Rob Carlson

July 11, 2009

Rob Carlson is a research scientist in the Electrical Engineeering department at the University of Washington and a visiting scholar in the Comparative History of Ideas program. He is also an adjunct research fellow at the Molecular Sciences Institute in Berkeley, California. His interests include discovering what kinds of problems single cells can solve and how they interact with their environment. His current work focuses on microfluidic devices to quantify properties of single cells, and on new fabrication techniques to produce those devices. He also works on the related question of how information flows from the environment into the genome, and is currently working on techniques to measure internal states of cells, such as quantifying the expressed protein complement, and the related problem of quantifying protein-protein interactions. Other interests include hydrogen and fuel cells.

Rob’s previous experience includes single neuron recording in a fly, experiment and modeling of human leukocyte behavior after physiological deformation, and developing new microfabrication techniques for use in biology, optics, fluorescence microscopy, and spectroscopy.


Biology; conceiving and developing new technologies that enable rapid understanding of biological phenomena and provide a basis for engineering synthetic biological systems


  • Research scientist, electrical engineering, and visiting scholar, Comparative History of Ideas program, University of Washington
  • Scientist, Applied Minds
  • Adjunct research fellow, the Molecular Sciences
  • Graduate research, physics, Princeton University
  • Research intern, NEC Research Institute
  • IAESTE intern, Center for Applied Space Research and Microgravity (ZARM), University of Bremen, Germany


  • "The Pace and Proliferation of Biological Technologies," in preparation for IEEE Spectrum
  • 2000 silver medal winner, "The World in 2020" essay competition run by Shell and The Economist; published in IEEE Spectrum (May 2001) as "Open Source Biology and Its Impact on Industry"
  • "Sensitive Parallel Quantitation of Proteins and Nucleic Acids," Robert Carlson and Ian Burbulis (patent pending)
  • "A Method for Spectroscopic Protein Identification," Robert H. Carlson, Roger Brent, and Ian Burbulis (patent pending)


  • Ph.D., physics, Princeton University
  • M.A., physics, Princeton University
  • B.S. (with honors), physics, University of Washington
See essays by this author:
Open-Source Biology And Its Impact on Industry
The Pace and Proliferation of Biological Technologies