Nicholas Licata, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Physics; Chair, Physics Discipline
Nicholas Licata
College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters
Natural Sciences

Teaching Areas:


Research Areas:

Biophysics, Statistical Physics

Biography and Education

  • University of Michigan, Physics, Ph.D. (2008) M.S. (2005).
  • Rice University, Physics, B.S. (2003).

My training as a scientist is in the fields of theoretical soft-condensed matter, biological, and statistical physics. I am interested in understanding the physical principles which govern the organization and function of biological systems and materials. My dissertation work focused on bio-inspired methods to self-assemble useful materials using DNA. Recent work focuses on living systems (bacterial chemotaxis and biofilms), and some physical problems from embryonic development. Much of the work is done in collaboration with experimental colleagues, or is inspired by recent experiments.

There are research opportunities available for UM-Dearborn undergraduate students. Interested students should contact me for more information.

Selected Publications

  • Diffusion of Bacterial Cells in Porous Media, Licata et al. Biophysical Journal 110, 247-257, (2016).
  • Novel Pseudotaxis Mechanisms Improve Migration of Straight Swimming Bacterial Mutants Through a Porous Environment, Mohari et al. mBio 6.2 (2015): e00005-15.
  • Fluid flow enhances the effectiveness of toxin export by aquatic microorganisms: A first-passage perspective on microvilli and the concentration boundary layer, Licata et al. Physical Review E 91, 012709, (2015).
  • Physiochemical Properties of Caulobacter crescentus Holdfast: A Localized Bacterial Adhesive, Berne et al. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B 117 (36), 10492-10503, (2013).

Awards and Recognition

  • University of Michigan-Dearborn CASL Faculty Summer Research Grant (2013).
  • National Research Council Research Associate Program Fellowship, National Institutes of Standards and Technology (declined 2010).
  • Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics Graduate Student Fellowship (2005-2006).
  • Phi Beta Kappa (2003).
  • Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics honor society (2003).
  • National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Program (2001).