Welcome to Waterloo Microfluidics Laboratory (WML)

We are hiring.

Waterloo Microfluidics Laboratory (WML) operates under the direction of Professor Carolyn L. Ren. The ultimate goal of our lab is to gain fundamental understanding of microfluidics and nanofluidics and develop chip-based technology for biological, chemical and biomedical diagnosis and analysis. Specifically, Waterloo Microfluidics Lab is interested in the development of design and optimization tools, advanced microfabrication techniques for rapid prototyping, and characterization methodologies for Lab-on-a-Chip or BioChip devices. Both experimental investigation and numerical simulation are practical tools for their investigations.

A typical Lab-on-a-Chip device is a piece of palm-sized glass or plastic plate with a network of microchannels etched onto its surface. It is able to perform integrated chemical and biomedical processes on a single chip by employing electrokinetic methods to transport liquids in microchannels. As compared to their traditional counterparts, such miniaturized devices require very small amount of biological samples (i.e. DNA), reduce operation and analysis time by integrating parallel processes, and increase integration and portability. Therefore, the development of microfluidic chips can save the cost of chemical and biomedical diagnosis significantly and has the potential to revolutionize the current level of medical diagnosis and treatment.

News & highlights

  • Congratulations to Jordan Savage for receiving Ontario Graduate Scholarship for his Master’s thesis!
  • Congratulations to Dylan Hahn for receiving Ontario Graduate Scholarship for his Master’s thesis!
  • Congratulations to Runze Gao for receiving NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship for his PDF study at Brigham Women Hospital at Harvard Medical School!
  • Congratulations to Vivian Mai for receiving Ontario Women’s Health Scholars Award (although declined)!
  • Congratulations to Noura Ezzo for receiving Ontario Graduate Scholarship for her Master’s thesis!
  • Congratulations to Dr. Carolyn Ren for being elected to Fellow of Canadian Academy of Engineering!
  • Congratulations to Dr. Matt Courtney for his paper featured as a cover of Electrophoresis (https://analyticalsciencejournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/elps.202370046?af=R)
  • Congratulations to Dr. Matt Courtney for receiving the best paper award for his paper titled “Investigating Peak Dispersion in Free-Flow Counterflow Gradient Focusing due to Electroosmotic Flow”, Electrophoresis, 44 (2023) 646-655
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Congrats to Dr. Weijia Cui's work on Reagent Free Detection of SARS-CoV-2, published by Lab on a Chip as a back cover feature

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Congrats to Dr. Carolyn Ren on the Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision.

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Congrats to Run Ze, founder of Air Microfluidics Systems Inc, for winning Falcons' Fortunes pitch competition. 

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Droplet Microfluidics co-edited by Dr. Carolyn Ren and Dr. Abraham Lee (UC Irvine) is published by Royal Society of Chemistry. The book can be purchased from the publisher's bookshop or Amazon


Dr. Carolyn Ren is a mechanical and mechatronics engineering professor and a Canada Research Chair in Microfluidic Technology. As director of Waterloo’s Microfluidics Laboratory, she is recognized as one of Canada’s top microfluidics researchers, with her work having a broad and profound impact on the global biomedical, pharmaceutical and environmental sectors.

Ren is a Member of the Royal Society of Canada College (2018), a Fellow of the Canadian Society of Mechanical Engineering (2012) and was recently named one of WXN Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women (2021).

She was recognized as one of 20 leading innovators in Women of Innovation: The Impact of Leading Engineers in Canada. Ren is also an entrepreneur; her microfluidic innovations have spurred the launch of four start-up companies with her students (Advanced Electrophoresis Solutions, Alphaxon, QuantWave Technologies, and Air Mircrofluidics Systems.

Novel Microfluidics-Enabled Soft Robotic Sleeve Enables Lymphedema Treatment.

Breast cancer survivors commonly suffer from lymphedema due to a high risk of lymph node damage or removal during surgical procedures.

In order to overcome these issues, a soft robotic sleeve was created by a team consisting of the investigators from the University of Waterloo’s Microfluidics Laboratory, DIESEL Biomechanics Laboratory, Breast Rehab, and Myant, Inc.

The prototype is more portable and cheaper than traditional devices - with a  weight that is less than an iPhone 13, it could run on a 3.7-volt lithium-ion battery.

“My definition of wearable is you can wear it and do whatever you want, and not be plugged into a wall. Bringing in the microfluidics field, we wanted to make the system battery-powered but without compromising the performance" Carolyn Ren, Study Author, University of Waterloo.  Read more about the lymphedema sleeve here.