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Benjamin Shapiro
Fischell Department of Bioengineering
Joint appointment with:
Institute for Systems Research
2246 Kim Building
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
Tel: (301) 405-4191
Fax: (301) 405-9953

Research Interests: Control Theory and Miniaturized Systems

I am primarily interested in research at the intersection of control theory and miniaturized systems in modeling, design, and control of micro- and nano-scale systems for applications in electronics, biology, and clinical practice. I focus on applications where control can dramatically improve or allow new system capabilities. My goal is to demonstrate the entire pathway from initial application choices, to system modeling, phrasing of application goals as tractable control problems, control algorithm development, and experimental validation. Thus my group combines theory, numerics, and experiments.

Miniaturized systems provide actuation and sensing capabilities on micro- and nano-meter scales: a length that is commensurate with the size of micro-organisms, viruses, and DNA/mRNA and which thus allows direct access to biological phenomena. Control theory provides methods which allow intelligent fusion of sensor and actuator capabilities to perform complex tasks in the presence of noise and uncertainty. The marriage between the two areas is natural: miniaturized systems allow tremendous actuation and sensing capabilities but they have to deal with uncertain and largely unknown environments; control theory provides tools to design sensor/actuator combinations that will perform complex, coordinated tasks, but it requires novel hardware that can implement such decisions. My group combines these two areas.

Major efforts include manipulation of objects, of non-motile and live swimming cells, single quantum dots,
and object orientations by flow control; control of therapeutic magnetic nano-particles in-vivo by precision control of magnetic fields (for targeting drugs to tumors, the inner ear, and other targets in the body); and spatial mapping of genes in human tissue sections (to visualize which genes are expressed where). Other projects include modeling and control of devices with electrically actuated surface tension, modeling of component filling in micro-fluidic networks with thousands of components, and modeling and optimization of bio-compatible conjugated polymer (conducting plastic) actuators.

If you are interested in working with me, please fill out the online application.  Please be sure to fill in all the requested fields (name, email, schools, GPA, GRE, TOEFL ). This information helps me judge whether you will be a good fit within my group. (If something doesn't apply, write N/A.)

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