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James Kwan MPhil BSc MSc PhD

Associate Professor of Engineering Science

Tutorial Fellow, Balliol College

COLLEGE: Balliol College


James Kwan completed a BSc in chemical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York in 2007. He studied at Columbia University, and in 2012 he was awarded his MPhil, MSc, and PhD under the guidance of Professor Mark Borden.

During the final months of his PhD, James moved to the University of Colorado, Boulder as a researcher before joining the BUBBL group in Oxford as a postdoc under the supervision of Professor Constantin Coussios. During this time, James was awarded a Junior Research Fellowship at New College. At the end of his term, he joined the Oxford spinout company OxSonics as a chemical engineer. In 2016, James left Oxford to become an Assistant Professor at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore in the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering. After four years in Singapore, James moved back to Oxford to join the Department of Engineering Science as an Associate Professor. He is also a Tutorial Fellow at Balliol College.

Personal website

Research Interests

James Kwan's research interests include the application of mechanical, thermal, and chemical effects of ultrasound and cavitation to address challenges in personal and environmental health.


Sonochemistry is the use of ultrasound and cavitation to promote chemical reactions. We are interested in controlling cavitation with nanoparticles to enhance free radical production, generate reactive oxygen species, and manipulate covalent and non-covalent bonds.

Drug Delivery

A number of diseases remain difficult to treat due to the inability to reliably deliver potent therapeutics to the site of the injury. Our group is interested in using cavitation to facilitate the targeted transport of therapeutics.


Many medical and environmental infections are comprised of biofilms. We hope to elucidate the bioeffects of ultrasound on biofilms and the governing mechanisms for biofilm removal to develop new technologies for biofilm treatment or modification

Current Projects

Cavitating catalysts

We are developing nano-structured catalysts that nucleate cavitation in response to ultrasound in order to facilitate difficult reactions. Preventing Restenosis We are working towards demonstrating the efficacy of drug-loaded cavitation agents for the prevention of restenosis in arteries below-the-knee.

Biofilm Modulation

We seek to better understand the mechanical and biological role ultrasound and cavitation play in biofilm disruption.