Our Faculty

Steve Soper

Steven Soper, Ph.D.

Professor Steven A. Soper received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 1989, followed by a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he worked on single-molecule detection for high speed sequencing of the human genome. In 1991, he joined the faculty at Louisiana State University, LSU, within the Department of Chemistry, where he filled the William H. Pryor Distinguished Chair of Chemistry. Professor Soper also held joint appointments in the Mechanical Engineering Department and Department of Biological Sciences. While at LSU, he founded the Center for BioModular Multi-Scale Systems, which has as its primary charge to develop enabling and transformative tools for making health-related measurements at unprecedented speeds with full process automation directly at the Point-of-Care. Some of these tools include integrated systems for determining bacterial/viral infections of unknown strains in patients, evaluating brain damage/injury, sampling blood for rare cells such as circulating tumor cells and their molecular analysis, and sequencing genomes in near real time. These tools consist of microfluidic and nanofluidic devices made in polymers via micro- and/or nanoreplication.

Professor Soper is currently a Foundation Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Kansas. He also holds an appointment at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in Ulsan, South Korea, where he is a World Class University Professor. He is also serving as a Science Advisor for a number of major worldwide companies, such as Roche Diagnostics and EMD Millipore. Professor Soper is also the Editor of the Americas for the Analyst and on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Fluorescence and Journal of Micro- and Nanosystems. Professor Soper is also serving as a permanent Member of the Nanotechnology study panel with the National Institutes of Health.

As a result of his efforts, Professor Soper has secured extramural funding totaling more than $47M and has published over 260 manuscripts, h index = 56, and is the author of 12 patents. He is also the founder of a startup company, BioFluidica, which is marketing devices for the isolation and enumeration of circulating tumor cells. His list of awards includes Chemical Instrumentation from the American Chemical Society, the Benedetti-Pichler Award for Microchemistry, Fellow of the AAAS, Fellow of Applied Spectroscopy, Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, R&D 100 Award, Distinguished Masters Award at LSU and Outstanding Scientist/Engineer in the state of Louisiana in 2001. Finally, Professor Soper has granted 40 PhD and 5 MS degrees to students under his mentorship.

Andrew K. Godwin

Andrew K. Godwin, Ph.D.

Andrew K. Godwin is a leader in the field of translational research and precision cancer medicine. Andy is the Chancellor’s Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Sciences Endowed Professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He obtained his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania while carrying out his thesis research at Fox Chase Cancer Center. After 26 fruitful years at Fox Chase, Andy returned to Kansas where he serves as professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and director of Molecular Oncology. In the latter position, he directs the Clinical Molecular Oncology Laboratory, a CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited molecular diagnostics laboratory, and heads our institutional efforts in the area of personalized medicine. He was recently awarded a Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant from the NIH/NIGMS to develop the “Kansas Institute for Precision Medicine”. He was appointed the Deputy Director of KU’s NCI designation Cancer Center in 2013 and was named a Kansas Bioscience Authority Eminent Scholar in 2010. His contributions towards education and training was recognized when he was presented the KUMC School of Medicine Achievement Award for Mentoring Post-Docs in 2014, the KU Medical Center’s Faculty Investigator Research Award in 2015, the University of Kansas Cancer Center Director’s William Jewell Team Science Award in 2017, the KUCC Director’s Basic Science Award in 2018, the Chancellor’s Club Award in 2018, and most recently the Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Award in Biomedical Sciences in 2019 – the state higher education system’s most prestigious recognition for scholarly excellence. He also leads KU’s ovarian cancer research working group, and directs the Biomarker Discovery Laboratory and the Center’s Biospecimen Repository Core Facility. He is a currently a member of the Early Therapeutics and Rare Cancer’s Committee and the Vice Chair of the Breast Translational Medicine subcommittee of the Southwest Oncology Group.

Andy’s laboratories at KUMC continue to focus on various aspects of both basic and translational research, with an emphasis on early detection of cancer, predictive and prognostic biomarkers, liquid biopsies based on extracellular vesicles, molecular therapeutics, companion diagnostics, clinical trials, and biosample ascertainment. He is an NIH-funded investigator since 1993 and a highly published (more than 450 manuscripts and scholarly review articles) and cited (more than 42,000) scientists. He is internationally recognized for his molecular biology/genetic studies of sarcoma (gastrointestinal stromal tumors and Ewing sarcoma), breast and ovarian cancer, and his efforts to help bridge the gap between basic and clinical science in order to improve patient care.


David Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor David G. Kaufman majored in Physics as an undergraduate at Reed College. He received his M.D. from Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, Missouri) in 1968; and his Ph.D. in Experimental Pathology (with an emphasis on molecular biology) in 1973. He did his residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Barnes-Washington University Hospital. He did postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, Maryland), focusing on lung cancer and DNA replication research. He was recruited to the Department of Pathology at the University of North Carolina in 1975 and he has remained there to the present. He is currently Professor in the department and formerly was Vice Chair. Throughout this interval Dr. Kaufman has practiced medicine as an attending anatomic pathologist at the University of North Carolina Hospitals. Concurrently, he pursued an active and diverse research program. Related to clinical service in gynecologic oncologic pathology, he participated in an epidemiologic study of the relationship between post-menopausal estrogen therapy and endometrial cancer. This study provided powerful evidence that estrogen therapy caused endometrial cancer. In a subpopulation of this study patients that received progestins in addition to estrogen he recognized that progestins not only eliminated the excess risk from estrogen but actually lowered the risk below that of controls who were not taking hormones. Based on his interest in endometrial cancer he studied human endometrial tissue in organ and cell culture. Eventually he was able to reconstitute human endometrial tissue in co-cultures with the morphology of endometrial tissue in vivo and the ability to respond to hormones with physiologic changes characteristic of the menstrual cycle. Other studies revealed that the mitogenic effects of estrogen on endometrial epithelial cells involved paracrine responses resulting from estrogen effects on co-cultured endometrial stromal cells.

He also studied the relationship between the cell cycle and carcinogenesis. He showed that synchronized cells were most vulnerable to malignant transformation when treated with chemical carcinogens as they entered the S-phase of the cell cycle. He also showed that DNA at the site of replication was exquisitely vulnerable to attach by chemical carcinogens. In efforts to characterize DNA replication and repair the adopted single fiber (molecule) analysis, tracing the localization of newly replicated DNA and DNA damage sites tagged with fluorescent probes.

Dr. Kaufman has received many extramural grants from the NIH to support his research, to support graduate and postdoctoral training and to purchase high end common-use equipment. He has published nearly 200 papers and book chapters. He has trained 12 students granted PhDs and about 40 postdoctoral trainees.
Dr. Kaufman has served in a number of capacities in national societies and advisory bodies. He was a committee member, committee chair and council member for grant awarding agencies, including the NIH, National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. He was a member of several scientific committees of the National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. He served on the EPA’s Science Advisory Board and on the Advisory Board of the Association of American Medical Colleges. He was President the leading society in his discipline, the American Society for Investigative Pathology. Later, he was President of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, which represents nearly 100,000 scientists.

Michael C. Murphy

Michael C. Murphy, Ph.D.

Michael Murphy, a Roy O. Martin Lumber Company Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, received his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in 1977, and an MS in Aeronautics from Caltech in 1978. Between 1978-1985 he was with the Missile Systems Group of Hughes Aircraft Company in Canoga Park, CA, as a member of the technical staff and staff doctoral fellow. He earned his Ph.D. from MIT in Mechanical Engineering in 1990 and spent the next two years as an instructor for design there, before joining the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in 1992. He spent 1992-1993 as a visiting scientist at the Institut für Mikrostrukturtechnik at Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, IMT-FzK. At LSU, he helped establish the microsystems research facilities and program. In 1995, he was awarded an NSF CAREER proposal for work in medical applications of microsystems. He spent his sabbatical in 2005 at the Center for Engineering in Medicine with Dr. Mehmet Toner.

Professor Murphy's research is focused on biomedical applications of microsystems and modular micro-/nanofluidic systems. The work on modular systems addresses the factors affecting the limits of modularity and includes work on the use of passive alignment structures in polymer devices, <12 µm, thermal isolation of temperature zones in stacked and planar modules, highly parallel micro-titer plate formatted systems with microfluidic reactors at each well location, demonstration of gasketless seal technology, two phase flow for high throughput, and high flow rate capture of target cells, 750 µL/min. His group has also pioneered novel tools for assembling multi-scale polymer microfluidic systems. These have been applied to a diverse set of biomedical applications including CTC capture, rapid thermal reactors for mutation detection using PCR/LDR, and the characterization of the type of stroke.

Sunggook Park

Sunggook Park, Ph.D.

Professor Sunggook Park received his Ph.D. in 2002 in Physics at Technical University Chemnitz, Germany with Professor Dietrich R.T. Zahn. He was a postdoctoral researcher in the Laboratory for Micro- and Nanotechnology at Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland where he gained expertise in nanofabrication with nanoimprint lithography as the key technology. H joined the Mechanical Engineering Department at Louisiana State University in 2005. He was a recipient of the prestigious Young Investigator’s CAREER Award from NSF. He currently holds the rank of Associate Professor and L.R. Daniel Professorship in the Mechanical & Industrial Engineering Department. He is also serving as the Graduate Advisor and Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee of Mechanical Engineering.

Professor Park's research focuses on developing low cost and high throughput technologies to produce micro/nanostructured tools and platforms that enable controlling and manipulating matter in the component, device and system levels. While at LSU, he has developed innovative molding technologies for complex and multi-scale structures comprising 2D/3D micro/nanostructures for bioanalytic micro and nanofluidic applications, and also contributed to understanding and improving demolding process for nanoimprint lithography by studying interfacial properties and deformation behavior at the resist/stamp interfaces. He is an author or co-author of over 65 publications in archival journals and 38 publications in conference proceedings, on topics concerning thermal and mechanical properties of polymer thin films on Si wafers, electronic structures and electrical transport behavior at interfaces between organic semiconductors and inorganic substrates, and fundamentals and applications of nanoimprint lithography, NIL, and nanofabrication including low cost manufacturing of nanopore and nanochannel-based fluidic devices, patterning of biomaterials, polymer optical components, liquid crystal displays and surface coating for anti-adhesive layer of NIL stamps.

Maggie Witek

Maggie Witek, Ph.D.

Dr. Maggie A. Witek received her MSc. and Engineering degree from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Technology at Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, Poland in 1997. She earned her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Michigan State University in 2002 under tutelage of Prof. Greg M. Swain. Her doctoral work focused on the development of microcrystalline and nanocrystalline boron-doped diamond thin film electrodes for electrochemical detection of biogenic compounds.

Dr. Witek joined Prof. Steven A. Soper’s research group in the fall of 2002 in the Department of Chemistry at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. Her postdoctoral work focused on controlled biological cell transport via electromigration in thermoplastic microfluidic devices and development of the on-chip solid-phase extraction platform for nucleic acid isolation. In 2004 Dr. Witek joined the NSF EpSCOR funded Center of BioModular Multiscale Systems (CBM2) at LSU as a Research Associate. She continued research on applications of polymer-based, lab-on-a-chip devices for biomedical applications, such as the separations, high throughput solid-phase nucleic acid purification and molecular testing (i.e., PCR, LDR, microarrays). Dr. Witek established a working group for students, post-doctoral fellows, and professors organizing Professional Development Seminar Series in the Department of Chemistry and CBM2. Monthly meetings for chemistry, biochemistry, and engineering fellows ranged in different topics, from traditional research seminars to informal discussions with young faculty sharing their academic experiences, inviting entrepreneurs to talk about opportunities in industrial-academic collaborations, and hands-on workshops on resume writing and effective presentation skills. This working group allowed for scholars to discuss new research ventures and build a network throughout the university.

In 2011 Dr. Witek joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill as an Assistant Research Professor. The main focus of her work at UNC was collaboration with oncologists at the UNC School of Medicine and development of the assay for isolation of low abundant subpopulations of circulating tumor cells from clinical samples using antibody modified microfluidic devices.

Dr. Witek is currently an Associate Research Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Her research involves microfluidic-based isolation of liquid biopsy markers, including circulating tumor cells followed by molecular profiling and sequencing of these cells’ DNA/RNA; selection of extracellular vesicles and cell free DNA for stroke and cancer diagnostics. She continues her work in the NIH/NIBIB funded Center of BioModular Multiscale Systems for Precision Medicine as an investigator and coordinator of the Center’s Collaborative and Service Projects. As a result of her research efforts, Dr. Witek has published over 40 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters.

Dr. Witek developed a diverse background from extensive collaborations with chemists, biologists, and engineers at LSU, oncologists at the UNC School of Medicine and KU Medical Center in Kansas City, KS. She uses her expertise to organize training and dissemination programs in the CBM2 for individuals with various levels of technical competency in the micro/nanofluidic field. She designs training efforts to service the highly technical community via technical workshops, a research experience in the lab for undergraduate students, and hands-on activities that impact education of K-12 students.

Adam R. Hall

Adam R. Hall, Ph.D.

Adam R. Hall earned his PhD in Applied and Materials Sciences from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2007 where he fabricated and studied nanoelectromechanical systems built on single carbon nanotubes. After graduating, he accepted a postdoctoral position in the laboratory of Prof. Dr. Cees Dekker at the Technische Universiteit Delft in the Netherlands where he applied his expertise to the study and development of solid-state nanopores. Among his accomplishments during this time was implementation of a combined optical tweezer-nanopore instrument to probe electrophoretic forces on DNA-protein complexes inside nanopores and the first demonstration of a hybrid device composed of a protein pore integrated with a fabricated solid-state nanopore. In 2010, Dr. Hall joined the University of North Carolina Greensboro as a founding faculty in the Department of Nanoscience. While at UNCG, he served as director of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoegnineering microscopy facility and pioneered new methods for fabricating solid-state nanopores that have significantly improved throughput and propelled advancement of the field. In 2013, he relocated to the Wake Forest University School of Medicine where he is an Assistant Professor in the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences with appointments in the departments of Physics, Molecular Genetics and Genomics, and the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Since joining the faculty of Wake Forest, Dr. Hall’s lab has focused largely on implementing solid-state nanopores and other nano- and microtechnologies into translational applications. Among his accomplishments in this space, he has developed a novel method for performing selective detection of nucleic acid biomarkers, a sensitive analytical technique for probing glycans, and a microfluidic assay for 3D cell culture migration and invasion. He is the recipient of a 3M Non-Tenured Faculty award and has received funding for his work from NIH (NCI, NIGMS, NHGRI) and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center among others. He has authored publications in several top journals including Nature Nanotechnology and Nano Letters, has a current h-index of 26, and is inventor on 6 patents. In addition, he has formed and serves as Chief Scientific Officer for a start-up company, Foenestra, which aims to commercialize molecular assays and detection techniques.

Collin McKinney

Collin McKinney

Collin McKinney is currently the Director of the Electronics Design Facility at the Chemistry Department at UNC Chapel Hill. In this capacity, he leads a team of engineers and technicians in the research, design, and construction of instrumentation. Additionally, he directs the design of software used in a wide variety of disciplines, including electrochemistry, electrophysiology, NMR, mass spectrometry, ophthalmology, pharmaceutics, and laser particle analysis. Specifically, he directs the design and manufacture of instrumentation for the electrochemical measurement of neurotransmitter concentrations in the brains of freely-moving animals. This instrumentation, along with the popular HDCV software, is used in laboratories worldwide. He is also involved in systems design for miniature mass spectrometry, including RF sources, amplifiers, magnetics, and feedback control. In addition, he is currently president of two technology companies, M2 Innovations, Inc. and VoChor, Inc. and was previously a co-founder of startup companies Tracera and Biosystems Technologies. He holds 2 patents, has 1 book chapter and 16 refereed publications along with numerous posters and presentations.

Prior to coming to UNC, he was an Associate in Research in the Radiology Department PET Facility at Duke University Medical Center where he designed laboratory automation equipment, performed research in nuclear targetry and radiopharmaceutical synthesis, and assisted with ANDA submissions for new PET radiopharmaceuticals. Collin began his professional career as an engineer with the Digital Systems Division of Texas Instruments.




Precision Medicine

Precision Medicine