Zhen Xia Receives William Powers, Jr. Graduate Fellowship for Computational Modeling Research

Zhen Xia, a student conducting research in Professor Pengyu Ren’s laboratory, has been selected to receive a William Powers, Jr. Graduate Fellowship, which includes a stipend of $25,000 for the 2012–2013 academic year. The competition for these fellowships is intense, and this is one of the highest awards that the graduate school offers to graduate students at The University of Texas at Austin.

photo of Zhen Xia sitting at computer, smiling

   Zhen Xia conducts research in Professor Pengyu Ren's laboratory. His
   theoretical work will improve drug discovery through the use of models
   to accurately predict biomolecular behavior in the human body.

Xia received the fellowship for his research in biomolecular modeling. His dissertation focuses on building a multi-scale model to predict protein and RNA 3D structures. With modeling helping researchers see and predict what is happening in the body at the atomic level, the results of Xia’s computational research have implications in the improvement of drug discoveries and delivery.

Other researchers in Professor Ren’s laboratory are collaborating with UT’s Biology and Chemistry Departments as well as with companies. Currently, Ren’s lab is working with Ruhong Zhou’s group at IBM Research to predict how flu viruses may behave in the future by developing mutation models. Ren’s lab is also analyzing activity and structural and functional relationships at the biomolecular level and how protein interacts with ligands, which could ultimately have implications in drug discoveries to treat cancer and other diseases.

Prior to joining The University of Texas at Austin Xia received double undergraduate degrees in control science and engineering and bioinformatics from Zhejiang University in China.