Nikhil received his M.S. in Physics from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai, and then moved to University of Massachusetts, Amherst for his Ph.D. training in Biophysics under the mentorship of Dr. Mark Tuominen, where he developed new measurements methods that revealed for the first time electron conductivity and storage capacity in microbial biofilms due to bacterial cytochrome proteins. His postdoctoral work with Derek Lovley in the Microbiology Department demonstrated that the conductivity is essential for bacterial respiration and communication.
In 2015, Nikhil established his independent group at Yale and has been leading an interdisciplinary team to develop and apply novel technologies to define the mechanisms by which microbes interact with and manipulate their environment, with the ultimate goal of engineering these interactions to control microbial pathophysiology and ecology. Nikhil has received the Blavatnik Award for Innovation and Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award in 2021, NSF CAREER Award in 2018, NIH Director’s New Innovator Award and Hartwell Foundation Individual Biomedical Research Award in 2017, Charles H. Hood Foundation Child Health Research Award in 2016 and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interface in 2014.
Education & Training
- 2014-2015 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interfaces Fellow (About)
- 2010-2014 Postdoctoral Associate, Dept. of Microbiology, UMass, Amherst. (Advisor: Derek Lovley)
- 2007-2010 Ph.D. in Physics, Dept. of Physics, UMass, Amherst. (Advisor: Mark Tuominen) Thesis: Investigations of electron transport and storage mechanisms in microbial biofilms. Committee: M. Tuominen (Chair), A. Parsegian, M. Muthukumar, Jennifer Ross, Derek Lovley.
- 2004-2007 M. S. in Physics, Dept. of Physics, UMass, Amherst. (Advisor: Mark Tuominen)
- 2001-2003 M.Sc. in Physics, Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, India. Thesis: Investigation of Magneto-optic Kerr Effect in magnetic thin films and multilayers.
- 1998-2001 B.Sc. in Physics, Department of Physics, University of Mumbai, India.
HONORS AND AWARDS
- New and Notable, The Biophysical Society (2023 ) (About)(TV Interview)
- Advanced Panel Fellow, NSF Game Changer Academics Advancing Research Innovation (2022-2023) (About)
- Finalist, Burroughs Wellcome Fund – Pathogenesis of infectious disease (2022) (About)
- Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2021-2026) (About). Yale Highlight
- Blavatnik Award for Innovation (2021-2023) (About) Yale Highlight) Faculty Spotlight
- Public Voices Fellow by the OpEd project (2021-2022) (About)
- Finalist, NSF Materials Innovation Platform (2019) (About)
- NSF CAREER Award (2018-23) (About)
- NIH Director’s New Innovator Award (2017-22) (About)
- Hartwell Foundation Individual Biomedical Research Award (2017-20) (About)
- Charles H. Hood Foundation Child Health Research Award (2017-19) (About)
- Helmsley Interdisciplinary Research Fellowships, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (2016-17) (About)
- Burroughs Wellcome Fund – Career Award at the Scientific Interface (2014-2019)(About)
- Biophysics Scholarship, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (2009) (About)
- Entrepreneurship Fellowship, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (2008-2009) (About)
- Graduate fellowship American alumni association, India (2004-2008)
- Indo-American Society travel grant for graduate studies (2004)
Distributed strains and plasmids to researchers in developing countries.
Reviewer for Promotion and Tenure to Full Professor: Tsinghua University (2021)
Reviewer for Biochemistry Dissertation, Sapienza University of Rome (2023)
Reviewer for Funding Agencies (19):
- NSF-Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) (2023) (About)
- Invited nominator for MacArthur Fellows Program (About)
- U. S. Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowship Program (2023)
- Cottrell Scholar Award, Research Corporation for Science Advancement (About)
- Panel member, Dept. of Energy Biological & Environmental Research (2014-2015); (2019-2020).
- Panel member, National Science Foundation’s Molecular and Cellular Biosciences cluster (2021-22)
- Brookhaven National Laboratory, Center for Functional Nanomaterials (2013 –2015) (2020-present)
- National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship program (2021-present)
- National Science Foundation ad-hoc reviewer (2019-present)
- Dept. of Energy Basic Energy Sciences
- Dept. of Energy SBIR Program
- Dept. of Energy Office of Science Graduate Student Research program (2016)
- Keck Foundation (2021)
- The Fund for Scientific Research-FNRS (F.R.S.-FNRS) - Belgium (2021)
- The Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) - Belgium (2021, 2022)
- The Excellence of Science program for the Flemish and French speakers (2021)
- UK Research & Innovation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) (2022)
- Dutch Research Council (NWO) (2022)
- European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant (2022)
Reviewer for Journals (59): (in alphabetical order)
- Angew. Chem., Adv. Materials, ACS Nano, Applied & Environ. Microbio., ACS Omega, Appl. Surface Sci.,
- BBA – Bioenergetics, Biotechnology & Bioengineering, Bioelectrochemistry, Biochemical Journal, Bioorganic Chemistry, Biotechnology Adv.,
- Chemical Science, ChemComm, ChemElectroChem, ChemSusChem, Chemical Engineering Journal,
- Environmental Microbiology Energy & Environ. Science, Environ. Science & Technology, Energy & Fuels, Environ. Eng. Sciences, Electroanalysis, Environmental Engineering Sciences.
- Frontiers in Microbiology, FEMS: Pathogens & Disease,
- Geophysical Research Letters.
- International Society of Microbial Ecology, iScience, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers,
- Joule, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Journal of Physical Chemistry, Journal of Chemical Physics, Journal of Energy Chemistry, Journal of Materials Science,
- Lab on a Chip, Langmuir,
- mBio, Microbiology, Microbial Biotechnology, Microbiology Spectrum
- Nature, Nature Micro., Nature Geoscience, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Communications, Nano Letters, Nanoscale, Nanomedicine,
- PNAS, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Physical Review E, PLOS One,
- RSC Advances, Research in Microbiology,
- Science, Science Partner Journal – Research, Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group),
- Disseminating molecular structures through a user-friendly software FirstGlance and Proteopedia
- Presenter, Yale Parents Day. October 2019
- Participant, Pathways to Science Program, 2017. Students built a bacterial battery MudWatt
- Interviewed by New York Times, Scientific American, NBC-SYFY,
- Contributor, Yale “Humans of Academia” video series (2020)
- Judge for poster competition, Indian Biophysical Society, March 2022.
- Designed a web-based protein visualization module to teach students from diverse backgrounds.
- Developing new curricula for Microbiology Literacy Knowledge Framework
- Participated in Mentoring Catalyst program for the NSF Emerging Frontiers and Innovation program
- Mentoring 15 students from underrepresented and minority groups, including visually disabled postdoctoral researcher Matthew Guberman-Pfeffer and a transgender student.
- Mentor, First-generation undergraduate students through NSF-REU and STARS programs.
- Mentor for international students through WINstep Forward and Indo-US Science & Technology Forum
- Mentor for international students through Indian Foreign Training Program and Fulbright program.
- Mentor and thesis advisor for international students through Netherland’s Honors Academy program.
- Mentored Yale’s undergraduate-led team for International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition on synthetic biology through engineering bacteria
- Advised Maijia Liao who received Burrough Wellcome Fund Career Award at Scientific Interface.
- Mentored Vanessa Saldivar who presentated in Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists (ABRCMS).
- The Public Voices Fellow by the OpEd project, 2021-22.
- Yale Statement Maker Fellow, 2017-2018.
- Mentored Hanwen Zhang who received President’s Public Service Fellowship
- Participant, Diversity Town Hall organized by Dept. of Mol. Biophysics and Biochemistry.
- Organized Diversity Town Hall and developed core values for the lab.
- Coordinator, Yale West Campus Junior PI Group (2015-)
- Organizer, Junior PI mentoring group with organizational scientist (2021-)
- Mentoring student who is the president of SACNAS
Selected Invited Talks
- Quantum Life Science for Medicine Symposium, Sungkyunkwan University, Korea. 6-7 July 2023
- Microbiome Symposium, Yale School of Medicine., Yale West Campus. May 9, 2023.
- New and Notable Symposium, Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society, San Diego, CA Feb. 19, 2023
- Gordon Research Conference: Metals in Biology. Ventura, CA January 23 - 28, 2023
- Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, Princeton University, February 7, 2022
- Connecticut Microelectronic & Optoelectronics Consortium. University of Connecticut, 9 March 2022.
- Indian Biophysical Society Meeting, Mumbai, India. 31 March 2022
- Dept. of Physics, Arizona State University. 28 April 2022.
- MRS Symposium on Genetically encoded and bioinspired materials Honolulu, Hawaii, May 2022.
- Bioderived Electronics. Ein Gedi, Israel. May 2022
- Center for Nanoscale Materials, Argonne National lab. July 6, 2022.
- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: Quantum Biology workshop, July 2022
- Gordon Research Conference: Molecular Basis of Microbial Metabolism, NH Aug. 7-12, 2022.
- European Nitrogen Cycle meeting, Rome, Italy. 28-30 September 2022. (Keynote)
- Emergent Simplicity in Biophysical Dynamics, Telluride, CO. September 30, 2022.
- NSF Convergence Accelerator Workshop: Bioinspired Design. Wyss Institute, Harvard. October 4, 2022.
- Microbiology Seminar Series, Dept. of Microbial Pathogenesis, Yale University. November 3, 2022.
- NSF Nanoscale Science and Engineering – Quantum Biology. December 7, 2022. (Video)
- Dept. of Physics, Colgate University, New York. 27 April 2021.
- NanoBioelectronics symposium, IEEE NANO, Montreal Canada, 28-30 July 2021.
- Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, Sacramento State University, California.. 7 October 2021.
Electromicrobiology meeting. Session: Molecules, Aarhus, Denmark, 3-5 November 2021 (Keynote)
- Semi-synthetic-biology group, Dept. of ECE and BME, Boston University. November 2021.
- Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University, Canada. 26 Nov. 2021
- Intracellular organization & material synthesis Workshop, Dept. of Energy, Dec 15-16, 2021.
- Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT. Fall 2020 (postponed)
- Blavatnik semifinalist to pitch at the Office of Cooperative Research’s Pitchfest, December.
- Dept. of Material Science & Engineering. State University of New York, Stony Brook, 25 Oct. 2019.
- Dept. of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania. 8 Oct. 2019
- American Geophysical Union. Centennial Session - Biogeophysics San Francisco 13 December 2019
- Center for Theoretical Biophysics, Rice University. 7 Feb. 2018
- American Physical Society. Focus Session: Quantum effects in biology, Los Angeles 5 March 2018
- Blavatnik semifinalist. Selected to pitch at the Office of Cooperative Research’s Pitchfest, April.
- Department of Chemistry, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, India. 25 April 2018.
- International Society of Electrochemistry, Bologna, Italy. 4 September 2018.
- Pittsburgh Quantum Institute, University of Pittsburgh. 20 September 2018.
- Department of Chemistry, Rutgers University. 28 September 2018.
- Beyond Center. Arizona State University. 5 November 2018.
- Dept. of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology, & Medicine, Duke University, September 27, 2017
- Gordon Research - Microbial Adhesion & Signal Transduction, Newport, RI. July 2017 (Keynote)
- International Society for Electrochemistry, Hague, Netherlands, 25 August 2016 (Keynote)
- The Physics Club, Department of Physics, Yale University. February 1, 2016.
- Yale Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering seminar, November 13, 2015.
- Physical and Engineering Biology Program, Yale University, Sept. 18, 2015
- Microbiology Retreat, Dept. of Microbial Pathogenesis Yale University Sept. 4, 2015.
- Energy Sciences Institute, Yale University September 2, 2015
- Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena, Yale University. August 5, 2015.
- Microbiology & Immunology Dept., Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth College, NH. June 2015.
- Nanoscience & Nanoengineering school, Physics Dept., North Carolina A&T University. June (declined)
- Department of Physics, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 21 May 2015 (declined).
- Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, Washington, 27 April 2015.
- Department of Physics, Portland State University. 22 April 2015.
- Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas Tech University. 10 April 2015.
- Dept. of Physics, Astronomy & Material Sci., Missouri State University, Springfield. March 2015.
- Department of Physics, SUNY Buffalo, NY. 19 February 2015.
- Microbial Sciences Institute and Dept. of Mol. Biophysics & Biochem., Yale University. 9 Feb. 2015
- Department of Physics and Astronomy, Iowa State University, Ames IA 22 January 2015
- Dept. of Microbiology & Physiological Systems, University of Mass. Med School, 7 Jan. 2015.
- Department of Microbiology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 4 December 2014
- Department of Physics, University of Southern California, LA. 21 November 2014.
- Department of Physics, Union College, Schenectady, New York, October 16, 2014.
- NSF - Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Sept. 24, 2014.
- The Amherst Club, Amherst MA, August 5, 2014
- American Society of Microbiology Special session: Dispelling dogmas Boston, MA. May 18, 2014
- Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (MPA-CINT), Los Alamos National Lab., March. 11, 2014.
- Dept. of Appl. Phys. Sci., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Feb. 24, 2014.
- Department of Physics, University of Denver. Feb. 19, 2014.
- Nano Science Technology Center, University of Central Florida. Dec. 10, 2013.
- Dept. of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University. Nov. 12, 2013.
- Office of Naval Research Biosciences and Biocentric Technology annual meeting 23-25 July 2013.
- Dept. of Biosciences & Bioengineering. Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, March 4, 2013.
- From the Meso-to-Nanoscale with X-ray Spectromicroscopy, Brookhaven National Lab., Sept. 2012
- International Conference on Science & Technology of Synthetic Metals, Atlanta, Georgia, July 2012
- American Physical Society Meeting News briefing, Boston, MA. 27 February 2011.
- Department of Physics seminar, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. November 2011
- Talent Advancement Program, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, September 2011.
- Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Sept. 2011.
- Conversations in Physical and Structural Biology, University of Mass., Amherst. 26 Sept. 2011.
- Department of Energy Genomic Sciences meeting, February 2010, Crystal City, VA
- University of Massachusetts Microbiology departmental seminar, February 2010.