Meet Dr. Shijun Xu, single-cell expert at Fluicell

Today, on February 11, we celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. We want to commemorate this day by highlighting Dr. Shijun Xu, senior scientist at Fluicell and one of the cornerstones in our R&D team. Shijun played a central role in the development of Biopixlar, taking Fluicell from single-cell liquid deposition to single-cell bioprinting, and is to this day one of the ones who knows the instrument the most.

Shijun grew up in China and obtained a bachelor’s degree in biopharmaceutical engineering in Nanjing. After completing her studies, she decided to move to Gothenburg, Sweden to do a Master’s degree at Chalmers University of Technology, where she stayed to also do a PhD.

We met with Shijun to learn more about her work at Fluicell and what it is that she enjoys the most about doing research.

How did you come to Fluicell and what is your role in the company?
I had just graduated from Chalmers when I heard that Fluicell was recruiting. It was perfect timing and a great opportunity to begin a career in the industry. The job posting was exactly in my field, involving hands-on research, combining microfluidics tool usage with single-cells investigations, which I found very exciting.

As senior scientist, my primary work is centered in research and development, where I structure and deploying experimental findings towards both product development and developing new research applications.

My research interest has always been in the crossroad of biology, chemistry and physics, with the focus on developing new microfluidic approaches for single-cell studies. With new microfluidic technologies, we can get new ways to control the cellular microenvironment, thereby directing behavior of individual cells.

You had a great part in the development of Biopixlar. What can you tell us about your experience of the development process?
For me, microfluidics is a very useful tool. Our bioprinter Biopixlar is based on microfluidic technology that makes it possible to create high-resolution 2D and 3D tissues, with applications ranging from in vitro research models to therapeutic applications. Developing all of this require expertise in everything from biotechnology and biology to physics and mechanical engineering.

Thus, to make Biopixlar possible, it was important to bring people with diverse backgrounds together, where everyone contributed their own knowledge and point of view to the whole. I really enjoy working together, brainstorming with my colleagues, to overcome problems and challenges. Although the development process can be extremely time-consuming, our great teamwork can contribute to more successful project outcomes.

What was it that got you interested in science?
Personally, I love science because many of when I was young, I always had many questions and wanted to know the reason behind things. I was asking things like — what, how, where, who and when? And all these answers I got in science. As one scientist put it: “I love puzzles and to me, science is the ultimate puzzle.”

What motivates you on a daily basis?
I love to learn new things, coming up with creative ideas to improve something, or make something new during the job. I enjoy having the ability to assist others or putting my creative skills to use. I am motivated by the opportunity to create something innovative or see the tangible results or products from my efforts.

Do you have any advice for girls who are interested in science?
Never give up! Pursue that careers you want and pursue your dreams despite what anyone else thinks or says. Don’t be afraid to meet and talk with people of all different cultures and backgrounds. Welcome to go into science, an amazing and awesome world.