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Wade Zeno

Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science


  • 2016, Doctoral Degree, University of California - Davis
  • 2010, Bachelor's Degree, University of Nevada - Reno


Dr. Wade Zeno received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno in 2010, where he also minored in mathematics and chemistry. He then earned a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering with a Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology from the University of California, Davis in 2016. His doctoral work involved the characterization of biomaterials containing protein-lipid nanodiscs as well as understanding and controlling lipid phase behavior in the presence of highly concentrated proteins. During this time, he also completed an industrial internship at Bayer Pharmaceuticals where he worked on protein purification and isolation. After completing his Ph.D. work, Dr. Zeno did his postdoctoral work in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied the role of protein-lipid interactions in membrane traffic.

Research Summary

Cellular membranes provide critical interfaces for the biochemical interactions that regulate cell behavior and function. These membranes are composed of a heterogeneous mixture of lipids and proteins. Understanding and controlling biomolecular interactions that occur at membranes is challenging owing to the inherent ability of the membrane environment to functionally couple interactions between proteins and lipids. Nonetheless, elucidating the interplay between proteins and lipids in biological membranes is important for a variety of applications such as pinpointing the mechanisms of disease, discovering and delivering new drugs, and developing functional biomaterials. Toward addressing these challenges, I am using engineering principles and fluorescence techniques to develop the tools, approaches, and ideas that will enable us to understand and control the protein-lipid interface.


  • 2020 USC Provost's Assistant Professor Fellowship
  • 2018 National Institutes of Health NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2017 Biophysical Society CID Travel Award
  • 2012 UC Davis Professors for the Future Fellowship
  • 2011 National Institutes of Health Biomolecular Technology Fellowship
  • 2010 US Department of Education GAANN Fellowship
  • 2010 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Northern California College Award
  • Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
  • VHE 718
  • Vivian Hall of Engineering
  • 3651 Watt Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089
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