Five Researchers Gain New Titles in the College of Sciences

School of Biological Sciences, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry scientists rewarded for work, support, and service

July 15, 2021 | Atlanta, GA

Two researchers from the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and three from the School of Biological Sciences have received promotions for their work, support, and service.

Liangjun Zhou and David Gaul, both research scientists II in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, have been promoted to the position of senior research scientist. 

In the School of Biological Sciences, the following promotions have occurred: 

Bartosz Ilkowski — principal research technologist (formerly senior research technologist)

Kuntal Mukerjee — senior research scientist (formerly research scientist II)

Brandy Olmer — research associate II (formerly research associate)

For Gaul, the promotion comes after spending five years as the leader of the Metabolomics/Lipidomics core in the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience. In that role, Gaul has taken on a leadership role in the National Institutes of Health’s Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity Consortium, which is examining the impact of that activity at the molecular level in humans and animals. 

During his time with the Consortium, Gaul developed a comprehensive platform that can profile more than 600 lipids (materials in living cells that can include fatty acids, neutral fats, waxes and steroids) in a semi-quantitative fashion.

Gaul is also actively participating in research at the Marcus Center for Therapeutic Cell Characterization, and is collaborating with Georgia Tech and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta researchers to investigate the effects of traumatic brain injury in children. 

“Gaul has shown incredible leadership in reshaping the small molecule mass spectrometry services at Georgia Tech, bringing us to a position where we are competitive at a national and international level,” says Sue Winters, administrative manager II in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. 

Liangjun Zhao came to Georgia Tech following Ph.D. studies in enzymology at Wayne State University. M.G. Finn, professor and chair in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and James A. Carlos Family Chair for Pediatric Technology, says Zhao has been a leading member of the Finn Lab for five years. “In that role, his accomplishments include several outstanding papers on the genetic modification of virus-like particles (VLPs) as robust display platforms for functional molecules and as containers for active enzymes,” Finn says. “He has also created new methods for VLP evolution, and was an important contributor to Georgia Tech’s coronavirus response as a member of the team producing reagents and methods for campus-wide testing.”

Zhao is also a member of the Molecular Evolution Core Facility, responsible for creating and adapting procedures for DNA synthesis and high-throughput DNA sequencing. He has represented Georgia Tech “very well” at a Gordon Research Conference, and as a reviewer for several journals, Finn adds.

“Bartosz (Ilkowski) and I have been colleagues for eighteen years and he still amazes me with his knowledge and innovative ideas relating to anything associated with high performance computing and computing in general, all while being self-taught,” says Jessica Forness, center manager of the Center for the Study of Systems Biology. “Whether it’s water-chilled doors, optimizing computer time, density and cooling, or just helping me fix the printer, he always has an innovative solution.” 

“Kuntal Mukherjee is a dedicated scientist and a good friend,” says lab manager Gary Newman. “He works hard on his research and is always able to help his coworkers. All of Kuntal’s outstanding work is the direct result of his unique perspective and immense dedication.”

Frances Diggle, a research scientist in the lab of Marvin Whiteley, shares that Brandy Olmer works remotely from Texas, supporting the WhiteleySteve Diggle and Sam Brown labs in the Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection. Olmer assists with administrative systems, along with submitting grants, tracking funding, hiring, and organizing marketing events. “She is incredibly knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with," notes Frances Diggle. "She’s always willing to help and find ways to make things happen." Olmer also was responsible for coordinating the "This Week in Microbiology" (TWiM) podcast recording on campus in October 2019.

“The work of research faculty is critical to the school’s mission to fuel scientific discovery,” adds Todd Streelman, professor and chair of the School of Biological Sciences. “We’re very proud of our candidates promoted this year.”

For More Information Contact

Renay San Miguel
Communications Officer II/Science Writer
College of Sciences