Dr W M (Steve) Lee

Harvard/MGH-Postdoc (Biomed) | St Andrews- PhD(Physics) | NTU- B.Eng(Hons)
Group Leader
ANU College of Health and Medicine
T: +6126125 6166

Areas of expertise

  • Biological Physics 029901
  • Optical Physics 0205
  • Fluidisation And Fluid Mechanics 091504
  • Cell Physiology 320801
  • Cellular Interactions (Incl. Adhesion, Matrix, Cell Wall) 310105
  • Bioinformatic Methods Development 310201
  • Artificial Intelligence And Image Processing 0801
  • Biomedical Instrumentation 090303
  • Medical Biotechnology Diagnostics (Incl. Biosensors) 100402
  • Cardiovascular Medicine And Haematology 1102

Research interests

ANU Optical Biofluidics Group (Lee group@JCSMR

Living cells are an integrated network of genes, proteins and dynamic metabolic reactions that give rise to functions that are essential for life. Cells moves and organizes into complex networks  under a diverse range of microscopic fluidic forces (interstitial and vascular flow) in response to injury, pathogen invasion and cancer. 

Our mission is to develop adaptive, low phototoxicity imaging tools that can map out long range directed cell migration under fluid pressure (static and dynamic) that occurs during organ development, injury and infection.



Steve's broad research interest is focused on the application of imaging science in the field of biomedical science.

Steve earned degrees in electronics engineering  (Nanyang Tech Uni), Physics (Uni St Andrews) and trained in advanced bioimaging (Harvard) and industry instrumentation (Nikon/Einst). In his undergraduate and research assistantship, he studied phase singularities in shaped light field (aka fluidic vortex of light) by pioneering optical holography and so-gel electron lithography methods. He then headed R&D department at Einst Technology Pte Ltd to develop confocal laser scanning technologies. His PhD (2010)- University of St Andrews and University of Arizona led to the invention of an optical fiber-capillary fluidics diagnostic tool that resolved the fundamental optical properties of nanofluids. In parallel, he developed fluid shear optical gene transfection in mammalian cells with laser trapping/cavitation. From 2010-2012, at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital (Wellman Photomedicine), he worked with Andy Yun as a NIH/NIDDK postdoctoral fellow to pioneer in vivo imaging tools that investigated micro-blood vessel flow dynamics in tumorigenesis, organ transplantation and taste sensation in living mice. 

At start of his independent lab in mid-2013, he invented fluidic-lens gravity shaping principles for low cost high performance smartphone microscopy/dermatoscope and was awarded the 2014 ANSTO Innovative Technology Award by Australian Museum.

Since 2012, he has won successive competitive research fellowships and project grants (e.g.UNSW VC Fellow, ANU NIG-FERL, ARC DECRA, 2x ARC DP, 1x NHMRC Ideas, 1x ACRF, 2x CSIRO-AusIndustry, 1x PBCRC-Biosecurity). 

Researcher's projects

oBIGGoogle Scholar , ORCIDResearchGate

Seeing cells move under fluid pressure & Beating the limits of Phototoxicity

Our mission is to develop adaptive, low phototoxicity imaging tools that can map out long range directed cell migration under fluid pressure (static and dynamic) that occurs during organ development, injury and infection.


Available student projects

To fulfil our mission, we shall be recruiting two PhD candidates join a small and highly dynamic team of researchers (biophysicists, biochemists, computational biologists) to work on the following projects

1. Mapping long range cell migration and memory under changing extracellular fluid pressure

Fluid-mediated mechanical forces (hydrostatic, hydrodynamic) have emerged as a prominent player in promoting biological processes such as cell migration and aggregation, influencing gene expressions that reshape tissue and influence organ development, as well as informing disease progression in metastasis and thrombosis.

This PhD will work in an international group of biophysicists, and lead in the application of bespoken quantitative bioimaging technologies to study how hydrostatic and hydrodynamic fluid forces influence long range migratory pattern of mammalian cells. Novel 4D computational single cell approaches will be explored.

2. Adaptive low phototoxicity Imaging of migrating cells in small animals

Phototoxicity describes the phenomenon that light induces undesirable physiological changes in the observed living sample, be that single cells from a cell culture or a multicellular organism. With the excitation light intensities widely used in live animal imaging, it is critical to create new optical tools that will remove significant alterations in the biochemistry, physiology and dynamic behaviour of the observed sample from light.

This PhD will work with group of biophysicists, cancer biologists, immunologists, to develop novel adaptive imaging solutions using cutting edge multiphoton tools and new computational imaging packages to study processes of cell migrating in living organs.

Unlimited access to cutting edge biophysical tools: Both candidates will have unlimited access to a host of industry-grade 4D optical imaging and computational platforms developed and designed by the Biofluidic Group (OBIG) that are located at John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR) at the Australian National University – Canberra, ACRF INCITE Centre at Garvan Institute of Medical Research – Sydney, Doherty Institute at Melbourne – ARC LIEF.  Projects will be embedded in JCSMR, Garvan and Doherty graduate programs with excellent supervision and a dynamic and international community of international PhD students.

Our expectations: Applicants are required to hold a 1st Class Honours or Master’s degree in the biophysics and/or biological sciences or other basic science disciplines in physics, chemistry and biology. A good command of the English language is necessary.  We also welcome cell biologists with previous experience in advanced fluorescence microscopy as well as computational biologists with experience advanced image data analysis. At the ANU, we strongly support equal opportunity and diversity. We welcome all applicants regardless of sex, nationality, ethnic or social background, religion or worldview, disability, age, sexual orientation or gender identity. We are committed to creating family-friendly working conditions. We actively encourage applications by women.

Please send an electronic application including your CV, a short motivation letter and two references to Dr W M Steve Lee  by 1st March 2023.


Current student projects

  • Dr Daniel Lim - Senior Imaging Scientist, Adaptive Optics lithography to study fluid shear driven mechanosensation
  • Mr Tienan Xu- PhD studentQuantifying Biofluid cell mechanics with light, Collaborator
  • Mr Zhiduo Zhang-  Imaging Scientist, Machine learning for Microscopy, Collaborator – Xie, CS , Eduardo JCSMR
  • Mr Andrew Waddell,  ANU Imaging Technician, Raster Adaptive Optics
  • Ms Felicity Lin, ANU Imaging Intern

Past student projects

Junior Research Staff (Primary Supervisor)

2021 - 2022:      Mr Hanqi Lin ,                       UC Santa Cruz (MSc)        

2021 - 2022:      Mr Kwun Ting (Jasper) Li ,     ANU Academic Tutor        

2020 - 2022:      Mr Junxiang Zhang ,             ANU Academic Tutor 

2017 - 2020:      Mr Tao Xu ,                          Toyota Graduate Training Program    

2018 - 2019:     *Dr Yuanqing (Alex) Ma ,        EMBO Fellow, Marseille France    

2017 - 2018:      Dr Samantha Montague,        Research Fellow,             

2016 - 2017:      Dr Roland Fleddermann,         Research Fellow,                          

2014 - 2015:      Mr Zijian Cen,                        Senior Product Analytics                              

Graduate students (Primary supervisor)

 2017 - 2022:     Mr Avinash Upadhya- PhD student, Postdoctoral fellow, Uni of Adelaide

2017 - 2021:     Ms Yujie Zheng, PhD Candidate, Optical Engineer, BGI/MGI

2015 -  2019:    Mr Yongxiao Li, PhD Candidate, Associate Professor(Research)


2014 -  2018:     Miss Xuefei (Sherry) He, PhD Candidate  Imaging Engineer, HiSilicon

2014 -  2018:     Miss Tahseen Kamal, PhD Candidate Research Associate UNSW

2016 -  2017:    *Miss Wei Zhong, Master Student (Uni Twente, Netherlands)  Research Scientist, Science Sport

2013 -  2016:     Mr Niko Eckerskorn, PhD Candidate (Australian National University)  Analytics Engineer - CoreLogic RP Data

2015 -  2016:    *Mr Wengou Zhu, Visiting PhD candidate(Sun Yat University, China)        Lecturer

2014 – 2015:    *Mr Redmar Vileg, Visiting Master Student (Uni Twente, Netherlands) PhD student, Leiden Uni 

2013 – 2014:     Mr Huang Longyao, Master by Research  (Australian National University)

2013 – 2014:    *Miss Sjoukje Schoustra, Visiting Master Student (Uni Twente, Netherlands)   PhD student, Twente Uni

2013 – 2014 :   *Miss Li Li,Visiting PhD candidate(Sun Yat University, China) Research Engineering Huawei


2020 - 2021:     Mr Hanqi Lin                          Imaging Technician, ANU  

2019 - 2020:     Mr Junxiang Zhang                 Imaging Technician, ANU

2019 - 2020:     Mr Sanjeev Parbaharan

2018           :    *Ms Hui Wang Undergraduate, Tsinghua University

2017-  2018:     Mr Yonglin Ren

2017-  2017:     Mr Oliver Johnson, University Medal  | ANU-HST-MIT summer scholar

2016 - 2016 :    Ms Emily Campbell  Tillyard prize recipient | ANU-HST-MIT Summer scholar

2016-  2017:     Mr Tienan Xu  ANU-PhD student

2015 - 2016:     Mr Thomas McMenamin  Bioscout-Head R&D

2015 - 2016:     Mr Avinash Upadhya, University Medal  | ANU-HST-MIT summer scholar ANU-PhD student

2015 - 2016:     Mr Yang Lu  CSIRO-PhD student 

2015 - 2016:     Mr Tao Xu    ANU-MSc student

2014 - 2015:     Mr Misha Petkovic System Engineer, Seeing Machine

2015 - 2016      Miss Yi Du

2015 - 2016      Miss Yujie Zheng   ANU-PhD student

2015 - 2016      Mr Lyle Halliday,  University Medal, IET Medal  System Engineer, S Medical

2014 - 2015      Mr Zachary Shafron,  Honorable mention(undergraduate project) System Engineer, Thales

2013 –2015      Mr Avinash Upadhya, Yao Su Student Research Award ANU-PhD student

2014 2015      Ms Rachel Watkins,YouFab Global Creative Awards, Finalist Teacher (STEM)

2014 2015      Mr David Wright

2014 2015      Mr Jaden Rubstein

2014 –2015      Mr Zi Cen (Kenny) Senior Product Analytics Engineer ResMed

2014 2015      Mr Alan Harrison 

2013 2014      Miss Siti Mohd Shariaf   

* visiting


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  21 March 2023 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers