Graduate Studies
Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering Programs Graduate Studies

The faculty in Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at RIT advise Ph.D. students in the Microsystems Engineering Program. The research directions in chemical engineering and biomedical engineering cover a broad range of topics, from fundamental chemical processes to the design of next generation biomedical devices.

To learn more about the research interests of the faculty, please visit our Research page.

More information about the Microsystems Engineering PhD program is available here.

Presented below are descriptions of current research project available for new Ph.D. students in the research labs of biomedical engineering and chemical engineering faculty at RIT.

Interested students should contact the professor responsible of the project

Thomas Gaborski Thomas Gaborski (PhD) 1 PhD opening

Exploring cellular interactions in co-culture microenvironments: We are currently seeking students who are excited about nanomaterials and cell biology. One of our active projects involves developing cell co-culture microarrays to investigate the interaction between cells in close proximity. These microarrays can be used as screens to study drug interactions, adult stem cell reprogramming and even fundamental questions of how cells communicate with one another. Students working on this project can focus on materials science including membrane scaffold fabrication. The supporting membrane will have tunable pore sizes, surface chemistry and even controlled degradation.

Behnaz Ghoraani Behnaz Ghoraani (PhD) 2 PhD openings

Atrial fibrillation (2 openings): Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained arrhythmia and is treated using Radiofrequency (RF) ablation to create multiple RF lesions to form lines of electrical block to disrupt arrhythmic wavefronts. However, there are several open questions and technology limitations to provide a successful and safe AF ablation. The following projects are designed to seek an answer to the different aspects of this problem: Project I: AF Mechanism; This project investigates merging anatomy and electrophysiology behaviour of atrium to understand AF phenomenon and refine existing AF ablation techniques. This combined strategy uses real-time and adaptive signal and image processing techniques to characterize the electrical properties of AF and infer anatomical properties of the cardiac substrate. Project II: Real time lesion evaluation system; In this project, imaging methods are investigated to map the atrial anatomy and also to determine the quality of RF ablation lesions that are delivered during an AF ablation. Project III: AF ablation safety; Catheter ablation of AF is mostly guided by x-ray fluoroscopy, and its long procedural time and high radiation exposure may cause radiation related risk for the patient and the operators. This project will focus on optical methods to track the catheter during the ablation procedure and preventing or reducing x-ray exposure during an AF ablation.

Blanca H. Lapizco-Encinas Blanca H. Lapizco-Encinas (PhD) 2 PhD openings

Advancing the development of insulator-based dielectrophoresis microdevices: Dielectrophoresis is an electrokinetic transport mechanism that is becoming increasingly important as a microscale bioanalytical method. Dielectrophoresis induces particle movement in the presence of a nonuniform electric field. This powerful microfluidics technique has been used to manipulate, concentrate, detect and sort a wide array of bioparticles: DNA, proteins, virus, bacteria, yeast, parasites and mammalian cells. In iDEP systems, insulating structures are employed to distort the distribution of an electric field inside a microchannel or chamber in order to induce particle movement. The present project will explore the following aspects: i) effect of insulator geometry on particle trapping, ii) effect on the shape of AC applied potentials on particle manipulation, iii) integration of multi-stage iDEP systems for the purification of complex mixtures of bioparticles and iv) development of specific applications with bioparticles, such as viability assessment and pathogen detection.

Patricia Taboada-Serrano Patricia Taboada-Serrano (PhD) 3 PhD openings

Towards a more realistic model of the electrical double layer (EDL) and EDL-interactions in colloidal systems (1 opening): Solid surfaces acquire charge in aquatic environments due to chemical charging mechanisms or applied electrostatic potentials. The surface charge gives rise to the formation of what is known as electrical double layer (EDL), and the overlap of EDLs generates electrostatic interactions. Electrochemical charge storage, coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, dispersion, flotation, emulsification, filtration, membrane separations, deposition, transport of colloidal particles and ionic species, and electro kinetic processes are governed by the structure of the EDL and EDL interactions. Classical models describing EDL formation and EDL interactions have several limitations. This project will combine molecular-scale modeling (Monte Carlo and Molecular Dynamics) with experimental techniques at different scales (Neutron imaging, microscopy and electrochemical analysis) in order to generate an improved meso-scale model of EDL and EDL interactions that can be readily applied in process design and particle transport studies.

Gas-hydrate formation, stability and dissociation in porous media (1 opening): Natural gas hydrates occur in continental shelves and permafrost regions. It is estimated that natural gas hydrates contain an equivalent energy larger than all the world’s other fossil fuel deposits combined. In the case of deposits associated with continental shelves, natural gas hydrates can be found disseminated within marine sediments. Production of natural gas from gas hydrates, understanding of gas hydrates role in the carbon cycle and climate change, and possible carbon sequestration in marine environments require full understanding of gas hydrate formation, stability and dissociation in sediments and soils. This project will address this challenge by combining experimental and modeling techniques to study: (1) thermodynamic equilibrium and stability of gas hydrates in sediments, (2) mechanisms of formation and dissociation of gas hydrates in sediments, (3) gas hydrate contribution to mechanical stability of sediments and soils.

Capacitive deionization for water treatment: from desalination to removal of radioactive materials (1 opening): Proper management of water resources that can ensure the future provision of clean water in a safe, inexpensive and energy-efficient manner constitutes one of the most important technological challenges today. In that regards, capacitive deionization (CDI), where an electric field is used as the means to remove ionic contaminants from water, is regarded as a promising water-treatment technology. This project focuses in addressing the two main challenges involved in making CDI a viable water treatment technology: (a) the design of specialized nano-structured materials to target the separation of specific ionic species based on their physicochemical properties; and (b) the in-depth understanding of the mechanisms governing the separation and removal processes at the nano-scale to attain full control of these processes, and, thus, to scale them to industrial settings.

Patricia Taboada-Serrano Patricia Taboada-Serrano (PhD)
Christiaan Richter Christiaan Richter (PhD)

2 PhD Openings

The formation mechanism of TiO2 nanotubes and its effect on material properties: After the discovery of anodic titania nanotubes just over a decade ago it was realized that TiO2 nanotube arrays have great potential to improve the efficiency of solar cells and batteries. It was thought that every one of the nanotubes in the densely packed nano-array could act as an efficient high speed “electron highway”. The result would be more than a billion directed electron pathways per square inch of solar cell or battery anode. In order to optimize the performance of TiO2 arrays, the mechanism of their formation has to be fully elucidated. This project aims to investigate in a systematic way how these nanotubes form and how their synthesis conditions translate into relevant material properties. Of particular interest to the solar industry is 1) how to enhance the nanotube growth rate and 2) how defects and impurities impact carrier mobility and lifetimes.