neuronal sub-types in the cortex during goal-directed behaviors. Discovering how neural networks and synapses control sensory-motor processing is a critical step towards lessening deficits common to many neurological disorders such as schizophrenia, dementia, epilepsy, and autism spectrum disorders.
Our lab’s long-term goal is to understand how neural activity both produces memories and protects brain health, while using this knowledge to engineer neural activity to treat brain diseases. Our lab studies how coordinated electrical activity across many neurons represents memories of experiences, how this activity fails in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease, and how engineering neurons to produce this activity has neuroprotective effects and engages the brain’s immune system. Integrating innovative experimental and analytical methods, this research will provide unprecedented insight into how neural activity failures lead to memory impairment and will reveal novel ways to engineer neural activity to repair brain function. Using non-invasive approaches, we translate these discoveries from rodents to humans. These insights could lead to radically new ways to treat diseases that affect memory like Alzheimer’s, for which there are no effective therapies.