Daniel Case is a Ph.D. candidate and Presidential Fellow in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Northwestern University. His broad areas of research are networks and complex systems. Complex systems are systems composed of numerous interacting components that exhibit behavior that cannot be inferred by only knowing the properties of the individual parts. Examples of such systems include electrical power grids, social groups, financial markets, and materials. It is often natural to view these systems as networks, and an extremely active area of research is the construction of models of these complicated systems that capture some of their observed behavior. Daniel’s thesis research focuses more so on the inverse problem: constructing a network that exhibits a desired behavior.

His primary thesis research topic is on the design of microfluidic networks. A microfluidic system is typically composed of a network of tiny pipes embedded in a plastic chip that is the size of a small coin. The pipes are approximately the width of a strand of hair and carry only a few nanoliters of fluid. Daniel designs the network of pipes in these systems so that fluids flow through them in an automated or pre-defined way, removing the need for external control systems, like pumps and computers. His work has also shown that these microfluidic systems can exhibit novel behavior, like spontaneous oscillations, negative resistance, and bistability in the flow rate. Microfluidic systems are used widely to perform small scale experiments in chemistry and biology but also has a growing number of biomedical applications, including rapid bed-side diagnostic testing and wearable health monitoring devices.

Daniel’s work is theoretical and computational, and he combines techniques from network science with the physics of fluids. Daniel’s other research areas include: particle advection in fluid flows and control of coupled driven mechanical systems. Daniel received BSs in physics, mathematics, and economics from Louisiana State University prior to coming to Northwestern University to join Prof. Adilson Motter’s research group.