Small Is the New “Green”

Dr. Ling Huang (pronounced as “Juan” in Spanish) is the new faculty member in the department and the new “instrumentation guy”. He takes the torch from Dr. Dave Lloyd and now carries the title of “Director of Advanced Instrumentation”.  Dr. Huang currently directs himself and three floors of analytical instruments.  He is a bioanalytical chemist with training in making micro-scale devices for chemical and biological applications.

Before coming to Hofstra, Dr. Huang took a long path traveling east. He was born and grew up in Shanghai, the largest city in China. His interest in Chemistry started in a trip to his uncle’s clinical lab where he learned about acids/bases and pH test paper.  After graduating with a B.S. in Chemistry from Fudan University in 2001, he traveled half a globe to eventually complete an M.S. program in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Oklahoma.  He spent the next five years studying microfluidic bioanalytical chemistry at the University of Virginia, where he made DNA chemo-mechanical sensors using elastic silicone membranes and made glass microchips for protein analyses, before earning Ph.D. in Chemistry.

Dr. Huang’s passion in microfluidic research stems from multiple perspectives. With microdevice, less reagent  is used, hence less waste generated. For precious samples like purified protein, the handling in a micro-environment can preserve the sample and prevent loss of sample.  Unlike DNA, proteins cannot be amplified using techniques such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Consequently, the preservation during multiple purification steps is essential for obtaining enough protein sample for downstream analysis (e.g. crystallization, NMR, EPR studies). 

Microfluidic platforms can provide closed systems, important to forensic analyses where minimum sample contact is mandatory.  The possibility of integrating multiple analytical steps further reduces the size of instrumentation as well as the reagent consumption.  An additional  benefit is the acceleration of procedures such as PCR in a microdevice where higher surface area/volume ratio and better mixing promote biological reactions, which can speed up diagnostics with shrinking cost.  Micro-devices with micron-sized channels and chambers are also used to mimic biological environments such as soil matrices, blood vessels and tissue scaffolds.  Dr. Huang’s research goal focused on realizing full potential of microchips and providing new tools for chemists, biologists, physicians, and biomedical engineers.  

Dr. Huang also likes to use cooking as example in the teaching of chemical concepts. He believes a lot of the phenomena in society or in personal lives can be explained by chemistry. He enjoys the conversation with students and colleagues on the practical applications of chemistry in medicine, nutrition, new materials, environmental protection, chemical safety, and forensic sciences.  He loves to cook and his wife, Yan, loves to bake,  while applying chemistry in these fun activities.  One big draw for them to come to Long Island is the great food around here and in the City. At home, he also enjoys playing with his toddler daughter and cherish the precious “bonding” moments.