Active processes in both living and non-living matter create a novel class of non-equilibrium materials composed of many interacting parts that individually consume energy and collectively generate motion or mechanical stresses. Active systems exhibit a wealth of intriguing properties, including anomalous fluctuations, non-equilibrium phase transitions, pattern formation on mesoscopic scales and unusual mechanical and rheological properties. In biology, active systems span a large range of length scales, from molecules to the cytoskeleton of individual cells, to tissues, whole organisms and their collective ensembles.
The Fakhri research group focuses on combining concepts from physics, biology and engineering to decode non-equilibrium mechanisms in active living matter, to exploit these mechanisms for engineering functional active materials and to identify universal behavior in this broad class of internally driven systems.
Nikta Fakhri has pioneered the use and development of fluorescent single-walled carbon nanotubes as probes in soft matter and biophysics.
Nikta is the Thomas D. and Virginia W. Cabot Career Development Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at MIT and Physics of Living Systems Group. She completed her undergraduate degree at Sharif University of Technology and her PhD at Rice University. She was a Human Frontier Science Program postdoctoral fellow at Georg-August-Universität in Göttingen, Germany before joining MIT. Nikta is an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Physics. She is the recipient of the 2018 IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Biological Physics and the 2019 NSF CAREER Award.
Photo credit by Steph Stevens
Their swirling, clustering behavior might someday inform the design of self-assembling robotic swarms.
Awards & Honors
- 2022 // Early Career Award for Soft Matter Research (APS) "For groundbreaking and inspiring developments in probing and analyzing biological systems as emergent non-equilibrium systems, elucidating how molecular-scale processes form cooperative functional structures at cellular and organismal scales."
- 2019 // NSF CAREER Award
- 2018 // IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Biological Physics "For her significant contributions to applying fundamental principles of thermodynamics to experimental nonequilibrium biological systems, and advancing our understanding of how molecular-scale non-equilibrium processes are manifest in the system dynamics at larger scales.”
- 2017 // Appointed Thomas D. and Virginia W. Cabot Professor (MIT)
- 2017 // Sloan Research Fellowship
- 2016 // Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO) Career Development Award
High resolution mapping of intracellular fluctuations using carbon nanotubes, N. Fakhri, A. D. Wessel, C. Willms, M. Pasquali, D. Klopfenstein, F. C. MacKintosh, C. F. Schmidt, Science 2014
A surprising twist, N. Fakhri, C. F. Schmidt, eLife 2014
Axial thermal rotation of slender rods, D. Li, N. Fakhri, M. Pasquali, S. L. Biswal, Physical Review Letters 2011