Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology

Nikolau Research Group

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The Nikolau Research Group

Research in the Nikolau Group is focused on the comprehensive understanding of metabolism. The lab is particularly focused on the discovery and characterization of novel metabolic processes, and the associated biocatalysts, utilizing expanding genomics resources as the starting point for these endeavors.

The past decade has seen an explosion of genomics datasets, which have revolutionized the way biological systems are defined. Yet the majority of the gene sequences that are deposited at databases are ambiguously annotated relative to biochemical functionality.  These gaps in knowledge therefore offer opportunities for novel discoveries that can be used to generate innovative metabolic solutions to societally defined issues.

These research activities are providing opportunities for research-based education and training of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as post-doctoral researchers.


Dr. Nikolau is the Frances M. Craig Professor of Biochemistry at Iowa State University where he has taught and conducted research since 1988. He was awarded his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Massey University, New Zealand, in 1982, and conducted postdoctoral research at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Utah before joining the faculty of Iowa State University. Dr. Nikolau's research interests focus on the biochemistry and molecular biology of biotin and biotin-containing enzymes and the regulation of plant lipid metabolism.

Nikolau group research is conducted in the Molecular Biology Building and the 4th floor of the Biorenewables Research Laboratory (BRL 4th).


Faculty Membership:

News & Updates

BBMB Department awards announced
April 22, 2016
Congratulations to Nikolau group members selected by the BBMB Awards and Scholarship Committee:

Good job, Liza, Drew and Michael!

Former REU student named Goldwater Scholar
April 1, 2016
Kevin Tenny, a former CBiRC REU student in the Nikolau lab, has been named a 2016-2017 Goldwater Scholar. Selection for this prestigious award is based on "demonstrated potential for and commitment to a research career in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering, and outstanding academic performance."

Of his experience with the Nikolau group, Kevin says "My time at the ISU REU was very unique because it was right after my freshman year and I had no research experience coming in. However, I was mentored by Liza Alexander and really learned the ropes on how to work in a lab and thrive in the environment. This experience was very inspirational to continue research during the rest of my undergraduate career and pursue graduate school."

Kevin's ultimate career goal, after earning a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, is to conduct research in electrochemical fuel cells and teach at the university level.

Congratulations and all best wishes, Kevin!

Alexander named NSF Fellow
March 9, 2016
PhD student Liza Alexander has been selected to participate in the U.S. National Science Foundation's East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes (EAPSI) 2016 fellowship program. She will conduct research in Dr. Kazuki Saito's lab at RIKEN-Yokohama in Chiba, Japan, under the guidance of Dr. Yozo Okazaki.

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