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Warren Ruder

Assistant Professor


Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, 2009

M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, 2008

B.S., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2002


August 2012 – present – Assistant Professor of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

February 2010 – July 2012 – Postdoctoral Research Associate, Boston University

October 2009 – January 2010 – Postdoctoral Fellow, Carnegie Mellon University

June 2003 – July 2005 – Health Science Specialist, Veterans Affairs Boston Heathcare System and Harvard Medical School

Selected Major Awards

  • 2014 - U.S. National Academy of Sciences Frontiers of Engineering Invited Participant
  • 2014 - Virginia Tech Alpha Epsilon Society’s “Faculty Member of the Year”
  • 2008 - Carnegie Mellon University Dowd – ICES Fellow
  • 2007 - US Graduate Student Delegate to the 57th Meeting of Students and Nobel Laureates in Lindau, Germany
  • 2007 - TA of the Year, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Courses Taught Last Five Years

  • BSE 3504 Transport Processes in Biological Systems 
  • BSE 4204 Instrumentation in Biological Systems
  • BSE 4984/5984 Synthetic Biology – Engineering Living Systems

My laboratory focuses on applying synthetic biology constructs, methods, and paradigms to solve a range of industrial, medical, and environmental problems. Our mission includes both understanding the fundamental biology of natural bioprocessing systems as well as re-engineering these systems with synthetic control circuits. We have expertise in multiple fields including gene circuit engineering, cell physiology and biomechanics, microfluidics, MEMS, biomaterials, and polar (Antarctic) ecology. We are keen to work with potential students, postdoctoral fellows, and collaborators from a diversity of backgrounds.

Selected Recent Publications

(*indicates undergrad student, **indicates graduate student, ***indicates post-doc)


  • Heyde, K. C.** and Ruder, W.C. 2015. Exploring Host-Microbiome Interactions using an in Silico Model of Biomimetic Robots and Engineered Living Cells. Sci. Rep. 5, 11988; DOI: 10.1038/srep11988.
  • González, L.M.**, Ruder, W.C., Mitchell, A.P., Messner, W.C., and Leduc, P.R. 2015. Sudden Motility Reversal Indicates Sensing of Magnetic Field Gradients in Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1 strain. The ISME Journal. The ISME Journal. 9, 1399-1409.
  • Paek, S.-H.** and Ruder, W.C. 2014. Synthetic Biology Approaches to Cell Therapy. Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine. 1–29.
  • González, L.M.**, Ruder, W.C., Leduc, P.R., and Messner, W.C. 2014. Controlling magnetotactic bacteria through an integrated nanofabricated metallic island and optical microscope approach. Scientific Reports. Feb 20;4:4104.
  • Rice, M.K.* and Ruder, W.C.  2014. Creating biological nanomaterials using synthetic biology. Science and Technology of Advanced Materials. 15 014401.
  • Ruder, W.C., Hsu, C.-P.D., Edelman, B.D., Schwartz, R., and LeDuc, P.R. 2012. Biological Colloid Engineering: Self-Assembly of Dipolar Ferromagnetic Chains in a Functionalized Biogenic Ferrofluid. Applied Physics Letters. 101, 063701. DOI: 10.1063/1.4742329
    Link to Publication
  • Ruder, W.C., Pratt, E.D., Brandy, N.Z.D., LaVan, D.A., LeDuc, P.R., and Antaki, J.F. 2012. Calcium signaling is gated by a mechanical threshold in three-dimensional environments. Scientific Reports. 2, 554. DOI:10.1038/srep00554
    Link to Publication
  • Ruder, W.C., and Leduc, P.R. 2012.Cells gain traction in 3D. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 109(28):11060-1.
    Link to Publication
  • Ruder, W.C., Pratt, E.D., Bakhru, S., Sitti, M., Zappe, S., Cheng, C.M., Antaki, J.F., and LeDuc, P.R. 2012. Three-Dimensional Polymeric Microfiber Devices with Minimal Feature Profiles for Probing Cell Mechanics and Signaling. Lab on a Chip. 12(10):1775-9.
    Link to Publication
  • Denny, M., Dorgan, K.M., Evangelista, D., Hettinger, A., Leichter, J., Ruder, W.C., and Tuval, I. 2011. Anchor Ice and Benthic Disturbance in Shallow Antarctic Waters: Interspecific Variation in Initiation and Propagation of Ice Crystals. The Biological Bulletin. 221(2):155-63.
    Link to Publication
  • Ruder, W.C., Lu, T., and Collins, J.J. 2011. Synthetic Biology Moving into the Clinic. Science. 333(6047):1248-52.
    Link to Publication
  • Ruder, W.C., and Leduc, P.R. 2011. Bioinspirations: Cell-Inspired Small-Scale Systems for Enabling Studies in Experimental Biomechanics. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 51(1):133-41.
    Link to Publication
  • Kuczenski, B., Ruder, W.C., Messner, W.C., and LeDuc, P.R. 2009. Probing Cellular Dynamics with a Chemical Signal Generator. PLoS ONE. 4(3): e4847. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0004847
    Link to Publication
  • Zhang, Y., Ruder, W.C., and LeDuc, P.R. 2008. Artificial cells: building bioinspired systems using small-scale biology. Trends in Biotechnology. 26(1):14-20.
    Link to Publication

Selected Recent Funding

  • Utilizing synthetic biology to engineer bacteria that fabricate their own environmental life-support prosthesis, Office of Naval Research, $530,626, 6/15-5/18, Principal Investigator.
  • Engineering Magnetically Activated Symbiosis between Artificial Cells and Commensal Bacteria to Enhance Human Performance, AFOSR, $389,940, 3/13-2/17, Co-Principal Investigator (PI: P. LeDuc; Co-PI: R. Schwartz).
  • Recovering Environmentally Distributed Pollutants using Dynamic Bacterial Biofilms Controlled by Synthetic Biology, Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS), $120,000, 7/15-6/17, Principal Investigator (Co-PI: M. Stremler).
  • Building Cyborgs – An Interdisciplinary Approach to Engineering Education, Student Engineers’ Council, $7,500, 4/15-4/16, Principal Investigator.
  • Utilizing Synthetic Biology to Detect Endocrine Disruptors in Household Water, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, $24,000, 3/13-6/14, Principal Investigator (Co-PI: B. Benham).