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The integration of cell culture and characterization onto a miniaturized platform promises to benefit many applications such as tissue engineering, drug screening, and those involving small, precious cell populations. Microfluidic technology provides the tools for creating more in vivo like environments for cell culture, and the integration of electrodes into the lab-on-a-chip system permit temperature control, electrokinetic cell handling, and dielectric characterization. We use hydrogels to trap and release cells for incubation. The porous nature of these gels allows the transport of nutrient and waste, and the gel network can also present specific adhesive properties for attachment of cells. Channel design and flowrate control are crucial in determining hydrogel geometry, while on-chip temperature control triggers reversible gel formation.