PI

Biography

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

Postdoc, Microbiology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Ph.D. Biophysics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (2010).
M.S. Physics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (2007).
M.Sc. Physics, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (2003)

B.Sc. Physics, University of Mumbai (2001)

Honors and Awards                                                                                                            

  • 2022          Fellow, NSF Game Changer Academics for Advancing Research Innovation (About)
  • 2021-2026 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (About).  Yale Highlight
  •  2021-2023 Blavatnik Award (About) Yale Highlight) Faculty Spotlight
  • 2021-2022 Public Voices Fellow by the OpEd project. (About)
  • 2018-2023 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award (About)
  • 2017-2022 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award (About)
  • 2017-2020 Hartwell Foundation Individual Biomedical Research Award (About)   
  • 2017-2019 Charles H. Hood Foundation Child Health Research Award (About)
  • 2016          Helmsley Fellowships, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (About)
  • 2014-2019 Burroughs Wellcome Fund – Career Award at the Scientific Interface (About)
  • 2009          Biophysics Scholarship, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (About)                          
  • 2008-2009 Entrepreneurship Fellowship, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (About)
  • 2004-2008 American alumni association, Mumbai, India, graduate fellowship
  • 2004          Indo-American Society travel grant for graduate studies

Support Obtained by Lab Personnel

  • Biophysics Training Grants: Amber Jessop Hudspeth and Raj Basak (9/1/16-8/31/2017)
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in Biophysics: Patrick O’Brien (2016-2019)
  • National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship:  Catharine Shipps (2019-2022)
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship honorable mention: Peter Dahl (2019)
  • Becton Prize for exceptional achievement in engineering & applied science: Winston Huynh (2019)
  • Selection for Stanford MBA Future Leaders Program - Winston Huynh (2017)
  • All Points West Mini Grant: Catharine Shipps and Jens Neu (2019-2020)
  • Outstanding Teaching Fellowship Award – Vishok Srikanth (2019-20)
  • National Graduate Student Symposium & Future Fellow Research Conference, St. Jude: PJ Dahl (2021)  
  • First prize in the poster competitions for MB&B retreat and Postdoc Research Day – Sophia Yi
  • Nominated for HHMI Gillum Fellowship – Aldo Salazer-Morales (2020) Andrew Rodriguez (2021)
  • Nominated for Google’s Schmidt Science Fellowship with Rhodes Trust: Yangqi Gu (2021)
  • Paul Sigler Prize for excellence in scholarship and research: Gunashil Mandava (2021)
  • Richter Fellowship and 1st prize in Yale Seniors Showcase: Gunashil Mandava (2021)
  • Goldwater Scholarship: Ronald Hood (2021).  Dept. news release Yale News & Yale Press Release
  • Annie Le Fellowship for academic achievements & service: Catharine Shipps (2021). News release.
  • Fulbright Scholarship - Maria do Pilar Castillo Portela (Co-mentor, Portugal) (2022).
  • NIH F32 postdoctoral fellowship – Matthew Gubermann-Pfeffer (2022).
  • Yale Undergraduate Research Fellowships: Claire Sheen (2016), Winston Huynh (2016, 2017), Dennis Vu (2016, 2017, 2018), Ronald Hood (2019, 2020), Lauren Delgado (2019, 2020), Jerry Ruvalcaba (2019, 2020, 2021), Gunashil Mandava (2020) Hanwen Zhang (2021, 2022).

External Service

Distributed strains and plasmids to researchers in developing countries.

Reviewer for Promotion and Tenure to Full Professor: Tsinghua University (2021)

Reviewer for Funding Agencies (11):

  • 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)
  • The Excellence of Science program

Reviewer for Journals (55): (in alphabetical order)

  • Angew. Chem., Adv. Materials, 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,
  • 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, Microbiology Spectrum
  • Nature, Nature Micro., Nature Geoscience, Nature Comm., Nano Letters, Nanoscale, Nanomedicine,
  • PNAS, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Physical Review E, PLOS One,
  • RSC Advances, Research in Microbiology,
  • Science, Scientific Reports,
  • Wiley

Outreach, Education and Public Policy

  • Judge for poster competition, Indian Biophysical Society, March 2022.
  • Developing new curricula for Microbiology Literacy Knowledge Framework
  • The Public Voices Fellow by the OpED project, 2021-22. Yale Statement Maker Fellow, 2017-2018.
  • Coordinator, Yale West Campus Junior PI Group (2015-)
  • Organizer, Junior PI mentoring group with organizational scientist (2021-)
  • Contributor, Yale “Humans of Academia” video series (2020)
  • Organized Diversity Town Hall and developed core values for the lab.
  • Participant, Diversity Town Hall organized by Dept. of Mol. Biophysics and Biochemistry.
  • Mentoring 15 students from underrepresented and minority groups, including visually disabled postdoctoral researcher Matthew Guberman-Pfeffer and a transgender student.
  • 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,
  • 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.
  • Designed a web-based protein visualization module to teach students from diverse backgrounds.
  • Disseminating molecular structures through a user-friendly software FirstGlance and Proteopedia