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Yifan Cheng

Assistant Professor
Yifan Cheng
402-B HABB1 (0924)
1230 Washington Street SW
Blacksburg, VA 24061


  • Ph.D., Food Science, Cornell University, 2017
  • B.S., Food Science, Cornell University, 2012
  • B.S., Plant Science & Technology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 2012

Professional Appointments

2022 - Present: Assistant Professor, Department of Food Science and Technology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

2019 - 2022: Postdoctoral Fellow (USDA NIFA), Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

2017 - 2019: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY


My primary research thrust is to improve food safety, quality, and sustainability, through rational design and precise engineering of the food contact surfaces encountered in processing and packaging. To this end, in my group we strive to (i) understand the microbe-material-food interplay via human and artificial intelligence and (ii) develop an interfacial engineering platform to precisely control material properties and leverage the interplay. Specific areas of interest include (1) antimicrobial nanostructures on plastic packaging; (2) food waste valorization via immobilized enzymes; (3) AI-aided packaging design and optimization; and (4) active/intelligent packaging.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Cheng Y.*, Yang R*. 2021. Toward Programming Bacterial Behavior via Synthetic Interfaces: Physicochemical Nanopatterning, Decoupling Surface Properties, and Integrating Material and Biological Insights. ACS Accounts of Materials Research. Editor’s Choice & Cover Art.

Stalin S., Chen P., Li G., Deng Y., Rouse Z., Cheng Y., Zhang Z., Biswal P., Jin S., Baker S., Yang  R., Archer L. 2021. Ultrathin zwitterionic polymeric interphases for metal battery anodes. Matter.

Cheng Y., Khlyustova A., Chen P., Yang R. 2020. Kinetics of all-dry free radical polymerization under nano-confinement. Macromolecules. Cover art.

Khlyustova A., Cheng Y., Yang R. 2020. Vapor-deposited functional polymer thin films in biological applications. Journal of Materials Chemistry B.

Cheng Y., Chen H., Basurto A.S., Protasenko V.V., Bharadwaj S., Islam M., Moraru C. I. 2019. Inactivation of Listeria and E. coli by UV-C LED: effect of substrate on inactivation kinetics. Scientific Reports.

Feng G., Cheng Y., Worobo R.W., Borca-Tasciuc D.A., Moraru C. I. 2019. Nanoporous anodic alumina reduces Staphylococcus biofilm formation. Letters in Applied Microbiology.

Cheng Y.*, Feng G., Moraru C. I. 2019. Micro- and nanotopography sensitive bacterial attachment mechanisms: a review. Frontiers in Microbiology.

Cheng Y., Moraru C. I. 2018. Long-range interactions keep bacterial cells from liquid-solid interfaces: the existence of a bacterial exclusion zone near hydrophilic Nafion surfaces. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 162: 16-24

Griep E. R., Cheng Y., Moraru C. I. 2018. Efficient removal of spores from skim milk using microfiltration: spore size and surface property considerations. Journal of Dairy Science 101(11): 9703-9713

Feng G., Cheng Y., Wang S. Y., Borca-Tasciuc D. A., Worobo R. W., and Moraru C. I. 2015. Bacterial attachment and biofilm formation on surfaces are reduced by small diameter nanoscale pores: how small is small enough? npj Biofilms and Microbiomes 15022 (2015)

Feng G., Cheng Y., Wang S. Y., Hsu L. C., Feliz Y., Borca-Tasciuc D. A., Worobo R. W., and Moraru C. I. 2014. Engineered nanoporous alumina prevents attachment and biofilm formation by Escherichia coli and Listeria spp. Biofouling 30(10): 1253-1268

Equal contributors *Corresponding author