Ronald Zuckermann, Ph.D.

Nanobioscience Research
at the intersection of Chemistry, Biology & Engineering

Specializing in:
  • Molecular biomimicry with bio-inspired polymers
  • Combinatorial chemistry
  • Solid-phase synthesis
  • Peptoids and non-natural oligomers
  • Self-assembly and folding of protein-mimetic polymers
  • Laboratory automation
  • Custom instrumentation
  • Mechanical engineering & Fluidics

Contact Information

Ronald Zuckermann, Ph.D.
Biological Nanostructures Facility
The Molecular Foundry
Lawrence Berekeley National Laboratory
1 Cyclotron Rd., MS 67-5110
Berkeley, CA 94720

Phone: (510) 387-9364
E-mail: ron@ronznet.com


About Ron

Ronald Zuckermann received his B.S. in Chemistry in 1984 from Harvey Mudd College where he did undergraduate research in synthetic organic chemistry.  He then went on to UC Berkeley to study Bioorganic Chemistry with Dr. Peter Schultz.  His thesis work was on the synthesis of semi-synthetic nucleases capable of the sequence-specific cleavage of RNA.  After receiving the first Schultz group Ph.D. in 1989, he became one of the founding chemists at Protos Corp., a combinatorial drug discovery start-up in Emeryville, CA.  There he helped develop several key drug discovery technologies such as robotic combinatorial library synthesizers, affinity selection methods and a novel class of heteropolymers called "Peptoids".  Chiron Corp. acquired Protos in 1991 where this work continued and was applied to small molecule drug discovery, new biomaterials and DNA delivery.  Dr. Zuckermann was promoted to Research Fellow in 2003. In early 2006, he left Chiron to join the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he is currently Facility Director of the Biological Nanostructures Facility at The Molecular Foundry. There he is expanding the application of peptoid polymers to mimic the structure and function of proteins, by folding peptoid chains into defined nanoarchitectures. He was promoted to Senior Scientist in 2011. He has published over 115 papers and is co-inventor on 38 patents.

What's Hot!

May 2003

RZ receives Chiron Research Fellow Award at all employee meeting from Craig Wheeler.
Audio capture
(mp3, 7:39).

May 2007

Interview in Nano World News:

"Techniques for Rapid Drug Discovery Now Focusing on Nanoscience Research"

May 2008

Feature story in LBNL News Center:

"A Tailorable Nanotube, Formed by a Ring-shaped Protein"

July 2008

Feature story in LBNL News Center:

"Nano-Sized Jaws Perform Like Proteins"

August 7-8th, 2008

The 6th Peptoid Summit was held on at the Molecular Foundry.

December 1, 2008

Eric Drexler's blog on MetaModern:

"Peptoids at the Molecular Foundry"

August 9-10th, 2010

The 7th Peptoid Summit was held at the Molecular Foundry

April 2010

Feature story in LBNL News Center about our discovery of peptoid nanosheets:

"Berkeley Lab Scientists Create ‘Molecular Paper’"

April 12, 2010

Wired Science at WIRED.com:

"Floating Nanosheets Could Be the Plywood of Nanotechnology"

April 19, 2010

News of the Week story at Chemical & Engineering News about our first paper on peptoid nanosheets:

"Bioinspired Material Debuts"

April 22, 2010

Eric Drexler's blog on MetaModern:

"Peptoid nanosheets: A platform for new nanotechnologies"

April 28, 2010

Kristin Brinner's blog at ScienceBlog.com:

"Tasty New Molecular Sandwiches"

June 22, 2010

Guest blog by RZ on ScriptPhD.com about my long-term quest to make protein like materials from non-natural building blocks:

"Beauty and the Building Blocks"

January 18, 2011

Feature story in LBNL News Center on a peptoid block copolymer that forms nanosheets that roll up into superhelices:

"A Nanoscale Rope"

August 2011

Award-winning lecture presented at the 2011 Annual Retreat of the LBNL Materials Sciences Division

"Perspective: Safety Culture"
Lecture slides: PDF or Keynote format. (e-mail me if you have comments!)

Profile in Safety story about my safety management philosophy in "Today at LBNL"

September 2011

Top story in the Dept. of Energy's Energy Frontier Research Newsletter about our work on peptoids that accelerate the mineralization of CO2:

"Turning Greenhouse Gas to Stone"

September 2011

Special issue of Biopolymers Peptide Science devoted to papers presented at the 7th Peptoid Summit:

7th Peptoid Summit Special Issue


October 17, 2011

Feature story in LBNL News Center about our JACS paper on how peptoid nanosheets are formed:

"Shaken, not Stirred"

Original article in press at J. Am. Chem. Soc.

October 17, 2011

Science Concentrate in Chemical & Engineering News

"Surprise Route to Peptoid Nanosheets"

pdf version: here.

November 2, 2011

Journal of Visualized Experiments published a detailed 14 minute video and accompanying written protocol on how to make peptoids and self assemble them into nanosheets. Now anyone can get involved!

"Solid-phase Submonomer Synthesis of Peptoid Polymers and their Self-Assembly into Highly-Ordered Nanosheets"

See a 1 min preview here!


August 2012

8PS logo

The 8th peptoid Summit was held in Berkeley on August 9-10, 2012

August 21, 2012

LBNL press release about our PNAS paper on peptoid structure prediction:

pnas authors

"Form, Function and Folding"

See also:
Feature article on DOE's Office of Science website: "Predictions, proteins and peptoids"

May 13, 2013

Ron delivers his "Big Idea" at an LBNL Science at the Theater event at the Berkeley Repertory Theater:


Link to video here.

July 29, 2013

Peppytides paper published in PNAS on our foldable, physical model of the polypeptide chain.


Peppytides.com website launched to help you build your own 3D-printed protein!

August 26, 2013

The Berkeley Science Journal featured a really nice blog posting on our Peppytide models.


Peppytides: Molecular Models of the Future

August 2013

Ron wins the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Director's Award for Excellence in Safety!

Ron and Paul

October 30, 2013

LBNL press release on our ACS Nano paper on antibody-mimetic peptoid nanosheets.


“Molecular Velcro” May Lead to Cost-Effective Alternatives to Natural Antibodies


Also, hear an 8-minute interview with Ron about this paper in the October edition of the ACS Nano Podcast (see episode #75).

January 7, 2014

Make Magazine publishes a project tutorial on how to make your own Peppytide models.


Make: Projects

Build a super accurate, scaled 3D-model of a polypeptide chain that can be folded into all the basic protein structures, like α-helices, β-sheets, and β-turns. The model, called a Peppytide, is made by linking together many 3D-printed molecular subunits with a series of precisely placed magnets and screws. Once built, the Peppytide chain faithfully reproduces the size, shape and flexibility of proteins... read more!

January 20, 2014

Berkeley Lab releases a cool 5 minute video on the Peppytide project!




Peppytides: Interactive Models of Polypeptide Chains

April, 19, 2014

Ron delivers one of the
2014 HC Brown Symposium
lectures in Organic Chemistry at Purdue University.


Speakers and hosts. Front row (L to R): Mingji Dai (Purdue), John Hartwig (UC Berkeley), Sam Stupp (Northwestern), Ron Zuckermann (LBNL), Dave Tirrell (Caltech), Stephen Martin (UT Austin), Tim Swager (MIT). Back row (L to R): Tim Warren, Mark Lipton, David Thompson, Chris Uyeda, Alex Wei.


September 2, 2014

Our paper on the assembly of peptoid nanosheets at the oil-water interface came out in PNAS.


LBNL press release:
"Peptoid Nanosheets at the Oil/Water Interface"

University of Oregon story:
"UO-Berkeley Lab unveil new nano-sized synthetic scaffolding technique"

September 4, 2014

Ron and Promita were awarded the LBNL Director's Award for Exceptional Achievement in outreach for our work on the Peppytide molecular models!



November 4, 2014

9th Peptoid Summit announced!

Come join us at the 9th Peptoid Summit, August 6-7th, 2015, Molecular Foundry, Berkeley, CA.


December 11, 2014

Ron's research on peptoid nanosheets highlighted in Today at Berkeley Lab.

"Mimicking Nature for Homeland Security"


December 30, 2014

Our research is mentioned on NBC News!

3-D Printed Molecule Models Solve Protein Puzzles


January 4, 2015

Peppytide models uploaded to the NIH 3D Print Exchange database.



April 1, 2015

LBNL Science Shorts:

A Robot Chemist, at Your Service


June 2, 2015

LBNL News Center:

Using Robots at Berkeley Lab, Scientists Assemble Promising Antimicrobial Compounds


August 6-7, 2015

Ninth Peptoid Summit

Convened at the Molecular Foundry, featuring 130 attendees, 28 talks and 45 posters.


See the slide show!

October 7, 2015

Sigma strand paper appears in Nature!

LBNL News Center:

Newly Discovered ‘Design Rule’ Brings Nature-Inspired Nanostructures One Step Closer


October 12, 2015

Nanosheets.org website launched!


Learn all about the chemical and molecular structure of the peptoid nanosheet at nanosheets.org. There you'll find lots of microscope images, videos, interactive molecular models and references to check out.


December 3, 2015

Ron gives the Dow Distinguished Lecture at the Materials Research Laboratory at UC Santa Barbara.

with Chelsea Catania.


December 4. 2015

Ron talks to the Graduate Students for Diversity in Science at UC Santa Barbara about "Building Relationships with Mentees and Collaborators".

Ron Zuckermann speaks about building relationships

Fixing the Leaky Pipeline


March 9, 2016


Feature article in New Scientist Magazine talks about the future of peptoids!

Plastic fantastic: The quest to create the smartest materials (pdf)


March 15, 2016

Review article on peptoid nanosheets on the cover of Accounts of Chemical Research!


March 24, 2016

Molecular Foundry 10th Anniversary Celebration!

Congressman Mike Honda.

ABC News report!

May 22, 2016

Speaker at the Bay Area Maker Faire, on a "Think, Make, innovate" panel of Dept. of Energy Scientists who are also Makers!


"Meet the Maker" blog about the panel from Maker CEO, Dale Dougherty.

August 22, 2016

Our work mentioned in Scientific American!

"Maker Movement Turns Scientists into Tinkerers"


October 2016

10th Peptoid Summit announced!

Come join us at the 10th Peptoid Summit, August 10-11th, 2017, Molecular Foundry, Berkeley, CA.


August 10-11,2017

10th Peptoid Summit convened!

Over 140 attendees, 40 talks, and 43 posters, plus BBQ in the park!


LBNL Science Short:
Mimicking Nature with Designer Molecules


August 12, 2017

Zuckermann Alumni Gathering!

Over 75 former colleagues, students and post-docs gathered at the Hillside Club in Berkeley to celebrate!


November 2, 2017

Our work featured in Quanta Magazine and Scientific American!


Life’s First Molecule Was Protein, Not RNA, New Model Suggests

November, 2017

Interview with Ron about his career, peptoids, LBNL, tha past and the future. Conducted by UC Berkeley undergraduate, Leah Roe.

The Future of Now