IMAGE OF Yanfen Li

Yanfen Li

Assistant Teaching Professor

Francis College of Engineering
Biomedical Engineering
Kitson Hall - 311


Engineering education, STEM student recruitment and retention, tissue engineering and biomaterials pedagogy

Research Interests

Engineering Education, Tissue Engineering, Biomaterials


  • Ph.D.: Bioengineering, (2018), University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign - Champaign, IL
    Dissertation/Thesis Title: Engineered hydrogels for tracking cell signaling from the outside-in
  • BS: Bioengineering, (2012), University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign - Champaign, IL

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Department of Biomedical Engineering Teaching Excellence Award (2019), Teaching - University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • ASEE Biomedical Engineering Division Best Poster Award (2017), Scholarship/Research - American Society for Engineering Education
  • ASEE Biomedical Engineering Division Travel Award (2017), Scholarship/Research - American Society for Engineering Education
  • Department of Bioengineering Student Leadership Award (2017), Leadership - University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
  • List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent, Outstanding (5 times) (2017) - University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
  • Department of Bioengineering Teaching Excellence Fellowship (2016), Teaching - University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
  • Mavis Future Faculty Fellowship Program (2016), Scholarship/Research - University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Selected Publications

  • Li, Y., Li, Y., Kandel, M.E., Abdeen, A.A., Kilian, K.A., Popescu, G. (2019). Effects of substrate patterning on cellular spheroid growth and dynamics measured by gradient light interference microscopy (GLIM).
  • Li, Y., Fanous, M.J., Kilian, K.A., Popescu, G. (2019). Quantitative phase imaging reveals matrix stiffness-dependent growth and migration of cancer cells. Scientific reports, 9(1) 1-8.
  • Weaver, S.S. (University of California, Davis), Li, Y., Foucard, L. (niversity of California, Los Angeles), Majeed, H. (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Bhaduri, B., Levine, A.J., Kilian, K.A., Popescu, G. (2018). Simultaneous cell traction and growth measurements using light. Journal of Biophotonics, 12(3) e201800182.
  • Li, Y., Tang, C.B., Kilian, K. . (2017). Matrix mechanics influence fibroblast–myofibroblast transition by directing the localization of histone deacetylase 4. Cellular and molecular bioengineering, 10(5) 405-415.
  • Li, Y., Jensen, P.A., Jensen, P.A., Jensen, K. (2017). ”Blinded” Grading Rubrics for Bioengineering Lab Reports (Work in Progress). 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition.
  • Li, Y., Kilian, K.A. (2015). Bridging the gap: from 2D cell culture to 3D microengineered extracellular matrices. Advanced healthcare materials, 4(18) 2780-2796.
  • Li, Y., Mai, D.J., Horstman, E., Bhargava, R. (2015). Preparing female engineering doctoral students for the Academic Job Market through a training program inspired by peer review. 2015 122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition.

Selected Presentations

  • The Impact of Upperclassmen Project Managers on Team Based learning of First-Year Engineering College Students - 2020 BMES Annual Meeting , October 2020 - Virtual
  • Introducing Upper-level Students to Primary Literature: A Comparative Assessment of Two Methods - 2019 BMES Annual Meeting , October 2019 - Philadelphia, PA

Selected Contracts, Fellowships, Grants and Sponsored Research

  • Graduate Research Fellowship (2013), Fellowship - National Science Foundation
    Li, Y.