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Ruobo Zhou joins Department of Chemistry faculty
25 June 2020
                                                  Ruobo Zhou

The Department of Chemistry is pleased to announce that Dr. Ruobo Zhou will join its faculty as an assistant professor of chemistry on January 1, 2021.

Zhou earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Science and Technology of China and his doctoral degree at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He comes to Penn State from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, where he is a postdoctoral fellow sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Life Sciences Research Foundation with the Zhuang lab.

Department Head Phil Bevilacqua said, “I am delighted that Ruobo will be joining our faculty. He works at the interface of analytical, biochemical, and physical chemistry. His single-molecule research in cell signaling is cutting edge and will advance research into cancer neurodegenerative diseases. Ruobo is extraordinarily creative, capable, and productive and we look forward to having him join the faculty next year.”

Zhou added that he’s also excited to join the Penn State chemistry community. “I am very excited to join the chemistry department at Penn State to work with the brilliant undergrads, graduate students, postdocs, and fellow PIs who make Penn State chemistry the world-renowned department that it is,” he said. Zhou looks forward to teaching a wide range of courses and taking an active leadership role in fostering diversity and inclusion at Penn State.

Zhou’s current research focuses on the interface of physics, chemistry, engineering, and biology. Combining advanced imaging and -omics techniques, he aims to quantitatively and functionally understand the dynamics and organizations of the clustering behaviors of proteins and RNAs that are involved in fundamental cell functions as well as in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Scientists only recently discovered that the clustering behaviors of proteins and RNAs are a common phenomenon seen in a broad spectrum of biological processes. Cells can dynamically sort proteins and RNAs into nano- to micro-sized compartments to facilitate their cellular functions by concentrating the required molecular components within a confined space, isolated from other irrelevant molecules. Dysregulation of these clustering behaviors leads to cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

Zhou’s research seeks to elucidate the origin, structure, and function of these biomolecular clustering behaviors and how they collectively respond to changing conditions during growth, development, and disease at the molecular, cellular, and tissue levels.

He plans to continue his research at Penn State and looks forward to establishing a lab on campus. “I believe that some of the most exciting scientific discoveries are going to happen at the interface of disciplines,” he said. “In my future lab, I hope to assemble a research team with diverse backgrounds such as chemistry, physics, engineering, and biology.”

In his free time, Zhou enjoys hiking, doing Chinese calligraphy, watching TV and traveling with family.

Please join the Department of Chemistry in welcoming Dr. Ruobo Zhou to Penn State.