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Staff Directory

John Zhang

(703) 292-8111
(703) 292-9146
E 14400
Program Director

Program Responsibilities:
Communications, Circuits, and Sensing-Systems (CCSS)
Smart Health and Biomedical Research in the Era of Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Data Science (SCH)
Smart Health and Biomedical Research in the Era of Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Data Science (SCH)


Dr. John X.J. Zhang joined NSF as a program director under IPA assignment in the ECCS Division in September 2020. He is a Professor at Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, and an Investigator in the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Before joining Dartmouth, he was a tenured faculty at the University of Texas of Austin (UT Austin). He received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, California in 2004, and was a Research Scientist in Systems Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) before joining the faculty at UT Austin in 2005. Dr. Zhang is a Fellow of American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).

Dr. Zhang’s research focuses on exploring bio-inspired nanomaterials, scale-dependent biophysics, and nanofabrication technology. The objectives are to: (1) develop new diagnostic devices and methods to screen rare biomarkers for a range of human disorders; (2) probe complex cellular processes and biological networks critical to whole-body functions in health and disease; and (3) to advance fundamental micro and nanotechnologies. Both multi-scale experimental and theoretical approaches are combined within the lab to investigate fundamental force, flow, and energy processes that lie at the interface of engineering and biomedicine. By favoring this innovative, combinatorial approach, the Zhang research group has become a leader in the development of integrated microfluidic and photonic microsystems (MEMS, micro-electro-mechanical systems), semiconductor chips, and other nanotechnologies to facilitate precision medicine and point-of-care (POC) diagnostics for global health initiatives. His group has published over 280 peer-reviewed publications, presented over 70 invited seminars worldwide, and filed more than 50 patents (8 US patents and 30+ international patents issued). 

        Among his numerous awards, Dr. Zhang received the prestigious Wallace H. Coulter Foundation Early Career Award in Biomedical Engineering in 2006 for his innovative research in microphotonic imaging scanners and microsystems for early cancer detection. In 2009, Dr. Zhang received an NSF CAREER award for his cutting-edge research in plasmonic scanning probe design for controlled perturbation and imaging at the sub-cellular level, which has enabled a wide range of molecular dynamics studies in live cells and embryos. In 2010, Dr. Zhang received the DARPA Young Faculty Award for the invention of patterned plasmonic surface on MEMS for lab-on-chip biosensing applications. For translational research, Dr. Zhang received NIH R01 awards to develop advanced opto-microfluidic microchips for circulating tumor cell (CTC) analysis, which has enabled the proactive monitoring of cancer prognosis and early cancer detection. Dr. Zhang was also awarded an NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award in 2016 to develop implantable energy-harvesting devices enabled by flexible porous polymer films integrated on multi-stable structures. For industrial collaborations, his lab received Facebook SARA award, Sony Faculty Innovation Award, Agilent University Research Award and many other recognitions.

        To recognize his accomplishment in research and education, Dr. Zhang was selected to attend the prestigious US National Academy of Engineering, Frontiers of Engineering (NAE FOE) program in 2011, the NAE Frontiers of Engineering Education (NAE FOEE) program in 2012, and, subsequently, the NAE China-America Frontiers of Engineering Symposium (CAFOE) in 2013. As an active member in his professional community, Dr. Zhang has served on numerous international conference organizing committees and editorial boards. Currently, he is the joint-chair for IEEE EMBS in New England area. Dr. Zhang has mentored over 30 Ph.D. students and post-doctoral scholars, and published a textbook in biomedical engineering.