Based at Massachusetts General Hospital, Affiliated with Harvard Medical School

Postdoc Yue Zhuo Receives Inaugural Thomas F. Deutsch Fellowship in Biomedical Optics

Yue Zhuo earned her Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of Illinois in 2015, and in 2016 became a Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow. Now, she has received the inaugural Thomas F. Deutsch Fellowship in Biomedical Optics at Massachusetts General Hospital, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School. This one-year Fellowship will begin in October. We met with Zhuo to hear her thoughts about her recent post-doc experience, her research work at MNTL, and what she’ll be doing as part of the Deutsch Fellowship.

How would you describe your most recent experiences at Illinois?

I have been a Beckman Postdoc Fellow at the University of Illinois for more than two years now. My research focused on developing and utilizing a novel nano-photonic imaging system, named Photonic Resonator Outcoupler Microscopy (PROM). The goal is to develop a label-free platform to dynamically and quantitatively monitor the interactions between live cells and substrates during adhesion and migration with high resolution, high sensitivity, and long-term imaging.

How has your post-doc work at Illinois helped your career, or facilitated your new career opportunity with the Deutsch Fellowship?

I really enjoyed this research position at Illinois. The support from the Beckman Postdoc Fellowship has been an invaluable asset to grow and ultimately be selected as a Deutsch Fellow. As a Beckman Postdoc fellow at University of Illinois, I was able to choose which research labs to collaborate with and what project I would work on. Over the past years at Illinois, I have had the privilege to collaborate with many professors on campus, especially with Professor Brian Cunningham, Professor Scott Carney, and Professor Zhi-pei Liang. These interactions with top scientists have been a precious research experience for me and it definitely enabled me to seize this new career opportunity, that is the Deutsch Fellowship. I am so grateful for the Beckman Institute and the University of Illinois for giving me this great research opportunity.

How did your work engage you with MNTL? Which researchers at MNTL did you collaborate with? What was that experience like?

Most of my lab work has been done in the Micro & Nanotechnology Laboratory (MNTL). The colleagues at MNTL, including professors and graduate students, not only impressed me with their knowledge and creativity, but also positively influenced me with their engagement to the research work. My adviser in particular, Professor Brian Cunningham, helped shape my career and professional life and showed me how to transform my mistakes into skills. The success I have had in my career is due in no small part to his full support and encouragement throughout the years I spent at Illinois. Besides, the staff at MNTL was very helpful during the training process and were always willing to share with us with their own lab experience. I also would like to mention that it is remarkably convenient to use the facilities from the Cleanroom (for micro and nano engineering process), Biolab (for biological sample preparation), or the optical labs (for optical imaging) in MNTL since they are all located in the same building. The highly- integrated and multi interdisciplinary, research-friendly environment in MNTL at Illinois has tremendously facilitated my career advancement and my research in the past.

Tell us a little about the work that you will be doing as part of the Deutsch Fellowship?

My future research with the Deutsch Fellowship will be working with Professor Seok-Hyun Andy Yun in the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) at Harvard University. I will mainly work on biomedical optics with application on biomaterials, such as cell lasers. I am very excited about this new research work.

Anything else that you would like to add?

It is great honor for me to receive the Deutsch Fellowship from the Optical Society of America (OSA). I would like to thank all of my advisers, Professor Brian Cunningham, Professor Scott Carney, and Professor Zhi-pei Liang for their guidance and full support. I also would like to express my deep gratitude to all of the other professors, collaborators, the funding agencies, as well as staff who helped me at the University of Illinois. It is truly an honor for me to have worked with these talented people and I owe my success entirely to them.