EAS is hosting its new "C.L. Chandler Weather Chat" series. 

Each Friday at 11 AM, meteorology enthusiasts are welcome to join Dr. Zachary Handlos and other guest meteorology presenters (including Georgia Tech alumni and guest visitors from CNN, The Weather Channel, the National Weather Service, and other meteorological organizations) as they discuss current and forecasted weather events that have (or will have) significant impacts on the Atlanta, GA region as well as the U.S. (and sometimes globally!). 

This event is named after C. L. Chandler, who led the Delta Air Lines Meteorology Department and had a strong passion for meteorological analysis and forecasting (making his weather maps by hand without use of computers). 

Carol Wood, who has graciously supported EAS meteorology for several years, will be speaking about her father, C. L. Chandler, to kick off our first event on Friday, September 14th. All are welcome to join!

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August 20, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

Aug. 21, 2017, the first day of the school year: At noon the Georgia Tech campus morphs into a massive, festive solar-eclipse-watching party. Thousands sprawl on Tech Green and stand on roof tops to cheer the celestial event.

Meanwhile in Kentucky, James Boehm is part of an experiment by AT&T. The company is testing a device to enable Boehm – who has been blind since he was 13 – to experience the eclipse. The set-up includes a soundtrack, which “voices” the changes in temperature and brightness as the moon’s shadow covers the sun. That accompaniment came from researchers in the Georgia Tech Sonification Lab.

That story leads the first season of the College of Sciences’ podcast. The people who made the 2017 eclipse-watching party possible now offer another treat: ScienceMatters, a podcast celebrating discoveries and achievements – the “Wow” and “Aha” moments – of Georgia Tech scientists and mathematicians.

Season 1 is now available at sciencematters.gatech.edu

Continue here for the full story.

August 20, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

The new school year is a good time to remind ourselves to take care of our mental health.

Mental health problems are on the rise. A 2014 survey of college counseling services – cited by the American Psychological Association – found that clients with severe psychological problems went up to 52%, from 44% the year before. The survey noted increases in anxiety disorder, crises, psychiatric medication issues, and clinical depression.

The good news is that mental health awareness is growing and spreading. Also good news is the acceptance that mental health needs are real and addressing them is essential for self-care.

Last summer, a research group at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) asked physics Ph.D. student Andrea Welsh to share her experiences as a graduate student grappling with mental health concerns.

A mental health advocate, Welsh attracted attention outside of Georgia Tech after she wrote about the subject in Physics Today. She told the research group at CERN that graduate students have unique vulnerabilities. Yet her tips for managing mental health are universal.

The CERN research group was looking for someone who has experienced mental health problems, Welsh says. “That was important for representation.” By representation, Welsh means how people grappling with mental health appear to others.

In high school, Welsh recalls, she saw depictions of people with depression as sleeping all the time and unable to get out of bed. She wasn’t like that. Yes, she cried a lot, her weight fluctuated, she had periods of high energy and bouts of low energy, and she couldn’t concentrate. But she was functional, attending school.

Continue here for the full story.

August 20, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

The start of the school year can be discombobulating. Fortunately, many questions that come up are common from semester to semester.

Here, academic advisors in the College of Sciences share their answers to questions they’ve heard frequently from new and returning students during the first few days of a new semester.

Is it true that I shouldn’t take two lab classes in my first semester?
Your course load is a personal decision, best discussed with your academic advisor. That said, for some science majors, such as biology, we do recommend that students take two labs in their first semester to stay on track for timely progress through the degree.

How many credit hours should I take?
Again, the course load is a personal decision. Taking 12–14 credit hours during the first semester allows you to acclimate to the course work at Tech and to explore co- and extracurricular ways to take part in the campus community.

Continue here for the full story.

Psychology Ph.D. student Emily Hokett will present a poster at the 143rd Annual Meeting of the American Neurological Association, which will be held on Oct. 21-23, 2018. Hokett's Ph.D. advisor is Audrey Duarte, associate professor in the School of Psychology and principal investigator of the Memory and Aging Lab.

TITLE
Age-Related Changes in Sleep Quality, Associative Memory, and Oscillatory Power

ABSTRACT
Research has shown that sleep is essential for memory consolidation. However, the effects of habitual sleep quality on memory performance are unclear, especially regarding age-related differences in brain function.

We hypothesized that sleep quality would be significantly related to retrieval-related EEG and memory performance across age groups. We investigated this relationship in young and older adults using one week of sleep data collection, a paired-associate memory task, and retrieval-related electroencephalography (EEG).

We found that memory accuracy was positively correlated with sleep quality across age groups. In addition, we found relationships between measures of sleep quality and measures of oscillatory power that supported memory performance.

For older adults, there was a negative trend for sleep fragmentation (SF) and retrieval-related theta synchronization for associative hits, an index of recollection-based memory. That is, lower SF was correlated with greater theta synchronization. Both SF and theta power correlated with memory accuracy such that lower SF and greater theta power supported better memory.

Moreover, we found a significant relationship across age with alpha desynchronization and memory accuracy. Alpha desynchronization has been found to be associated with memory retrieval. We also found trends that suggest a relationship between sleep quality and alpha desynchronization.

While our data suggests that sleep quality is important for memory performance in both young and older adults, older adults may be particularly sensitive to sleep quality. Prior research has shown that lifestyle factors such as maintaining good sleep quality and moderate physical activity may improve memory in older adults.

Consistent with these findings, we found that sleep quality was positively associated with associative memory. This study extends the current literature with the finding that good sleep quality may support greater functional activity in neural correlates important for memory accuracy.

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Psychology Ph.D. student Emily Hokett will present a poster at the 143rd Annual Meeting of the American Neurological Association, which will be held on Oct. 21-23, 2018. Hokett's Ph.D. advisor is Audrey Duarte, associate professor in the School of Psychology and principal investigator of the Memory and Aging Lab.

TITLE
Age-Related Changes in Sleep Quality, Associative Memory, and Oscillatory Power

ABSTRACT
Research has shown that sleep is essential for memory consolidation. However, the effects of habitual sleep quality on memory performance are unclear, especially regarding age-related differences in brain function.

We hypothesized that sleep quality would be significantly related to retrieval-related EEG and memory performance across age groups. We investigated this relationship in young and older adults using one week of sleep data collection, a paired-associate memory task, and retrieval-related electroencephalography (EEG).

We found that memory accuracy was positively correlated with sleep quality across age groups. In addition, we found relationships between measures of sleep quality and measures of oscillatory power that supported memory performance.

For older adults, there was a negative trend for sleep fragmentation (SF) and retrieval-related theta synchronization for associative hits, an index of recollection-based memory. That is, lower SF was correlated with greater theta synchronization. Both SF and theta power correlated with memory accuracy such that lower SF and greater theta power supported better memory.

Moreover, we found a significant relationship across age with alpha desynchronization and memory accuracy. Alpha desynchronization has been found to be associated with memory retrieval. We also found trends that suggest a relationship between sleep quality and alpha desynchronization.

While our data suggests that sleep quality is important for memory performance in both young and older adults, older adults may be particularly sensitive to sleep quality. Prior research has shown that lifestyle factors such as maintaining good sleep quality and moderate physical activity may improve memory in older adults.

Consistent with these findings, we found that sleep quality was positively associated with associative memory. This study extends the current literature with the finding that good sleep quality may support greater functional activity in neural correlates important for memory accuracy.

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About ScienceMatters Season 1

Wednesday, August 15, 2018 - 10:00
August 16, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

For ants and robots operating in confined spaces like tunnels, having more workers does not necessarily mean getting more work done. Just as too many cooks in a kitchen get in each other’s way, having too many robots in tunnels creates clogs that can bring the work to a grinding halt.

A study published August 17 in the journal Science shows that in fire ant colonies, a small number of workers does most of the digging, leaving the other ants to look somewhat less than industrious. For digging nest tunnels, this less busy approach gets the job done without ant traffic jams – ensuring smooth excavation flow. Researchers found that applying the ant optimization strategy to autonomous robots avoids mechanized clogs and gets the work done with the least amount of energy.

Optimizing the activity of autonomous underground robots could be useful for tasks such as disaster recovery, mining or even digging underground shelters for future planetary explorers. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation’s Physics of Living Systems program, the Army Research Office and the Dunn Family Professorship.

“We noticed that if you have 150 ants in a container, only 10 or 15 of them will actually be digging in the tunnels at any given time,” said Daniel Goldman, a professor in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “We wanted to know why, and to understand how basic laws of physics might be at work. We found a functional, community benefit to this seeming inequality in the work environment. Without it, digging just doesn’t get done.”

By monitoring the activities of 30 ants that had been painted to identify each individual, Goldman and colleagues, including former postdoctoral fellow Daria Monaenkova and Ph.D. student Bahnisikha Dutta, discovered that just 30 percent of the ants were doing 70 percent of the work – an inequality that seems to keep the work humming right along. However, that is apparently not because the busiest ants are the most qualified. When the researchers removed the five hardest working ants from the nest container, they saw no productivity decline as the remaining 25 continued to dig.

Having a nest is essential to fire ants, and if a colony is displaced – by a flood, for instance – the first thing the ants will do upon reaching dry land is start digging. Their tunnels are narrow, barely wide enough for two ants to pass, a design feature hypothesized to give locomotion advantages in the developing vertical tunnels. Still, the ants know how to avoid creating clogs by retreating from tunnels already occupied by other workers – and sometimes by not doing anything much at all. 

To avoid clogs and maximize digging in the absence of a leader, robots built by Goldman’s master’s degree student Vadim Linevich were programmed to capture aspects of the dawdling and retreating ants. The researchers found that as many as three robots could work effectively in a narrow horizontal tunnel digging 3D printed magnetic plastic balls that simulated sticky soil. If a fourth robot entered the tunnel, however, that produced a clog that stopped the work entirely.

“When we put four robots into a confined environment and tried to get them to dig, they immediately jammed up,” said Goldman, who is the Dunn Family Professor in the School of Physics. “While observing the ants, we were surprised to see that individuals would sometimes go to the tunnel and if they encountered even a small amount of clog, they’d just turn around and retreat. When we put those rules into combinations with the robots, that created a good strategy for digging rapidly with low amounts of energy use per robot.”

Experimentally, the research team tested three potential behaviors for the robots, which they termed “eager,” “reversal” or “lazy.” Using the eager strategy, all four robots plunged into the work – and quickly jammed up. In the reversal behavior, robots gave up and turned around when they encountered delays reaching the work site. In the lazy strategy, dawdling was encouraged.

“Eager is the best strategy if you only have three robots, but if you add a fourth, that behavior tanks because they get in each other’s way,” said Goldman. “Reversal produces relatively sane and sensible digging. It is not the fastest strategy, but there are no jams. If you look at energy consumed, lazy is the best course.” Analysis techniques based on glassy and supercooled fluids, led by former Ph.D. student Jeffrey Aguilar, gave insight into how the different strategies mitigated and prevented clog-forming clusters.

To understand what was going on and experiment with the parameters, Goldman and colleagues – including Will Savoie, a Georgia Tech Ph.D. student, Research Assistant Hui-Shun Kuan and Professor Meredith Betterton from the Department of Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder – used computer modeling known as cellular automata that has similarities to the way in which traffic engineers model the movement of cars and trucks on a highway.

“On highways, too few cars don’t provide much flow, while too many cars create a jam,” Goldman said. “There is an intermediate level where things are best, and that is called the fundamental diagram. From our modeling, we learned that the ants are working right at the peak of the diagram. The right mix of unequal work distributions and reversal behaviors has the benefit of keeping them moving at maximum efficiency without jamming.”

The ability to avoid clumping seems to meet a need that many systems have, Betterton noted. “The ants work in a sweet spot where they can dig quickly without too many clogs. We see the same physics in ant digging, simulation models, and digging by robots, which suggests that for groups of animals that need to excavate, avoiding clogs is crucial.”

The researchers used robots designed and built for the research, but they were no match for the capabilities of the ants. The ants are flexible and robust, able to squeeze past each other in confines that would cause the inflexible robots to jam. In some cases, the robots in Goldman’s lab even damaged each other while jostling into position for digging.

The research findings could be useful for space exploration where tunnels might be needed to quickly shield humans from approaching dust storms or other threats. “If you were a robot swarm on Mars and needed to dig deeply in a hurry to get away from dust storms, this strategy might help provide shelter without having perfect information about what everybody was doing,” Goldman explained. 

Beyond the potential robotics applications, the work provides insights into the complex social skills of ants and adds to the understanding of active matter. 

“Ants that live in complex subterranean environments have to develop sophisticated social rules to avoid the bad things that can happen when you have a lot of individuals in a crowded environment,” Goldman said. “We are also contributing to understanding the physics of task-oriented active matter, putting more experimental knowledge into phenomenon such as swarms.”

In addition to those already mentioned, the research included Michael Goodisman, associate professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Biological Sciences.

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation through grant numbers PoLS-0957659, PHY-1205878 and DMR-1551095 as well as a grant W911NF-13-1-0347 from the Army Research Office, and the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or Army Research Office.

CITATION: J. Aguilar, et. al., “Collective clog control: optimizing traffic flow in confined biological and robophysical excavation,” (Science 2018).

Research News
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Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986) (jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: John Toon

The College of Sciences joins the rest of Georgia Tech in Ramble In, a first-day-of-class fun event organized by Omicron Delta Kappa.

Faculty, students, and staff are invited to join for King of Pops, games, and giveaways! Simply wear a name tag and introduce yourself to other people who are also wearing the name tag!

The goal is to ease the first day of classes for everyone and meet ew people. More in information is here: http://odk.gatech.edu/ramblein/

Student groups and Georgia Tech units will be around Tech Green from 9 AM to 3 PM to give out name tags. The College of Sciences will be at Skiles Walkway at 12:15-1:20 PM.

We will have a spin-a-wheel set up to give away fabulous swag, compliments of ScienceMatters - Because wherever we turn in the physical world, science matters. 

Prizes include include beaker mugs, exclusive ScienceMatters pens, water bottles, science rock CDs, T-shirts, and more!

 

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School of Psychology Work Science Center Distinguished Lecture Series presents Michael Ford, University of Alabama

To the extent that this assumption holds true, workers hold their employers responsible for the morality of their behavior. This presentation delves into several conditions of this aspect of the employee-organization relationship that have been previously understudied. 

Michael Ford will cover recent research on the beliefs and emotions that workers develop toward their employers at large, how quickly these can fluctuate, and implications for employee well-being and motivation. 

Then, he will present new findings on events that trigger moral emotions at work, the perceived entitativity of the organization responsible, and how employees respond to these occurrences and explain them with respect to the collective intent of the organization. 

Finally, Ford will consider future directions for research on emotions toward and trust in organizations and institutions.

About the Speaker
Michael Ford is an associate professor in the Department of Management at the Culverhouse College of Business at the University of Alabama,. He previously served on the psychology faculty at University at Albany-SUNY. 

His research focuses on the consequences of employee emotions for behavior and the impact of work-family conflict on subjective well-being.  His work has been published in psychology, management, educational, and occupational health journals. Ford is active on the editorial boards for several occupational health journals. 

In 2017, Ford received the Schmidt-Hunter Meta-Analysis Award from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

About the Work Science Center Distinguished Lecture Series
This series seeks to foster thought-provoking discussion and ideas on the future of work and worklife by sharing evidence-based knowledge on topics relevant to improving human workforce development, employee management, and human well-being in the 21st century.

Reception to follow in the Student Success Center Hall of Success

To RSVP, please visit https://wscmichaelford.eventbrite.com

 

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