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Photo of Dr Nela Nikolic

Dr Nela Nikolic

Postdoctoral Researcher


Telephone: 01392 727467

Extension: (Streatham) 7467


I am a Research Fellow working with Dr Fabrice Gielen at the Living Systems Institute (LSI).

I am broadly interested in understanding what makes microbes such experts to live almost everywhere, and to successfully occupy new habitats. I investigate genomic traits that re-route bacterial core regulatory networks, and as such make bacteria resilient to survive in harsh conditions, fight viral predators, and colonize new hosts.

My scientific career has had an interdisciplinary flavor: training in molecular biology, research projects in computational biology, PhD and postdoctoral projects in single-cell microbiology and phage biology.

I have published 11 peer-reviewed journal articles (five of these as a corresponding author, all open access),
and a single-author open-access review, together with four preprints.


Research Focus

1.   Roles of accessory genetic elements in bacterial resilience
2.   Dynamic interactions between bacterial viruses (phages) and bacterial populations
3.   Advancing antibiotic-independent treatments and phage therapy against bacterial diseases


Academic Positions

2023                  Postdoc / Research Fellow funded by Open Innovation Platform – Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter, UK
2021 – 2023    Postdoc – Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter, UK
2016 – 2021    Postdoc – Institute of Science and Technology Austria, Austria
2013 – 2016    Postdoc – University of Vienna, Max Perutz Labs, Austria
2012                   Visiting Scientist – Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany
2008 – 2013    PhD Candidate – Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich, and Department of Environmental Microbiology, Eawag, Duebendorf, Switzerland
2008                   Visiting Scientist – Department of Computer Science, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
2007 – 2008    Research Assistant – Mediterranean Institute for Life Sciences (MedILS), Split, Croatia
2006                    Intern (IAESTE student exchange program) – Veterinary Research Institute, Brno, Czech Republic
2005 – 2006    MSc Candidate – Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Croatia


Independent Postdoctoral Fellowships and Personal Research Grants

2022 – 2023    Pump-Priming Initiative Award from the Wellcome ISSF-funded Translational Research Exchange at Exeter (TREE) center; UK
2022                   Research Restart Award from the Wellcome ISSF-funded TREE center; UK
2019 – 2021     FWF (Austrian Science Fund) Elise Richter Program: Austrian career development for senior postdocs; Austria
2016 – 2019     ISTFELLOW, International IST Postdoctoral Fellowship Program – The European Union’s Marie Curie COFUND; Austria
2014 – 2016     FWF Lise Meitner Program: Austrian career development for postdoctoral researchers from abroad; Austria
2013 – 2014     SNF (Swiss National Science Foundation) Fellowship for prospective researchers; Austria
2013                    FFG (Austrian Research Promotion Agency) Career Grants: Relocation Grant; Austria
2012                    FEMS (Federation of European Microbiological Societies) Research Grant; Germany
2008                  Science and Technology Project of the World Bank and Croatian Ministry of Science – Unity through Knowledge Fund: "Gaining experience" Grant; Switzerland

Altogether, I received six personal postdoctoral funding awards as a project leader (590k EUR), 11 research / travel / training grants, and two scholarships.


Recent Academic Awards and Prizes

2021    Nominated for Membership in the Young Academy of the Austrian Academy of Sciences
2018    National Microbiology Prize from the Austrian Society for Hygiene, Microbiology and Preventive Medicine


Institutional Responsibilities

-    Member of the LSI Early Career Researcher Network committee
-    Member of the LSI Equality, Diversity & Inclusivity working group


Public Engagement

2023    Hello Microbes! Workshop, supported by the Wellcome ISSF-funded TREE Public Engagement and Involvement Activity Award (link)