Our lab is multidisciplinary, highly collaborative, and encompasses engineering, materials, physics, chemistry, and biology. Our projects include basic soft matter science research as well as applied research. Affliated with the Center for Biofilm Engineering at Montana State University, the oldest and most well-established biofilm center in the world with over 25 years in existance, we have a large network of colleagues in both industry and academics. We are surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges and mountain activities (hiking, skiing, camping) are minutes away.

Fundamentally, we are very interested in interfacial properties of emulsions and are exploring the effect of various surfactants at the water-oil interface on their rheological properties. We are interested in understanding mass and energy transport within emulsions, such as how fluorescent dyes or molecules diffuse between drops, and how drops can remain stable to coalescence under temperature changes or centrifugal forces. 

Applications include quantification of viruses or competing viruses produced from single infected host cells (funded by DOD-DARPA), the study of hibernating bacterial cells that are dormant in biofilm populations (funded by NIH), high-throughput antibiotic screening of bacteria and bacterial biofilms, designing 3-dimensional gastric and human intestinal organoids-on-a-chip (funded by NIH), and building bacterial biofilms using colloidal engineering (funded by NSF EPSCoR and NSF CAREER). We are also interested in single cell genomics, which encompasses "omics" or next-generation sequencing of genomes, metabolites, and proteins in biology.

Our work involves drop-based microfluidics, a unique method that creates picoliter-sized, monodisperse emulsions in which we can encapsulate and assay single cells. We need a high-speed camera to view the drops being formed. Here are videos of some ways in which we can manipulate drops (these videos are slowed down by 1000). We aim to apply drop-based microfluidics for the high-throughput discovery and evolution of new biological species with exceptional properties.