Rong Wang

  • Professor of Chemistry
  • Graduate Director
  • Director, International Center for Sensor Science and Engineering


B.S. Jilin University
Ph.D. University of Tokyo


The following is a list of representative publications:

  • "Light-Induced Amphiphilic Surfaces", R. Wang, K. Hashimoto, A. Fujishima, M. Chikuni, E. Kojima, A. Kitamura, M. Shimohigoshi and T. Watanabe, Nature, 388, 431 (1997).  (# citations: 3750)
  • "Electrochemical Modulation of Molecular Conversion in an Azobenzene- Terminated Self-Assembled Monolayer Film: an in situ UV-visible and Infrared Study", R. Wang, T. Iyoda, D.A. Tryk, K. Hashimoto and A. Fujishima, Langmuir, 13, 4644 (1997).
  • "Photogeneration of Highly Amphiphilic TiO2 Surfaces", R. Wang, K. Hashimoto, A. Fujishima, M. Chikuni, E. Kojima, A. Kitamura, M. Shimohigoshi and T. Watanabe, Adv. Mater., 10, 135 (1998).<135::AID-ADMA135>3.0.CO;2-M.  (# citations: 993)
  • "Studies of Surface Wettability Conversion on TiO2 Single Crystal Surfaces", R. Wang, N. Sakai, A. Fujishima, T. Watanabe, and K. Hashimoto, J. Phys. Chem.,B 103, 2188 (1999).  (# citations: 735)
  • “Direct Observation of Sol-Gel Conversion: the Role of the Solvent in Organogel Formation”, R. Wang, C. Geiger, L. Chen, B. I. Swanson, D. G. Whitten, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 122, 2399 (2000). (# citations: 235)
  • "Surfactant-Induced Modification of Quenching of Conjugated Polymer Fluorescence by Electron Acceptors: Applications for Chemical Sensing" L. Chen, D. McBranch, Rong Wang and D. Whitten, Chem. Phys. Lett., 330, 27 (2000). (# citations: 162)
  • “Morphogenesis of Bacillus Spore Surfaces”, Venkata G.R. Chada, Erik A. Sanstad, Rong Wang and Adam Driks, J. Bacter., 185, 6255-6261 (2003). (# citations: 193)
  • “Synthesis and Characterization of a Novel Photolabile Cross-Linker and Its application on Protein Photo-Delivery”, F. Yan; L. Chen; Q. Tang; R. Wang, Bioconjugate Chem. 15 1030 (2004).
  • “Protein Delivery with Nanoscale Precision”, Qiling Tang, Yuexing Zhang, Liaohai Chen, Funing Yan and Rong Wang, Nanotechnology, 16 1062-1068 (2005).
  • “Morphogenesis of the Bacillus Anthracis Spore”, Giorno R, Bozue J, Cote C, Wenzel T, Moody KS, Mallozzi M, Ryan M, Wang R, Zielke R, Maddock JR, Friedlander A, Welkos S, Driks A., J Bacteriol. 189(3), 691-705 (2007). .  (#145)
  • “Adapting Collagen / CNT Matrix in Directing hESC Differentiation”, Indumathi Sridharan, Taeyoung Kim, Rong Wang, Biolchem. Biolphys. Res. Com., 381 (2009) 508–512. (# citations: 106)
  • “Spatially Resolved Quantification of E-Cadherin on Target hES Cells”, Zhaoxia Li, Dengli Qiu, Indumathi Sridharan, Xiaoping Qian,  Honghong Zhang, Chunbo Zhang,  and Rong Wang, J. Phys. Chem. B, 114, 2894–2900 (2010). .
  • “Structural and Mechanical Profiles of Native Collagen Fibers in Vaginal Wall Connective Tissues”, Indumathi Sridharan, Yin Ma, Taeyoung Kim, William Kobak, Jacob Rotmensch, Rong Wang, Biomaterials33,1520-1527 (2012). .
  • Two-Way Regulation between Cells and Aligned Collagen Fibrils: Local 3D Matrix Formation and Accelerated Neural Differentiation of Human Decidua Parietalis Placental Stem Cells.”, Wen Li, Bofan Zhu, Zuzana Strakova, Rong Wang, Biochem. Biophys. Res. Com., 450, 1377-1382 (2014). .
  • “Effect of CNT on Collagen Fiber Structure, Stiffness, Assembly Kinetics and Stem Cell Differentiation”, Taeyoung Kim, Indumathi Sridharan, Bofan Zhu, Joseph Orgel, Rong Wang, Mater. Sci. Eng. C, 49: 281-289 (2015).
  • “E-spun Composite Fibers of Collagen and Dragline Silk Protein: Fiber Mechanics, Biocompatibility and Application in Stem Cell Differentiation”, Zhu B., Li W., Lewis R., Segre C., Wang R., Biomacromolecules, 16: 202−213 (2015).
  • “Identifying Distinct Nanoscopic Features of Native Collagen Fibrils towards Early Diagnosis of Pelvic Organ Prolapse”, Taeyoung Kim, Indumathi Sridharan, Yin Ma, Bofan Zhu, Naiwei Chi, William Kobak, Jacob Rotmensch, Jay D. Schieber, Rong Wang, Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine, 12: 667–675 (2016).
  • “Differential MS2 Interaction with Food Contact Surfaces Determined by Atomic Force Microscopy and Virus Recovery”, Shim J, Stewart DS, Nikolov AD, Wasan DT, Wang R, Yan R, Shieh YC. Appl Environ Microbiol 83: e01881-17 (2017).
  • “Miniature Fiber Laser Microphones with Graphene Diaphragms,” S. Liao, T. Wong, Z. Wang, R. Wang, E. Clutter and H. Chien, IEEE Research and Applications of Photonics In Defense (RAPID), p1-4 (2018).
  • “Electrospun Protein-CNT Composite Fibers and the Application in Fibroblast Stimulation” by Naiwei Chi and Rong Wang, Biochem. Biophys. Res. Com., 504: 211-217 (2019).
  • “Silk-CNT Mediated Fibroblast Stimulation toward Chronic Wound Repair”, Chi N, Zheng S, Clutter E, Wang R. Recent Prog Mater. 1(4):1-16 (2019).
  • “Altered mechanics of vaginal smooth muscle cells due to the lysyl oxidase-like1 knockout”. Ferreira JPS, Kuang M, Parente MPL, Natal Jorge RM, Wang R, Eppell SJ, Damaser M. Acta Biomater. Acta Biomater. 110:175-187 (2020).
  • “Features of Material Surfaces Affecting Virus Adhesion as Determined by Nanoscopic Quantification”, Ao Guo, Y. Carol Shieh, Rong R. Wang, Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects, 602:125109 (2020).


My research interest focuses on utilizing biophysics and surface chemistry approaches to examine cells/microbes and diseases at molecular levels, as well as developing functional biomaterials to forge new detection and intervention methods.  In specific, my group harnesses the advancements in molecular characterization methods such as probe scanning microscopy, surface engineering with new bioconjugate chemistry, and molecular manipulation via photochemistry and nano-processing to deliberate the cell-cell / cell-matrix interactions and to explicate the concerted changes of cells, tissues and their environments. Students receive training in biophysics, biochemistry, analytical chemistry, surface chemistry, bioconjugate chemistry, material engineering and cell biology through the following on-going research projects:

  • Examination of structure-function relationship for collagen in native tissues.  Collagen is the most abundant structural protein in connective tissues. Defects in collagen fiber and fiber network were frequently linked to health conditions, aging and diseases.  Aiming to reveal the correlations of collagen’s biochemical, biophysical and biomechanical features with patients’ clinical conditions, my group has carried out studies of collagen on the nanoscopic to macroscopic scales in vaginal wall connective tissues harvested from patients with pelvic organ prolapse (POP) (via collaborations with surgeons in Rush and NorthShore hospitals).  The work opens up the opportunity of assessing collagen functionality via a clinical test during a patient’s visit.  It allows clinicians to alert any pre-symptomatic conditions, to employ peculiar treatment for preventing further development of the condition, and to reduce unneeded invasive surgical procedures. Examination of the multi-scale structure, composition and mechanics of collagen, elastin and smooth muscle cells as well as the integration/deterioration of these tissue components is under way to elucidate their association with the emergence and progression of POP. 
  • Development of biocomposite materials as tissue engineering scaffolds.  The research on the structure-function relationship of collagen furnishes the design principles for tissue engineering scaffolds.  Accordingly, we have developed biocomposite materials in an effort of modulating the biochemical composition and biophysical properties of cell culture matrices.  Particularly, single-walled CNT was incorporated in collagen, spider silk or silkworm silk protein to generate biocomposite fibers by electrospinning.  The addition of a minute amount of CNT effectively improved protein fiber alignment, mechanical strength and electrical conductivity while retained high biocompatibility, mimicking native collagen fibers in the matrix of connective tissues. The composite fibers effectively mediated electrical stimulation of patients’ fibroblasts to boost collagen productivity. The developed approach offers a simple, direct and effective way to restore the function of patients’ cells which can be potentially used for personalized cell therapeutic treatment of diseases (e.g., chronic wound of diabetes patients) and health conditions (e.g., pelvic organ prolapse) associated with collagen disorder. 
  • Modulation of surfaces of food-processing materials for reduced virus adhesion. The transmission of foodborne viral gastroenteritis is associated with virus adhesion on food-contact surfaces. In our work, using MS2 coliphage as a surrogate of human norovirus, the preferential virus adhesion on a range of food-processing materials was investigated via nanoscopic and quantitative measurements.  The result revealed that, while the chemical property of a material plays essential roles in virus adhesion, contribution of surface topography is nontrivial.  The presence of arrays of nanopinholes on silicon substrate was shown to reduce not only the number of virus attachment but also the strength of virus adhesion.  We anticipate that delicate controls of a surface’s chemical composition and nanostructure will offer the ultimate solution to improve mitigations for controlling viral contamination and transmission.
  • IR-responsive polymer in sensor application.  PolyN-isopropylacrylamide (PNIPAAm) is a thermo-responsive polymer. Aqueous solutions of PNIPAAm show a lower critical solution temperature (LCST). PNIPAAm chains hydrate to form expanded structures in water when the temperature is below its LCST, butbecome compact structures by dehydration when heated above its LCST.  The temperature-sensitive polymer has been widely studied for its application in sensing, drug delivery, filtration and as a food packaging material.  We discovered recently that the incorporation of graphene oxide (GO) in PNIPAAm rendered rapid bending of the polymer in response to IR irradiation.  The application of the PNIPAAm-GO coated membrane as a gating material is under investigation to achieve controllable release of odor compounds by heat or IR light.