This story was originally published on the Georgia Tech College of Sciences website as an update to the July 2021 announcement of InQuBATE.
Three Ph.D. students — two from the College of Sciences — have been announced as the inaugural cohort for a new Georgia Tech training program designed to give biomedical researchers a deeper dive into quantitative, data-intensive studies.
The trainees for the 2021 class of the Integrative and Quantitative Biosciences Accelerated Training Environment (InQuBATE) program, areas of study, and their advisors are:
- Kathryn (Katie) Wendorf MacGillivray, Quantitative Biosciences Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (advised by Will Ratcliff)
- Gabriella Chebli, Biological Sciences (advised by Julia Kubanek)
- Maxfield (Max) Comstock, Computational Science and Engineering (advised by Elizabeth Cherry)
As noted in the summer announcement of the program, the three students are part of a new five-year, $1.27 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that creates the InQuBATE program to help transform the study of quantitative- and data-intensive biosciences at Georgia Tech. InQuBATE is designed to train a new generation of biomedical researchers and thought leaders to harness the data revolution.
“We want to improve and enhance the training of students to focus on biological questions while leveraging modern tools, and in some cases developing new tools, to address foundational challenges at scales from molecules to systems,” noted Joshua Weitz, professor and Tom and Marie Patton Chair in the School of Biological Sciences, in that announcement. Weitz is co-leading the program with Peng Qiu, associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.
Biology is undergoing a transformation, added Weitz and Qiu, requiring a new educational paradigm that integrates quantitative approaches like computational modeling and data analytics into the experimental study of living systems.
“Our intention is to develop a training environment that instills a quantitative, data-driven mindset, integrating quantitative and data science methods into all aspects of the life science training pipeline,” added Weitz, founding director of Tech’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Biosciences (QBioS).
Meet the inaugural InQuBATE cohort
Kathryn (Katie) Wendorf MacGillivray
Quantitative Biosciences Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (advised by Will Ratcliff)
Katie Wendorf MacGillivray received a Master’s in Biology from New York University where she worked on phenotypic heterogeneity of antibiotic susceptibility in the lab of Edo Kussell. She is now a Ph.D. student in the Quantitative Biosciences program at Georgia Tech. In the Ratcliff Lab, she is interested in engineering yeast that can switch between life cycles – unicellular, clonal, and aggregative. Outside of the lab, she likes to knit, garden, and take road trips with her husband Ian. “I have a biology and chemistry background, and believe strongly that all biosciences research could benefit from the addition of computational modeling and/or data science approaches. That’s why I chose QBioS for my PhD program in the first place,” she says.
Biological Sciences (advised by Julia Kubanek)
Gabriella Chebli graduated from Agnes Scott College with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry. While an undergraduate, she conducted research under the direction of Chemistry professor Thomas Morgan to revise the structure of a class of natural products called “hyloins” that are found in the frog species Boana punctata. Chebli also worked in the lab of Biology professor, Iris Levin, studying telomere length in adult barn swallows. Chebli first joined the Kubanek Lab as an REU participant, working on a metabolomics-based project on harmful algal blooms. After graduating from Agnes Scott, she took a gap year, where she volunteered with ecotourism kayak tours with Seaside Adventure in Kachemak Bay, Alaska and interned at the Lammi Biological Station in Lammi, Finland. In the Kubanek Lab, Chebli is researching chemical ecology and assisting with an algal biofuel ponds project and maintenance of phytoplankton cultures.
Maxfield (Max) Comstock
Computational Science and Engineering (advised by Elizabeth Cherry)
Comstock, originally from Seattle, Washington, received his undergraduate degrees in Math and Computer Science from Harvey Mudd College. “I’m honored to be part of the inaugural InQuBATE cohort, and am looking forward to working with all the amazing people involved with the program,” he says. “I hope to gain experience collaborating with researchers from different backgrounds who may approach problems from a different perspective, and to learn new ways to apply computational techniques to important biomedical problems. I intend to continue tackling medical problems using these skills throughout the rest of my career.”