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Stanley Liu

Stanley Liu

Stanley Liu

Age: 18
Hometown: Arcadia, CA

Engineering: “A Microfluidic Device for Blood Plasma Separation and Fluorescence Detection of Biomarkers Using Acoustic Microstreaming”

About Stanley

My name is Stanley Liu and I’m originally from Arcadia, California. I will be studying bioengineering and computational neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall.

I love backpacking, long-distance running, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, reading, going on adventures with my dog Jerry, and listening to Joe Rogan podcasts! I am currently living in Philadelphia over the summer working as a full-time research assistant at the University of Pennsylvania Bau Laboratory.

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"Being selected as a Davidson Fellow and recognized for my original engineering project means the world to me. I am incredibly grateful to the Davidson Institute for giving me this opportunity to share my story with thousands of aspiring scientists nationwide. Reading the biographies and project descriptions of the past Davidson Scholars when I was younger inspired me to believe in my dreams when no one else around me did. My only hope is that my words can reach young boys or girls with even the tiniest interest in STEM to pursue their dreams. "

Stanley Liu

Project Description

For many developing countries, infectious diseases such as HIV are highly prevalent and lead to thousands of deaths every year. This is widely attributed to the inaccessibility of inexpensive and accurate diagnostic tests in areas with limited medical infrastructure and trained personnel. In my project, I developed a handheld diagnostic device for the detection of HIV. The handheld microfluidic device developed in this project could potentially provide fast and highly accurate detection of infectious diseases at <$2 per device.

Deeper Dive

In my project, I developed a handheld diagnostic device for quantitative fluorescent detection of HIV-1 antibodies from blood. The device costs <$2 to fabricate and has the potential to save thousands of lives in developing countries. I was originally inspired to pursue this project through reading about the Ebola epidemic in 2016. Hearing testimonies from health care workers and local villagers shed light on the horrors of pathogenic viruses. For many developing countries, infectious diseases such as Ebola and HIV are highly prevalent and lead to thousands of deaths every year. This is widely attributed to the inaccessibility of inexpensive and accurate diagnostic tests in areas with limited medical infrastructure and trained personnel. Through my project, I hope to develop a future generation of highly sensitive and inexpensive diagnostic devices to prevent future outbreaks.

During the initial stages of my project, I emailed 127 virology researchers in neighboring universities for mentorship and guidance on my project. After receiving dozens of rejection letters, Prof. Suraiya Rasheed at the Laboratory of Viral Oncology of the University of Southern California was the one researcher willing to mentor me. Throughout my project, she has been incredibly supportive and provided invaluable guidance in the face of experimental adversity. Even after improperly frozen samples invalidated days of data collection, Professor Rasheed always reminded me that setbacks were an essential part of being a researcher, and an opportunity to learn and grow from our mistakes. She inspires me every day to be a more resilient version of myself and I am so grateful to her for her unconditional belief over the past 3 years. I would also like to thank my AP chemistry teacher Mrs. Mynster, Honors U.S History teacher Ms. Leahy, favorite office secretary Ms. Rudolph, and principal Ms. Dillman for their unwavering support throughout my research journey.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of my research laboratory limited my ability to continue collecting more data for my project. I instead focused on data analysis with the experimental data already collected before the pandemic and wrote a research paper to share my findings with the scientific community. After 28 versions of edits, I submitted the final version of the manuscript to Sensors & Actuators A: Physical, a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Our paper was finally published in the January issue of the journal.

My work on the development of a point-of-care HIV diagnostics device could help prevent the spread of future pandemics for many infectious diseases. This inexpensive, portable, and user-friendly device could be used within the homes of thousands or for all medical personnel in developing countries to mass test patients for the presence of target biomarkers. Combined with strict quarantining and contact tracking procedures, this device could prevent the spread of infectious diseases and save the lives.


Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years, I see myself running my own neuroengineering company to develop therapeutics for patients with neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and ALS + teaching students Brazilian jiu-jitsu + embarking on the MOAB 240 ultramarathon race + finally being a guest on the Joe Rogan Experience. 

If you could have dinner with the five most interesting people in the world, living or dead, who would they be?

Khabib Nurmagomedov, Angelin Mathew, Joe Rogan, Lex Fridman and David Goggins

What is your favorite food?

  1. Momma Liu’s fried rice
  2. Close 2nd: Chicken over rice from the Halal Food Card on 41st and Walnut Street at Penn 

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In The News

Los Angeles – The Davidson Fellows Scholarship Program has announced the 2021 scholarship winners. Among the honorees are 18-year-old Stanley Liu of Arcadia and 16-year-old Ashwin Sivakumar of Pasadena. Only 20 students across the country to be recognized as scholarship winners each year.

Download the full press release here