• Zheng Shi
  • Assistant Professor
  • Research Synopsis: My lab combines biophysical, chemical, and optogenetic tools to study the properties of biomolecular assemblies at the cellular level.
  • Phone: (848) 445-3246


Lab Website



The Shi lab combines biophysical, chemical, and optogenetic tools to study the properties of biomolecular assemblies such as protein condensates and cell membranes. We aim to understand the material and mechanical properties of biomolecular assemblies. Our research will shed light on the physical chemistry mechanisms that underlie cell biological phenomena.

We are currently looking for motivated students and postdocs (preferably with a background in electrophysiology or neuroscience): 1) to study the material properties biomolecular condensates that are relevant to neurodegeneration; 2) to investigate how local mechanical and geometrical cues on the cell membrane affect the activation and sorting of membrane proteins; 3) to understand how interactions with cytoskeleton affect the dynamics of cell membranes.


  • Yang S, Miao X#, Arnold S#, Li B#, Ly AT, Wang H, Wang M, Guo X, Pathak MM, Zhao W, Cox CD, Shi Z*. Membrane curvature governs the distribution of Piezo1 in live cells. Nature Communications. 13, 7467. 2022.
  • Gao J#, Mewborne QT#, Girdhar A, Sheth U, Coyne AN, Punathil R, Kang BG, Dasovich M, Veire A, Hernandez MD, Liu S, Shi Z, Dafinca R, Fouquerel E, Talbot K, Kam TI, Zhang YJ, Dickson D, Petrucelli L, van Blitterswijk M, Guo L, Dawson TM, Dawson VL, Leung AKL, Lloyd TE, Gendron TF, Rothstein JD*, Zhang K*. Poly(ADP-ribose) Promotes Toxicity of C9ORF72 Arginine-rich Dipeptide Repeat Proteins. Science Translational Medicine. 14(662), eabq3215. 2022.
  • Shi Z, Innes-Gold S, Cohen AE*. Membrane tension propagation couples axon growth and collateral branching. Science Advances. 8(35), eabo1297. 2022.
  • Biswas R, Yang S, Crichton RA, Adly-Gendi P, Chen TK, Kopcha WP, Shi Z*, Zhang J*. C60-β-cyclodextrin conjugates for enhanced nucleus delivery of doxorubicin. Nanoscale. 14, 4456-4462. 2022.
  • Wang H, Kelley FM, Milovanovic D, Schuster BS, Shi Z*. Surface tension and viscosity of protein condensates quantified by micropipette aspiration. Biophysical Reports. 1(1), 100011, 2021.
  • Schuster BS, Regy RM, Dolan EM, Ranganath AK, Jovic N, Khare SD, Shi Z, Jeetain Mittal*. Biomolecular Condensates: Sequence Determinants of Phase Separation, Microstructural Organization, Enzymatic Activity, and Material Properties. J. Phys. Chem. B. 125(14), 3441–3451. 2021.
  • Cohen, AE, Shi Z. Do Cell Membranes Flow Like Honey or Jiggle Like Jello?. BioEssays. 2019.
  • Shi Z, … Cohen AE. Cell membranes resist flow. Cell. 175(7), 1769-1779. 2018
  • Graber ZT, Shi Z, Baumgart T. Cations induce shape remodeling of negatively charged phospholipid membranes. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 19(23), 15285-15295. 2017.
  • Luo Q, Shi Z, … Chenoweth DM, Park SJ. DNA Island Formation on Binary. Block Copolymer Vesicles. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 138(32), 1015710162. 2016.
  • Chen Z, Shi Z, Baumgart T. Regulation of Membrane-Shape Transitions Induced by I-BAR Domains. Biophysical Journal. 109(2), 298-307. 2015.
  • Shi Z, ... Baumgart T. Biophysics of α-synuclein induced membrane remodelling. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 17(24), 15561-15568. 2015
  • Shi Z, Baumgart T. Membrane tension and peripheral protein density mediate membrane shape transitions. Nature Communications. 6, 5974. 2015.
  • Wu T, Shi Z, Baumgart T. Mutations in BIN1 associated with Central Nuclear Myopathy disrupt membrane remodeling by affecting protein density and oligomerization. PLoS ONE. 9(4), e93060. 2014.
  • Shi Z, Baumgart T. Dynamics and instabilities of lipid bilayer membrane shapes. Adv. Colloid Interface Sci. 208,76-88. 2014.
  • Cavallaro M, Gharbi MA, Beller DA, Copar S, Shi Z, ... Stebe KJ. Exploiting imperfections in the bulk to direct assembly of surface colloids. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 110(47), 18804-18808. 2013.
  • Cavallaro M, Gharbi MA, Beller DA, Copar S, Shi Z, … Baumgart T, Stebe KJ. Ring around the colloid. Soft Matter. 9(38), 9099-9102. 2013.
  • Capraro BR*, Shi Z*, … Baumgart T. Kinetics of endophilin N-BAR domain dimerization and membrane interactions. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 288(18), 12533-12543. 2013.

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