Scott Nichols

Scott Nichols

Associate Professor

  • Faculty

What I do

Scott Nichols is an Associate Professor of Evolutionary Cell Biology in the Department of Biological Sciences. Using sponges (phylum Porifera) as a model, the Nichols lab uses the tools of molecular and cell biology, developmental biology, genomics and proteomics to to address questions about the evolutionary origins of animals.


evolution, cell biology, Marine Biology, invertebrates, Symbiosis, Immunity

Professional Biography

Dr. Nichols earned his BS in Biological Sciences in Marine Biology at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, his PhD in Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and was an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley.


  • Ph.D., Integrative Biology, University of California, 2004
  • BS, Marine Biology, University of North Carolina, 1998


Our research focus is on the earliest events in animal evolution. Current projects include: 1) the evolution of epithelial organization and the origin of cell adhesion/polarity complexes, 2) the evolution of animal sensory-motor systems, and 3) the evolution of cellular mechanisms for microbial recognition and response. Our research centers around the belief that curiosity-driven, fundamental research is key to innovation and discovery.

Areas of Research

Evolutionary-Cell Biology
Evolutionary-Developmental Biology
Animal Origins
cell adhesion

Key Projects

  • Towards an integrative model of cell adhesion and self-recognition in sponge (Porifera) tissues
  • Evolution of a Multi-Functional Adhesion Module Necessary for Complex Multicellularity
  • Marie Curie Fellowship - Sponse Signaling - Using sponges as a model to examine the evolutionof the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway

Featured Publications

Miller, P., Pokutta, S., Mitchell, J., Chodaparambil, J., Clarke, N., Nelson, J., et al. (2018). Analysis of a vinculin homolog in a sponge (phylum Porifera) reveals that vertebrate-like cell adhesions emerged early in animal evolution. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 293(30), 11674-11686.
Nichols, S. A., Roberts, B. W., Richter, D. J., Fairclough, S. R., & King, N. (2012). Origin of metazoan cadherin diversity and the antiquity of the classical cadherin/?-catenin complex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 109(32), 13046-13051.
Nichols, S. A., Dirks, W., Pearse, J. S., & King, N. (2006). Early evolution of animal cell signaling and adhesion genes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A., 103(33), 12451-12456.