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Faculty Focus on Professor Vish Subramaniam

Faculty Focus introduces you to our talented scholars who continue to attract the best and brightest engineering students and whose insights and research keep us at the leading edge of innovation and discovery.

Vish Subramaniam

Chair, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Director, Applied Physics Lab

What is the focus of your research and why is it significant?

My research focuses on the interaction between low-frequency weak electromagnetic fields and tissues, cells and similar biological systems.  We are constantly bathed in electromagnetic waves and it is interesting to ponder how they might interact with biological systems.  We have recently found that weak electromagnetic fields with frequencies on the order of 100 kHz or smaller affect cell migration, wound healing, cellular signaling, cell differentiation and disruption of antibiotic-resistant bacterial biofilm networks.  These could have profound consequences for understanding and treating cancer metastasis, continuous and non-invasive detection of malaria, detection and imaging of solid tumors, accelerating wound healing, combating antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, to name a few areas of interest to human health.  On a more basic level, life on earth evolved in the presence of gravitational forces, chemical influences, and a very active electromagnetic environment, and the effect of the latter on biological systems remains poorly understood despite a few centuries of research on bioelectricity.

Why should a prospective student consider mechanical engineering?

Mechanical engineering remains the broadest engineering discipline and given the right course plan can prepare you for different future career paths.  I think given how fast technology and modern life is evolving, it is one of the few disciplines that keeps as many future career paths open as possible. 

What do you like most about your job?

That I 'm not required to wear a tie or suit, and of course the freedom to really think. 

What advice would you give students considering an engineering career?

Whatever you do, choose your options with deliberation, with forethought, and with sights set on leaving as many career options ("doors") open as possible. 

What’s the one thing you can’t live without?

My family.