Graduate Alumnus Wade Zeno ’16 Accepts Assistant Professorship at USC

uc davis chemical engineering alumni professor wade zeno
Zeno and his advisor, Professor Marjorie Longo, at Zeno’s graduation in 2016. Photo courtesy of Marjorie Longo.

Chemical engineering alumnus Wade Zeno ’16 has accepted an assistant professorship in the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Southern California.

Zeno received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering with a designated emphasis in biotechnology from UC Davis in 2016 while working under professor Marjorie Longo. He was also co-advised by materials science and engineering distinguished professor Subhash Risbud.

“I learned a lot about lipid biophysics and membrane engineering, as part of professor Longo’s group, as well as how to properly conduct research in these areas,” he said.

He received his B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno, and he has been doing postdoctoral research at the University of Texas, Austin under Jeanne Stachowiak in the Department of Biomedical Engineering for the past three years.

Zeno’s research centers around cellular membranes, which are made of a heterogeneous mixture of lipids and proteins and are the site of many biochemical reactions and processes, including cell signaling, drug delivery and viral infection. He works to understand how membranes work, particularly concerning the interactions between proteins and lipids and how they impact the membrane remodeling process.

Understanding membranes and the interactions within them is key to understanding cell physiology and the mechanisms behind a variety of diseases, as well as learning how to control them to generate biomaterials.

Zeno takes his strong background in lipid biophysics, molecular and cellular biology and quantitative microscopy with him to his new role, which starts August 15, 2020.

“My time at UC Davis gave me a strong knowledge base in the biological sciences,” he said. “It really helped shape my research focus and career goals.”

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