EECS Associate professor of electrical engineering and principal investigator in the Research Laboratory of Electronics, RLE, and the Microsystems Technology Laboratories, MTL, Joel Voldman was awarded the Young Innovator's Award -- for exceptional technical advancement and innovation early in his career -- at the 12th International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences, MicroTAS, sponsored by the American Chemical Society, ACS. Voldman is the first recipient of this award.
Voldman's research interests focus on microtechnology for cell sorting and stem cell biology, i.e., the application of Bio-MEMS to cellular systems. Using microfabrication technology to illuminate biological systems, Voldman and his group develop technologies that enhance or enable the acquisition of information from cells. Building on various disciplines including electrical engineering, microfabrication, bioengineering, surface science, fluid mechanics, mass transport (and more), Voldman and his colleagues have been recognized for the development of image-based sorting of cells, in which cells can be easily isolated on the basis of the phenotypes as seen by optical microscopy. See the MIT News Office Dec. 11, 2007 article "Laser beam 'fire hose' used to sort cells--Could enable new kinds of biological research."
Voldman is also noted in the ACS award announcement for the creation of devices that allow stem cells to be patterned on feeder cells, matrigel, or other arbitrary substrates. His team has established microfluidic perfusion to modulate diffusible signaling, which can help researchers understand the self-renewal and differentiation processes of stem cells. They have also studied fusion-mediated reprogramming of stem cells by large-scale microfluidic cell pairing.
Voldman received a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and went on to obtain an M.S. and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at MIT, where he developed bioMEMS for single-cell analysis. After a stint as a postdoctoral associate in George Church's lab at Harvard Medical School, Voldman returned to MIT in 2002 as an assistant professor in the electrical engineering and computer science department. In 2006, he was promoted to associate professor.