Zasadzinski Research Group

Welcome to the Zasadzinski Research Group

June 2019 Group photo
Back Row Left to Right: Sourav Barman, Ben Stottrup, Joe Zasadzinski, Salokya Sarita, Steven Iasella

Front Row Left to Right: Khanh Kieu, Anisha Veeren, Clara Ciutara, Cain Valtirerrez-Gaytan

"The Z-Lab"

Prof. Zasadzinski group's research deals primarily with experimental investigations of the relationships between structure, composition and function at the molecular scale in complex or self-assembling fluids using optical, electron, and scanning probe microscopies. Our group is one of the few in the world to utilize all major microscopy techniques. In general, our research has two parallel and interacting thrusts. The first thrust is the development and/or modification of microscopy techniques so that they can be applied to soft, fluid, or other novel systems such as biomembranes, liquid crystals, Langmuir-Blodgett films, etc. This often means designing our own microscopes or modifying commercial equipment to make it compatible with our requirements. The second thrust is to use the high resolution structural information obtained to explain the phase behavior and other macroscopic properties of technologically or scientifically interesting materials, especially those with biomedical or biotechnological interest.  We have two areas of current investigation.  The first is the relationship between composition, structure and function in human lung surfactants and  in monolayer and interfacial films for treatment of premature infants and adults with respiratory disease.  We have built new interfacial rheometers to measure the surface shear and dilatational moduli with simultaneous visualization to provide the first insights into monolayer dynamics and how dynamics stabilize or destabilize normal breathing.  Our second interest is synthesis and characterization of 10 - 50 nm surface plasmon resonant gold nanoshells that can be addressed by near infrared light to trigger chemical and physical changes in living cells.  We are working on new high throughput biomanufacturing to modify cells with functional proteins or siRNA delivered directly to the cell cytoplasm using our nanoshells.  Our goal is to create modified immune cells that can be used to treat various forms of cancer and other diseases. Current funding comes primarily from the Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the NIH, the Interfacial Science Division of the NSF, and the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Minnesota.

The Z-Lab

Please click the headers above for more information about me or contact me.

What's New?

June 2019:

- The group presented nine talks in ACS Colloid and Surface Science Symposium in Georgia Tech, Atlanta.
- Our work on lung surfactant aims to cure respiratory distress syndromes, which affect premature babies and adults with injured lungs. Two university-wide communications have interviewed Clara to feature stories on our life-saving jobs: and
- Steven Iasella, a PhD graduate from Carnegie Mellon University, has recently joined our group as a postdoc. Welcome, Steven! 
May 2019:
Our group welcomes three new undergraduate researchers: Khanh Kieu, Tung Le, and Salokya Sarira. Welcome!

August 2018: 

Better genome editing

UCSB researchers, in collaboration with Joseph Zasadzinski's research group at the University of Minnesota, develop a method of genome editing that not only gives the user complete spatiotemporal control but also treads lightly on DNA. 

Read More Here or Here

Summer 2018:  Summer interns Konstantin Mamedov, Mitchell Kohler, and Arundahti Bhidi join the group.  Konstantin is working on new ways to precipitate plasmon resonant gold clusters on liposomes.  Mitch is working on new methods of imaging monolayers with soluble dyes, and Arundahti is writing code and trouble-shooting the microtensiometer.  Welcome!

July 2018: Congratulation to Jeong Eun Kim, who co-authored “ Light-Triggered Genome Editing: Cre Recombinase Mediated Gene Editing with Near-Infrared Light,” in Small.

July 2018: Kyu Han Kim accepts position as Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Seoul National University of Science and Technology.  Congratulations to Kyu Han!

June 2018:  Group attends 2018 Colloid and Surface Science Meeting in Pittsburgh giving  2 oral presentations and 2 posters.

May 2018: Cain Valtierrez-Gaytan passes his Ph. D. candidacy exam. Congratulations Cain!

April 2018:  Institute for Engineering in Medicine proposal “Nanoparticle-mediated base editing for T-cell immunotherapy,” is awarded thanks to Jeong Eun Shin’s thesis work.

March 2018: Collaboration with UCSB leads to publication of “Non-linear Chiral Rheology of a Phospholipid Monolayer,” in Soft Matter, with Kyu Han Kim, Siyoung Choi and Todd Squires.

February 2018: Joe Z. presents invited lecture:  “Sensing Curvature: Lipid Phase Coexistence at Planar and Curved Monolayers,”  at the 58th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society, San Francisco. Group members present 4 posters!

February 2018:  Jeong Eun Shin successfully defends her Ph. D. thesis.  Congratulations Dr. Shin!

January 2018: Olu Ogunyankin and Jeong Eun Shin publish “Optimizing the NIR Fluence Threshold for Nanobubble Generation by Controlled Synthesis of 10 – 40 nm Hollow Gold Nanoshells,” in Advanced Functional Materials.

January 2018:  “Interfacial Curvature Effects on Monolayer Morphology and Dynamics of a Clinical Lung Surfactant,” appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, co-authored by Amit Sachan and Joe Zasadzinski.

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