Mathematics and Biological Sciences Researchers Receive NSF Postdoctoral Fellowships

May 27, 2022 | Atlanta, GA

Three postdoctoral scientists have received National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships to support their research across the College of Sciences in celestial mechanics, microbial dynamics and infection, and host-microbe symbiosis.

Celestial mechanics

Bhanu Kumar, a Ph.D. candidate and NASA Space Technology Research Fellow (NSTRF) in the School of Mathematics, has won a fellowship for work in dynamical systems applied to celestial mechanics and applied astrodynamics for space mission design. His Ph.D. is set to be conferred in August. Kumar received his M.S. from the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech last December, and is also an NSTRF visiting technologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he works with his mentor and research collaborator Rodney Anderson. Kumar’s adviser at Tech is Rafael de la Llave, professor in the School of Mathematics. 

Microbial dynamics and infection

Elijah (Eli) Mehlferber is slated to receive his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley this summer, before beginning research in the lab of Sam Brown, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and co-director of the Center for Microbial Dynamics and Infection (CMDI) at Georgia Tech. Mehlferber received his baccalaureate degree from the University of Georgia. Mehlferber’s research seeks to understand how community dynamics in the microbiome can impact susceptibility to pathogen invasion.

“I was aware of CMDI through talking to Sam before deciding to apply for the fellowship in his lab, and it was definitely one of the factors that influenced my decision to join the program,” Mehlferber says. “I liked the idea of having a cross-disciplinary group of like-minded researchers to work and collaborate with — and a program that encourages that kind of work. I think a lot of my best research has taken place through these sorts of collaborations so I’m very excited to continue that with the folks across CMDI.”

Host-microbe symbiosis

Kayla Stoy is set to receive her Ph.D. this summer at Emory University before joining Mehlferber in the School of Biological Sciences at Georgia Tech this fall. Stoy will complete her NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship with research in the lab of William Ratcliff, associate professor and co-director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences program at Tech. Ratcliff’s lab focuses on experimental evolution of multicellular complexity. While at Emory, Stoy researched population biology, ecology, and evolution with a focus on mutualism.