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Strongly-coupled finite element analysis is applied to modeling micromachined devices designed for biological cell manipulation. Nonuniform, fringing three-dimensional electric fields in heterogeneous media are accurately represented by finite element models. Cell manipulation by dielectrophoresis and direct contact and is discussed in detail. Two design cases are studied using the developed finite element methodology: a DEP cell sorter and a micro stage device for cell stretching. Results of the simulation agree with the experimental observations reported in the literature.