Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical engineering students Elzani van Zyl ‘17, Ben Pulver ’17, and Taylor Flaxington ‘17 are developing a cell phone-based microscope and microfluidic cartridge for diagnosing malaria in the field.

The awardees photos from left to right are Pam Weathers, Ben Pulver, Elzani van Zyl, Paul Lakenian, Huong Higgins, and Kevin Sweeney. Taylor Flaxington (not pictured).



Their design features two components: a simple light microscope, powered by the phone, that uses the phone’s camera to take magnified images of blood samples, and slide cartridges for staining and preparing the samples. Together these parts offer a diagnostic solution that costs about 50 cents per test and can be deployed around the world in countries with little access to medical testing and care.


Initially, as part of the course, Biomedical Engineering Design, the group created and tested the device. They continued to work on the microscope after the course ended and competed and won a Kalenian Award.


The Kalenian Award provides seed funds to support and advance the ideas and inventiveness of WPI students, faculty, and alumni. This award was established in 2006 by Alba Kalenian in memory of her late husband, Aram Kalenian (WPI class of 1933). The award focusses on students with promising ideas, promoting an entrepreneurial mindset at WPI.