Hee Sun Han

Personal profile

Personal profile

Professor Han obtained her B.S. degree in Chemistry from the College of Natural Sciences at Seoul National University, Korea, where she graduated summa cum laude and as a Valedictorian. After college, she moved to Cambridge, USA to pursue graduate work in Physical Chemistry at MIT as a Samsung and KASF fellow. Under the guidance of Prof. Moungi G. Bawendi, she developed new quantum dot based imaging probes and a QD-based, phenotypic, intravital cytometric imaging platform. She then moved to Harvard to work with Prof. David A. Weitz as a postdoctoral fellow. At Harvard, she developed a drop-based microfluidic platform for high throughput genome sequencing. Han is currently the Mark A. Pytosh Scholar and Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Her group develops and implements new bioanalytical technologies to dissect molecular and cellular mechanisms driving the ensemble behavior of complex biological systems.

Research Interests

Bioanalytical technologies, In situ single cell omics (Spatially resolved single cell omics), Synthetic cells, Bioimaging, Drop microfluidics

Professional Information

The Han group leverages our expertise in microfluidics, bioimaging, nanotechnology, and materials chemistry to invent new bioanalytical technologies. We also implement the new tools to unveil the molecular and cellular mechanisms driving the ensemble behaviors of native biological systems. The followings are the drives of technological innovation in our lab:

Multiscale and multimodal imaging platform

The biology of multicellular organisms is structured at multiple levels. Networks of molecular interactions regulate cell function; Interface of cells with nearby cells and environments further shapes their state and function; Cells form highly interconnected functional networks organ-wide. Imaging is a powerful tool that probes both the molecular profiles and their spatial architecture. The spatial architecture is strongly tied to molecular and cellular interactions as well as higher-level functional networks. We develop imaging platforms that can access different dimensions of biological information at unprecedented scale and resolution. Using the new platform, we study how molecular and cellular interactions contribute to system-level functions. We develop both imaging platforms and data processing methodologies.

Droplet microfluidics-based bioanalytical platforms

Droplet microfluidics holds many advantages for high throughput assays and controlled assembly of functional materials. It compartmentalizes individual cells or molecules into micron-sized drops, allowing unbiased profiling of each analyte at high throughput. The small volume of drops ensures high reaction efficiencies with minimal input materials, providing single molecule sensitivity. Droplet microfluidics also allows controlled encapsulation of molecular machinery into drops and templated formation of functional structures. We develop microfluidic platforms that enable high resolution analysis of complex biological systems.

The specific systems and biological questions we ask constantly evolve, but we are generally interested in brains, tumor tissues, and microbial communities, the system that have inherent heterogeneity and strong intercellular interactions.


Harvard University: Postdoc in Physics/Applied Physics

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry

Seoul National University: B.S. in Chemistry

Honors & Awards

Johnson & Johnson WiSTEM2D Scholars Award for Science (2021)

Mark A. Pytosh Scholar (2017)

KFAS Scholar in Chemistry (2006-2012)

Samsung Scholar in Chemistry (2006-2011)

Valedictorian, Summa Cum Laude, Seoul National University (2006)

Representative of Korea in Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting (2006)

KFAS Scholar for undergraduate study (2004-2006)


Chem 520: Advanced Analytical Chemistry

Office Address

Department of Chemistry
Urbana, IL 61801


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