Washington State University professor and researcher Yuehe Lin may be one of the most cited authors and most influential minds in the world, but he readily acknowledges he didn’t make it there on his own.
“It is because of a group, because a lot of people work together,” Lin said.
According to an analysis recently published by Thomson Reuters Corp., Lin is among the top-cited scientific researchers in the world, as well as one of the “most influential minds” of 2015.
Noting his list of publications and research projects, such a thing isn’t hard to believe.
“In the past 16 years I have collaborated with many scientists to work on the most important problems in this country,” Lin said.
Lin was raised in China and attended the top schools in the country. He earned his undergraduate degree from Peking University, “the best university in China,” he said, and his doctorate from Xiamen University.
He then moved to the U.S., where he earned a second doctorate with focuses on chemistry and environmental science at the University of Idaho.
Quickly putting his education to work, Lin began as a research scientist at Northwest National Laboratories in the late 1990s. He said he was gradually promoted before he joined WSU in 2013.
Even so, he has kept his status as a fellow at NNL, something that benefits his research as well as the work of his students.
Lin and his team of some 20 researchers, professors, scholars, graduate and undergraduate students are currently working on projects focusing on the use of nanotechnology – the science of working with atoms and molecules to build very small devices.
Lin and his team have found one device in particular has the potential of practical applications in fields as diverse as food safety, water treatment and biomedicine. The device, known as an electrochemical biosensor, is a handheld instrument that can, with a single sample of bodily fluid such as blood, urine or saliva, determine such things as exposure to toxins in humans.
“Some time ago in a subway in Tokyo, terrorists released an agent and thousands of people were scared to death. … When a thousand or ten thousand people go to the hospital, what are you going to do? Some had exposure, some did not,” Lin said.
Lin said a sensor like the one he and his team have developed can quickly and accurately identify who needs treatment.
“We can distinguished whether a person really needs treatment because we cannot treat thousands of them,” he said.
The biosensor can also be used to diagnose and treat diseases.
“We make the sensor instrument that can be used to detect a biomarker for diagnosis of diseases like cancer. We also know how to effectively deliver a drug molecule into the body to target cancer cells,” Lin said.
The apparatus is also useful in other fields, such as food safety, where it can detect unsafe levels of bacteria like Escherichia coli, or E. coli, and salmonella.
“I collaborate with a professor from the food science department and also some professors in medicine. We are using a sensor that is low cost, easy to use and can quickly identify if food or milk has too much bacteria,” he said.
He said all of his projects have one thing in common – collaboration.
“Once you start with good science, good applications, you can attract the best scientists from everywhere. Once you can attract the best scientists to your group, they can contribute,” Lin said. “If you want to solve a big problem, you need a big team.”
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