Personnel

 
PersonnelAlumni Graduate StudentsRecent Senior Design Projects

Principal Investigator

Bruce Gale
Professor & Chair Mechanical Engineering
Director, Center of Excellence for Biomedical Microfluidics
Office: 3711 SMBB/1580 MEK
E-mail: gale@mech.utah.edu
Phone: (801) 585-5944
Google Scholar Citations

Senior Researchers

Himanshu Sant - Research Assistant Professor

Research Areas:
Pathogen detection, exosome separations, and miniature medical devices
Raheel Samuel - Post doctoral Researcher

Research Areas:
Sperm separations and processing, zebrafish embryo genotyping, and collaborative research with Andrology

Graduate Students

Mike Beeman - Ph.D. Student
Research Area: My work focuses on two distinct projects: pathogen detection using electrochemistry and glass nano-pores. Bacteria Detection: This project focuses on the use of electrochemical signal processing to detect pathogens in liquid and solid food sources. The project is done in collaboration with the United States Army and with the Salt Lake-based company Espira. Glass Nano-pore Reduction: I also work on a project researching deposition techniques to reduce the pore diameter of glass nano-pores. The project is in conjunction with Electronic Bioscience Inc.
Josh Burton - Ph.D. Candidate
Research Area: Vascular Coupling Device and Nerve Conduit device
Marzieh Chaharlang - Ph.D. Candidate
Research Area: Design and development of new microfluidic platforms for medical applications, investigation of the fundamental mechanism for inertial focusing and expanding its application on bio-particle filtration, Computational Modeling of bio-particles
(Marzieh on LinkedIn)
Brett Davis - Ph.D. Candidate
Research area: Nerve Regerneration Devices

Haidong Feng - Ph.D. Candidate
Research Area: Microfluidics device for medical care and biological application.

Alex Jafek - Ph.D. Candidate
Research Areas: I work on a sperm isolation project that will significantly reduce strain on the medical technicians required to extract sperm from testicular tissue. I also work on a rapid microfluidic PCR project that will provide repeatable, controllable, and marketable instrumentation for the fastest PCR ever demonstrated.
Chris Lambert - Ph.D. Candidate
Research Area: Funded by the Department of Defense, my specific research aim is to develop an electrochemical method and assay for the detection of viruses in water and food samples. This research is part of a multi-pathogen detection platform directed by the talented Dr. Himanshu Sant. We are passionate about providing innovative solutions to this highly challenging and high impact worldwide issue.
(Chris on Linkedin)

Greg Liddiard - Ph.D. Candidate
Research Area: Developing multi-layer polymer-based fluidic control structures for low cost and simple integration intomicrofluidic lab-on- a-chip systems. These include pneumatically-backed electrostatic microvalves as well as necessary microinfrastructure devices such as micro pressure amplifiers and regulators. Also developing active geometry garments for prevention and elimination of pressure ulcers in immobilized individuals.
Jesus Muguruza
Research Area: I work with the Microfluidic Flow Cell Array (MFCA). The MFCA is a High troughput microfluidic system that allows for the parallel testing of different compounds via continuous flow. This system can be used to test 2D (single cell cultures) and 3D (frozen/alive cryo sectioned tissue slices, organoids) models that are more physiologically accurate than existing models. This system aims to improve the “weeding out” of candidates in the early stages of the drug development process. Thus, saving time and expensive resources.

Matt Nelson - Ph.D. Student
Research Area: Biomedical engineering, focusing on organs-on-chips, which are microengineered biomimetic systems capable of recapitulating key functional units of human organs within microfluidic channels. Specifically, I am interested in creating these models with additive manufacturing to circumvent scale-up issues with PDMS and to allow for more sophisticated device architectures.

Ugochuckwu Nze - Ph.D. Candidate
Research area: Pathogen detection project. My project aims to develop an ultra sensitive device that is capable of detecting pathogens in water, food, and other media.

Valentin Romanov - Ph.D.
Candidate
Research Area: Microfluidically assisted synthesis of biologically relevant nanoscale liposomes.
Utpal Saha - Ph.D. Student (ECE)
Research Area: Nano-particle separation using spiral channel microfluidics (inertial microfluidics), Field-Flow-Fractionation (FFF) and SPLITT techniques. Focus is to separate exosome and oncosome using spiral channels by designing and fabricating appropriate channels (channel dimensions, radius of curvature) as well as controlling experimental parameters (flow rate etc.) that would yield maximum separation efficiency.
(Utpal on LinkedIn)

Farhad Shiri - Ph.D. Candidate
Research Areas: My work focuses on two projects: 1. separation of virus like particles; 2. Characterization, purification and sorting of exosomes and oncosomes.
Brady Goenner
Research Area: I work with developing low cost manufacturing of microfluidic devices using laminates and 3D printing using pneumatically actuated microvalves to be used in high throughput parallel biological test system that can be used for studies to understand interactions between different biomolecules.

John Nelson - M.S. Student
Research Area: My work focuses on the design and development of biomedical devices. I am currently assisting in the development of an arterial coupler to be used as an alternative to hand-suturing for microvasculature. Specifically, I am contributing to simulations and device optimization.
Sabin Nepal - M.S. Student
Research Area: My interest lies in the design and development of commercially viable biomedical devices, and currently, I am assisting in the testing and optimization of the microfluidic device for sperm cells separation from samples with high concentration of WBCs.
 NameThesis TopicDegreeDept.Defense Date
1Nithin NarayanMicroscale SPLITT FractionationMSMEAug 2004
2Aju BadardeenOxygen Sensing Using Electrostatic Layer by layer AssemblyMSMEDec 2004
3David Chang-yenDesign of Microscale Fluidic Sensing ArraysPhDMEApr 2005
4Ameya KantakMicroscale Cyclical Electrical Field Flow FractionationPhDMEJul 2005
5Rajesh GopalakrishnanNanoassembled Glucose SensingMSECENov 2005
6Siddharth ChakravarthyPolymerized Liposome Analysis with FFFMS MEDec 2005
7Ryan SincicDNA Extraction from Cancer CellsMSBioenMay 2006
8Casey PehrsonMicroneedle ArraysMSMEMay 2006
9Josh EckmanMicrofluidic Spotter DesignMSMEDec 2006
10John MaxwellIntegrated Electronics and PneumaticsMSMEAug 2007
11Tammy HoA Novel Paraffin-Based MicroactuatorMSBioenDec 2007
12Sriram NatarajanHigh Density Biomolecule Spotting SystemsPhDChemEApr 2008
13Niel CrewsUltra High Speed DNA AnalysisPhDMEMay 2008
14Himanshu SantMicroscale Field flow FractionationPhDBioenJun 2008
15Mark EddingsIntegrated Biomolecule Spotting SystemsPhDBioenAug 2008
16Jungkyu KimIntegrated High Desity DNA Extraction and AnalysisPhDBioenSep 2008
17Clint HolteyMicrovalves Integrated into Printed Circuit BoardsMSMEDec 2008
18Merugu SrinivasModeling of Cyclical Electrical Field Flow FractionationPhDECEApr 2009
19Rahul SonkulHybrid PDMS/PMMA Microfluidic SystemsMSMEMay 2009
20Rajesh SurapaneniDNA ExtractionMSMEDec 2009
21Rohit SharmaReal Time DNA Extraction MeasurementMSMEDec 2009
22Venu ArremsettyMicroscale Flow SPLITT SystemMSMEMay 2010
23Austin WelbornModeling of microfluidic eye implantsMSMEAug 2010
24Scott SundbergHigh density arrays for Homogenous RT-PCRPhDBioenDec 2010
25Doug AnjewierdenElectrostatic Integrated Valves for MicrofluidicsMSMEMay 2011
26Keng-Min LinA Novel Drug Delivery Device for the EyeMSMEMay 2011
27Erik LiddiardMicrofluidic Worm SortingMSBioenAug 2011
28Victoria RagsdaleHeat Transfer Analysis of Polymers for Flow PCRMSMEDec 2011
29Cody GehrkeVascular Coupling DeviceMSMEMay 2012
30Onur TasciNanoparticle Characterization using Electrical FFFPhDBioenMay 2013
31BJ MinsonPolycarbonate Microfluidic DNA Analysis SystemsMSMEMay 2013
32Nathan Gooch (co)Intraocular Drug Delivery DevicePhDBioenMay 2013
33Michael JohnsonMicrofluidic Systems for Rapid Biological AssaysPhDME Aug 2013
34Raheel SamuelMicrofluidic Systems for NeurotechnologyPhDME Apr 2014
35Keng Min LinMiniature Drug Delivery DevicesPhDME Apr 2014
36Harikrishnan JayamohanNanoscale Bacteria Sensing SystemsPhDME May 2015
37Huizhong LiA Vascular Coupling DevicePhDME May 2015
38Scott HoManufacture of Nerve Regeneration DevicesMSME Jun 2015
39Russ ReidContact Lens Biofuel CellPhDME Dec 2015
40Jiyoung SonMicrofluidic Cell SeparationsPhDECEMay 2017
41Pratima LabrooNerve Regeneration DevicesPhDME May 2017
42Ryan BrewsterPLGA Vessel AnastomosisMSME May 2017
43Kevin PetersenExosome SeparationsPhDME May 2018
44Arlen ChungZebrafish Genotyping Chip OptimizationMSMEMay 2018
SPRING 2019
“The Zipper” Zebrafish Dispenser – Medical researchers have requested a device to increase the time efficiency of transferring zebrafish from a petri dish to individual wells. Currently researchers use 5mL disposable pipettes to individually “hunt” down zebrafish and transfer each one to their assigned well; which is time and labor intensive. The goal for this project is to design a fully automated device that is able to dispense zebrafish individually from a large group of fish. The dispensing device dispenses embryos using a syringe pump and a photo sensor to sense fish passing through the dispensing channel.  (“The Zipper” Zebrafish Dispenser Poster)
  • Team: Dan Lee, Hanna Nizam, Brett Reeder (lead)
  • Advisor: Dr. Bruce Gale

Fall 2018
96 Channel Pump Array: Development of new biologic therapies can cost, on average, $2.6 billion, can take 10 years for development, and many do not even make it through clinical trials to market. Carterra hopes to significantly reduce cost and time while increasing success rates with a new testing procedure that would develop a database of effects between antibodies and antigens for pharmaceutical research. This procedure would make use of microfluidic technology developed at the University of Utah. Current technology can handle 96 samples at a single time; however, because the device can handle so many samples, the company and microfluids lab require a cost-effective pumping solution for their device. In addition to a low cost, the pump needs to produce flow rates between 5-200 µL/min with very little pressure noise. Our group developed a novel solution we call the Constant Contact peristaltic Pump (or CCPP). The CCPP smashes medical tubing between rollers to produce flow. By innovating on current pumping solutions, we have made high volume microfluid pumping cheaper and more effective than similar products on the market today. (96 Channel Pump Array Poster)
  • Team: Joseph blash, Brian Lee, Joseph Blash, Connor Wade (lead)
  • Advisors: Dr. Bruce Gale, Brady Goenner

Biomedical Device Development for Andology Clinics: One in six couples of reproductive age worldwide are affected by some form of infertility.  Procedures to initiate pregnancy such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro insemination (IVF) require several semen preparation steps. These current techniques are time consuming, expensive, may lose viable sperm, may cause damage to sperm, and involve human interaction steps that can lead to error. The collection of these problems drives a demand for a solution of a faster, simpler, and gentler technique that allows for a higher recovery of quality sperm.
The Microfluidics Lab at the University of Utah has developed a microfluidic chip that separates particulates in micro-channels which can be used for separating sperm from semen and can do so much faster than current techniques. The goal of this project is to develop a device that that will implement this new technology and automate the multi-step semen separation process, preparing semen samples for intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization. (Biomedical Device Development for Andology Clinics Poster)
  • Team: Dan Folsom (lead), Cameron Hendricks, Jaron Ortega, Mitch Shepherd, Trevor Teerlink
  • Advisor: Dr. Bruce Gale

SPRING 2017
Affordable Insulin Pump: To maintain their health and current lifestyle, people with Type I Diabetes use an insulin pump to control and maintain their blood sugar throughout the day. Our team has been working on making an insulin pump that is less expensive than the current model, but just as safe and accurate at delivering insulin to the patient. We accomplished this by designing a kit assembly model that will be more affordable, customizable, and allow for individual part replacement. Patients will no longer need to replace the entire pump if one part fails. (Affordable Insulin Pump Poster)
  • Team: Cherry Gregory, Young-Jun Jeon, Joshua Stubbs, McKayla Whitehead (lead)
  • Advisor: Dr. Bruce Gale
 
Automated Stem Cell Separation: The Automated Stem Cell Separator group developed a mechanical device for separating stem cell from human adipose (fat) cells so that the stem cells can then be used for medical treatment and reintroduced to the same patient. A mechanical approach was used to meet FDA regulations. Specifically, a fluid cavitation process, which creates small shockwaves resulting from a swift change in pressure within the device, was used to break apart the adipose tissue and detach the cells from the surrounding fat. Multiple designs of the device were fabricated and tested to determine an optimal design that could be incorporated into a full system that separates the stem cells for subsequent reintroduction into the patient. (Automated Stem Cell Separation Poster)
  • Team: Travis Gowen, Joelle Hardy, Nelson Nieto, Brianna Potter, Megan Roach (lead)
  • Advisors: Drs. Bruce Gale, Himanshu Sant


SPRING 2016

96 Channel Microfluidic Pump: Wasatch Microfluidics needs to replace their microfluidic pump system. The 96 Channel Pump Team plans to develop a simplified multi-channel pump designed to address the customer’s needs. To overcome the deficiencies of the existing design, the designed device will include a simplified pump system, material that is compatible with the fluids to be pumped, and a storage location for the fluid. The pump will use the precious fluid instead of air as the driving fluid, thus increasing volumetric flow accuracy. The designed pump system will consist of 96 channels that will be able to aspirate or dispense simultaneously.  Wasatch Microfluidics needs a single, compact, relatively inexpensive, non-contaminating, highly accurate pump system capable of pumping 96 samples simultaneously. (96 Channel Microfluidic Pump poster)
  • Team: Brian Butler, Rodolfo Garcia, Tanner Hatch (lead), Bryan Luke
  • Advisor: Dr. Bruce Gale

Automated Stem Cell Separation: The function of the Automated Stem Cell Separator(ASCS) is to remove the Stromal Vascular Fraction(SVF) from harvested adipose tissue. The ASCS is a completely mechanical device that creates a pressure drop to induce hydrodynamic cavitation which breaks down the adipose tissue structure allowing for the separation of the SVF. (Automated Stem Cell Separation poster)
  • Team: Anthony Berceau, Tyler Crouse, Justin Fawson (lead), Jesse Hanson, Zachary kelly, Agustus Schwab
  • Advisor: Dr. Himanshu Sant

Inflatable Shorts: For many quadriplegics and paraplegics bedsores, also known as pressure sores are a serious threat to overall health and quality of life. Bedsores are the breakdown of skin and underlying tissue due to prolonged pressure on a concentrated point. Bedsores are most often developed around Ischial and hip bones. In current hospital settings solutions to mitigating the development of bed sores are limited to specialty beds that alternate inflatable sections to increase surface area and reduce overall pressure experienced by the individual. For those in wheel chairs there are some fairly effectively bedsore mitigation devices, however, they are limited to a sit-in cushion design and are extremely costly. The inflatable shorts team goal is to develop a wearable pair of shorts that will mitigate the development of bedsores wherever the patient is sitting. (Inflatable Shorts poster)
  • Team: Sean Jones, Shem Lemmon, Grant Mendenhall, Michael Pfeil, Alex Zvirzdin (lead)
  • Advisor: Dr. Himanshu Sant

Rising Toilet Seat: Many elderly and persons with disabilities struggle to get on and off the toilet by themselves forcing them to give up their independence and move to care facilities. There are currently passive devices such as toilet seat boosters and handrails that provide assistance with this task, but they are often inadequate. Several active lifting devices are available, but these devices are electric powered, which requires the user to run a power cord through the bathroom, because outlets are typically not located near the toilet. Another drawback is that these devices are too wide for many residential bathrooms therefore requiring renovation to install. The Rising Toilet Seat Team is addressing these problems by creating a hydraulic powered lift device. The device mounts in place of the toilet seat and uses the existing toilet water supply line for power. The water usage is small and the water is drained into the toilet tank so that it can be later used for flushing. No power outlet is required and the device is small enough to fit in the majority of bathrooms without any renovation. (Rising Toilet Seat poster)
  • Team: Khoa Dinh, Jose Garcia, Cody Mitchell (lead), Brandon Wilstead
  • Advisors: Drs. Bala Ambati, Bruce Gale


SPRING 2015

BIO-SENSING CHIP: The Bio-Sensing Chip is an early-warning system designed to detect diseases in the initial stages. The device is a proof of concept project that might eventually be implanted into the human body to alert the patient to seek medical attention before the disease fully develops. It detects disease by identifying biomarkers that become present in the bloodstream as a result of a disease. Biomarkers are biological responses to disease, infection, and other phenomena. The quantity of biomarkers in a person’s body relate to the advancement of the disease. Additionally, the Bio-Sensing Chip can detect biomarkers by chemically attaching them to microspheres. The quantity of these microspheres can be measured and correlated to the stage of a disease. The user of the device can then be alerted to the presence of the disease and seek further medical care. (Bio-Sensing Chip Poster)
  • Team: Rachel Ware (lead), Sarah Bentley, Jaron Peck, Parker Vance
  • Advisor: Dr. Bruce Gale


SPRING 2013

Mechanical Leech: The Mechanical Leech will be a drop-in replacement for biological leeches, providing the necessary fluid removal that is needed during post-surgical skin graft treatment.  Live leeches are currently used during post-surgical skin graft procedures to remove pooling blood at the surgical sites. This gives the body time to form new veins to handle the return blood flow. These biological leeches have drawbacks such as sanitation and patient appeal, which will be resolved using the Mechanical Leech that is an aesthetically pleasing, sterilizable replacement.
  • Team: Andy Thompson (lead), Jessica Kuhlman, Ladan Jiracek, Scott Ho, and Victor Walker
  • Advisor: Bruce Gale, Ph.D.