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Mechanics of Biomolecular Assemblies

  – where Chemistry meets Physics and Biology!



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: 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.

Postdoc candidates (preferably with a background in electrophysiology or neuroscience) please email your CV to Zheng (


Lab at BPS2023

Huan and Shilong presented at the 2023 biophysical society meeting in San Diego. Look who they met!

Welcome new lab members!

Welcome Sri Vidya Tallavajhula, Yiling Wang, Megha Patel, and Navya Korala to join as our newest group members!

Reid Award

Congratulations to Shilong for winning the Reid Award, which recognizes Rutgers Chemistry students with the highest honors for exceptional performance in research! Shilong gave a beautiful presentation about his research at the 2023 Graduate Student Award Ceremony! Read more here

Curvature and Mechanosensing

Shilong found that the shape of cell membrane directly regulates the distribution of Piezo1, a widely expressed mechanosensitive ion channel, within a cell. Piezo1 may flatten upon activation and can mechanically inhibit membrane dynamics. Read the paper on Nature Communications! This is a great team work with important contributions from Steven, Boxuan, Huan, and Matthew. … Read More

Huan and James presented at Princeton

Huan did a joint presentation with James (from Howard Stone’s lab) at Princeton Phase Group Seminar. Nice talk and lots of interesting discussions! Thanks Anita from the Brangwynne lab for hosting us!

Shilong and Zheng presented our recent study on the mechanosensitive ion channel Piezo1

Shilong presented his recent study on how membrane curvature affects the cellular distribution of Piezo1 at the Penn Muscle Institute Annual Symposium (see below)…and the poster was popular 🙂 Last month, Zheng visited and talked at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (along with Weil Cornell Medicine), lots of … Read More

Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA)

The Shi lab is grateful to receive the MIRA from NIH (NIGMS). This award will support our long term goal to understand the material properties and membrane interactions of biomolecular condensates!

New funding to develop “Tools and Technologies to Explore Nervous System Biomolecular Condensates”

The Shi lab received NIH (NIDA, NIMH, NINDS) funding to support our exploration of neuronal protein condensates in live cells via micropipette-based quantifications!

Tension along an axon

Our study on the membrane of neuronal axons is now published on Science Advances! We found that membrane tension propagates at a surprisingly fast speed (20 microns/s!) along the axons of rat neurons, allowing mechanical coordination between the growth and branching of axons. A revised version of the paper is now published 🥳: — … Read More

Welcome Bineet!

Welcome to Bineet, joining us as a post-doctoral associate! Bineet is an expert in lipids and peptides and will explore the material properties of protein condensates and cells. Before joining our lab, Bineet has spent time in Michigan, Japan, India, and China!    

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We are grateful for funding supports from: