Experts in the News

To request a media interview, please reach out to experts using the faculty directories for each of our six schools, or contact Jess Hunt-Ralston, College of Sciences communications director. A list of faculty experts is also available to journalists upon request.

It’s been 10 years since the Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, successfully launched the astronomy outreach program called Aloha Explorations at the Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing site, or AMOS, in Maui, Hawaii. This STEM outreach project uses an 11-inch Celestron telescope, also known as the Aloha Telescope, to provide students in grades K-12 the ability to view live images from their classrooms and remotely control the telescope via an internet connection. The idea for this project originated from Dr. James Sowell, an astronomer and observatory director at the School of Physics. (This story also appeared at Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.)

Air Force Research Laboratory April 4, 2024

Georgia Tech students associated with the Astronomy Club are traveling to Missouri in order to be in the path of totality for the April 8 solar eclipse. The path of totality is the prime spot for viewing the moon travel between the Earth and the Sun. For the eclipse viewing trip, the Club plans to bring along astrophotography gear, an 8-inch Celestron telescope with a solar filter, and other equipment for members to use. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also covered this story.)

11 Alive April 1, 2024

Mega Millions breached the $1 billion mark, and it looks like the Powerball jackpot isn't too far behind. Yet, lottery games are mostly only lucrative for the private companies that states hire to run them, said Lew Lefton, emeritus faculty member with the Georgia Tech School of Mathematics, in a USA Today article. In fact, winning big in Mega Millions and Powerball is even harder now because recent rules make the odds even longer so lottery games can sell more tickets, he added.

The Tennessean - USA TODAY Network March 26, 2024

Recent studies show nearly half of the world’s species are on the move because of the changing climate and habitat disruption. Apart from slowing fossil fuel production and prioritizing carbon storage, a direct solution for species inching north as temperatures rise is improving climate connectivity, a term likely coined by researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology in a 2016 study. The idea builds on the established science of wildlife corridors and land conservation that supports the migration of animals. School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Assistant Professor Jenny McGuire, who worked on the study, said this kind of movement differs from traditional migration patterns. Instead of departing annually and returning, species are permanently moving to areas they’re finding more hospitable. “They’re moving in such a way that they’re tracking the climates they’re suited to live in or able to live in, and then staying in those places,” McGuire said.

Adirondack Explorer March 24, 2024

A surge in tools that generate text is allowing research papers to be summarized for a broad audience, and in any language. But some scientists feel that improvements are needed before we can rely on AI to describe studies accurately. Will Ratcliff, an associate professor at the School of Biological Sciences, argues that no tool can produce better text than can professional writers. Although researchers have different writing abilities, he invariably prefers reading scientific material produced by study authors over those generated by AI. “I like to see what the authors wrote. They put craft into it, and I find their abstract to be more informative,” he says.

Nature Index March 20, 2024

One of the hallmarks of humanity is language, but now, powerful new artificial intelligence tools also compose poetry, write songs, and have extensive conversations with human users. Tools like ChatGPT and Gemini are widely available at the tap of a button—but just how smart are these AIs? A new multidisciplinary research effort co-led by Anna (Anya) Ivanova, assistant professor in the School of Psychology at Georgia Tech, is working to uncover just that. The results could lead to innovative AIs that are more similar to the human brain than ever before—and also help neuroscientists and psychologists who are unearthing the secrets of our own minds.

Tech Xplore March 19, 2024

In new research published in Nature Communications, School of Biological Sciences researchers Mark Hay and Cody Clements and their colleagues demonstrated that when sea cucumbers were removed from coral reef, tissue death of Acropora pulchra, a species of staghorn coral, more than tripled, and mortality of the whole colony surged 15 times. The reasoning is that sea cucumbers are like "little vacuum cleaners on the reef" digesting and eliminating microbes that can lead to coral disease and demise — threats that are exacerbated by a warming and increasingly polluted ocean.

NPR March 13, 2024

The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae isn’t exactly known for being tough, but when researchers propagated only the biggest yeast cells for thousands of generations, these single-celled fungi went from making snowflake-esque clusters “weaker than gelatin” to clumps “as strong as wood” and 20,000 times the size of initial flakes. Partly to thank for this impressive transformation is the chaperone protein Hsp90, which helps fold other proteins into their proper shapes, School of Biological Sciences Associate Professor William Ratcliff and his colleagues report.

Science Magazine March 12, 2024

Coral reefs play a crucial role in the region’s biodiversity, food security, employment, tourism, and medical research, but many reefs are suffering degradation due to pollution, ocean warming and overfishing. Growing sea cucumbers in underwater nurseries could be a way of restoring their services as “vacuum cleaners” of the ocean to protect the Asia-Pacific’s declining coral reefs, Biological Sciences Researchers Mark Hay and Cody Clements suggest in their recently released study. (This was also covered at New AtlasGizmodo Japan and The Good Men Project.)

SciDev.Net March 11, 2024

In a new study led by Georgia Tech and University of Helsinki, researchers have discovered a mechanism steering the evolution of multicellular life. Co-authored by the School of Biological Sciences’ Dung Lac, Anthony Burnetti, Ozan Bozdag, and Will Ratcliff, the study, “Proteostatic tuning underpins the evolution of novel multicellular traits”, was published in Science Advances this month, and uncovers how altered protein folding drives multicellular evolution. (This research was also featured in Mirage News).

The Times of India March 10, 2024

Odd things can happen when a wave meets a boundary. In the ocean, tsunami waves that are hardly noticeable in deep water can become quite large at the continental shelf and shore, as the waves slow and their mass moves upward. In a recent study led by School of Physics Dunn Family Professor Daniel Goldman and published in the journal Physical Review Letters, scientists have shown that a floating, symmetric oscillating robot will experience forces when it comes close to a boundary. These forces can be used for self-propulsion without the need for more typical mechanisms such as a propeller.

Tech Xplore March 9, 2024

In preparation for NASA's SpaceX 30th commercial resupply mission, the agency streamed an International Space Station National Lab science webinar at 1 p.m. EST Friday, March 8, to discuss the hardware, technology demonstrations, and science experiments headed to the space station. School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Ph.D. Student Jordan McKaig served as an expert participant in the webinar.

NASA March 8, 2024