Dr. Zi Chen

As a Branco Weiss fellow, Dr. Zi Chen will investigate how one-dimensional information coded in DNA translates into three-dimensional shapes, and how genetic and epigenetic factors coordinate to create biological form (morphogenesis). Understanding these mechanisms will foster quantitative understanding of plant and animal development, and facilitate biomedical research in preventing and treating congenital diseases. His study will also inspire novel design principles for programmable nanofabrication techniques and bio-mimetic devices.

Background

Born

China

Studies

Dr. Zi Chen's postgraduate research focused on understanding the mechanics of morphogenesis in biological systems, and developing strageties for the design of biomimetic structures or devices.

  • Research Scientist in Biomedical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, USA
  • Postdoctoral researcher from 2011 in Biomedical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, USA
  • PhD studies from 2005 in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University, USA
  • Masters studies in Materials Physics and Chemistry, Shanghai Jiaotong University, China
  • Undergraduate studies in Computer Technology and Applications, Shanghai Jiaotong University, China
  • Undergraduate studies in Materials Science and Engineering, Shanghai Jiaotong University, China

Major Awards

  • Outstanding Paper Award, ASME 2nd Global Congress on NanoEngineering for Medicine and Biology, 2013
  • Young Investigator Award (co-PI), National Science Foundation of China, 2012-2015
  • American Academy of Mechanics Founder's Award, 2012
  • Silver Medal, Materials Research Society Graduate Student Award, 2012
  • Fellowship, NSF-GEM4 Summer School, 2012
  • FGSA Travel Award for Excellence in Graduate Research from American Physical Society, Forum on Graduate Student Affairs, 2012
  • Sigma Xi GIAR (Grant-in-aid of Research) Award, 2011
  • Best Junior Researcher Award (2nd place), 140th TMS annual meeting, 2011
  • Best Poster Presentation Award (1st place), Princeton Research Symposium, Princeton University, 2010
  • Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, Princeton University, 2006-2007
  • Sayre Graduate Prize, Princeton University, 2006

In the News

American Physics Society: The Physics of Creepy Crawlies and Ravenous Plants

News at Princeton: Symposium enables early-career researchers to reach broad audience

Ivy League Week: Reports on Applied Physics Findings from Princeton University Provide New Insights

Physics Week: Researchers' work from Princeton University focuses on physics

Journal of Technology and Science: Reports from Princeton University describe recent advances in mechanical physics

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Research

Society in Science Fellow Since

2012

Research Category

Biomedical Engineering

Research Location

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, USA

Background

Nature presents fascinating examples of functional geometric structures, often driven by mechanical cues, with properties unparalleled by man-made materials. The study of mechanics and geometry of soft matter in various physical systems will not only foster quantitative understanding of the morphogenesis in plant and animal development, and self-assembly of DNA and nano-materials, but will also inspire novel design principles for programmable nanofabrication techniques and bio-mimetic devices with intelligent, functional responses to environmental stimuli.

Details of Research

Understanding the role of mechanical stresses and strains is key to deciphering morphogenesis and growth in biology. Although there have been many studies at the molecular level, it remains unclear how one-dimensional information coded in DNA translate into three-dimensional shapes.  The proposed study on DNA mechanics, morphogenesis, and bio-inspired technology involves the integration of mechanics and geometry albeit in physically different contexts. The progress of mechanics in these aspects will facilitate understanding of fundamental problems in mathematics, physics and biology, as well as advance technology of designing smart, bio-inspired materials and devices with wide applications in nano/bio-technology.