Highly motivated scientist/engineer and technical leader currently working at the intersection of soft robotics and microfluidics to develop enabling technologies for XR (extended reality) interactions. Expert-level skills in prototyping, experimentation, instrumentation, hardware-software integration, modeling and data analysis. Track record of tackling tough technical challenges, driving projects from conception to completion, identifying research gaps and providing solutions. Striving to apply technical expertise and leadership skills to develop novel technologies and applications through interdisciplinary collaborations.


Stanford University, Stanford, CA

M.S./PhD in Mechanical Engineering                                                                                2010/09 – 2016/12

(Minor in Management Science and Engineering)

Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering                                                       2006/09 – 2010/06

Technical & Leadership SKILLS

  • Soft Robotics/Microfluidics –  Experimentation, Consumables design & fabrication, Modeling (Theoretical analysis & CFD), Characterization & tool development, Microscopy, Image/video analysis, Mass transport, Particle Tracing, Electrophoresis, Electrochemistry, Sample preparation
  • Device & Systems – Signal processing and algorithms development, System-level integration & optimization, Mechatronics, Sensors, Basic circuit analysis, Hardware components characterization
  • Programming & Software – Python, MATLAB, C, R, Solidworks, COMSOL, LabVIEW, AutoCAD, Flow3D, LTSpice
  • Prototyping & Manufacturing – 3D printing, Injection molding, Machining, Bonding & assembly, QC process
  • Management & Leadership – Project & team management, Technical leadership, External vendors management, Hiring

Work Experience

Research Scientist (Staff) / Tech Lead Meta Reality Labs Research, Redmond, WA     2020/07 — present

  • Drive research as a tech lead in a team of 13 scientists and engineers. Opened a new line of research direction on infrastructure development (modeling and characterization platforms) for wearable pneumatic control systems.
  • Lead the development of microscale valves for pneumatic control through partnership with a manufacturer.
  • Research on pneumatic transmission in soft robotics and establish design rules for wearable pneumatic routing.
  • Establish in-house microscale fluids/pneumatics visualization capability: set up a high-speed imaging system with three high-speed cameras, two class 4 lasers, one high magnification microscope, a timing unit, optics and a customized laser safety enclosure.
  • Establish partnership with external CFD experts to develop pneumatics and flow-structure interaction models 
  • Collaborate with actuator scientists on researching and studying emerging physics in soft actuators
  • Collaborate with research engineers, EE, ME and firmware engineers to develop novel characterization and test tools. Lead a team of three to maintain and support the existing characterization setups. Manage a fluidic/pneumatic characterization lab that is used by approximately 7 FTEs and 3 contractors.
  • Manage multi-million contracts with external vendors and service providers. 

Sr. Microfluidics Engineer, Advanced Technologies, JUUL Labs, San Francisco, CA     2019/07-2020/07

  • Established in-house R&D capabilities in critical areas: (1) fluids modeling & simulations for multi-phase flows (Flow3D), (2) fluids leaking detection capability by fluorescence imaging and analysis.
  • Led research on controlling wetting properties by surface treatments. Influenced manufacturing decisions on Gen II products by studying fluid behaviors. Developed surface manufacturing QC process using metrology techniques.
  • Contributed to the development of novel microfluidics components for low-cost liquid delivery systems.
  • Developed liquid proxies with novel formulation to expedite design and test iterations.
  • Initiated and managed six R&D projects in parallel. Collaborated cross-functionally with material science, chemistry, product development and reliability teams.

Sr. R&D Engineer / Project Lead, Purigen Biosystems, Pleasanton, CA                   2016/06-2019/07

A venture-backed startup developing an automated microfluidics-enabled platform for sample preparation using the isotachophoresis (ITP) technology invented in Prof. Juan Santiago’s Lab at Stanford University.

  • Led and managed a team of six scientists and engineers to develop microfluidics-based DNA extraction products for cell samples, from conception to validation. Set project goals and timelines. Drove innovation and development
  • Led algorithm development, signal processing and hardware-software integration for automating on-chip DNA extraction using temperature and voltage sensing, achieving 99.75% success rate.
  • Performed theoretical modeling to understand the physics of on-chip electrophoresis and fluidics.
  • Developed image and video analysis tools to study fluids motions, quantify on-chip DNA concentration, optimize extraction process, and investigate system failures. Established data pipelines for analyzing experimental results.
  • Contributed to evaluating and improving the performance of modular components in instruments. Experienced in developing pneumatics and fluidics control protocols.
  • Participated in design of consumable plastic microfluidics chips. Gained experience on design for manufacturing and assembly, and deep understanding of microfabrication and injection molding.
  • Managed vendors and service providers. Developed standard operating procedures (SOPs) for internal assays and quality control.
  • Participated in company’s senior leadership discussion and decisions. Collaborated with hardware, chemistry application and operation team on instrument development, assay development and QC process.


High performance multi-stage flow-through capacitive desalination (CD) systems

Lawrence Scholar, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA       2013/05-2016/11

Advisor: Juan G. Santiago, Michael Stadermann

  • Designed, built and optimized a high performance multi-stage capacitive desalination (CD) system (controlled by LabVIEW program) to desalinate brackish water with the throughput of 1-2 L/hr and an energy recovery efficiency of 90%.
  • Developed a high-fidelity numerical model of multi-stage CD system in COMSOL to study mass transport through porous electrodes, and provide guidance to system design and performance optimization.
  • Studied and characterized internal resistive components of CD systems using electrochemical diagnostic techniques. Developed a novel electrical contact configuration for CD systems to achieve energy consumption reduction by a factor of ten.
  • Developed an equivalent circuit model to fully capture the charging or discharging dynamics of a CD system with porous electrodes using LTSpice.
Simultaneous extraction and purification of DNA and proteins from complex biological samples  

Research Assistant, Stanford Microfluidics Laboratory, Stanford, CA                        2012/04-2016/12

Advisor: Juan G. Santiago            

  • Developed a rapid on-chip microfluidics system to simultaneously purify and fractionate nucleic acids and proteins from human serum samples using isotachophoresis (ITP).
  • Designed and fabricated a novel radially symmetric microfluidics chip using soft lithography technique.
  • Developed the assay chemistry and successfully performed simultaneous extraction of human cell-free DNA and serum proteins (with albumin exclusion) within 30 min.


  • Rising Star in Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)  2018/10
  • Lawrence Scholar Fellowship, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory      2013/05 – 2016/11
  • Best Poster Award, 29th International Symposium on Microscale Bioseparations              2013/03
  • Ginzton Research Assistantship Award, Stanford University                                                  2010/04
  • 1st Place Poster Presentation Award, 2nd Stanford Mechanical Engineering Conference 2016/05
  • Best Poster Award, 29th International Symposium on Microscale Bioseparations             2013/05


System, devices, and methods for isotachophoresis, US20190071661A1                                  2019

Phased charging and discharging in capacitive desalination, US Patent 9758392                 2016


Teaching Assistant, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Undergraduate classes: Introduction to Solid of Mechanics, Physical Biology of Cell   2012 Spring

Graduate class: Optofluidics: Interplay of light and fluids at the micro & nanoscale 2011 Autumn


Yatian Qu, Patrick G Campbell, Ali Hemmatifar, Jennifer M Knipe, Colin K Loeb, John J Reidy, Mckenzie A Hubert, Michael Stadermann, Juan G Santiago, “Charging and Transport Dynamics of a Flow-Through Electrode Capacitive Deionization System”, The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 122 (1), pp 240–249, Jan 2, 2018.

Yatian Qu, Patrick G Campbell, Lei Gu, Jennifer M Knipe, Ella Dzenitis, Juan G Santiago, Michael Stadermann, “Energy consumption analysis of constant voltage and constant current operations in capacitive deionization”, Desalination, vol. 400, pp. 18-24, Sep 15, 2016.

Yatian Qu, Theodore F. Baumann, Juan G. Santiago, Michael Stadermann, “Characterization of internal resistance of a capacitive deionization system”, Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 49, pp. 9699-9706, Aug 7, 2015

Yatian Qu, Lewis A. Marshall, Juan G. Santiago, “Simultaneous purification and fractionation of nucleic acids and proteins from complex samples using bidirectional isotachophoresis”, Analytical Chemistry, vol. 86, pp. 7264–7268, Jun 19, 2014

Anita Rogacs, Yatian Qu, Juan G. Santiago, “Bacterial RNA extraction and purification from whole human blood using isotachophoresis”, Analytical Chemistry, vol. 84, pp. 5858-63, Jul 17, 2012


Yatian Qu, Juan G. Santiago, Michael Stadermann, “Resistance characterization and operation optimization of a capacitive deionization system”, Poster session, Gordon Research Conference on Microfludics, Physics and Chemistry, West Dover, VT, June, 2015

Yatian Qu, Juan G. Santiago, Michael Stadermann, “Characterization of internal resistance of a capacitive deionization system”, Oral presentation, 8th International Conference on Interfaces against Pollution, Leeuwarden, Netherlands, May, 2014

Yatian Qu, Lewis A. Marshall, Juan G. Santiago, “Simultaneous purification and fractionation of nucleic acids and proteins from complex samples using bidirectional isotachophoresis”, Poster session, Best Poster Award, 29th International Symposium on Microscale Bioseparations, Charlottesville, VA, March, 2013

professional ACTIVITIES

Co-Founder & Lead organizer, Bay Area Microfluidics Network                           05/2017- 03/2021

  • Founded and grew the microfluidics professional community to over 1000 members. Organized quarterly events (>100 attendees) to engage regional leaders in microfluidics. Promoted community growth and strengthened connections among members. Led fundraising and secured sponsorship for events.

Guest blogger, The Microfluidic Circle                                                                               01/2018- present

  • Write original, well-researched and high-quality blog articles on trending microfluidics topics to spread ideas and help grow the field and community.

Stanford Ignite Program, Certificate Program in Innovation and Entrepreneur  01/2017- 03/2017

  • Learned the fundamentals of business and the practical aspects of identifying and evaluating venture ideas and moving them forward.

Vice President, Stanford Energy Club (SEC), Digital & Brand team                            03/2015- 03/2016

  • Led a 6-person team to promote engagement of SEC communities through marketing and branding strategies. Initiate and lead “SEC Big Data” program to review club growth.

Founder, Stanford-Zhejiang University (ZJU) Alumni Group                                         06/2012-06/2015

  • Enhanced social bonding between ZJU alumni at Stanford by organizing social activities.

Team member, SunPower Foundation project, Engineering for Sustainable World, Stanford 11/2015-present

  • Designed solar-powered lighting and refrigeration systems for small-community use in rural areas of developing countries.