Associate Professor Emilie Sauret has been awarded a $900,000 Australian Research Centre (ARC) Future Fellowship grant to further her pioneering research in computational microfluidics.
Professor Sauret’s research focuses on integrating new computational methods that enable better control when designing and optimising tools for microfluidics.
Predicting microfluidics – how fluids move at the submillimetre scale – is a critical issue when understanding, developing and optimising miniaturised chemical and biological processes, particularly in energy and biomedical engineering.
“Microscale flows are significant for many real-world applications, such as water purification and desalination, blood assays, disease detection, and separating cancer cells from normal cells,” Professor Sauret said.
“Right now, microfluidics developments are performed almost exclusively experimentally and current computational modelling techniques are inaccurate and too slow to meet the fast-paced demands of industry.”
Professor Sauret said her four-year ARC Future Fellowship would help her bridge this critical gap, while at the same time opening new avenues in computational microfluidics and building a new research field.
“My research is focused on developing new and improved computational models that can keep up with emerging microfluidics findings, allowing us to more fully explore the possibilities.”
With a myriad of engineering applications, the microfluidics market is expected to grow to USD$28 billion globally by 2023.
“We’re aiming for cheaper, faster and better results in cell analysis and separation, micro-chemical reactions and water purification, which will lead to economic benefits for our communities,” she said.
“I’m really interested in supporting the advancement of efficient state-of-the-art technologies by developing models capable of optimising the different devices that must operate under microfluidic conditions, and producing robust results faster and more accurately.
“I want to create models powerful enough to produce cutting-edge microfluidic devices that will be able to enhance rapid disease diagnostics or reduce costs and power consumption of energy-demanding processes.”
Aside from pioneering a new area of fundamental research, Professor Sauret hopes her career in computational modelling inspires more women to consider studying STEM.
“A career in modelling can be very rewarding, varied, and surprisingly flexible,” she said.
The ARC Future Fellowships provide four-year fellowships to outstanding mid-career researchers.