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David Fernandez Rivas

My vision is to grow as a scientist, teacher, and entrepreneur, nurturing my research group at the University of Twente. My impact lies in valorising my research ideas and breakthroughs by converting them into solutions for the benefit of companies and individuals. I am an innovative team player who establishes and leads multidisciplinary networks in research, education, and management. My main ambition is to deploy solutions originating from my scientific breakthroughs into society within a 10-year span.

The connecting line in my work is controlling cavitation, the formation and collapse of bubbles. My PhD thesis (2012), Taming Acoustic Cavitation, demonstrated how microfluidics can improve reproducibility and energy efficiency in sonochemistry, for which I received the Young Sonochemist Award in 2011 from the Japanese Sonochemical Society. I did my BSc (2004) and MSc (2006) in Cuba, at the Institute of Applied Science and Technologies, InSTEC as Nuclear Engineering graduate.
Now I lead two complementary research lines:
1) GreenChemistry: to investigate sustainable solutions in chemical engineering processes. I developed a novel method to compare innovation alternatives: the intensification factor. Joining the prestigious consortium Netherlands Center for Multiscale Catalytic Energy Conversion (MCEC), enabled me to guide my two first PhD students into unexplored aspects of electrochemistry.
2) BioEngineering: Since 2016, I started applying cavitation for biomedical applications. The salient project was developing a platform for controlled delivery of nanoliter fluid volumes. For this work, I received the Pieter Langerhuizen Fonds from the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW). This distinction allowed me to undertake research at the Mechanical Engineering Department, MIT via a visit in 2017. To support this collaboration further, I was appointed as MIT research affiliate. Afterwards, a postdoc and MSc student from my team visited in 2018 respectively the labs of Prof. Hunter, MITko5 and Prof. Mitragotri, Harvard.
Since 2018, I participate in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network, ‘Ultrasound Cavitation in Soft Materials’ (UCOM), aimed at understanding cavitation in complex matter and viscoelasticity.
In 2019, I kickstarted ‘The Future Under Our Skin’ (FUOS), an international stakeholder network with funding from the National Research Agenda. FUOS has evolved into an academic-to-user network of scientists, dermatologists, cosmeticians, tattoo artists, and patient organizations. They share my dream of using skin as a platform for improving quality of life. This network facilitated my ongoing collaboration with VU Amsterdam.
Finally, my career received a boost in 2019 after receiving the European Research Council Starting Grant entitled BuBble Gun aimed at generating new insights on the energy transformations, from laser light, bubble formation and jet impacts on substrates.

I promote knowledge transfer between academic peers in my national and international network, various stakeholders, and inform the public. I also mentor younger researchers, emulating the excellent mentoring I had.
Teaching inspires me to motivate future engineers. My new course, Innovating Reactor Systems, mirrors real life for MSc students in a Challenge Based Learning environment. My students appreciate my passion and determination and chose me as Best Teacher in 2021. Moreover, I regularly give invited lectures in courses at universities in USA, Singapore, Australia, Spain, Mexico. I am Member of the Honors Examination Committee at the UT, and I have supervised ca. 20 BSc, 10 MSc, 9 PhD (six ongoing, one successfully finished and now in industry), 4 post-docs and several visiting researchers and technicians.

I have taken up editorial roles in several journals, e.g., Ultrasonic Sonochemistry, Invention Disclosure, Microfluidic Engineering and Process Intensification, and Science Talks.
I have organized events in the prestigious Lorentz Center, Leiden, NL: a) June 2016, gathering experts from academia, industry, and governmental organizations, that led to a white paper on Solar Hydrogen; b) June 2019, I led educational experts, and scientists to write about Educating on Process Intensification.
Besides invited and keynote lectures in international conferences, e.g., World Health Summit 2021, my visibility is evidenced as examiner and committee member for PhD theses (New Zealand, Switzerland, Spain, UK, and NL) and as committee member for grants (NWO-OTP in NL, France, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, and Finland). My visibility in GreenChemistry led to my election as co-chair in 2019 of the Greenering COST Action (European Cooperation in Science & Technology).
I was admitted to the Global Young Academy (GYA) and the Young Academy Europe (YAE), both in 2020. I am active in the GYA’s Open Science work group, the Global State of Young Scientists in Latin America, and co-chair the Young Scientific Ambassador Program. I advocate for academicians to undertake innovation activities to tackle the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
My preferred valorization path is via spin-offs creation. BuBclean, a company I co-founded in 2013, transformed my PhD results into an innovative product that reached Technology Readiness Level 9 within two years. The patented BuBble Bags are sold worldwide to boost processes such as cleaning of 3D printed parts and advanced oxidations.ko9 The spin-off company FlowBeams, incorporated in October 2021, serves as utilisation platform for my jet injection research.
Lastly, the Royal Dutch Institute of Engineers (KIVI) chose me as the Prince Friso Engineer of 2021 for my competence to solve health and environmental problems caused by injection needles. Moreover, the Dutch Research Council (NWO) granted me the Stairway to Impact Award 2021, for effectively utilizing my scientific findings. I use these recognitions to establish new collaborations linked to vaccinations. In addition, I engage with the public via media outlets (worldwide) and my personal websites. These activities confirm the relevance of my work and allows me to inspire newer generations of scientists.


  • –present
    Professor, University of Twente


  • 2012 
    University of Twente, PhD / Microfluidics-chemistry-physics-engineering


Engineer of the Year 2021, Royal Dutch Engineering Society