Principle Investigator


Deependra Kumar Ban, PhD

Visiting Scientist

Ze Shi, PhD

Graduate Students

Nirav Patel/ PhD candidate, Bioengineering


PhD. Bioengineering, UCSD (current)

B.S. Bioengineering, UCSD


Atomic Force Microscopy, Oceanic Microbiology:

The biological activity of marine microbes constitutes a significant fraction in the cycling of essential nutrients throughout the global oceans.

Spatio-temporal variations in nutrient distribution in the surface waters influence the adaptive strategies that microbes employ for their energy requirements. My research focuses on the application of high-resolution atomic force microscopy to marine microbial ecology for elucidating microbial interactions with colloidal dissolved organic matter and their ecological context.

Qingqing Yang/ PhD candidate, Materials Science


PhD. Materials Science and Engineering, UCSD (current)

M.S. Materials Science and Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University

B.S. Materials Science and Engineering, Xi'an Jiao Tong University


Design and development of multifunctional AFM-array for structure–function imaging of live synaptic networks:

Coordinated activity of ion channels and receptors controls synaptic transmission underlying normal brain activity and pathologies, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson Diseases. Therefore, it is necessary to know how the molecular scale structures of proteins and protein complexes respond to external stimuli. Importantly, the activity of proteins at multiple locations along a signal transmission pathway needs to be studied simultaneously to better elucidate their role in in the brain functioning.

We are developing a new array-atomic force microscope (AFM-array) consisting of multifunctional cantilever array with independent sensors and actuators. The new AFM-array will enable 1) multipoint simultaneously imaging the synaptic network at the scales of its organization, namely, nano-to-macro scale, 2) measuring localized electrical and chemical activity, and 3) interfacing with animal and human subjects.

Juan Ybarra/ PhD student, Materials Science


PhD. Materials Science and Engineering UCSD (current)

B.S. Materials Science and Engineering, MIT


Alzheimer's Disease Biomarker Discovery

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the world’s leading cause of dementia and the most prevalent neurodegenerative disease. There is a growing consensus that three biomolecules in particular amyloid beta (Aβ), tau, and α-synuclein interact in some way towards the development of AD. The exact mechanism is unknown but variations in the concentrations of these molecules, or biomarkers, can be used to diagnose the disease. The largest hurdles for studying these biomarker concentrations are: 1) We have only been able to study the disease when late stage symptoms arise, making it difficult to determine how the disease develops. 2) Alzheimer’s disease multi-factorial character make it difficult to determine which molecule starts the chain reaction. 3)There can be order of magnitude differences in the concentrations of these molecules making it difficult to use common biological techniques for a comparative study of biomarkers associated with the disease.

We are developing a highly sensitive biosensor consisting of arrays of microresonators, each functionalized with a different antibody that can capture different forms of amyloid beta (Aβ), tau, and α-synuclein, embedded in a custom microfluidic flowcell. The thermal or forced vibration of these tiny cantilever beams is extremely sensitive to mass changes that arise from molecules binding to their surface. The sensor will: 1) Be highly sensitive (picomolar concentrations) allowing for earlier detection of subtle changes in brain chemistry, 2) Allow for multiple biomarker detection in a single experiment 3) Utilize a microfluidic device that can use small volumes and allow for sequentially introduction of biomarkers to the sensor surface so that no one biomarker’s presence is drowned out by a crowded field of molecules. We hope that this will help to determine how normal amyloid beta (Aβ), tau, and α-synuclein become toxic.

Grace Jang / PhD student, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


PhD candidate Mechanical Engineering, UCSD (current)

M.S. Mechanical Engineering, UCSD

B.S. Aerospace Engineering, UCSD


Design of the array-AFM holder to actuate each probes independently to study mechanical and electrical properties of the sample

Vrinda Sant / Graduate student, Materials Science and Engineering


PhD Student Materials Science & Engineering, UCSD (current)

B.S. Bioengineering, UCSD


Synthesis of magnetic nanocarriers for targetted drug delivery and design of in vitro assays to characterize their in vivo transport

Magnetic nanocarriers have multiple applications in drug delivery, for example, hyperthermia, controlled release, localization in target tissue and increased retention and increased uptake in endothelial cells. However, a multitude of factors and variables go into guiding nanocarriers with external magnetic fields. For delivery via systemic administration, nanocarriers not only have to be compatible with all the various tissues in the body, but also have to be able to overcome all physiological barriers. This calls for a systematic study of their transport under a magnetic field and fluid flow in various physical and chemical environments. I have been working on designing assays to conduct these studies.Over the course of many months, these assays have evolved into simple microfluidic systems interfaced with detection on an optical microscope.

Yushuang Liu / Visiting PhD student from Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, China


PhD Student, Life Science,Inner Mongolia Agrcultural University, China(current)

M.S. Life Science, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, China

B.S. Life Science, Chifeng University, China


We have developed bio-sensors consisting of a graphene field effect transistor (GFET) with a nanoscale layer of DNA nano-device. The current through the graphene shows a characteristic response to single nucleotide gene mutation (SNP). Our SNP sensing & signaling platform will facilitate the development of the miniaturized, implantable, digital, and wireless point-of-care biosensors for early detection & monitoring of life threatening human diseases. We are expanding our target bi-molecules into proteins, bacteria and others.

Abhijith Karkisaval / PhD student, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


PhD candidate Mechanical Engineering, UCSD (current)

M.S. Mechanical Engineering, UCSD

B.E. Mechanical Engineering, Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore


MEMS Biosensor: Mathematical modeling of electromechanical transduction process in resonant MEMS mass sensor. I am working on developing a Finite Element Model for understanding the resonant behavior of the MEMS biosensor.

Design, Analysis and optimization of diffration gratings used in MEMS biosensors: Understanding the process of light propagation through the diffraction grating and coupling to the waveguide modes using Rigorous Coupled Wave Analysis (RCWA).

Madhura Som, PhD Student, Nanoengineering


Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech), Heritage Institute of Technology, Kolkata, India, Applied Electronics & Instrumentation Engg (2011)

Master of Science (M.S.), Materials Science & Engineering, Stony Brook University, NY, USA (2013)

PhD Student, Department of Nanoengineering, UCSD


Design of novel hydrophobic drug delivery system for neuro-degenerative diseases

Putian He, Master's Student, Bioengineering


M.S. Bioengineering, UCSD (current)

Bachelor of Engineering (1st Hons), Imperial College London

Associateship of the City and Guilds of London Institute


Computational Fluid Dynamics

I am broadly interested in modelling, theory, and numerical simulations aspects of fluid mechanics, and also medical device engineering. Currently, I am learning and developing numerical recipes and codes from ground up to understand some interesting flow physics problems in engineering, environment and biology. The main problems I am working on are:

1) Fluid-structure interaction of swimming microorganism in complex fluids

2) Direct numerical simulation of quasi-geostrophic turbulence, and its influence on planktonic ecosystem dynamics in the ocean

Samantha Leong, Master's Student, Bioengineering


M.S. Bioengineering, UCSD (current)

B. Eng Biomedical Engineering, The Chinese University of Hong Kong


Design and fabrication of array-AFM for structure-function imaging of biological samples

Undergraduate Students

Parker Carbahan, Biology

I am working with Vrinda to design and optimize a magnetic nanoparticle for use in targeted drug delivery systems!

Aaron Tam, Bioengineering

Quynh Do, Bioengineering

Manuel Sobol, Mechanical Engineering, San Diego Mesa College

Nathan Pun, ChemE

Denny Nguyen, Chemistry

Diep Nguyen, BioChem

High School Students

Harish Srinivasan

Sasha Rashid

Dave Melkani