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The Washington Research Foundation Fellowship

James Wong, Bioengineering and Computer Science, 2010-11 WRFF/Space Grant

James Wong photoResearch has been a major component of my undergraduate education at the University of Washington. It has not only allowed me to creatively apply my knowledge from coursework but also taught me perseverance and resourcefulness. Oftentimes an obstacle in research can only be overcome after consulting one’s peers and delving deeper into literature. I first became involved in research the summer before my freshmen year. I worked in the Nonlinear Dynamics and Control Lab under Dr. Kristi Morgansen with a few graduate students. There, I learned control algorithms for autonomously controlling a trio of robotic fish. A year later, I became a member of Dr. Lutz and Dr. Yager’s microfluidics lab which focuses on the development of point-of-care diagnostics for developing countries. Since then, I have been constantly working with other lab members on projects aimed at finding new ways to lower the development costs of diagnostics. My research experience has greatly supplemented my undergraduate education and has been a prominent influence on my career goals. After graduation, I hope to develop novel solutions to medical problems and shortcomings.I am grateful to the Washington Research Foundation and to the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium for supporting my education and research.

Mentor: Barry Lutz, Bioengineering

Project Title: Microfluidic Steady Streaming to Reduce Diffusion Limitations and Accelerate Chemical Reactions and Bioassay Binding

Abstract: Diffusion limitations are a barrier towards designing effective point-of-care diagnostics and performing accurate kinetic measurements, two crucial areas of research. Point-of-care diagnostics plays a key role in developing countries by alerting clinicians when patients need medical attention, providing crucial data for global health initiatives to deal with infectious diseases, and maintaining sterile blood banks. Improving global health requires accurate diagnostics while meeting economical constraints. In developing countries, where resources are scarce, samples must be used economically and processed efficiently. Accurate kinetic measurements also are needed for scientists and engineers who need to manipulate specific chemistries for their experiments and applications. In an effort to create a microfluidic device to satiate these needs, this project will demonstrate the applicability of steady streaming to enhance mixing at reaction sites. Despite previous attempts to enhance mixing at reaction surfaces and to eliminate diffusion complications, these problems still persist for most reactions and bioassays which significantly slow down the reaction rate. Recently, steady streaming methods have been successfully applied in microfluidics to generate microeddies, or microscale whirlpools, which are favorable for mixing and will thus be explored. This project consists of three phases: (1) a setup and microfluidic device design for controlling the characteristics of the eddies in the microfluidic device will be developed, (2) quantitative evaluation of the steady streaming device will be performed with chronoamperometry and sets of optimal steady streaming parameters for enhanced mixing will be finalized, and (3) mixing enhancement using these finalized designs will be quantitatively demonstrated for well-characterized and diffusion limited reactions monitored using surface plasmon resonance imaging. The outcome of the project will be a microfluidic device utilizing steady streaming that is optimized (1) to accelerate the binding rates of bioassays and (2) to improve the instrumentation for accurate kinetic rate measurements.