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 Zhguen Yang joined Cranfield University as a Lecturer (2019-22) and Senior Lecturer (2022-),  after being a Lecturer at the University of Glasgow. He was awarded a prestigious UK NERC Fellowship in 2018 to lead a group in developing advanced sensors for water-environment-health-nexus. He completed his postdoc at the University of Cambridge, an EU Marie Curie Fellow at the Universities of Bath and Glasgow. He received his PhD at the University of Lyon (Ecole Centrale, France), MSc (SYSU), and BEng (HIT) in China.

His research has been sponsored by a variety of sources (~£3m) including UKRI (EPSRC, NERC, BBSRC), the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and industrial and governmental sectors (e.g., UKHSA, Home Office, EA), leading to over 60 referred articles (including PNAS, Nature Communications, ES&T, Water Res, ACS Nano, H=31 as of Oct 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 programme (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 2021, and numerous media coverages(e.g., BBC News, Washington Post, Yahoo, and China Daily, etc). The origami-paper device is currently featured at London Science Museum

Research opportunities

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. 

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 currently have openings for a 30-month PDRA on CRISPR/Cas systems with artificial cells for biocomputing (the job advert comes soon). Welcome to be in touch with a background in synthetic biology, microfluidics, and biocomputing. 

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 '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) with major grants 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 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. 

Current Projects 

  1. BioBit International Programme at Zhejiang Lab, CRISPR/Cas-enabled smart sensors integration within artificial cells for biocomputing (PI, 2023-2026, £420,000);
  2. UK Royal Academy of Engineering Frontier Follow-on scheme -Top up funds for translation( PI, 2023-2024)
  3. 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
  4. UKRI-BBSRC- Proof of Concept, CRISPR/Cas-enabled paper-based sensors for rapid monitoring of antimicrobial resistance (PI, 2022-2023);
  5. UK Royal Society, Development of microfluidic paper-based biochips for point-of-care detection of multiple cytokines,(PI, 2022-2024, IEC\NSFC\211234)
  6. UK Home Office/ACE, Automation for wastewater surveillance, 2021-2023 (Co-I, £247,620)
  7. UK Home Office/Health Security Agency, Post-pandemic sensors for wastewater, PI, 2021-2023)
  8. Africa Honey Consortium, Establishing a rapid testing system for contaminant detection in African honey (Co-I,2021-2022)

Completed Project

  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 DEFRA - Deloitte MCS Limited, Exploring the development opportunities around the Covid19 WasteWater Sampling, (Co-I, 2022-2022)
  5. UK Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), Research England, Commercialization of origami-paper device for wastewater surveillance, (PI, 2022-2022)
  6. Research England via Cranfield University, Smart Living Grand Challenges, (Co-I, 2020-2022)
  7. UK Home Office/ACE, Paper-origami device for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater, (PI, 2021-2022)
  8. Anglian Water, Rapid Covid sensors, PI, 2020-2021
  9. Industry partner, Automatic detection for sewage virus, PI, 2020-2022
  10. UK Royal Academy of Engineering, Low-cost and rapid water sensors for LMICs (PI, 2018 – 2020, FoDSF\1819\1\8); with Federal University Lafia
  11. UK Royal Academy of Engineering, Rapid Sepsis Diagnostics (Co-I, 2018 - 2019, FoEST1819\T6\4); with Tran Hung Dao University Hospital, Vietnam
  12. UK Scottish Research Partnership in Engineering, Rapid monitoring of water contamination using cost-effective sensors, (PI, 2018 – 2019, PECRE1819/05)


UKRI (NERC, EPSRC, BBSRC), Royal Society, 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