Nate Cira

Assistant Professor
Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering


The Cira Lab is developing technologies to enable new scales of experimental throughput and using them to untangle complex biological systems. Many biological systems involve the interaction of large numbers of different components, and many of biology’s most pressing questions involve understanding properties that emerge out of this complexity. These questions include, “How do combinations of different microbial species result in community stability?”, “How do different genetic variants combine to give resistance or susceptibility to disease?”, and “How do RNA expression levels give rise to different cell types?”. Answering questions like these will require numbers of experiments commensurate with the complexity of the systems being studied.

Research Interests

Teaching Interests

  • Biotechnology
  • Quantitative biology
  • Systems biology
  • Microfluidics
  • Devices and instrumentation

Selected Publications

  • Cira, N.J., Pearce, M.T., Quake, S.R., Neutral and selective dynamics in a synthetic microbial communit.” PNAS 2018.
  • Cira, N.J., Ho, J.Y., Dueck, M.E., Weibel, D.B., “A self-loading microfluidic device for determining the minimum inhibitory concentration of antibiotics.” Lab Chip 2012, 12, 1052–1059.
  • Cira, N.J., Benusiglio, A., Prakash, M., “Vapour-mediated sensing and motility in two-component droplets.” Nature 2015, 519, 446–450.
  • Cira, N.J., Khoo, J.W., Jain, M., Andraka, J.T., et al., Elastomeric focusing enables application of hydraulic principles to solid materials in order to create micromechanical actuators with giant displacements. arXiv 2017.
  • Cira, N. J., Chung, A. M., Denisin, A. K., Rensi, S., Sanchez, G. N., Quake, S. R., & Riedel-Kruse, I. H. “A Biotic Game Design Project for Integrated Life Science and Engineering Education”. PLoS Biol. 2015, 13.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Rowland Fellow (2017-2022)
  • Siebel Scholar (2015-2016)
  • NSF GRFP (2011-2014)
  • APS DFD Gallery of Fluid Motion Winner (2013)
  • Evans Scholar (2007-2011)


  • B.S. (Biomedical Engineering, Microbiology, Biochemistry, Biology, Molecular Biology), University of Wisconsin – Madison, 2011
  • M.S. (Bioengineering), Stanford University, 2013
  • Ph.D. (Bioengineering), Stanford University, 2017