• Welcome to The Sun Group

    A human being is like a delicate machine. From engineers’ perspective, we are curious about how this machine is built and how to fix it when it goes awry. Specifically, we are interested in how mechanical information, encoded in nano-scale molecules, guides micro-scale cells to assemble into mili-scale functional tissues and organs. We also develop tools that interact with biomolecules, cells and tissues for a range of applications from diagnostics of diseases to regenerative medicine.

  • Mechanobiology of stem cells

    We are interested in the mechanical regulation of stem cell fate, i.e., how stem cells respond to the rigidity of extracellular matrix, external forces, nanotopographical cues, geometric constraints, etc. We develop micro/nanoscale micromechanical tools to control these mechanical cues and combine with molecular and cell biology approaches to understand the mechanobiology.

  • Modeling development and diseases using pluripotent stem cells

    Pluripotent stem cells are powerful tools to understand the development processes and the progression of many diseases. We design and fabricate unique bioengineering tools and biomaterials to unleash the potential of stem cells. For example, synthetic substrates strongly promote motor neuron differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells, which may be used to study and treat degenerative diseases like ALS.

  • Acoustic tweezing cytometry

    Acoustic tweezing cytometry (ATC) is a novel technology using ultrasound and lipid microbubbles to apply mechanical forces to cells through intergin-cytoskeleton network.

  • Integrated microengineering systems

    We make lab-on-a-chip type of devices to control cell microenviroment, apply mechanical and chemical stimulation, model the morphological and functional feature of tissues in vivo.


Spring/Fall 2022: No openings for Ph.D. positions available. Please check back later.

Recent publications

Tianfa Xie, Sarah R. St. Pierre, Nonthakorn Olaranont, Lauren E. Brown, Min Wu, and Yubing Sun. Condensation tendency and planar isotropic actin gradient induce radial alignment in confined monolayers, eLife, In press, 2021.

Contact Us

Yubing Sun, Ph.D.

Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
N571 LSL, Amherst, MA 01002

ybsun AT umass.edu



Latest News

Lauren won 2022 Rising Researcher awards

Congratulations to Lauren for winning this prestigious award. She is also featured on the CoE website and UMass Website.

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Congratulations, Dr. Hawkins and Dr. Yang

Jamar and Feiyu successfully defended their Ph.D. theses in Dec. 2022. Congratulations on their achievements! Jamar will start his new position in Colossal Biosciences to bring back Mammoths and Feiyu will join JHU BME as a postdoctoral scholar. Best wishes for their future endeavors.

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New NIH Grant

We received a new R21 grant from NIMH to derive properly patterned brain organoids using the gradient generation devices we developed. This will be an exciting collaboration with Dr. Changhui Pak.

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Farewell lunch for Tianfa

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