Cheryl A. Nickerson

Cheryl A. Nickerson

Professor of Life Sciences
Arizona State University

Dr. Cheryl A. Nickerson is a Professor in the School of Life Sciences at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. Her internationally recognized research takes a highly multidisciplinary and innovative approach that blends microbiology, tissue engineering, and physics to mimic the dynamic interactions between the host, its microenvironment, and microorganisms. This approach has led to a paradigm shift in how we view the infection process from the host-pathogen perspective and is leading to advances in biotechnology and clinical applications. 

Her research focuses on the development of innovative model pathogenesis systems characterizing the effects of biomechanical forces on microbial pathogens and bioengineering advanced three-dimensional (3-D) organotypic models of human tissues. Her team’s microbial studies have identified unexpected molecular-genetic and metabolic responses related to pathogenesis, including novel insight into emerging multidrug resistant pathogens. Dr. Nickerson also continues to advance the development of complex 3-D organotypic tissue culture models as predictive human surrogate platforms to study host-microbe interactions (pathogens and commensals), disease mechanisms, and drug efficacy toward their use in treatment/prevention and regenerative medicine research.

She also works closely with NASA to determine the effect of spaceflight on microbial gene expression, physiology, and virulence which may negatively impact astronaut health. Her pioneering research has flown on numerous NASA Shuttle, SpaceX and International Space Station missions. She is a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, is an American Society for Microbiology Distinguished Lecturer, serves as founding Editor-in-Chief of the Nature journal npj Microgravity, and was selected as a NASA Astronaut candidate finalist.