Prof. Nipam Patel has been reappointed director of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), University of Chicago Provost Katherine Baicker announced on Aug. 24.

Nipam Patel

A renowned scholar in modern evolutionary and developmental biology, Patel is also a professor at the University of Chicago.

Patel has served as MBL’s director since 2018. During that time, he has spearheaded multiple strategic initiatives resulting in new levels of research and education excellence. Patel has led MBL’s recent advancements in imaging technology, working to address the need for increased speed of innovation in biological imaging and related data analysis. He also launched an initiative to create the next generation of genetically tractable aquatic research organisms to aid in the future of biological discovery.

“The Marine Biological Laboratory is a vibrant hub for collaborative research, transformative education and world-changing scientific discovery,” Baicker said. “Nipam has enhanced MBL’s status as a global research destination, and I look forward to continued advances and innovation under his leadership.”

During Patel’s tenure as director, the number of MBL resident faculty has increased 30%. He integrated and aligned resident faculty and visiting investigator research, along with educational programs, more closely with MBL’s research strengths in the biological and environmental sciences. In addition, MBL has created several new advanced research training courses focused on deep learning techniques for microscopy image analysis, the study of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, the molecular and cell biology of symbiosis, and the biology of aging. Under Patel’s direction, MBL’s year-round educational offerings have grown to include a robust high school program and new courses for UChicago undergraduates. Additionally, he launched the MBL/UChicago PhD program, leveraging the partnership between two leading research institutions to offer a unique graduate education experience.

Patel’s research focuses on the evolution of body patterning and segmentation, regeneration of the germline, and structural coloration. Over his career, he has established a marine crustacean (Parhyale hawaiensis) as a genetic model for understanding how diverse body plans develop and evolve. His lab also conducts research on the biology of structural color and transparency of butterflies.

“I am honored to work with a talented team of MBL faculty and staff, as well as an amazing community of individuals from other institutions, foundations and corporations, who make MBL’s distinctive research and learning possible,” Patel said. “I am energized by the progress we have made implementing MBL’s strategic vision and I look forward to continue working with the University of Chicago to achieve new levels of excellence for both research and education.”