Prof. Brian T. Cunningham
Professor Cunningham completed his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 1990. He joined the Research Division of Raytheon, in Lexington, Massachusetts, from 1991-1995, where he was the group leader for Infrared Sensors Fabrication. He joined the Micromachined Sensors Group at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1995 as a senior member of the technical staff, where he later served in management roles that included Group Leader for MEMS Sensors, and Technical Director for Bioengineering Programs. At Draper Laboratory, Dr. Cunningham initiated efforts in biosensors, microfluidics, and tissue engineering. In 2000, he became the founder and CTO of SRU Biosystems, a company established to commercialize Photonic Crystal (PC) biosensors, detection instruments, and assays for applications in drug discovery and diagnostics. Professor Cunningham joined the faculty of the ECE Department at Illinois in 2004 as an associate professor, where he established the Nanosensors Group at the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory (MNTL). At Illinois, professor Cunningham served as the director of the NSF-funded Center for Innovative Instrumentation Technology (CiiT), the first Industry/University Cooperative Research Center at MNTL, and served among the initial faculty to join the newly-formed Bioengineering Department, where he was the founding Director of the Bioengineering Graduate Program. Professor Cunningham established the first M.Eng. professional master’s program in Bioengineering with strong participation from the UIUC Business School with a specialization in Bioinstrumentation. Professor Cunningham was appointed as interim director of the MNTL in 2013, as was selected as director of MNTL in 2014. He was named as the Donald Biggar Willett Professor of Engineering in 2015.
Professor Cunningham has authored or co-authored >173 peer-reviewed journal papers, >86 issued US patents, >137 conference talks, and has delivered >130 invited lectures. He is a Fellow of IEEE, AAAS, NAI, OSA, and AIMBE. His work has been recognized through the IEEE Sensors Council Technical Achievement Award (2010) the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) Technical Achievement Award (2014), the IEEE Sensors Council Distinguished Lectureship (2013), and the IEEE Photonics Society Distinguished Lectureship (2018). His research interests include biophotonics, bionanophotonics, micro/nanofabrication processes & materials, BioMEMS, lab-on-a-chip, microfluidics, biosensing, and applications in drug discovery, health diagnostics, mobile point-of-use detection systems, life science research, environmental monitoring, animal health, and food safety. Professor Cunningham’s key technical contributions and achievements stem from his invention and application of nanostructured photonic surfaces that efficiently couple electromagnetic energy into biological analytes, enabling high signal-to-noise sensing of materials that include small molecules, nucleic acids, proteins, virus particles, cells, and tissues. He has made key foundational contributions to the application of mobile devices (such as smartphones) to point-of-use detection systems that provide equivalent capabilities to laboratory-based instruments.