Santa Clara University


Dr. Unyoung (Ashley) Kim

Phone: 408-554-2760
Fax: 408-554-5474
Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering 

Prof. Kim is an Assistant Professor at Santa Clara University where she serves as the Director of the Biological Micro/Nanosystems Laboratory. Professor Kim is a mechanical engineer by training with an emphasis on the integrated microfluidic systems for biotechnologies. She graduated from University of California, Santa Barbara with her Ph.D. and Certificate in College and University Teaching (CCUT) in 2009 and joined the Bioengineering faculty at Santa Clara University in 2009.

Current Research Interests

Prof. Kim’s research interests involve the investigation of integrated microfluidic systems to address challenging needs in the biomedical applications.

Kim Research Lab

Rapid, Affordable, Point-of-Use Microfluidic Sensors for Water Monitoring for Global Health

The difficulty of detecting small quantities of arsenic and other contaminants in water currently threatens the health of millions of people worldwide, as long-term exposure to arsenic has been associated with both cancerous and noncancerous health risks. Existing technologies make it possible to very accurately quantify arsenic levels in water; however the expense, extensive training, and off-site analysis required by these methods impede wide scale-use.

To overcome these limitations, we have developed an integrated system combining a microfluidic sensor, data acquisition mobile app, and web-based data logging ecosystem, which allows for quick, easy, error proof evaluation of water sources for a variety of contaminants. Our microfluidic sensor employs a three-electrode system onto a polymer substrate, providing a rigid and durable platform that remains cost-effective and disposable. Considering that the communities that need these sensors the most lack internet access and the ability (personnel and equipment) to analyze the data obtained by the sensor locally, we have adapted the sensor to a mobile device, e.g., a cellular telephone, to enable the instant interpretation of the data obtained and the mapping of the test results from different places, indicating safe vs. not-safe water sources. This aspect of our platform could resolve the issues associated with the lack of trained personnel, which is a major and severe constraint in deploying health technology in these resource-limited regions.

Paper-based Microfluidic Devices towards Affordable, Equipment-free, and Specific Detection of Pathogens

The development of affordable, equipment-free, fast, and accurate pathogen detection methods is essential to many field applications including food and environmental monitoring, as well as diagnostics. Most current pathogen detection methods are not suitable for resource limited settings because an accurate result is dependent on special equipment or reagents, specialized training, extended time periods, electricity or cold storage, or sterile environments not feasible outside of a laboratory. To satisfy these unmet needs, we have developed a paper-based sensor detecting a specific target sequence of oligonucleotide on a functionalized cellulose surface. The entirety of the assay is performed on a piece of paper and requires no external instrumentation or electricity. The broad applications of this detection method as simple, portable, rapid and specific diagnostics were exemplified by the detection of E. coli target oligonucleotide.

Monolithic, Low-power Micropump towards Integrated Microfluidic Systems

While the most common way to drive microfluidic flow is via syringe pumps attached to tubing onto a chip, these pumps are quite bulky, expensive, and not ideal for miniaturization and integration with other microfluidic components, especially for point-of-care diagnostic applications. To overcome these limitations, we have developed an electrolytic micropump integrating a pump, check valves, and chambers within a single layered platform, which allows facile integration with other microfluidic systems. Our micropump combines electrolytic bubble growth, catalyst-driven recombination of electrolysis gasses and passive check-valves to cyclically dispense fluids.

Selected Publications

(* denotes undergraduate co-author)

  • * S. Pontrelli, * I. Nova, and U. Kim. “Novel Cellulose Paper Device towards Affordable, Equipment-free, and Specific Detection of Bacterial Pathogens”, in review.
  • * J. M. Protilla, and U. Kim. “Toward a novel electrolysis actuated micropump for implantable drug delivery applications”, in review.
  • U. Kim, * S. Ghanbari, * A. Ravikumar, J. Seubert, and S. Figueira. “Rapid, Affordable, and Point-of-Care Water Monitoring via a Microfluidic DNA Sensor and a Mobile Interface for Global Health”, IEEE Journal of Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine (1) 2168-2372 (2013).
  • U. Kim, * W. Leineweber, * M. Williams, J. Gonzales, and S. Figueira. “Affordable, Sensitive, Point-of-Care Bacterial Detection through Paper-based Device for Resource Limited Settings”, Proceedings of the IEEE Health Innovation and Point-Of-Care Technologies Conference 2014.
  • * A. Michaelian, * C. Truong, and U. Kim. “Compact, Low-power Micropump via Electrolysis and Catalytic Recombination towards Integrated Microfluidic Systems”, Proceedings of the BMES Annual Meeting (BMES 2014).
  • U. Kim, * J. VanderGiessen, and X. Savarimuthu. “Implementation of Electrochemical Sensors in Arsenic-contaminated Areas of West Bengal in India toward Rapid and Point-of-Use Detection of Arsenic in Drinking Water”, Proceedings of the IEEE Global Humnitarian Technology Conference (GHTC 2014),.
  • * A. Michaelian, * C. Truong, and U. Kim. “Monolithic, Low-power Micropump towards Integrated Microfluidic Systems”, Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences (MicroTAS 2014).
  • U. Kim, * B. Demaree, * J. VanderGiessen, * M. Reynolds, * K. Perricone. “Development of Low-Cost Plastic Microfluidic Sensors toward Rapid and Point-of-Use Detection of Arsenic in Drinking Water for Global Health”, Proceedings of the IEEE Biomedical Circuits and Systems (BioCAS 2013).
  • U. Kim, * B. Demaree, * J. VanderGiessen, * M. Reynolds, * K. Perricone, J. Seubert, * Z. Elahi, S. Krishnan, and S. Figueira. “Electrochemical Detection of Arsenic via a Microfluidic Sensor and Mobile Interface towards Affordable, Rapid, and Point-of-Use Water Monitoring”, Proceedings of the IEEE Healthcom 2013.
  • * J. M. Portilla and U. Kim. “Low-power, Self-contained, Reciprocating Micropump through Electrolysis and Catalyst-driven Recombination toward Drug Delivery Applications”, Proceedings of the Micro ElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS 2013).
  • U. Kim, * A. Ravikumar, J. Seubert, and S. Figueira. “Detection of Bacterial Pathogens through Microfluidic DNA Sensors and Mobile Interface toward Rapid, Affordable, and Point-of-Care Water Monitoring”, Proceedings of the IEEE Point-of-Care Healthcare Technologies, 2013.
  • * J. M. Portilla, C. Ledesma, A. Curiel, S. Krishnan and U. Kim, “Implantable Electrolysis Micropump with Bubble”, Proceedings of the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (IEEE EMBC 2012).
  • * S. Ghanbari, * N. Giustini, * C. Mar, * P. Doshi and U. Kim, “Detection of Waterborne Pathogens Using Electrochemical DNA Sensors for Resource Limited Settings”, Proceedings of the Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting (BMES 2011).
  • C. Rogers. M.G. Bupp, U. Kim, G. DeKrey and S. Stranford, “Successful Integration of Practical Flow Cytometric Experience into Undergraduate Education”, Proceedings of the American Association of Immunologists Annual Meeting (Immunology 2011).
  • U. Kim and H.T. Soh, “Simultaneous, Marker Specific Sorting of Multiple Bacterial Targets Using integrated Dielectrophoresis/Magnetophoresis Activated Cell Sorter (iDMACS)”, Lab on a Chip (9) 2313-2318 (2009).
  • U. Kim, J. Qian, S. Kenrick, P.S. Daugherty, and H.T. Soh, “Multitarget Dielectrophoresis Activated Cell Sorter”, Analytical Chemistry, 80, 8656-8661 (2008).
  • J.D. Adams, U. Kim and H.T. Soh, “Multitarget Magnetic Activated Cell Sorter (MT-MACS)”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 105, 18165-18170 (2008).
  • U. Kim, C-W Shu, K.Y. Dane, P.S. Daugherty, J.Y. Wang, and H.T. Soh , “Selection of Mammalian Cells According to Cell-Cycle Phase using Dielectrophoresis”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 104, 20708-20712 (2007).
  • BIOE 10 – Introduction to Bioengineering
  • BIOE 100 – Research Seminar
  • #BIOE 155 – Biological Transport Phenomena
  • #BIOE/ELEN 161/161Lab – Biosensors/Bioinstrumentation
  • #BIOE 174/ENGR 254 – Microfabrication and Microfluidics for Bioengineering Applications
  • #BIOE 194 – Senior Design Project I
  • #BIOE 195 – Senior Design Project II
  • #BIOE 196 – Senior Design Project III
  • #BIOE 276 – Microfluidics and Lab-on-a-Chip

# Indicates courses that I created and taught for the first time at Santa Clara University

  • David Packard Junior Fellow, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA, September 2009 – August 2011
  • Jeff and Karen Miller Fellow, Center for Science, Technology and Society, 2011 – 2013
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Education Partnership Program Fellowship (2005-2009)
  • UCSB Merit Fellowship of Mechanical Engineering Department (2004)
  • KAIST Chancellor’s Fellowship