Group Website

Education, Honors, Awards

  • Assistant Professor, James Madison University (2009 – present)
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Texas A&M University (2002-2009)
  • Ph.D., Jilin Univesrity, China (2001)
  • B.S., Jilin University, China (1996)

Research Interests

  • Chiral interactions based on amino acid surfactants.
  • Specific ion effects on the phase behaviors of thermoresponsive polymers

Research Description

The Zhang group works at interdisciplinary research of physical chemistry, biological chemistry, and biomaterials. There are two major focuses in our studies:

(1)    Our group aims to elucidate the underlying mechanism of chiral interactions in complex biological systems through the appropriate choice of model systems such as amino acid-based amphiphiles, polymers, and surfaces. These amino acid-derived materials have a number of attractive properties, such as chemical simplicity, surface activity, biological activity, and biocompatibility. A series of amino acid surfactants have been synthesized in our laboratory. Three areas of interest are being investigated: (a) Biomineralization template by chiral molecules; (b) Chiral recognition at the air/water interface; (c) Supermolecular assembly of chiral molecules in organic solvents.

(2)    Our group investigates specific ion effects on the folding and aggregation of triblock copolymers, poly-(ethylene oxide)-b-poly(propylene oxide)-b-poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO-PPO-PEO). It was noted in 1888 that a wide variety of phenomena from protein folding and enzymatic activity to colloidal assembly and protein crystallization has shown to follow the Hofmeister series: CO32-> SO42−> S2O32− > H2PO4− > F− > Cl− > Br− ∼ NO3−> I− > ClO4−> SCN−. Our group has employed PEO-PPO-PEO as a model system to understand the mechanisms of the Hofmeister series.

Selected Recent Publications

  • Zhang, Y. J.;  Cremer, P. S. Chemistry of Hofmeister Anions and Osmolytes. Annual Review of Physical Chemistry, 2010, 61, 63-83.
  • Zhang, Y. J.; Cremer, P. S. The Inverse and Direct Hofmeister Series for Lysozyme. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2009, 106, 15249-15253.
  • Sagle, L. B.; Zhang, Y. J.; Litosh, V. A.; Chen, X.; Cho, Y.; Cremer, P. S. Investigating the Hydrogen Bonding Model of Urea Denaturation. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2009, 131, 9304-9310.
  • Zhang, Y. J.; Furyk, S.; Sagle, L. B.; Cho, Y.; Bergbreiter, D. E.; Cremer, P. S. Effects of Hofmeister Anions on the LCST of PNIPAM as a Function of Molecular Weight. The Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 2007, 111, 8916-8924.
  • Zhang, Y. J.; Trabbic-Carlson, K.; Albertorio, F.; Chilkoti, A.; Cremer, P. S. Aqueous Two-Phase System Formation Kinetics for Elastin-like Polypeptides of Varying Chain Length.  Biomacromolecules, 2006, 7, 2192-2199.
  • Zhang, Y. J.;  and Cremer, P. S. Interactions between Macromolecules and Ions: the Hofmeister Series. Current Opinion in Chemical Biology, 2006, 10, 658-663.
  • Zhang, Y. J.; ; Furyk, S.; Bergbreiter, D. E.; Cremer, P. S. Specific Ion Effects on the Water Solubility of Macromolecules: PNIPAM and the Hofmeister Series. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2005, 127, 14505-14510.
  • Zhang, Y. J.; Mao, H. B.; Cremer, P. S. Probing the Mechanism of Aqueous Two-Phase System Formation for a-Elastin On-Chip. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2003, 125, 15630-15635.

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