Faculty Highlight – Jing Fan Receives NSF CAREER Award

by Yasin Usta

Dr. Jing Fan joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Grove School of Engineering in January 2016 after completing a postdoctoral appointment at Harvard University. There she worked on microfluidics for material production, multiphase flow in porous media, and topics related to the dynamics of complex fluids.

The Fan Lab on Complex Fluids and Soft Materials examines transport phenomena in a variety of porous media, ranging from subsurface environments to biological tissues, using microfluidics as an important tool. The lab aims to advance microfluidic technology and promote its application in the development of new materials and structures.

“I didn’t have a biomaterials background before I joined CCNY,” said Fan. “But I’ve been working on microfluidics and hydrogel-based functional materials for several years.”

Fan has received recognition for her research through several awards, most recently a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award for her project entitled: “Microfluidic development of dual-gel culture matrices for studying effects of interstitial flow on cellular behaviors.” The project aims to develop and use new dual-gel biomaterials to investigate the effects of interstitial flow on cellular behaviors.

“I had the idea of designing dual-gel cell culture matrices many years ago, but I didn’t have the opportunity to work on it,” said Fan. “Since I joined CCNY, I looked for collaborators, and fortunately I started working with Dr. Sihong Wang, and we’ve been working together on this study.”

 

“The proposed biomaterials may be readily adapted to study various cell types and biomedical processes,” said Fan. “Therefore, the outcomes will open up ample venues for future research to enable mechanistic understanding of those processes, and the insights gained will provide important inspirations for novel therapeutics. Relevant applications and research directions include tumor metastasis, angiogenesis, organism development, and drug delivery.”

 

Fan strongly believes that scholars will realize the importance of this new design of biomaterials and use this dual-gel system to study cellular behaviors. She expects to see more research groups utilize the approach and realize the potential of this new system.

The project will also initiate and organize educational outreach activities to improve mentoring quality for students and bring the science of soft matter and biotechnology to local communities.