Professor Amy Shen joins OIST to Study Complex Fluids
Professor Amy Shen is joining OIST to head the Micro/Bio/Nano Fluidics Unit and will be on campus full-time in July. She will move to OIST from the University of Washington, where she is currently an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Professor Shen studies complex fluids, for example, salad dressing, sand, lava and blood. Understanding how these fluids behave and can be manipulated has the potential to lead to advances in various biomedical and energy-related fields such as drug screening and biofuels.
Prof. Shen received her Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Following a postdoctoral fellowship in Harvard’s Division of Engineering and Applied Science, she joined Washington University in St. Louis before moving to the University of Washington in Seattle.
At OIST, she plans to continue her research in complex fluids. A complex fluid is made up of subunits of many atoms or molecules. These subunits have the potential to organize under certain conditions, leading to unusual properties that are often between those of a liquid and a solid. An example of a complex fluid is liquid crystals, which are used in liquid-crystal display (LCD) technologies like televisions and smart phone screens. An important part of Prof. Shen’s research involves designing palm-sized microfluidic and nanofluidic devices. These devices are used to explore the mechanisms underlying the flow of complex fluids and for synthesizing nano- and micro-structured materials. She has created devices that can be used to encapsulate cells and provide controlled environments in which the properties of individual cells and cell-cell interactions may be easily studied.
Prof. Shen is excited about coming to OIST and the opportunities for scientific growth. She says, “since joining OIST, many faculty members have gone in new directions because of its unique cross-collaborative platform.” She is interested in various new fields, and in particular, has set her sights on the sea. Inspired by OIST’s island setting, she has already started looking at lipids produced by algae and their potential utility in sustainable energy applications and for producing biofuels. Prof. Shen said she is, “excited about working with brilliant colleagues and the beautiful island location.” Welcome Professor Shen!
By: Kathleen Estes