Garrell, Robin L.

WebsiteHome URL
Surface Chemistry
California NanoSystems Institute, Biomedical Engineering IDP

Contact Information

Murphy Hall 1237
(310) 825-4383
Young Hall 4072
(310) 206-9434

Short Biography

Robin L. Garrell received her B.S. degree in Biochemistry with Honors and Distinction from Cornell University in 1978 and Ph.D. in Macromolecular Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1984. She was an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh until 1991, when she joined the faculty at UCLA. She is the Director of the UCLA NSF-IGERT Materials Creation Training Program, a Special Assistant in the UCLA Office of Intellectual Property and Industry Relations, and the Immediate Past Chair of the UCLA Academic Senate.


Robin L. Garrell was born in Detroit, Michigan. She received her B.S. Degree in Biochemistry with Honors and Distinction from Cornell University in 1978, where she worked with Stuart J. Edelstein to elucidate the structure of sickle cell hemoglobin fibers. She earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Macromolecular Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1984. Working with Samuel Krimm, she developed surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy to probe adsorption at liquid-metal interfaces.

She was an Assistant Professor on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh until 1991, when she joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a member of the UCLA Biomedical Engineering faculty and the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI). She has served on the Advisory Boards of C&EN, Applied Spectroscopy and other journals. She served on the Coblentz Society Board of Governors (1994-98) and was President of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy in 1999. She is currently a member of the NIH Enabling Bioanalytical and Imaging Technologies Study Section. Garrell was Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee of the UCLA College (2003-07) and Chair of the UCLA Academic Senate in 2009-10. Her educational leadership roles include serving as Associate Director of the NASA Center for Cell-Mimetic Space Exploration, as member of the Executive Board of the NIH Chemistry-Biology Interface Training Program, and as PI/Director of the NSF Nanosystems Chemistry and Engineering Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.

Since 2006, she has been the PI/Director of the NSF Integrated Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) Materials Creation Training Program at UCLA. Garrell's UCLA honors include the Herbert Newby McCoy Award for Outstanding Research in Chemistry at UCLA (1995), the Hanson-Dow Award for Teaching Excellence in Chemistry (1997), the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award (2003), and the Gold Shield Faculty Prize (2009). She is the recipient of the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award (1985), Iota Sigma Pi Agnes Fay Morgan Award (1996), Gold Medal Award in the 2007 Masscal Pioneering Micro and Thermal Analysis Technology Competition, and the Benedetti-Pichler Award from the American Microchemical Society (2007).

She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Society for Applied Spectroscopy.

Research Interest

Garrell's research interests span vibrational spectroscopy and surface chemistry. Her goals are to understand and control the behavior of molecules at liquid-liquid and liquid-solid interfaces. Adsorption, adhesion and wetting phenomena are of particular interest. Her research group is currently working on:

  • Fundamentals of droplet ("digital") microfluidics, including electromechanical actuation of liquids, spontaneous emulsification, and dielectrophoretic levitation
  • Applications of droplet microfluidics, including proteomics sample preparation for mass spectrometry,
  • the synthesis of millimeter-scale polymer particles and shells, and new cell-based diagnostics
  • Synthesis and applications of heterogeneous catalysts based on superparamagnetic nanoparticles.

Honors & Awards

  • American Microchemical Society Benedetti-Pichler Award
  • Iota Sigma Pi Agnes Fay Morgan Award
  • NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award
  • UCLA Herbert Newby McCoy Award
  • UCLA Hanson-Dow Award
  • American Microchemical Society Benedetti-Pichler Award
  • UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Elected Fellow
  • Coblentz Society
  • Society for Applied Spectroscopy President


Tucker-Schwartz, A.K.; Bei, Z.; Garrell, R.L.; Jones, T.B.   Polymerization of Electric Field-Centered Double Emulsion Droplets to Create Polyacrylate Shells, Langmuir, 2011; 26: 18606-18611.
Nelson WC, Peng I, Lee GA, Loo JA, Garrell RL, Kim CJ   Incubated protein reduction and digestion on an electrowetting-on-dielectric digital microfluidic chip for MALDI-MS Analytical Chemistry, 2010; 82(23): 9932-9937.
Debalina Chatterjee, A. Jimmy Ytterberg, Sang Uk Son, Joseph A. Loo and Robin L. Garrell   Integration of Protein Processing Steps on a Droplet Microfluidics Platform for MALDI-MS Analysis Anal. Chem., 2010; 82(5): 2095?2101.
Izadian, A.; Garrell, R.L.   Pico-Droplet Dispensing Control in Digital Microfluidic Systems, Proc. 49th IEEE Conference on DEcision and Control, 2010; 4583-4586.
Garrell, R.L.; Maynard, H.D.   Surface Molecular Property Control, Biomedical Technology: Applications of Microfluidics, Nano Optics and Surface Chemistry, 2010; C-M. Ho ed.: 395-435.
Chatterjee, D. Shepherd, H. Garrell, R. L.   Electromechanical model for actuating liquids in a two-plate droplet microfluidic device Lab Chip, 2009; 9(9): 1219-29.
Nelson, W.; Peng, I.; Loo, J.A.; Garrell, R.L.; Kim, C-J.   An EWOD Droplet Microfluidic Chip with Integrated Local Temperature Control for Multiple Proteomics, IEEE MEMS Proceed., 2009; 280-283.
Yoon, J.-Y.; Garrell, R.L.   Biomolecular Adsorption in Microfluidics, Encyclopedia of Microfluidics and Nanofluidics, 2008; (D. Li ed.): 68-76.
Moon, H.; Wheeler, A.R.; Garrell, R.L.; Loo, J.A.; Kim, C.-J.   An Integrated Digital Microfluidic Chip for Multiplexed Proteomic Sample Preparation and Analysis by MALDI-MS Lab on a Chip , 2006; 6(9): 1213-1219.
Chatterjee D, Hetayothin B, Wheeler AR, King DJ, Garrell RL   Droplet-based microfluidics with nonaqueous solvents and solutions Lab on a Chip, 2006; 6(2): 199-206.