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Benjamin Hawkins

  • PhD
  • Assistant Professor
  • California Polytechnic State University
  • 16PublicationsNumber of items in Benjamin's My Publications folder on Mendeley.
  • 16Followers


I am currently Assistant Professor at California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, with a joint appointment in the Biomedical and Electrical Engineering Departments. My research interests currently focus on technology development around automated microfluidic experiments, electrical property measurement, and electrokinetic cell and fluid manipulation.

Prior to this, I worked for 4 years in the Biomedical, Chemical, and Materials Engineering Department at San Jose State University where my research interests followed a similar focus.

Previously, I was a post-doctoral guest researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, working on microfluidic techniques for bacterial cell culture, specifically biofilm colony formation.

Prior to this position, I was a graduate student in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Cornell University. My graduate research was done in the Cornell Micro/Nanofluidics Laboratory run by Prof. Brian Kirby. Here I developed insulator-based dielectrophoresis (iDEP) techniques for continuous-flow particle sorting, multiphysics modeling of electrothermal flow in iDEP devices, and automated characterization of Mycobacterium smegmatis using electrode-based DEP.

Before coming to Cornell, I received my B.S. in Electrical Engineering from California State University, Fresno. While at CSU, Fresno, I worked as an independent consultant for Signet Systems – with high-frequency battery charging systems – and Biomimetic Connections – examining biological systems and their applicability to engineering problems.

I think of myself as a constant tinkerer. I love playing with and developing new technologies, using new tools, taking things apart to see how they work, and teaching others what I've learned.

I am also fascinated by the overlap between scientific disciplines. My fascination with electromagnetics and biological applications led me to work on dielectrophoresis (DEP) in microfluidic devices. Microfluidics, as a field, seems to exist at the confluence of physics, chemistry, and material science with fascinating applications to study biological systems at the sub-, single-, and multi-cellular level. The ability to probe biological systems at each of these length scales contributes to our understanding of large-scale emergent behaviors (e.g., the behavior of tissues or biofilms).

On a more pragmatic level, the field of microfluidics is expanding rapidly, with an emphasis on new, novel techniques, devices, and applications. New and novel often come at the cost of robust operation and usability; indeed, adoption outside of microfluidics labs has been relatively limited. Going forward, one of my primary goals will be developing robust microfluidic techniques for laboratory applications.

Recent publications

  • Characterization of silver nanoparticle-infused tissue adhesive for ophthalmic use

    • Yee W
    • Selvaduray G
    • Hawkins B
  • Characterization of a hybrid dielectrophoresis and immunocapture microfluidic system for cancer cell capture

    • Huang C
    • Santana S
    • Liu H
    • et al.

Professional experience

Assistant Professor

California Polytechnic State University

September 2016 - Present

Assistant Professor

California State University - San Jose State University

August 2012 - May 2016(4 years)

NRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow

National Institute of Standards & Technology

November 2010 - August 2012(2 years)


PhD Biomedical Engineering

Cornell University

August 2005 - October 2010(5 years)

B.S. Electrical Engineering

California State University, Fresno

August 2000 - May 2005(5 years)

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