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Zhangli Peng
Zhangli Peng, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Center for Bioinformatics and Quantitative Biology

Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering

University of Illinois Chicago

Mailing Address: 820 South Wood Street, MC 563, Chicago, IL 60612 

Building & Room: Clinical Science North (CSN) 164F

Office Phone: (312) 996-7467




Postdoc, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ph.D., University of California San Diego


Research Interests: Multiscale Modeling of Soft Biological Materials; Microstructure-based Modeling of Cells, Organelles, Molecules, and Tissues; Modeling of Microfluidics, Nanofluidics, and Finite-Reynolds-Number Flows.


My research area is computational science and engineering, especially multiscale modeling of soft biological materials. My research directions include microstructure-based biomechanical analysis of molecules/organelles/cells/tissues, red blood cell mechanics, primary cilia,  dynamics of DNA/RNA/structural proteins, blood vessel walls, microfluidics, and nanofluidics. Specifically, one main goal of my group is to apply multiscale modeling to predict how mutations and modifications of cytoskeletal proteins and other structural proteins affect the biomechanics and mechanobiology of cells, organelles, and tissues within in vitro and in vivo microenvironments. The multiscale modeling can also be applied to understand the mechanisms of related diseases such as hematologic disorders, malaria, ciliopathies, laminopathies, and cancer metastasis. In pursuit of this goal, the objective of my group is to integrate atomistic-based simulations such as all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) and coarse-grained dissipative particle dynamics (DPD) with continuum-based modeling approaches such as finite element method (FEM) and boundary element method (BEM) to model the cell-microenvironment interactions starting from the molecular scales, and to work closely with experimental collaborators for validations and hypothesis testing. My group is also applying multiphysics modeling to help develop deformation-based, inertial-based, acoustic-based, thermal-based, electrical-based microfluidic/nanofluidic devices for disease diagnostics and biotechnologies. In addition, I also studied several types of bio-inspired structures, including a flow energy harvester of flapping foils inspired by fish swimming, nacre shells, and tensegrity structures.

Publications Heading link


  1. Hua Gao, Jian Zhou, Moein Naderi, Zhangli Peng, Ian Papautsky. Evolution of Focused Streams in Viscoelastic Flow in Spiral Microchannels Microsystems & Nanoengineering. accepted.
  2. Mohammad Moein Naderi, Ludovica Barilla, Jian Zhou, Ian Papautsky*, Zhangli Peng*, Elasto-Inertial Focusing Mechanisms of Particles in Shear-Thinning Viscoelastic Fluid in Rectangular Microchannels. Micromachines. 13:2131. 2022pdf
  3. Cho IS, Gupta P, Mostafazadeh N, Wong SW, Saichellappa S, Lenzini S, Peng Z, and Shin JW. Deterministic single cell encapsulation in asymmetric microenvironments to direct cell polarity. Advanced Science. 2206014. pdf
  4. Giuseppe Lauricella, Jian Zhou, Qiyue Luan, Ian Papautsky, and Zhangli Peng.  Computational study of inertial migration of prolate particles in a straight rectangular channel. Physics of Fluids. Featured Article.  34: 082021, 2022; newspdf
  5. Shuo Ma, Muhao Chen, Zhangli Peng, Xingfei Yuan, Robert E. Skelton. The Equilibrium and Form-Finding of General Tensegrity Systems with Rigid Bodies, Engineering Structures.  266 :114618, 2022. pdf
  6. Antoni Garcia-Herreros, Yi-Ting Yeh, Zhangli Peng, Juan del Álamo. Cyclic mechanical stresses alter erythrocyte membrane composition and microstructure and trigger macrophage phagocytosis. Advanced Science. 9:2201481, 2022. pdf
  7. Antonio Perazzo*, Zhangli Peng*, Y-N Young, Zhe Feng, David K Wood, John M Higgins, Howard A Stone. The effect of rigid cells on blood viscosity: linking rheology and sickle cell anemia. Soft Matter. 18(3):554-565, 2022. (*Contributed equally) news pdf
  8. Timothy Leong, Chandhana Voleti and Zhangli Peng. Coarse-Grained Modeling of Coronavirus Spike Proteins and ACE2 Receptors. Frontiers in Physics.9:1-9. doi:10.3389/fphy.2021.680983. 2021.  news pdf
  9. Zhangli Peng, Andy Resnick, Yuan-Nan Young. Primary Cilium: A Paradigm for Integrating Mathematical Modeling with Experiments and Numerical Simulations in Mechanobiology, Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering. 18(2): 1215–1237. 2021. pdf
  10. Arjun Attri, Deepak Thakur,  Taranpreet Kaur, Sebastian Sensale,  Zhangli Peng, Deepak Kumar, Raman Preet Singh, Nanoparticles incorporating a fluorescence turn-on reporter for real-time drug release monitoring, a chemoenhancer and a stealth agent: Poseidon’s trident against cancer? Molecular Pharmaceutics, 18:124−147. 2021 pdf
  11. Zhe Feng, Richard Waugh and Zhangli Peng, Constitutive Model of Erythrocyte Membranes with Distributions of Spectrin Orientations and Lengths, Biophysical Journal, 119:2190-2204, 2020. pdf
  12. Yijie Liu, Yang Mei, Xu Han, Farida V Korobova, Miguel A Prado, Jing Yang, Zhangli Peng, Joao Paulo, Steven Gygi, Daniel Finley, Peng Ji. Membrane skeleton modulates erythroid proteome remodeling and organelle clearance. Blood. 137(3):398-409. 2020. pdf
  13. Jian Zhou, Zhangli Peng, Ian Papautsky. Mapping inertial migration in the cross-section of a microfluidic channel with high speed imaging, Microsystems & Nanoengineering. 6:105, 2020 pdf
  14. Sing Wan Wong, Raymond Bargi, Zhe Feng, Celine Macaraniag, James C. Lee, Zhangli Peng, and Jae-Won Shin, Controlled deposition of three-dimensional matrices to direct single cell functions. Advanced Science. 7(20): 20. 2020. pdf
  15. Justin Flaherty, Zhe Feng, Yuan-Nan Young, Zhangli Peng, and Andrew Resnick. Primary cilia have a length-dependent persistence length. Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology. 19:445–460, 2020. pdf
  16. Sebastian Sensale, Zhangli Peng, and H.Chia Chang. Biphasic signals during nanopore translocation of DNA and nanoparticles due to strong ion cloud deformation. Nanoscale, 11(47):22772-22779. 2019. pdf
  17. Huijie Lu and Zhangli Peng. Boundary integral simulations of a red blood cell squeezing through a submicron slit under prescribed inlet and outlet pressures, Physics of Fluids, 31:031902, 2019. (featured as Editor’s choice). news pdf
  18. Sebastian Sensale, Zhangli Peng, and H.Chia Chang. Acceleration of DNA Melting Kinetics Using Alternating Electric Fields. Journal of Chemical Physics,149(8):085102, 2018. pdf
  19. Xuejin Li, Huijie Lu, and Zhangli Peng, Continuum- and Particle-based Modeling of Human Red Blood Cells. Handbook of Materials Modeling – Applications: Current and Emerging Materials, Edition: 4, Chapter: 11 1-16, Springer, 2018. pdf
  20. Sebastian Sensale, Zhangli Peng and H.-C. Chang. Kinetic theory for DNA melting with vibrational entropy, Journal of Chemical Physics, 147:135101. 2017. pdf
  21. Yan Bao, Dai Zhou, J.J. Tao, Zhangli Peng, H.B. Zhu, Z.L. Sun, and H.L. Tong, Dynamic interference of two anti-phase flapping foils in side-by-side arrangement in an incompressible flow. Physics of Fluids, 29:033601, 2017. pdf
  22. Igor V. Pivkin*, Zhangli Peng*, George Em Karniadakis, Pierre A Buffet, Ming Dao, and Subra Suresh. Biomechanics of red blood cells in human spleen and consequences for physiology and disease. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A., 113 (28) 7804-7809, 2016. (* Contributed equally). pdf news
  23. Szu-Pei Fu, Zhangli Peng, Hongyan Yuan,R. Kfoury, and Y.-N. Young, Lennard-Jones type pair-potential method for coarse-grained lipid bilayer membrane simulations in LAMMPS. Computer Physics Communications, 210:193-203. pdf
  24. Zhangli Peng, On-Shun Pak, Allen Liu, and Yuan-Nan Young. On the gating of mechanosensitive channels by fluid shear stress. Acta Mechanica Sinica, 32: 1012–1022. 2016. pdf
  25. Alexandra Witthoft, Alireza Yazdani, Zhangli Peng, Chiara Bellini, Jay D. Humphrey and George Em Karniadakis. A discrete mesoscopic particle model of the mechanics of a multi-constituent arterial wall. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 13: 20150964, 2015 pdf
  26. Zhangli Peng, Yeng-Long Chen, Huijie Lu, Zehao Pan, Hsueh-Chia Chang. Mesoscale simulations of two model systems in biophysics: from red blood cells to DNAs. Computational Particle Mechanics, 4:339-357, 2015 pdf
  27. Peng Li, Zhangming Mao, Zhangli Peng, Lanlan Zhou, Yuchao Chen , Po-Hsun Huang , Cristina I. Truica, Joseph J. Drabick, Wafik S. El-Deiry, Ming Dao, Subra Suresh, and Tony Jun Huang. Acoustic Separation of Circulating Tumor Cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. 112:4970–4975. 2015 pdf News
  28. Zhangli Peng, Sara Salehyar and Qiang Zhu. Stability of the Tank Treading Modes of Erythrocytes and Its Dependence on Cytoskeleton Reference States. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 771:449–467. 2015, pdf.
  29. Xiaoyun Ding*, Zhangli Peng*, Sz-Chin Steven Lin, Michela Geri, Sixing Li, Peng Li, Yuchao Chen, Ming Dao, Subra Suresh and Tony Jun Huang. Cell Separation Using Tilted-Angle Standing Surface Acoustic Waves. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A., 111 (36) 12992-12997, 2014. (*Contributed equally). pdf, news
  30. Xuejin Li, Zhangli Peng, Huai Lei, Ming Dao and George Em Karniadakis. Probing red blood cell mechanics, rheology and dynamics with a two-component multi-scale model. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. 372(2021): 20130389, 2014. pdf
  31. Zhangli Peng, Adel Mashayekh, and Qiang Zhu. Erythrocyte responses in low shear rate flows – effects of non-biconcave stress-free state in cytoskeleton. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 742:96-118, 2014. pdf
  32. Zhangli Peng, Xuejin Li, Igor V. Pivkin, Ming Dao, George Em Karniadakis, and Subra Suresh. Lipid-bilayer and cytoskeletal interactions in a red blood cell. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A., 110:13356-13361, 2013. pdf
  33. Zhangli Peng, and Qiang Zhu. Deformation of the erythrocyte cytoskeleton in tank treading motions. Soft Matter, 9:7617-7627, 2013. pdf
  34. HeeSu Byun, Timothy R. Hillman, John M. Higgins, Monica Diez-Silva, Zhangli Peng, Ming Dao, Ramachandra R. Dasari, Subra Suresh, and YongKeun Park. Optical measurement of biomechanical properties of individual erythrocytes from a sickle cell patient. Acta Biomaterialia, 8:4130-4138, 2012. pdf
  35. Mythili Aingaran*, Rou Zhang*, Sue Law*, Zhangli Peng*, Evan Meyer, Monica Diez-Silva, Christof Gruering, Luis Ibanez, Tobias Spielmann, Chwee Teck Lim, Subra Suresh, Ming Dao and Matthias Marti. Host cell deformability is linked to transmission in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Cellular Microbiology, 14:983-993, 2012. (Featured as Editors’s Choice, *Contributed equally) pdf
  36. Zhangli Peng, Robert J. Asaro, and Qiang Zhu. Multiscale modelling of erythrocytes in Stokes flow. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 686: 299-337, 2011. pdf
  37. Jiddu Bezares, Zhangli Peng, Robert J. Asaro, and Qiang Zhu. Macromolecular structure and viscoelastic response of the organic framework of nacre in Haliotis rufescens: a perspective and overview. Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, 38: 75-106, 2011. pdf
  38. Zhangli Peng, Robert J. Asaro, and Qiang Zhu. Multiscale modeling of erythrocyte membranes. Physical Review E, 81: 031904, 2010. pdf
  39. Zhangli Peng and Qiang Zhu. Energy harvesting through flow-induced oscillations of a foil. Physics of Fluids, 21: 123602, 2009. pdf
  40. Qiang Zhu and Zhangli Peng. Mode coupling and flow energy harvesting by a flapping foil. Physics of Fluids, 21: 033601, 2009. pdf
  41. Xingfei Yuan, Zhangli Peng and Shilin Dong, Baojun Zhao. A new tensegrity module -“Torus”. Advances in Structural Engineering, 11: 243-251, 2008. pdf
  42. Xingfei Yuan, Zhangli Peng, Shilin Dong. Study and application of tensegrity torus. China Civil Engineering Journal, 41: 8-13, 2008.
  43. Xingfei Yuan, Zhangli Peng and Shilin Dong. Load-carrying capacity of welded hollow spherical joints subject to combined planar tri-directional axial force and bending moment. Journal of Zhejiang University (Engineering Science), 41: 1436-1442, 2007.
  44. Zhangli Peng, Xingfei Yuan and Shilin Dong. Tensegrity torus. Spatial Structures, 13: 60-64, 2007.

News Heading link

May 01 2023

Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor Zhangli Peng has received a three-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant titled “Mechanisms of Terminal Erythroid Enucleation.” As the Principal Investigator, the $600,000 and €251,200 project will help Peng and his collaborative research team to better understand how red blood cells are generated through the process of erythropoiesis.

International collaboration will advance understanding of how red blood cells are generated

March 07 2023

Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor and member of the Center for Bioinformatics and Quantitative Biology Zhangli Peng has received the American Society of Hematology 2023 Junior Faculty Scholar Award. Peng was one of 19 junior faculty recipients to win the award. As one of the most prestigious research award programs, the honor recognizes junior faculty dedicating a career to hematology research and funds basic, translational, and clinical research that furthers the understanding and treatment of blood disorders.

Peng wins junior faculty award from American Society of Hematology

Feb 08 2023

A joint research paper published by Zhangli Peng, an assistant professor, and Ian Papautsky, a Richard and Loan Hill Professor, in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and their teams studied the effects of flowrate, the speed at which fluid moves, particle size, and the shear-thinning extent of the fluid on separating and focusing particles in viscoelastic fluids.

Paper explores physical mechanisms of particle separation in viscoelastic fluids and its optimization

August 19, 2022

To better understand how different shaped particles flow within inertial microfluidics, a UIC Engineering research team – composed of biomedical engineering Master student Giuseppe Lauricella from Politecnico di Milano under the supervision of Assistant Professor Zhangli Peng at UIC, Research Assistant Professor Jian Zhou and Ph.D. student Qiyue Luan from the lab of Richard and Loan Hill Professor Ian Papautsky – conducted a systematic investigation of non-spherical particles.

Study unlocks new information on ellipsoidal particles

April 15, 2022

Undergraduate student Lubna Shah from Assistant Professor Zhangli Peng’s lab won 2nd place in Poster Presentation in the  4th Annual Research Symposium in the Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Undergraduate student Timothy Leong from Assistant Professor Zhangli Peng’s lab won 3rd place in Poster Presentation in the  4th Annual Research Symposium in the Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Master student Giuseppe Lauricella from Assistant Professor Zhangli Peng’s lab won 2nd place in Oral Presentation in the  4th Annual Research Symposium in the Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering.

November 19, 2021

PhD student Moein Naderi from Assistant Professor Zhangli Peng’s lab took home the Best Poster Presentation award for his work titled “Computational Modeling of Elasto-Inertial Focusing of Particles.

CBQB hosts first annual research day


Researchers investigate impact of viscosity on sickle cell anemia

Peng to develop mathematical models to investigate cilia in mammal cells

BioE researchers look to unlock the secrets of red blood cell membranes