Who are we?


Dr. Joshua Weitz is a quantitative biologist interested in the structure and dynamics of complex biological systems. He received his PhD in Physics from MIT in 2003 and was a NSF Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate Research Scholar at Princeton University from 2003-2006. Dr. Weitz joined Georgia Tech in 2007 where he is currently a Professor of Biological Sciences with courtesy appointments in Physics and ECE. Dr. Weitz is also the Founding Director of the new interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences at Georgia Tech. Dr. Weitz is the recipient of a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award at the Scientific Interface, a JSMF Scholar Award, a Simons Foundation investigator award, and is currently funded by the NSF, Army Research Office, and Simons Foundation. He was elected as a Fellow of AAAS in 2017 and as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 2019. He is also the author of the award winning book Quantitative Viral Ecology: Dynamics of Viruses and Their Microbial Hosts published by Princeton University Press in 2015.

Pablo Bravo obtained his bachelor’s degree in physics earlier this year from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. “I’m interested in studying living active matter and understanding how biological mechanisms drive this complex behavior, and how biology affects the physical interpretation of this phenomena,” said Pablo, who chose the QBioS program at Georgia Tech because of its curriculum and interdisciplinary nature: students can create a program of study that provides not only a solid foundation but also immerses them in a community working at the interface of physics, biology and mathematics.

Marian Dominguez Mirazo earned her bachelor's degree in genomics at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. She’s interested in the study of bacteriophages from an ecological and evolutionary perspective, using computational and quantitative approaches. She’s worked with bacteria gene regulation networks, performed genomics of insect endosymbionts, and engaged in other laboratory during her summers, and last year had an internship at Georgia Tech. “That’s when I decided that the Joshua Weitz lab and Georgia Tech were a great place to pursue my Ph.D.,” she said. “I feel that the QBioS program is a great fit for me – it allows me to study biology from the quantitative perspective, and that’s what I'm interested in.”

Robert Edmiston has an unusual academic background that includes philosophy, neuroscience, working in a virology lab, and, most recently, completing a master’s in mathematics. “I joined QBioS because it provides a unique opportunity for me to meaningfully integrate all of these interests and experiences into my study of the dynamics of living systems,” he explained. “I’m particularly excited to use the quantitative skills I’ve acquired over the past few years to explore problems in microbiology that would have proven elusive prior to my mathematical training.”

Katie Wendorf MacGillivray graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2014. She then moved to New York University to work in the lab of Edo Kussell, focusing on the phenotypic heterogeneity of E. coli responding to antibiotic treatment. This work led to her receiving a master’s degree in biology in 2017 and then moved to Atlanta to work in Joanna Goldberg’s bacterial pathogenesis lab at Emory University. “I’m excited to join the QBioS program and use mathematical modeling and simulation to complement my experimental research,” she said. “In the past, I’ve enjoyed studying chemistry for its quantitative nature, and biology for its interesting and relevant questions, and so the QBioS program allows me to have the best of both worlds by applying quantitative methods to biological questions.”

Athulya Ram completed a dual degree (Bachelor of Science/Master of Science) at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Thiruvananthapuram, with a major in mathematics and a minor in biology, then went on to pursue another master’s degree at New York University in applied mathematics. “During my time in both of these institutions, I got the chance to work on a number of inter-disciplinary projects, many of them which involved modelling biological systems,” he said. “That’s how I realized I want to explore biology more, but I couldn’t let go of math – my first love. And the QBioS program offered me the best of both worlds!”

Varun Sharma earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, in Pilani, India; and his master's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado in Boulder. His experience with biological systems ranges from the study of single cells in microfluidic devices, to sensory-integration in organism-level behavior in insects. “I’m excited to work in the uniquely interdisciplinary field of QBioS,” he said, adding, “as this would allow me to combine my interests in mathematical and numerical techniques with quantitative experiments to gain a mechanistic understanding of biological phenomena at various length scales.”

Conan Zhao earned his bachelor's degrees in physics and math at Washington and Lee University, but his interest in biology starting at a very young age. "My Dad was a microbiologist. He had this infectious passion for science, which I guess I caught pretty early on,” he said. Before joining the fourth QBioS cohort, he was a research assistant in the lab of Sam Brown in Georgia Tech’s School of Biological Sciences, where he worked on modeling microbiome dynamics. He’s particularly excited about joining a community of students interested in studying biological problems through the lenses of math and physics. “As an undergrad, I always thought I'd have to choose between either biology or physics,” he said. “It didn't help that most of my major-required classes met at the same time slots.” But an inspiring summer in Jeff Gore's lab convinced Conan to pursue a PhD studying both. “Math is pretty fun in its own right,” he declared. “But nature will come up with endless ways to inspire you!

Guest Instructors

Dr. Stephen Beckett is a research scientist at Georgia Tech. Stephen specializes in computational methods to investigate the ecology and biogeochemical impact of viruses, principally in marine microbial ecosystems.

Dr. David Demory is a postdoctoral fellow in the Weitz lab at Georgia Tech. His interests are in ecological dynamics of phytoplankton - virus systems using experimental/field data and mathematical modeling.

Nolan English is a fourth year QBioS PhD Student in the Torres Lab, he is interested in the role of post-translational modifications in human diseases.

Andreea Magalie is a second year QBioS student in the Weitz group interested in microbial dormancy and population dynamics.

Dr. Bradford Taylor, after doing his PhD under Prof. Weitz, is now a postdoc at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center researching antibiotic resistance in patient microbiomes.

Stephen Thomas is a fourth year QBioS PhD student in the Brown lab, his interests are modeling community dynamics and interaction networks.

Alireza Zamani is a fourth year QBioS PhD  student in the Ratcliff Lab/Yunker Lab, he is interested in the role of physical interactions in the emergence of multicellular life forms.