Seminar Series – Hang Lu, Ph.D.

Hang Lu, Ph.D.

Date(s) - 12/06/2021
9:35 am - 10:30 am


Hang Lu, Ph.D.
Love Family Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Director of the Bioengineering Interdisciplinary Graduate Program
Georgia Institute of Technology

Title: Engineering Microsystems and Computational Pipelines to Understand the Brain

Abstract: My lab is interested in engineering micro systems and computational tools to address questions in systems neuroscience, developmental biology, and cell biology that are difficult to answer with conventional techniques. We are particularly interested in the questions of how the brain is assembled during development (and changes during aging) and information is processed by brain circuits. We work with a powerful genetic system – the free-living soil nematode C. elegans. In this talk, I will introduce two sets of powerful mathematical and physics-based tools accessible by engineers to accelerate the biological understanding. I will talk about two recent developments in discrete microfluidic systems exploiting multiphase and dynamical behavior of the fluids and microswimmers (i.e. C. elegans). By designing the microfluidic system cleverly using appropriately chosen dimensionless numbers, we can have exquisite control of the samples and experimental conditions. I will also talk about a powerful graph-theory-based framework to build probabilistic models of brain atlases. This machine-learning approach greatly reduces bias, enables automated and robust cell identification, and will enable a variety of applications including gene-expression analysis, whole-brain imaging, and connectomics.

Bio: Hang Lu is the Love Family Professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Director of the Interdisciplinary Bioengineering Program at Georgia Tech.  She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1998 with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering.  She obtained her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in 2003 from MIT.  Between 2003 and 2005, she was a postdoc at UCSF and the Rockefeller University in neuroscience.  She has been an assistant professor (2005-2010), associate professor (2010-2013), and professor (2013-present) of chemical & biomolecular engineering at Georgia Tech.

Her current research interests are in microfluidics, automation, quantitative imaging, data science, and their applications in neurobiology, cell biology, cancer, and biotechnology.  Her award and honors include the Pioneer of Miniaturization Lectureship, the ACS Analytical Chemistry Young Innovator Award, a National Science Foundation CAREER award, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship, a DuPont Young Professor Award, a DARPA Young Faculty Award, Council of Systems Biology in Boston (CSB2) Prize in Systems Biology, Georgia Tech Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, and Georgia Tech Outstanding PhD Thesis Advisor Award; she was also named an MIT Technology Review TR35 top innovator, and invited to give the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Van Ness Award Lectures in 2011, and the Saville Lecture at Princeton in 2013.  She is an elected fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), of Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), and of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). She is currently the associate director of the Southeast Center for Mathematics and Biology (SCMB) at Georgia Tech, supported by NSF and Simons Foundation.  Her lab’s work has been/is supported by >$37M ($17M to her lab) from US NSF, NIH, private foundations and others.