Engineering the Minds of Tomorrow: LINCR Initiates Neuro-Collaborations on Campus

Atlanta, GA

Learning by Innovative Neuro Collaborations in Research (LINCR) is a new undergraduate research fellowship program currently finishing up its pilot run this summer. Sponsored by a $40,000 GTFire Grant, the fund for inspiring innovation in research and education at Georgia Tech, the program’s mission is to unite disparate neuro-groups on campus. LINCR is an undergraduate research program that’s really the first of its kind, organized and run by undergraduates.

In the LINCR program brochure over 60 neuro-related groups on campus were identified by the Neuroscience Club (GTNeuro) to help students find faculty with shared interests. “I have been at Georgia Tech in the Laboratory for Neuroengineering for 10 years” says Dr. Steve Potter, Director of the Laboratory for Neuroengineering “and I am sad to say that I don’t know half of these other neuro-faculty. This GT-FIRE proposal is a first step in trying to unify all of Tech’s Neuro-groups, which could certainly transform this campus into one sought after and recognized world-wide for its unique technology-driven approach to Neuroscience and Neuroengineering.”

This year the program spans 13 weeks. LINCR fellows work full time between their two respective laboratories and attend workshops hosted by GT faculty that cover presentations, data analysis, literature review, research techniques, scientific reasoning and bioethics. The uniqueness of this program stems from empowering undergraduates to be the “linkers” of these disparate groups on campus. Students who participate in the program initiate collaborations between two labs, are assigned graduate and faculty mentors, and produce pilot figures for use with grant applications to carry their projects out into the future. In completing these assignments these undergraduates find other faculty, organizations, foundations, and companies that may take interest in their research and seek out future grant opportunities for their Principle Investigators.

This year, three fellows and six laboratories are collaborating. Connor Crowley, a rising 3rd year biochemistry major who is working with Michelle LaPlaca, Ph.D. (BME) and Facundo Fernandez, Ph.D. (Chemistry and Biochemistry), is investigating the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Candace Law, a rising 3rd year BME major, has connected the labs of Steve Potter, Ph.D. (BME) and Christine Payne, Ph.D. (Chemistry and Biochemistry) on a project that looks into the use of nanoparticles for drug delivery to brain. Christopher Pace, a rising 3rd year electrical engineering major, is working between Maysam Ghovanloo, Ph.D, (ECE) and Garrett Stanley, Ph.D (BME), using electrical brain stimulation to gain a better understanding of brain function and the utility of electrical stimulators in the brain.

LINCR is exciting because it is an undergraduate initiative that can be applied to any university with any focus.  To support, improve, and study the effectiveness of the program LINCR Administrators will be teaming up with BME’s Dr. Barbara Fasse to apply for future NIH/NSF funding. However, for the immediate future GTNeuro looks to the Georgia Tech community to fund and support the program for one more summer. The goal is to raise another $40,000. Dr. Ravi Bellamkonda, Georgia Tech’s Vice President of Research has already shown his support by making a significant contribution.  

In conclusion to this summer’s program, GTNeuro will host the LINCR Closing Symposium featuring the LINCR fellows. Keynote speakers include Bill Todd the former CEO of the Georgia Cancer Coalition and leader in the creation of the Georgia Tech-Emory BME partnership, Colin Potts the Georgia Tech Provost of Undergraduate Education, and Ross Mason a Georgia Tech Alumni and founder of the Healthcare Institute for Neurorecovery and Innovation. The event will be held at the Academy of Medicine, August 10th 11:00am-3:00pm as a forum for the Neuro community at Tech to create and share innovative ideas. Lunch will be provided! Students, faculty, and advisors are all invited.

For more information on how you can support LINCR Program, please contact Anish Joseph (ajoseph11@gatech.edu) or Jim Schwoebel (jim.schwoebel@gatech.edu).

Last revised August 1, 2017