After receiving his B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Cornell University in 2003, Nikhil Nair worked at Bristol-Myers Squibb as a manufacturing research scientist in biotechnology purification development. He then went on to receive his M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign in 2006 and 2010, respectively. As a graduate student, he developed processes for the production of the sugar substitute xylitol using E. coli and the biofuel butanol using yeast, via a combination of protein and genome engineering approaches. He joined Tufts after completing a postdoctoral fellowship in microbiology and immunobiology at the Harvard Medical School under the guidance of Professor Ann Hochschild.