MBL Director Nipam Patel Elected to National Academy of Sciences

MBL Director Nipam Patel is a leading scholar in modern developmental and evolutionary biology and maintains an active lab at MBL. One focus of his lab is structural coloration in butterflies. Credit: Dee Sullivan
nipam patel
Nipam Patel

Nipam Patel, director of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and a professor at the University of Chicago, was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) this week in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Election to the Academy is a widely accepted mark of excellence in science and is considered one of the highest honors that a scientist can receive.

Patel will be formally inducted at the Academy’s Annual Meeting in 2025.

Patel is a leading scholar in modern developmental and evolutionary biology with specific focus on the mechanisms and evolution of body patterning and segmentation, regeneration of the germline, and structural coloration. His scientific expertise encompasses the development of novel, genetically-tractable model organisms for biological study, which can reveal much about human biology; and the application of advanced imaging technologies to probe the fundamental dynamics of living systems.

“I am deeply honored to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and I am incredibly grateful to my family, teachers, mentors, colleagues, students, post-docs, and research assistants who have made my work possible and supported all my endeavors,” Patel said. “I have been fortunate enough to be able to follow my passions in science and been lucky to have been part of wonderfully supportive institutions including Princeton, Stanford, University of California, Berkeley, The Carnegie Institution, and the University of Chicago. I began coming to the MBL 24 years ago it has been instrumental in so many ways to the advances and discoveries my lab has made.”

Patel is also an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was an HHMI investigator from 1995-2010, and has been awarded numerous honors, including the Schubert Endowed Chair and the William V. Power Endowed Chair at University of California, Berkeley, the McKnight Scholars Neuroscience Fellowship Award, and most recently the A.O. Kowalevsky Medal and election to the Society for Developmental Biology Academy.

Patel has an active lab at the MBL and is an author of more than 130 scientific publications. He was an editor of the journal Development from 2009-2018 and serves on the editorial board of several other journals in the biological sciences. He has served on numerous advisory boards, including board of directors of the Society for Developmental Biology.

Since Patel was named MBL Director in 2018, the MBL has added 10 new faculty members whose research increases the Lab’s scientific excellence and vibrancy; and significantly expanded the Lab’s portfolio of world-renown, lab-based training courses for high school, undergraduate, graduate students and postdoctoral scientists. Patel is also an active and dedicated member of the MBL’s teaching faculty. Through his initiatives in education and research, Patel has uniquely positioned the MBL to make significant contributions to the broader scientific community, particularly through the development of new research organisms and innovations in light microscopy.

In addition to Patel, 13 alumni, faculty or visiting investigators associated with the MBL are part of the Academy’s 2024 class of new members. They are:

  • Adriana Briscoe, alumna, Molecular Evolution course
  • Flaminia Catteruccia, former director and faculty, Biology of Parasitism course
  • Nicholas Christakis, former faculty, Neurobiology course
  • Judith Eisen, former faculty, Zebrafish Development and Genetics course; alumna, Neurobiology course
  • Guoping Feng, former Whitman Scientist; former MBL Society member
  • Kristen Harris, alumna and former faculty, Neurobiology course
  • Oliver Hobert, alumnus, Optical Microscopy and Imaging in the Biomedical Sciences course
  • June Kwon-Chung, former faculty, Molecular Mycology course
  • Richard Mooney, former visiting investigator; former faculty, Neural Systems and Behavior course; former faculty, Biology of the Inner Ear course
  • David Queller, alumnus, Molecular Evolution course
  • Jennifer Raymond, alumna, Neural Systems and Behavior course; former faculty, Methods in Computational Neuroscience course
  • Timothy Ryan, former faculty and director, Neurobiology course
  • Dominique Soldati-Favre, former faculty, Biology of Parasitism course

Since 1960, 319 members of the MBL community have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.


The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is dedicated to scientific discovery – exploring fundamental biology, understanding marine biodiversity and the environment, and informing the human condition through research and education. Founded in Woods Hole, Massachusetts in 1888, the MBL is a private, nonprofit institution and an affiliate of the University of Chicago.