The Danger of Acting Now

Date(s) - 03/19/2018
3:00 pm

Manu O. Platt, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Tech & Emory University

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama

Dr. Platt’s lecture will address the fear of waiting for the perfect time to be impactful in diversity and inclusion. As a member of an underrepresented group, the opportunity for impact is magnified, as is the visibility, responsibility, perceived consequences of failure, and ultimately, the perceived danger of acting now. Sage professional mentors and family elders may advise “going along to get along” and “not making waves” to be successful. Dr. Platt will challenge this assumption of the “safe” path to success. Often, if you are the first or the only of a particular demographic category, the path is neither well paved, nor well lit. Dr. Platt will discuss the power and the payoff of being unapologetic about identity, the importance of intersectionality, and being intentional in diversifying the workforce. Now. Not waiting until it is safe.


Dr. Manu Platt received his B.S. in Biology from Morehouse College in 2001 and his Ph.D. from the Georgia Tech and Emory joint program in biomedical engineering in 2006. He finished his postdoctoral training at MIT in orthopedic tissue engineering and systems biology prior to returning to Georgia Tech and Emory in the joint department of Biomedical Engineering in January 2009, where he has since been promoted and tenured.  His research centers on proteolytic mechanisms of tissue remodeling during disease progression using both experimental and computational approaches. These diseases of focus are health disparities in the U.S., but global health concerns: pediatric strokes in sickle cell disease, personalized and predictive medicine for breast cancer, and HIV-mediated cardiovascular disease, which has taken him to South Africa and Ethiopia for collaborative work to find solutions for low resource settings. His work has been funded by NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, International AIDS Society, Georgia Cancer Coalition, and the National Science Foundation.

He is also the Diversity Director for the NSF Science and Technology Center for Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems (EBICS), a joint center between Georgia Tech, MIT, and UIUC. Integrated with his research program are his mentoring goals of changing the look of the next generation of scientists and engineers to include all colors, genders, and backgrounds. Aligned with that goal, Dr. Platt, with Bob Nerem, co-founded and co-directs Project ENGAGES (Engaging the Next Generation At Georgia Tech in Engineering and Science), a program for African-American high school students in the Atlanta Public School system, trained and paid well above minimum wage, to be researchers in Georgia Tech labs. Awards for mentoring and outreach have included the Georgia Tech Diversity Champion award, Junior Faculty Above and Beyond Award, and the Junior Faculty Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award from Georgia Tech. He was named an Emerging Scholar by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine in 2015, the Atlanta 40 under 40 by the Atlanta Business Chronicle in 2016, and the Biomedical Engineering Society Diversity Award and Lecture in 2017.