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Tufts University
Medford, MA 02155

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Nikhil U. Nair
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering


2010 Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
2006 MS, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
2003 BS, Cornell University, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Honors and Awards

  • 2016 NIH Director's New Innovator Award
  • 2009 Annual ChBE Graduate Research Symposium (3rd place)
  • 2009 Hanratty Travel Award
  • 2008-2009 Mavis Memorial Fund Scholarship Award
  • 2008-2009 Drickamer Endowment Fund
  • 2008 Annual ChBE Graduate Research Symposium (3rd place)
  • 2008 Best Oral Presentation in the CMB/MBTG Research Symposium
  • 2008 Hanratty Travel Award

Research Interests

Research in Dr. Nair's lab is focused primarily on altering various aspects of microbial physiology with the aim of not only engineering them for applications, but also to understand why various features of life evolved the way they did. This involves deconvoluting the complexity of their makeup and finding ways to alter their components (genes, proteins, metabolites, etc.) to achieve a desired outcome. As engineers we believe that building a synthetic system (even if it's a biological one) is one of the most powerful methods to understand the intricacies of that system. Learn more >


Nikhil U. Nair received his B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) in 2003, after which he had a brief stint at Bristol-Myers Squibb where he worked as a manufacturing research scientist in biotechnology purification development. He then went on to receive his M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2006 and 2010, respectively. As a graduate student, he developed processes for the production of the sugar substitute xylitol using E. coli and the biofuel butanol using yeast via a combination of protein and genome engineering approaches. He joins Tufts after completing a postdoctoral fellowship in Microbiology and Immunobiology at the Harvard Medical School under the guidance of Ann Hochschild.

Professional Positions

August 2010 - August 2013 Post-doctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School, Microbiology & Immunobiology, Boston, MA
August 2004 - July 2010 Graduate Research, University of Illinois, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Urbana-Champaign, IL

Service Memberships

  • American Chemical Society (ACS)
  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)
  • Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)