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Hi Reddit, I am Aaron Wheeler of the University of Toronto. Ask me anything about the study and application of fluid flow on devices with features in the micrometer length range!
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ACS AMA Hello Reddit, my name is Aaron Wheeler. I am Professor of Chemistry (with a cross-appointment in Biomedical Engineering) at the University of Toronto. I also serve as Associate Editor of Lab on a Chip, and am a recent recipient of the Pioneers of Miniaturisation award. I received my B.S. from Furman University in 1997, and Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2003. After a postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA, I began my faculty career at the University of Toronto in 2005. My research interests are in the area of microfluidics – the study (and application) of fluid flow on devices with features in the micrometer-length-range. The technology was popularized in the early 1990s for miniaturized chemical separations, but in the intervening years it has been applied to an incredible array of applications, ranging from genomics and synthesis to music and mazes. The international community of researchers who work in this area is large and diverse, including thousands of chemists, physicists, biologists, engineers, medical professionals, and more. Each year, I look forward to participating in international conferences such as MicroTAS – I am always amazed by the ever-growing list of applications for the technology. Like many of my colleagues in the microfluidics community, I am interested in building portable, hand-held analysis systems that may someday contribute to efficient, inexpensive healthcare delivery (see a short movie illustrating this idea). Portable diagnostics are particularly attractive in remote settings with limited resources, and in fact, my research group recently returned from a field trial of our technology in Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwest Kenya (see a short movie about the trip). These types of projects and goals are much larger than what one group (alone) can accomplish; thus, my team and I are proponents of the “maker,” “hacker,” and “open source” movements in scientific research (see our review in Analytical Chemistry about this idea). Well, Reddit, I look forward to our discussion. Ask me anything about microfluidics and related topics starting at 11am EST (8am PST, 4pm UTC).