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Juhong Chen

Assistant Professor
  • Research areas: Food Safety Engineering; Biosensors and Bioinstrumentation


Ph.D., Food Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass), 2016

B.Eng., Biological Engineering, East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST), Shanghai China 2012


August 2019 - Present, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg VA

September 2017 – August 2019, Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley CA

June 2016 – August 2017, Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca NY

September 2011 – June 2012, R&D Intern, Food Innovation Center, Dutch State Mines (DSM), Shanghai China

Selected Major Awards:

Travel grant for Nanoscale Science and Engineering, Agriculture and Food Systems, Gordon Research Conference, 2018

Outstanding contribution in reviewing the journal of Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 2018

Withycombe-Charalambous Award for Graduate Student Symposium, Agricultural and Food Chemistry, American Chemical Society 

Courses Taught Last Five Years

  • BSE 3524: Unit Operations in Biological Systems Engineering
  • BSE 4534: Biological Processing Lab
  • BSE 4604: Food Process Engineering

Program Focus

My research focuses on the development and application of the most advanced and innovative technologies (e.g. nanomaterials, bacteriophage, CRISPR, microfluidics, and artificial intelligence) to develop biosensors for the detection of biological and chemical contaminant in the food and agricultural systems, such as pathogens, viruses, DNA-of-interest, allergens, toxins, pesticides, and heavy metals. Drawing on chemistry, biochemistry, synthetic biology, material engineering, and nanofabrication, I strive to rapidly and sensitively detect contaminant analytes in food and agricultural samples. In addition, I am employing these advanced technologies in the field of environmental engineering and biomedical engineering.

I currently focus on the following specific areas:

  • Improving the microbial safety in the food systems, and reducing pathogen colonization in the food contact surfaces using functional antimicrobial surfaces and novel natural/green-synthesized nanomaterials
  • Developing advanced bi-functional magnetic nanosensors to separate, purify, and detect biological and chemical contaminants in the food and agricultural systems
  • Genetically engineering bacteriophages (viruses, which only infect bacteria) for the multiplexed detection of foodborne pathogens
  • Applying the advanced CRISPR-Cas12 system to detect point mutation in the bacterial gene, such as an antibiotic-resistant gene, a toxin gene, and a pathogenic virulence gene
  • Fabricating portable digital microfluidic chips to detect and characterize DNA-of-interest or bacteria cell at a single cell/molecule level

Selected Publications

  • J. Chen, S.M. Andler, J.M. Goddard, S.R. Nugen, and V.M. Rotello, “Integrating Recognition Elements with Nanomaterials for Bacteria Sensing”, Chemical Society Reviews 2017, 46, 1272-1283.
  • J. Chen, A.A. Jackson, V.M. Rotello, and S.R. Nugen, “Colorimetric Detection of Escherichia coli Based on the Enzyme-Induced Metallization of Gold Nanorods”, Small 2016, 12, 18, 2469-2475.
  • J. Chen, S. Pang, L. He, and S.R. Nugen, “Highly Sensitive and Selective Detection of Nitrite Ions Using Fe3O4@Au Magnetic Nanoparticles by Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy”, Biosensors & Bioelectronics. 2016, 85, 726- 733.
  • J. Chen, B. Duncan, Z. Wang, L.-S. Wang, V.M. Rotello, and S.R. Nugen, “Bacteriophage-based Nanoprobes for Rapid Bacteria Separation”, Nanoscale, 2015, 16230-16236.
  • J. Chen, Y. Li, K. Huang, P. Wang, L. He, K.R. Carter, and S.R. Nugen, “Nanoimprint Patterned Pillar Substrates for Surface-enhanced Raman Scattering Application”, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2015, 7, 22106-22113.
  • J. Chen, S.D. Alcaine, Z. Jiang, V.M. Rotello, and S.R. Nugen, “Detection of Escherichia coli in Drinking Water Using T7 Bacteriophage-conjugated Magnetic Probe”, Analytical Chemistry 2015, 87, 8977-8984.
  • J. Chen, S.D. Alcaine, A.A. Jackson, V.M. Rotello, and S.R. Nugen, “Development of Engineered Bacteriophages for Escherichia coli Detection and High-Throughput Antibiotic Resistance Determination”, ACS Sensors 2017, 2(4), 484-489.
  • J. Chen, Y. Zhou, D. Wang, F. He, V.M. Rotello, K.R. Carter, J.J. Watkins, and S.R. Nugen, “UV-Nanoimprint Lithography as a Tool to Develop Flexible Microfluidic Devices for Electrochemical Detection”, Lab on a Chip, 2015, 15, 3086-3094. 

Complete List of Published Work can be found on Google Scholar

Selected Recent Funding

  • Development of CRISPR-equipped engineered phages (CREEPs) for the detection of Escherichia coli (indicator bacteria) in agricultural water. PI, USDA NIFA, $450,463, 01/01/2021 – 12/31/2023.
  • Improving the limit of viral pathogen detection in food matrices using engineered phages to concentrate and purify viral particles. PI, Virginia Tech CeZAP, $20,000, 10/01/2021 – 06/15/2022.
  • Digital nanofluidic chip for simple and highly quantitative detection of foodborne pathogens. co-PI, USDA NIFA, $740,537, 012/01/2022 – 01/31/2025.