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Joseph Black Award 2012 Winner


Professor Aaron Wheeler
Professor Aaron Wheeler
University of Toronto

For his pioneering work developing microfluidic techniques for clinical sample analysis.


About the Winner


Aaron Wheeler completed his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 2003, working with Dick Zare at Stanford University. He then spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA working with Robin Garrell (Chemistry and Biochemistry), Chang-Jin Kim (Mechanical Engineering), and Joe Loo (Biological Chemistry).

In 2005, Wheeler became the Canada Research Chair of Bioanalytical Chemistry at the University of Toronto. In the past seven years, Wheeler has established himself as a leading figure in the international lab-on-a-chip community (a large and diverse collection of scientists, engineers, clinicians, and others).

Wheeler is known in particular to be a champion for the technique called "digital microfluidics."  In digital microfluidics, electrostatic forces are used to actuate discrete liquid droplets across an array of electrodes coated with a hydrophobic insulator. This technique is surging in popularity (partly as a result of Wheeler's advocacy) for a number of well-documented reasons. For example, digital microfluidics facilitates individual control of an array of reagents on devices with no moving parts or complex plumbing elements. In addition, the technique is well suited for control of solids relative to liquids with no risk of clogging. Furthermore, the technique is compatible with a wide range of volumes, making it useful for microliter-milliliter-volume sample processing as well as for picoliter-nanoliter-scale analysis. Wheeler and his research group at the University of Toronto are currently applying this technique to solve problems in chemistry, biology, and medicine.

Related Links

Link icon Wheeler Microfludics Laboratory
Professor Wheeler's Research Group


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