Manu Prakash Keynote Speaker

  • Physical biologist and Associate Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford University
  • Inventor of the "Foldscope", an ultra-affordable and accessible paper microscope
  • Recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship (2016); INDEX Design award (2017); Microbiology Society Unilever Colworth Prize (2020); and Ernst Abbe Award (2021)

Manu Prakash's Biography

Manu Prakash is Associate Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford University. He is an expert on microscopy and physical biology, well known for his groundbreaking inventions of “frugal science” tools making science accessible. He speaks about his experience of defying traditional disciplinary boundaries and using soft-matter physics to invent solutions to problems in global health, science education, and ecological surveillance.

Manu runs a curiosity-driven lab at Stanford which explores how computation is embodied in biological matter. He is fascinated by the diversity of life forms on our planet.  His projects have ranged from exploring how food colouring can demonstrate complex behaviour akin to active living matter, to building a “water computer” out of tiny air bubbles traveling in microfluidic channels, designed for environmental diagnostics and monitoring.

The lab also designs, develops, and deploys “frugal science” tools to democratize access to science for all. Manu is passionate about removing the financial barriers between people and their curiosity and excitement for science.  He invented the incredible Foldscope, an ultra-affordable and accessible paper microscope that has since been used across the world in global health, citizen science, and K-12 education.   He is currently developing imaginative solutions for controlling mosquito-borne disease outbreaks using low-cost, microfluidic chips that use nanoliter-volume droplets of saliva from mosquito bites to screen for pathogens.

Manu is the recipient of several notable awards and accolades.  In 2016, he received the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship “genius grant” in recognition of his research into the diversity of life forms using innovative frugal science tools.   He has also received the Ernst Abbe Award (2021); Microbiology Society Unilever Colworth Prize (2020); INDEX Design award (2017); National Geographic Emerging Explorer (2015); NIH Directors New Innovator Award (2015); and NSF CAREER Award (2014).

He is a member of the Biophysics Program in Stanford’s School of Medicine, and the Center for Innovation in Global Health. He is a faculty fellow of Stanford, ChEM-H, and a senior fellow at Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.  Between 2008-11, he was a junior fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows.  He holds several patents and has published his research in numerous scientific journals including PLoS One, Journal of Experimental Biology, Science, and Nature, among others.

Manu completed a Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2008) and a B.Tech. at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (2002).

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Manu Prakash's Speaking Topics

Frugal Science

Curiosity driven science

Extreme biology

Neuroscience without neurons

Citizen science

Diagnostics for all

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Videos of Manu Prakash

TED | Lifesaving scientific tools made of paper | Manu Prakash
TED | Lifesaving scientific tools made of paper | Manu Prakash
TED | Manu Prakash: A 50-cent microscope that folds like origami
TED | Manu Prakash: A 50-cent microscope that folds like origami
Manu Prakash // Finding Sublime in the Mundane
Manu Prakash // Finding Sublime in the Mundane
TED | Computing with fluids | Manu Prakash
TED | Computing with fluids | Manu Prakash
TED | Encouraging curiosity-driven science | Manu Prakash
TED | Encouraging curiosity-driven science | Manu Prakash
Championing
Championing "Frugal Science" - Manu Prakash

Articles, Media & Podcasts

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