SOMMeRS: Southern Ontario Medical MicroRobotics Symposium

Tuesday, July 11, 2023 8:30 am - 6:00 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)
SOMMeRs event banner

We are pleased to announce the SOMMeRS 2023: Southern Ontario Medical MicroRobotics Symposium on Tuesday, July 11, 2023, from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST on the Waterloo campus. Registration is required, but available free of charge for in-person participation. 

SOMMeRS is a celebration of over 20 years of medical microrobotics research with pioneers in the field. The symposium will shine a spotlight on the growing multidisciplinary field of medical nano/microrobotics in our community at Waterloo and neighbouring cities in Southern Ontario. This is a great opportunity for active researchers in microrobotics and related topics to connect and share their progress and challenges.   

Nano/microrobotics is an emerging multidisciplinary field that brings together different disciplines of science, engineering, and medicine with the goal of revolutionizing medical interventions such as noninvasive surgery, targeted drug and cell delivery and diagnostics.

Graduate students and postdocs: present your work during the poster session with a chance to win a poster prize, kindly sponsored by Wiley’s Advanced Intelligent Systems!

Register now

Contact SOMMeRS organizers Veronika Magdanz and Hamed Shahsavan with questions.

Time (Eastern Standard Time (EST) UTC−05:00) Session
8:30 a.m. Registration 

9:00 - 9:45 a.m.

Microbots Go In-Vivo: From Test Tubes to Live Animals

Plenary speaker: Dr. Joseph WangDistinguished Professor, Department of Nanoengineering | University of California San Diego

Dr. Wang will be recognized for his career achievements

9:45 - 10:15 a.m.

Targeting the right target for cancer fighting nanorobots

Keynote speaker: Dr. Sylvain Martel, Professor, Department of Computer and Software Engineering | Polytechnique Montréal

10:15 - 10:30 a.m. Break
10:30 - 10:50 a.m.

Mechanical nanosurgery of chemoresistant glioblastoma using magnetically controlled carbon nanotubes

Invited speaker: Dr. Xian Wang, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering | Queen's University 

10:50 - 11:10 a.m.

How large does active matter have to be to be smart?

Invited speaker: Dr. Juliane Simmchen, Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry | Strathclyde University, Scotland 

11:10 - 11:30 a.m.

New Catalysts Design for Nanomotors 

Invited speaker: Dr. Il-Doo KimProfessor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering | Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST)

 11:30 a.m. - 11:50 a.m.

Micro-Scale Surgery: Magnetic Robots in the Gut and Brain

Invited speaker: Dr. Eric Diller, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering | University of Toronto

11:50 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Lunch
12:45 - 1:15 p.m.

Smart 3D Microtechnologies for Biology and Human Health

Keynote speaker: Dr. David Gracias, Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering | Johns Hopkins University 

1:15 - 1:35 p.m.

Miniaturized Robots: from Chemical to Biological Engineering

Invited speaker: Dr. Jinxing Li, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering | Michigan State University 

1:35 - 1:55 p.m.

Protein-inspired materials in small-scale robotics 

Invited speaker: Dr. Abdon Pena-Francesch, Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering | University of Michigan 

1:55 - 2:25 p.m.

Enzyme-powered nanomotors crossing biological barriers in vivo

Keynote speaker: Dr. Samuel Sánchez Ordóñez, ICREA Professor, Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia | The Barcelona Institute for Science and Technology

2:25 - 2:40 p.m. Break
2:40 - 3:00 p.m.

Soft Robotics for Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer

Invited speaker: Dr. Onaizah Onaizah, Assistant Professor, Department of Computing and Software | McMaster University 

3:00 - 3:20 p.m.

Building a Better Interface: Engineering the Nano-Bio Interaction for Biomedical Applications

Invited speaker: Dr. Zeinab Jahed, Department of Nanoengineering University of California San Diego

3:20 - 3:30 p.m.

Smart Materials for Microrobotics

Flash talk speaker: DrHamed Shahsavan, Department of Chemical Engineering University of Waterloo

3:30 - 3:40 p.m.

Novel Hydrogel Microneedle Assays for Health Tracking

Flash talk speaker: DrMahla Poudineh, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering University of Waterloo

3:40 - 3:50 p.m.

Ultrasonics: Opportunities for Building Synergy with Microrobotics

Flash talk speaker: DrAlfred Yu, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering University of Waterloo

3:50 - 4:00 p.m.

Bioinspired and biotemplated microrobots

Flash talk speaker: DrVeronika Magdanz, Department of Systems Design Engineering University of Waterloo

4:00 - 4:10 p.m.

Magnetically levitated mirorobots for micromanipulation and biomedical applications

Flash talk speaker: DrBehrad Khamesee, Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering University of Waterloo

4:10 - 5:00 p.m. Poster session and networking 
5:00 - 5:15 p.m. Poster awards and closing 
5:10 - 6:00 p.m. Campus and lab tours


Plenary Speaker

Dr. Joseph Wang 

Distinguished Professor, Department of Nanoengineering | University of California San Diego

Dr. Joseph Wang is Distinguished Professor, SAIC Endowed Chair, and former Chair of the Department of Nanoengineering at University of California, San Diego (UCSD). He is also the Director of the UCSD Center of Wearable Sensors.  His scientific interests are concentrated in the areas of bioelectronics, wearable devices, biosensors, bionanotechnology, nanomachines and microrobots, flexible materials, and electroanalytical chemistry. Prof. Wang has published more than 1200 papers, 11 books and he holds 30 patents (H Index=194, >150,000 citations). Wang is a member of the US National Academy of Inventors and Honorary member of the Turkish National Academy of Science. He received 2 American Chemical Society National Awards in 1999 (Instrumentation) and 2006 (Electrochemistry), ECS Sensor Achievement Award (2018), the IUPAC Analytical Chemistry Medal (2021), IEEE Sensors Achievement Award (2021), the Pittcon Award for Bioanalytical Chemistry (2023), Spiers Memorial Award (2013), the Breyer and Heyrovsky Medals from Australia and Czech Republic, respectively, the Talanta Medal (Elsevier), Spiers RSC Medal (UK), and 8 Honorary Professors from Spain, Argentina, Czech Republic, Romania, China and Slovenia. Prof. Wang has been the Founding Editor of Electroanalysis (Wiley), is RSC, ECS and AIMBE Fellow and a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher (2015-2022).

Joe Wang

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Sylvain Martel

Professor, Department of Computer and Software Engineering | Polytechnique Montréal

Dr. Sylvain Martel is Director of the Nanorobotics Laboratory and Professor in the Department of Computer and Software Engineering and the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Polytechnique Montréal, Campus of the University of Montréal, as well as Adjunct Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at McGill University.  He holds the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Medical Nanorobotics, acted as Chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Micro- Nanorobotics and Automation, and he is Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, Fellow Engineers Canada as well as IEEE Fellow. He received many awards mostly in interdisciplinary research. While at the Department of Electrical Engineering and the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at McGill University and later in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) prior to join Polytechnique Montréal, he developed several biomedical technologies including platforms for remote surgeries, cardiac mapping systems, and new types of brain implants for decoding neuronal activities in the motor cortex. Dr. Martel’s interdisciplinary research group is credited for the first demonstration of the controlled navigation of an untethered object in the blood vessel of a living animal. Since 2001, Prof. Martel’s research focus on developing new technologies for cancer therapy that enable the delivery of therapeutics directly to active cancer cells to maximize the therapeutic outcomes while minimizing toxicity for the patients. Prof. Martel is recognized worldwide as a pioneered and leading authority in the development of navigable therapeutic agents and novel interventional platforms for cancer therapy.

Sylvain Martel

Dr. David Gracias

Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering | Johns Hopkins University 

Dr. David Gracias is a Professor at the Johns Hopkins University with a primary appointment in the Whiting School of Engineering and secondary appointments in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Prof. Gracias received his PhD from UC Berkeley and did post-doctoral research at Harvard University prior to starting his independent laboratory. He has made pioneering contributions to micro and nanotechnology as described in over 200 technical publications, including several in high impact journals such as Science. He is also a prolific inventor and holds 36 issued US patents, with notable inventions on microchip integration, self-folding polyhedra, integrated biosensors, programmable soft-robots and untethered microgrippers. He is an elected Fellow of diverse international scientific and engineering societies, including AAAS, IEEE, APS, RSC, and AIMBE.

David Gracias

Dr. Samuel Sánchez Ordóñez

ICREA Professor, Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia | The Barcelona Institute for Science and Technology

Dr. Samuel Sánchez Ordóñez obtained his PhD in Chemistry at Autonomous University of Barcelona in 2008.

Currently, he is ICREA Research Professor, Group Leader and Deputy Director at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia. Before that, he worked at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems Stuttgart, at the Institute for Integrative Nanosciences at IFW Dresden, Germany, and at MANA-NIMS in Japan. He is honorary adjunct Professor at POSTECH University in South Korea.

Samuel received several awards (among others): The MIT TR35 Top Innovator Under 35 Spain 2014, Guinness World Records in 2010 and 2017, the Princess of Girona Scientific Award 2015 and the National Research Award for Young Talent 2016 by the Catalan Research Foundation, the “Scientific Excellence award 2022” from the Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry, the Banco Sabadell Foundation award for “Basic Science and Engineering award” 2022. He is elected member of the Young Academy of Spain since 2020.

He received the prestigious ERC-Starting grant in 2013 and the ERC-Consolidator Grant in 2019, together with two ERC Proof of concept grants. Besides extensive public funding (>8Mi€), he has had 4 cooperation agreements with the Private sector and hospitals. He has published >160 papers with h-index of 69 and filed 7 patents one of them to be licensed to the spin off Nanobots Therapeutics of which he is co-founder.

His group’s main interests are new types of advanced robotics from nano- to mesoscale, including self-propelled nanoparticles as intelligent vehicles in biomedicine to the 3D Bioengineering of biohybrid robots and actuators.

Samuel Sanchez

Invited Speakers

Dr. Eric Diller

Micro-Scale Surgery: Magnetic Robots in the Gut and Brain

Dr. Eric Diller received the B.S. and M.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Case Western Reserve University in 2010 and the Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 2013. He is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and the Robotics Institute at the University of Toronto, where he is director of the Microrobotics Laboratory. His research interests include micro-scale robotics, and features fabrication and control relating to remote actuation of micro-scale devices using magnetic fields, micro-scale robotic manipulation, and smart materials. He is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Micro-Bio Robotics, and received the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society 2020 Early Career Award. He has also received the 2018 Ontario Early Researcher Award, the University of Toronto Innovation Award, and the Canadian Society of Mechanical Engineering’s 2018 I.W. Smith Award for research contributions in medical microrobotics. He envisions an accessible future of medicine free of invasive colonoscopies, open surgery and long recoveries.

Eric Diller

Dr. Zeinab Jahed

Building a Better Interface: Engineering the Nano-Bio Interaction for Biomedical Applications.

Dr. Zeinab Jahed is currently an Assistant Professor in the department of Nano and Chemical Engineering at the University of California, San Diego. She completed her Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in the department of Chemistry at Stanford University in 2020. She obtained her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley in 2018. Before moving to California, Dr. Jahed obtained her Bachelor degree at the University of Waterloo in Canada in the departments of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering.

Dr. Jahed's research is heavily multidisciplinary and spans several fields of engineering and biological sciences. Her research to date has resulted in 17 first author scientific journal publications and 22 co-authored papers in the multidisciplinary fields of experimental and computational biophysics and bioengineering. She has obtained several academic honors and awards. Including the Air Force Young Investigator Award in 2022, Canada’s Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship In 2018, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2018 where she was ranked #1 nationally in the selection committee for Chemical, Biomedical and Material Science. Other notable and recent awards include the University of California, Berkeley Applied Science & Technology Excellence in Research Award in 2018, and the University of California Cancer Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) predoctoral fellowship award in 2017.

Zeinab Jahed

Dr. Il-Doo Kim

New Catalysts Design for Nanomotors

Dr. Il-Doo Kim is Chair Professor of Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Director of the Membrane Innovation Center for KAIST Institute. He received Ph. D degree from KAIST (2002). He was a postdoc. Fellow at MIT (Prof. Harry L. Tuller group). Prof. Il-Doo Kim's research group is focused on novel synthesis of various inorganic nanomaterials optimized for application in ultra-sensitive chemical sensors (environmental hazardous gas detection and exhaled breath gas analysis for disease diagnosis), high performance energy storage devices, and new energy harvesting system based on hygroscopic power generation. Up to date, Prof. Kim has published over 384 articles (including 63 cove-featured papers), 5 book chapters, and holds 240 international patents. Moreover, a number of patents related to nanofiber synthesis and applications have been successfully licensed to 12 companies. Prof. Kim has been awarded the KAIST Grand Research Prize (2022), KAIST Grand Prize in International Cooperation (2021), The Scientist of The Year from Korean Journalists (2019), and Korea 10 Nanotechnology Award (2019). Prof. Kim currently serves as an Associate Editor of the ACS Nano. He is a fellow of Korea Academy of Science and Technology (KAST), He is a fellow of Korea Academy of Science and Technology (KAST), which is a prestigious honor in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the research field.

Il Doo Kim

Dr. Jinxing Li

Miniaturized Robots: from Chemical to Biological Engineering

Dr. Jinxing Li is an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering at Michigan State University. He joined MSU as part of the university’s Global Impact Initiative from Stanford University, where he did his postdoctoral research with Prof. Zhenan Bao on soft bioelectronics. He received his Ph.D. in NanoEngineering with Prof. Joseph Wang at UC San Diego, with a research focus on medical micro/nanorobotics. He was a visiting scholar working on telemedicine devices in the Artificial Intelligence Research Lab at Bell Labs. He received his B.S. from Huazhong University of Science and Technology and M.S. from Fudan University in China, both in Electrical Engineering. He is a recipient of Siebel Scholar of Bioengineering, Materials Research Society Graduate Student Award, Dan David Prize Scholarship, American Chemical Society Division of Inorganic Chemistry Young Investigator Award, and MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35.

Jinxing Li

Dr. Onaizah Onaizah

Soft Robotics for Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer

Dr. Onaizah Onaizah is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computing and Software and an Associate Member of the School of Biomedical Engineering at McMaster, Hamilton, Ontario. Onaizah received her BSc in Physics from the University of Toronto in 2013, her MSc in Medical Biophysics from Western University in 2015 and her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto in 2019. She was a Research Fellow in Surgical Robotics at the University of Leeds working in the STORM Lab from 2020-2022. She was the recipient of the NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2020 and was featured as one of nine women to watch from the University of Toronto Engineering’s class of 2020. Her research interests include small-scale and soft robotics incorporating both fabrication and control strategies.


Dr. Abdon Pena-Francesch

Protein-inspired materials in small-scale robotics

Dr. Abdon Pena-Francesch is an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Macromolecular Science & Engineering, and RObotics Institute at the University of Michigan. He leads the BioInspired Materials Lab, an interdisciplinary research group working on biomaterials science, polymer chemistry, soft matter physics, and nanotechnology, with focus on exploring biological and bioinspired functional materials to develop solutions for healthcare, robotics, and the environment. He obtained his PhD from Penn State University and was a Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems. His work has been recognized by multiple awards including the ACS PRF New Investigator Award, MRS Sustainability in Action Award, LG Chem Global Innovation Challenge Award, PSU Dissertation Award, and the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship for Postdoctoral Researchers.

Abdon Pena-Francesch

Dr. Juliane Simmchen

How large does active matter have to be to be smart?

Dr. Juliane Simmchen is faculty member for Pure and Applied Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.  She studied chemistry in Dresden,Germany, and Naples,Italy. After graduating in analytical chemistry focused on doping analytics, she moved to Barcelona to investigate the role of plasticizers in blood doping.  During her PhD she started working on colloidal micromotors with a focus on synthetic and biohybrid approaches. During her Postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, she built a network with theoretical physicists, looking more at understanding the behaviors of active matter. From there, she moved back to TU Dresden as a Freigeist Fellow and independent group leader. In 2022 she was appointed as a Reader at the University of Strathclyde, UK.

Juliane Simmchen

Dr. Xian Wang

Mechanical nanosurgery of chemoresistant glioblastoma using magnetically controlled carbon nanotubes

Dr. Xian Wang received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Toronto in Mechanical Engineering, with a collaborative specialization in Biomedical Engineering. During his Ph.D. study, he developed micro/nano robotic platform technologies to study the mechanical properties of the cell. The multi-pole magnetic tweezer devices he developed was applied for intracellular mechanical measurement and biochemical sensing. From 2020 to 2023, he worked as a research fellow at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He has explored using external-controlled microrobots to cause mechanical ablation of brain tumors. Prof. Xian Wang is currently an assistant professor at Queen’s University. His group studies how to deliver and disperse the small-scale robots in a minimal-invasive manner through modeling and control; how will the magnetic, optical, acoustic field actuate the robots within the biofluidic environment; and how to deploy bio-compatible and/or bio-degradable materials in the robot design.

Xian Wang

Waterloo Researchers

Dr. Behrad Khamesee

Dr. Behrad Khamesee is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He is also an integral member of the Waterloo Center for Automotive Research (WATCAR).

Professor Khamesee’s research interests are in microrobotics, micromanipulation using magnetic levitation, magnetically driven medical microrobots for drug delivery and microsurgery, smart structures and actuators, and the development of a cost-effective prosthetic leg.

He is also the Director of Maglev Microrobotics Laboratory, which studies the design and development of magnetically levitated (Maglev) robots. A magnetic Levitation setup enabling high precision 3D remote positioning was built. The lab is also working on the development and industrialization of various applications of magnetism such as electromagnetic energy harvesters for human locomotion and regenerative electromagnetic suspension system for vehicles, and non-destructive testing for detecting cracks and defects in live pipelines.

Behrad Khamesee

Dr. Veronika Magdanz

Dr. Veronika Magdanz is an Assistant Professor in Systems Design Engineering since 2022 focusing on Biomedical Engineering.

She obtained her doctorate from the University of Dresden in 2016 for the development of sperm-driven microrobots performed at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research IFW Dresden in Germany. Subsequently, she conducted research in metabolic and kinetic studies of sperm as well as sperm-templated microrobots at the Applied Zoology department of the TU Dresden. During her time as Humboldt Fellow at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia she explored medical applications of flexible magnetic small scale robots and the 3D bioprinting of muscle tissue.

Her main research interest is in microrobotics for medical applications. This includes biohybrid approaches, such as harnessing functionalities of cells and other biological components for innovative solutions in medicine. Further, she works on the development of bioinspired artificial microrobots that are wirelessly controlled by magnetic fields.

Veronika Magdanz

Dr. Mahla Poudineh

Dr. Mahla Poudineh is an Assistant Professor and Director of the IDEATION Lab in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo. She received her Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering (with a minor in Biomedical Engineering) from the University of Toronto in 2016. Prior to joining UWaterloo, Mahla completed postdoctoral training at the University of Toronto, Department of Pharmaceutical Science and Stanford University, School of Medicine in 2017 and 2019, respectively. She received her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering, both from the University of Tehran, Iran in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Her research interests include developing bio-sensing approaches for therapeutics and diagnostics purposes and translating biomedical devices to the clinic.

Mahla Poudineh

Dr. Hamed Shahsavan

Dr. Hamed Shahsavan is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He obtained his PhD in Chemical Engineering - Nanotechnology from University of Waterloo in 2017. Before joining University of Waterloo at 2020, he was an NSERC postdoctoral fellow at Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems. During his PhD studies, he was a visiting scholar in the Advanced Materials and Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University, Ohio, USA. During his post-doctoal fellowship, he was a visiting scientist in the Smart Photonic Materials (SPM) research group at the University of Tampere in Finland. Hamed's current research interests revolve around the development of a variety of soft, stimuli-responsive, and programmable materials. In addition, he is interested in emerging fabrication strategies for the manufacturing of small-scale mobile robots and devices, such as direct laser writing, and micro-scale 4D printing.

Hamed Shahsavan

Dr. Alfred Yu

Dr. Alfred Yu is a Professor working in the area of biomedical engineering at the University of Waterloo. He is based in the ECE department and holds a cross appointment in Applied Mathematics. He is the Director of NSERC CREATE Program on Next-Generation Innovations in Ultrasonics (N-GENIUS). He is also a Research Scientist at the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging, an Associate Director of the Center for Bioengineering and Biotechnology, and a Thematic Lead of the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology.

Prof. Yu has long-standing research interests in ultrasound imaging and therapeutics. He started his academic career at the University of Hong Kong, and he relocated his research group to Waterloo in 2015. His research is recognized by various prestigious honors and prizes, including NSERC E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship, IEEE Ultrasonics Early Career Investigator Award, ISTU Frederic Lizzi Award, and Ontario Early Researcher Award.

Prof. Yu is a Fellow of AIUM and EIC. He is now the Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, the Program Chair of 2023 IEEE Ultrasonics Symposium, and the Secretary of AIUM Basic Science & Instrumentation Community. He has previously chaired the IUS Medical Ultrasound Group and the ISTU Education Committee, and has served on the board of major ultrasound professional societies (IEEE UFFC, ISTU). He was also an Associate Editor of Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology.

Alfred Yu