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Qingshan Wei

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (College of Engineering)

Assistant Professor

3318 Plant Sciences Building


My research is focused on developing next-generation field-deployable molecular imaging, sensing, and diagnostic tools for plants and human. These tools are essential to translate conventional laboratory diagnostic tests from the bench to the point of care for rapid field detection, personal health monitoring, as well as battling infectious diseases in the resource-limited settings. My group is currently studying two main research schemes, including the development of new portable microscopy devices for single-molecule detection as well as novel lab-on- a-chip systems for rapid sample preparation such as DNA extraction, amplification, and sequence-specific labeling. We also develop nanophotonics enhanced molecular diagnostic assays towards ultra-sensitive analysis. Our work spans broadly at the interface of engineering, chemistry, nanoscience, and biology.

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Honors and Awards

  • Honorable Mention, the Chancellor’s Award for Postdoctoral Research, UCLA
  • Bilsland Dissertation Fellowship, Purdue University


Postdoc Bioengineering University of California - Los Angeles 2016

Ph.D. Chemistry Purdue University 2012

M.S. Polymer Materials and Engineering Zhejiang University 2007

B.S. Polymer Materials and Engineering Zhejiang University 2005


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Date: 03/01/20 - 2/28/25
Amount: $400,000.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

This CAREER proposal seeks to study the fundamental properties of CRISPR Cas proteins for nucleic acid detection through collateral nonspecific cleavage (or trans-cleavage). Systematic characterization, optimization, and control of the enzyme activity and kinetics of Cas proteins will convert genome-editing CRISPR-Cas platform into next-generation, rapid, and ultrasensitive biosensors. However, the detailed mechanism and properties of trans-cleavage are still not fully understood yet. Moreover, many existing CRISPR biosensors require pre-amplification steps to achieve high detection sensitivity, which significantly hinders their point-of-care (POC) applications. Our recent data (see Section RO1) suggest that trans-cleavage kinetics of Cas proteins in a one-pot reaction is different from the literature reports of pre-assembled and activated Cas-crRNA complex. Therefore, a revised enzymatic model is needed to accurately describe the enzymatic properties of CRISPR biosensor. As such, the overarching goal of this work is to understand and control the unique characteristics of CRISPR trans-nuclease and use the knowledge gained to design a chip-based, preamplification-free digital CRISPR (dCRISPR) sensor chip. The sensor chip will be coupled with a newly designed smartphone scope, EpiView, to form a cost-effective, smartphone-based testing platform for POC measurement of viral load of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from finger prick blood.

Date: 08/26/22 - 6/01/24
Amount: $120,000.00
Funding Agencies: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

This project aims to develop a microfluidic filtering and imaging device for rapid sterility testing in biomanufacturing of biologics such as nucleic acid products and proteins. Current sterility testing is costly and time-consuming, requires a large sample volume, and is not amenable to in-line/continuous processes. In this project, a miniaturized testing chip that can perform pathogen separation, labeling and imaging will be developed to enable rapid sterility testing.

Date: 08/01/22 - 1/31/24
Amount: $1,000,000.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Plant disease outbreaks are increasing and threaten food security for the vulnerable in many areas of the world and in the US. Climate change is exacerbating weather events that affect crop production and food access for vulnerable areas. Now a global human pandemic is threatening the health of millions on our planet. A stable, nutritious food supply will be needed to lift people out of poverty and improve health outcomes. Plant diseases, both endemic and recently emerging, are spreading and exacerbated by climate change, transmission with global food trade networks, pathogen spillover and evolution of new pathogen genetic lineages. Prediction of plant disease pandemics is unreliable due to the lack of real-time detection, surveillance and data analytics to inform decisions and prevent spread. In order to tackle these grand challenges, a new set of predictive tools are needed. In the PIPP Phase I project, our multidisciplinary team will develop a pandemic prediction system called “Plant Aid Database (PAdb)” that links pathogen transmission biology, disease detection by in-situ and remote sensing, genomics of emerging pathogen strains and real-time spatial and temporal data analytics and predictive simulations to prevent pandemics. We plan to validate the PAdb using several model pathogens including novel and host resistance breaking strains of lineages of two Phytophthora species, Phytophthora infestans and P. ramorum and the cucurbit downy mildew pathogen Pseudoperonspora cubensis Adoption of new technologies and mitigation interventions to stop pandemics require acceptance by society. In our work, we will also characterize how human attitudes and social behavior impact disease transmission and adoption of surveillance and sensor technologies by engaging a broad group of stakeholders including growers, extension specialist, the USDA APHIS, Department of Homeland Security and the National Plant Diagnostic Network in a Biosecurity Preparedness workshop. This convergence science team will develop tools that help mitigate future plant disease pandemics using predictive intelligence. The tools and data can help stakeholders prevent spread from initial source populations before pandemics occur and are broadly applicable to animal and human pandemic research.

Date: 12/01/21 - 12/31/23
Amount: $500.00
Funding Agencies: BASF Corporation

Using Microneedles in DNA extraction of black leg pathogen directly from infected leaf samples and evaluation of yielded DNA for Avr genes detection by KASP or resequencing.

Date: 12/01/21 - 12/31/23
Amount: $146,349.00
Funding Agencies: BASF Corporation

The goal of this project is to develop a low-cost, rapid VOC sensor for the detection of volatile emissions from fruits and vegetables. The initial target of the project will be onion. If successful, the technology can be potentially applied to watermelon, and other fruits and vegetables.

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