Zhenan Bao joined Stanford University in 2004. She is currently a K.K. Lee Professor in Chemical Engineering, and with courtesy appointments in Chemistry and Material Science and Engineering. She is the Department Chair of Chemical Engineering from 2018. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors. She founded the Stanford Wearable Electronics Initiative (eWEAR) and is the current faculty director. She is also an affiliated faculty member of Precourt Institute, Woods Institute, ChEM-H and Bio-X.
Professor Bao received her Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from The University of Chicago in 1995 and joined the Materials Research Department of Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies. She became a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff in 2001. Professor Bao currently has more than 600 refereed publications and more than 65 US patents. She served as a member of Executive Board of Directors for the Materials Research Society and Executive Committee Member for the Polymer Materials Science and Engineering division of the American Chemical Society. She was an Associate Editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Chemical Science, Polymer Reviews and Synthetic Metals. She serves on the international advisory board for Advanced Materials, Advanced Energy Materials, ACS Nano, Accounts of Chemical Reviews, Advanced Functional Materials, Chemistry of Materials, Chemical Communications, Journal of American Chemical Society, Nature Asian Materials, Materials Horizon and Materials Today. She is one of the Founders and currently sits on the Board of Directors of C3 Nano Co. and PyrAmes, both are silicon valley venture funded companies. She is a Fellow of AAAS, ACS, MRS, SPIE, ACS POLY and ACS PMSE. She was a recipient of the MRS Mid-Career Award in 2021, ACS Central Science Disruptor and Innovator Prize in 2020, ACS Gibbs Medal in 2020, the Wilhelm Exner Medal from the Austrian Federal Minister of Science in 2018, the L'Oreal UNESCO Women in Science Award North America Laureate in 2017. She was awarded the ACS Applied Polymer Science Award in 2017, ACS Creative Polymer Chemistry Award in 2013 ACS Cope Scholar Award in 2011, and was selected by Phoenix TV, China as 2010 Most influential Chinese in the World-Science and Technology Category. She is a recipient of the Royal Society of Chemistry Beilby Medal and Prize in 2009, IUPAC Creativity in Applied Polymer Science Prize in 2008, American Chemical Society Team Innovation Award 2001, R&D 100 Award, and R&D Magazine Editors Choice Best of the Best new technology for 2001. She has been selected in 2002 by the American Chemical Society Women Chemists Committee as one of the twelve Outstanding Young Woman Scientist who is expected to make a substantial impact in chemistry during this century. She is also selected by MIT Technology Review magazine in 2003 as one of the top 100 young innovators for this century. She has been selected as one of the recipients of Stanford Terman Fellow and has been appointed as the Robert Noyce Faculty Scholar, Finmeccanica Faculty Scholar and David Filo and Jerry Yang Faculty Scholar.
Research areas in the Bao Group include synthesis of functional organic and polymer materials, organic electronic device design and fabrication, and applications development for organic electronics. Their approach is multidisciplinary, involving concepts and expertise from chemistry, chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, materials science and engineering, physics, and electrical engineering. The devices of current interest are organic and carbon nanotube thin film transistors, organic photovoltaic cells, chemical/biological sensors and molecular switches. These devices are used as characterization tools for fundamental charge transport and photophysics studies. They are also of practical interest for nano-scale electronics, alternative energy sources, low cost and large area flexible plastic circuits, displays, and disposable sensors.