Contact Dr Zhugen Yang

Areas of expertise

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biosensors & Diagnostics
  • Environment and Health
  • Food Safety
  • Instrumentation, Sensors and Measurement Science
  • Monitoring and Environmental Informatics
  • Water Science and Engineering


Dr Zhugen Yang joined Cranfield University as a Lecturer (2019-22) and Senior Lecturer (2022-) leading a UKCRIC-funded Advanced Sensors Laboratory for water-environment-health-nexus, after being a Lecturer at the University of Glasgow. He has received three prestigious Fellowships/awards for different career stages, including EU Marie Curie Fellow (2013-15), UKRI NERC Personal Fellowship (2018-2021), and Leverhulme Research Leadership Awards (2023-2028). He completed his postdoc at the Universities of Cambridge and Glasgow, and was an EU Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Bath, after receiving his PhD at the University of Lyon (Ecole Centrale) in France, MSc (SYSU), and BEng (HIT) in China.

His research has been sponsored by a variety of sources (>£5m, PI on £4m) including UKRI (EPSRC, NERC, BBSRC, MRC), The Leverhulme Trust, The Royal Society, The Royal Academy of Engineering, industrial and governmental sectors (e.g., UKHSA, Home Office, Defra, EA), leading to over 70 referred articles (including PNAS, Nature Communications, ACS Nano, Adv Fucnt Mat, ES&T, Water Res, H=32 as of Feb 2022), several UK/PCT patents and a number of invited/keynote talks at international conferences. The key technology around low-cost sensors has led to a spin-out company at Cranfield. 

Dr Yang is recognized globally for his work in developing a low-cost origami-paper device for the rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases, especially recently on the rapid testing of sewage for early warning of Covid-19 within the population, which is part of the UK National Wastewater Surveillance Program (N-WESP). His work has received many national and international awards including a recent James J Morgan ACS ES&T Early Career Award- Honorable Mention, featuring in Science, and numerous media coverages (e.g., BBC News, The Washington Post, etc). The origami-paper device is currently featured at London Science Museum

Research opportunities

We now have the opening:

[1] by December 2023: 3 PDRAs (4+4+3 years FTE ) and 2 fully-funded PhD studentships on sensing wastewater for public health funded by Leverhulme Trust Research Leadership Awards - details coming soon  

[2] by June 2023: a 30-month PDRA  and 1 PhD studentship on CRISPR/Cas systems with artificial cells for biocomputing. 

[3] EPSRC CDT & Industry funded PhD studentship (4 years) starting from Oct 2023, Electrochemical and paper-microfluidics detection for monitoring of water disinfection,

We are consistently recruiting talented researchers/students in the areas of sensors, microfluidics, paper-based devices, molecular diagnostics, water quality, environmental health, and wastewater-based epidemiology, please get in touch for discussion on the potential funding opportunities. We typically recruit 2-3 students each year to ensure quality supervision. Please be in touch for discussion on self-funded or third-source funded opportunities. 

Researcher students: [1] PhD candidates (3-4 years); [2] MSc by Research (12 months lab work to get MSc,  optional to extend two years more for a PhD degree; [3] Visiting research students/placements/internships (no less than three months, ideally 6 months or more)

Postdoc, Fellowship, and Visiting Scholar: We are always keen to support talented scientists as Research Fellows, and visiting Fellows/scholars to apply for a third funding source (e.g. CSC, Leverhulme Trust, Royal Commission 1851, UK Newton fellowship, EU Marie Curie Fellowship) to explore exciting scientific research.

Current activities

Dr Yang is currently leading the UKCRIC-funded Advanced Sensors Laboratory at Cranfield University. His multidisciplinary team on Advanced Sensors for Water-Environment-Health nexus focuses on the development of low-cost, rapid, and point-of-use sensors and devices for environmental science (e.g. microbial contamination in drinking water), public health (e.g. infectious, illicit drugs), and biomedical diagnostics (e.g. infectious disease and cancer). The major grants are listed below.

Dr Yang serves as editor of a special issue for TrAC -Trends in Analytical Chemistry (IF 14.9), Chemosphere (IF 8.9), Associate Editor for Heliyon Chemical Engineering, Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology (IF 6.0); Editorial Advisory/ECR Board for Advance in Sample Preparation (Elsevier), Environment Science & Ecotechnology (Elsevier IF 9.8), co-chairing/session-chairing the international conference. He leads a working group on environmental sensors and wastewater surveillance sponsored by UKRI BBSRC EBNet, and is organizing the international conference TTW6 in Oxford in 2023.  

Current Projects 

  1. UK Leverhulme Trust Research Leadership Award, Sensing wastewater for real-time public health (PI, 2023-2028, £1.9M)
  2. UKRI-BBSRC, Anglo-Canadian Collaboration on Antimicrobial resistance (ACCAMR), BB/X012840/1 (PI, 2023-2025, £150k) with Universities of Toronto, McGill, Calgary, Laval
  3. BioBit International Programme at Zhejiang Lab, CRISPR/Cas-enabled smart sensors integration within artificial cells for biocomputing (PI, 2023-2026, £420,000);
  4. UKRI MRC IAA, Origami paper device for point of care diagnosis of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (PI in Cranfield, 2023-2024)
  5. UK Royal Academy of Engineering Frontier Follow-on scheme, Low-cost paper-based biosensors for rapid monitoring of water quality in LMICs, (PI, 2020 – 2024, FF\1920\1\36, £310,286); in collaboration with Federal University Lafia, Nigeria & Cameron
  6. UK Royal Academy of Engineering Frontier Follow-on scheme -Top up funds for translation( PI, 2023-2024)
  7. UK Royal Society Research Grants, Understanding AMR transmission in the environment using the digital molecular method (PI, 2023-2024, RGS\R1\231032) 
  8. UK Royal Society, Development of microfluidic paper-based biochips for point-of-care detection of multiple cytokines,(PI, 2022-2024, IEC\NSFC\211234)
  9. UKRI-BBSRC Proof-of-Concept, CRISPR/Cas-enabled paper-based sensors for rapid monitoring of antimicrobial resistance (PI, 2022-2023)
  10. UK Research England HEIF Spinning Out Novel Pathogen Analysis Technology (PI, 2023-2023)
  11. UK Home Office/Health Security Agency, Post-pandemic sensors for wastewater, PI, 2021-2023
  12. EPSRC-DTP, Diagnostic evaluation of removal of protozoan oocysts (2020-2023)  

Completed Projects

  1. UK NERC NPIF Innovation Fellowship, Lab-on-a-Paper for Point-of-Use Microbial Source Tracking (PI, 2018 – 2021, NE/R013349/1, £537,033); 
  2. UK NERC, National COVID-19 Wastewater Epidemiology Surveillance Programme (Co-I, 2020 – 2021, NE/V010441/1, £791,191).
  3. UK BBSRC, (Co-I, 2018 – 2020, BB/S004335/1, £200,000); with Cefas, Cromarty Mussels Ltd.
  4. UK Home Office/ACE, Automation for wastewater surveillance, 2021-2022 (Co-I, £247,620)
  5. UK DEFRA - Deloitte MCS Limited, Exploring the development opportunities around the Covid19 WasteWater Sampling, (Co-I, 2022-2022)
  6. Africa Honey Consortium, Establishing a rapid testing system for contaminant detection in African honey (Co-I,2021-2022)
  7. UK Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), Research England, Commercialization of origami-paper device for wastewater surveillance, (PI, 2022-2022)
  8. UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) - Deloitte MCS Limited, Understanding exposure routes and pathways of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the environment (PI, 2022-2022)
  9. Research England via Cranfield University, Smart Living Grand Challenges, (Co-I, 2020-2022)
  10. UK Home Office/ACE, Paper-origami device for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater, (PI, 2021-2022)
  11. Anglian Water, Rapid Covid sensors, PI, 2020-2021
  12. Industry partner, Automatic detection for sewage virus, PI, 2020-2022
  13. UK Royal Academy of Engineering, Low-cost and rapid water sensors for LMICs (PI, 2018 – 2020, FoDSF\1819\1\8); with Federal University Lafia
  14. UK Royal Academy of Engineering, Rapid Sepsis Diagnostics (Co-I, 2018 - 2019, FoEST1819\T6\4); with Tran Hung Dao University Hospital, Vietnam
  15. UK Scottish Research Partnership in Engineering, Rapid monitoring of water contamination using cost-effective sensors, (PI, 2018 - 2019, PECRE1819/05)


UKRI (NERC, EPSRC, BBSRC, MRC),  The Leverhulme Trust, The Royal Society, The Royal Academy of Engineering, Home Office, Environment Agency, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Scottish Partnership of Research Funds, Scottish Water, Anglian Water, and other industry


Articles In Journals