Archive for the ‘Emerging Investigators’ Category

Emerging Investigators series – Steve Shih

We are delighted to introduce our latest Lab on a Chip Emerging Investigator – Steve Shih!

Steve Shih completed his BASc in Electrical Engineering from Toronto and then went to University of Ottawa to complete his Master’s degree in Chemistry. He then returned to Toronto to complete his Ph.D in Biomedical Engineering in Aaron Wheeler’s laboratory.  He then spent two years at UC Berkeley and at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) as a postdoctoral researcher and worked closely with collaborators Jay Keasling and Nathan Hillson.  He learned pathway engineering of microbes for biofuel production using synthetic biology tools and published four papers related to this research.  As of January 2016, he became an Assistant Professor at Concordia University in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering with appointments in the Department of Biology and the Center for Applied Synthetic Biology.  His current research entails combining new microfluidic platforms with synthetic biological tools to solve challenges in the health, energy, and medical fields.

Read his Emerging Investigators paper “Image-based Feedback and Analysis System for Digital Microfluidics” and find out more about his research in the interview below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on an image-based feedback system for digital microfluidics How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

Wow it has evolved immensely! I started off as a naïve graduate student dabbling in the field of NMR and using that technique to determine structures of membrane proteins. My first paper described how we used computational and experimental techniques to optimize the determination of membrane protein structures. I learned so much in the field of chemistry and molecular biology, especially coming from an engineering background.

Now my research is in microfluidics and I am using this technique to solve some challenging biological problems.  Although the topics are completely different – the techniques that I learned previously has helped to find interesting solutions to engineering problems.  I am always excited to dabble in new and exciting fields and integrating traditional fields with the new.

What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?

I just recently started my lab and there are so many exciting new projects. My lab is currently working on integrating microfluidics and automating processes related to synthetic biology. Synthetic biology has evolved towards engineering new organisms to produce vast quantities of valuable products, such as biorenewable fuels. This promise (and among many others) has been inspired by biologists that believe genetic engineering of biological cells can be more like the engineering of any hardware. However, challenges loom at multiple steps in the process and our lab is using microfluidics that will overcome these (or least some) challenges.

In your opinion, what is the biggest advantage of this technology and how will this impact digital microfluidics?

I am very excited about this paper because it is the first time that imaging techniques for feedback has been applied to digital microfluidics. One of the biggest challenges with digital microfluidics is the reliability of droplet movement – i.e. an application of a potential does not always equate to a droplet movement. This problem is exacerbated when we are multiplexing droplet movement – more droplets will fail during operation. We have developed a method in which we can individually detect all the droplets on the device using image-based techniques. This is a huge advantage since we only require applying a feedback mechanism to only those droplets that failed in movement while it does not delay the movement of other droplets that translated successfully on the device. This optimizes the time a droplet rests on an electrode and can minimize other effects that prevent droplet movement (e.g., biofouling).

What do you find most challenging about your research?

Everything, but this is why I love my inter-disciplinary research field since it involves so many different aspects. Some examples are trying to understand the underlying mechanisms of breast cancer to resolving issues of integrating synthetic biology techniques at the microscale.

In which upcoming conferences or events may our readers meet you?

I will be attending MicroTAS this year in Savannah and two of my students will be presenting posters. I will also be attending the 4BIO gene editing and synthetic biology conference at London, UK in December, where I will be giving a talk to describe some our microfluidic work with synthetic biology.

How do you spend your spare time?

Spare time is so rare among new professors. But I spend most of my time chasing my kids and trying to excite them for what is to come…

Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

This is a tough question. I really love my job as an educator and everything else that comes with it. But if I had to choose something else, I think I would be a sports broadcaster on ESPN. I love sports and I am an avid fan of tennis and basketball. It would be my dream to commentate a Roger Federer game or to call a Toronto Raptors game.

Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

Failure is inevitable. I failed so many times during my career and it is all part of the learning process. Young scientists should embrace failure and learn as much as they can from it – don’t be afraid of it! They do not realize that failure is where new innovation and ideas come from. I definitely would not be where I am today if it was not for failure.

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Emerging Investigator Series – Leidong Mao

We are delighted to bring you the first interview for our Emerging Investigators Series in Lab on a Chip!

Leidong Mao is currently an Associate Professor and a distinguished faculty fellow in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering of College of Engineering at the University of Georgia, USA. He received his B.S. degree in Materials Science from Fudan University, China in 2001 and his Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from Yale University, USA in 2008. He was a recipient of the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the US National Science Foundation in 2012, and the Young Scientist Award at the international conference on magnetic fluids in 2013. His current research interests include developing novel microfluidic technologies for biology and biomedical sciences. Examples of the projects in his lab include label-free cell separation technology that can isolate extremely rare circulating tumor cells from patient blood for cancer research and clinical applications, studies of circadian rhythm of single cells and their mechanism of synchronization, and diseases-on-chip models such as stroke-on-a-chip and glioma-on-a-chip. In addition to the research activities, he developed an interdisciplinary research and education program since 2014 for undergraduate students in nanotechnology and biomedicine, through a Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) grant from the US National Science Foundation.

Read his Emerging Investigators paper Label-free ferrohydrodynamic cell separation of circulating tumor cells and find out more about his research below:

Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on the separation of circulating tumour cells. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?

My first paper as a graduate student studied the mechanism of ferrofluid actuation under a traveling magnetic field through modeling and simulation. On the surface, there seems to be a drastic change between the first paper and this recent paper. However, there was similar thinking behind these two projects – building models and systematic optimization were valued in both cases. Nonetheless, this recent paper involved a lot of cancer research, thanks to my fantastic collaborators.

What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?

Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are very interesting to study but difficult to isolate. I am excited about the high recovery rate and biocompatibility of our technology, and the prospect that it may be integrated with other technologies for a more efficient way to separate intact CTCs from patient blood.

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge for the separation of CTCs from blood?

This is a complex problem. High throughput, high recovery rate, high purity and excellent biocompatibility are four important criteria in CTC separation. Being able to meet all four criteria is challenging for a single technology, whether it is label-based or label-free.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

Learning biology as an engineer. For me, it is challenging but fun.

In which upcoming conferences or events may our readers meet you?

Microtas 2017 in Savannah Georgia, USA

How do you spend your spare time?

Spending time with my family.

Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

Never a question to me, this is what I wanted to do.

Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

It helped me a lot when I started as an Assistant Professor to have a few highly motivated graduate students.

 

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Emerging Investigator Series for Lab on a Chip

Starting in 2017, Lab on a Chip will be running an Emerging Investigator Series to showcase some of the best work in the field of miniaturisation at the micro- and nano-scale, being conducted by early-career researchers. The Series will ongoing, with articles being published once they are accepted and collated online.

There are many benefits for Emerging Investigators contributing to the series, with articles being featured in an online collection and receiving extensive promotion. This includes a special mention in journal contents alerts and an interview on the journal blog. Published articles will also be made free to access for a limited period. Furthermore, the continuous format is designed to allow more flexibility for contributors to participate in the venture without the restriction of submission deadlines.

We’ve received great feedback from previous Emerging Investigators, including this quote: “Being part of the Emerging Investigators issue was an honor and helpful to my career.  Thanks again for including me” (2012 Emerging Investigator)

Read the articles included in the collection so far at – rsc.li/loc-emerging-investigator

To represent the whole of the Lab on a Chip community, the Series will have two international Series Editors with a broad range of expertise: Editorial Board members, Dino Di Carlo (UCLA, USA), Yoon-Kyoung Cho (UNIST, South Korea) and Piotr Garstecki (IPC PAC, Poland)

 

To be eligible for the new Emerging Investigator Series you will need to have completed your PhD (or equivalent degree) within the last 10 years and have an independent career. If you are interested in contributing to the Series please contact the Editorial Office (loc-rsc@rsc.org) and provide the following information:

  • Your up-to-date CV (no longer than 2 pages), which should include a summary of education and career, a list of relevant publications, any notable awards, honours or professional activities in the field, and a website URL if relevant;
  • A title and abstract of the research article intended to be submitted to the Series, including a tentative submission date. Please note that articles submitted to the journal for the Series will undergo the usual peer review process.

Keep up to date with the latest papers added to this Series on our twitter feed (@LabonaChip) with the hashtags #EmergingInvestigators #LabonaChip

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Discovery science meets technology – Emerging Investigators

We are both proud and very pleased to introduce the 2016 edition of our Emerging Investigators issue, which celebrates the most promising and brightest amongst early career miniaturisation scientists around the world.

Guest editors Charles M. Schroeder, Sarah Köster and Yanyi Huang introduce the issue in their Editorial.

Emerging Investigators 2016: discovery science meets technology
DOI: 10.1039/C6LC90076C

Read the full collection online today: http://rsc.li/loc-emginv-16

Free* Access: AC electric field induced droplet deformation in a microfluidic T-junction
Communication
Heng-Dong Xi, Wei Guo, Michael Leniart, Zhuang Zhi Chong and Say Hwa Tan
Lab Chip, 2016,16, 2982-2986 DOI: 10.1039/C6LC00448B

Open Access: Arrayed water-in-oil droplet bilayers for membrance transport analysis
R. Watanabe, N. Soga, M. Hara and H. Noji
Lab Chip, 2016,16, 3043-3048
DOI: 10.1039/C6LC00155F

Free* Access: Cell-on-hydrogel platform made of agar and alginate for rapid, low-cost, multidimensional test of antimicrobial susceptibility
Han Sun, Zhengzhi Liu, Chong Hu and Kangning Ren
Lab Chip, 2016,16, 3130-3138
DOI: 10.1039/C6LC00417B

Free Access*: One-step immunoassay of C-reactive protein using droplet microfluidics
Matthew Y. H. Tang and Ho Cheung Shum
Lab Chip, 2016, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C6LC01121G

*Access is free until 11 November 2016 via a registered RSC account.

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