Nitya Jacob

Professor of Biology

Dr. Nitya Jacob has been a member of the Oxford College faculty since the Fall semester of 2002.  She was born and raised in Ahmednagar, India. She received her B.A. in Biology with Honor, Phi Beta Kappa, from Agnes Scott College in 1995 and her Ph.D. in Horticulture and Crop Science from The Ohio State University in 2000.  From 2000-2002 she was an NSF Teaching Postdoctoral Associate at Knox College.  Dr. Jacob served as the Chair of the Biology department from 2008-2017.  She is currently the Chair of the Natural Science and Mathematics Division. Her expertise is in the area of plant biotechnology, cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, and applied biology. She teaches courses at the introductory level which incorporate these topics. Among her scholarship interests is to develop pedagogy emphasizing student-centered learning and studying its impact, particularly in the first two years of college education.  She incorporated authentic research into the introductory biology curriculum for which she received the AAAS-Science Inquiry-Based Instruction (IBI) Prize in 2011.  Dr. Jacob started the summer undergraduate research program for STEM students to Oxford College in 2006, partnering with the Summer Undergraduate Research at Emory (SURE) program, and served as its director from 2006-2012. She remains involved in research within her discipline, particularly investigating microbial communities associated with granite outcrop plants. Past projects also included the study of nodule-expressed genes in Rhizobium-alfalfa symbiosis and regulation of anionic peroxidase genes.   

Dr. Jacob has received several teaching awards including the 2004 Award for Exemplary Teaching at a methodist-related institution of higher education, and the 2011 Emory Williams Award for Distinguished Teaching. She has been recognized for excellent teaching by multiple students inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society chapter at Emory University. Dr. Jacob also received the Association of Southeastern Biologists' 2005 Faculty Research Award for her paper on tobacco gene regulation.

Beyond Oxford College and Emory University, Dr. Jacob served two terms as an elected Biology Division Councilor in the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR).  She is an American Society of Microbiology Biology Scholar (2011 Assessment Residency) and served as a mentor for the program.  In 2012, she was selected, in a competitive national search, by the joint initiative of Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health – National Institute of General Medical Studies to be one of 40 Vision and Change Leadership Fellows for the Partnerships in Life Sciences Education (PULSE) project. The mission of PULSE to stimulate national transformation of undergraduate biology education using a department-level focus.  She continues to be an active leader in PULSE, currently serving as a PULSE Ambassador to engage biology departments across the nation in creating a vision and action plan for change. Dr. Jacob is the Co-Principal Investigator on several National Science Foundation grant awards that fund transformation of undergraduate education.

Music has always been a special interest for Dr. Jacob. She has been trained in Indian classical vocal music and Western choral music. Dr. Jacob performed with the Oxford College Chorale for several years. She also enjoys photography and reading classic literature. Dr. Jacob travels to India periodically to spend time with family and was a leader for Emory University’s Journeys of Reconciliation trip to India in 2007.


BA| Agnes Scott College| 1995

PhD| Ohio State University| 2000

Courses Taught

BIOL_OX 141QW – Cell Biology and Genetics with Laboratory

BIOL_OX 142QW – Advanced Topics in Genetics and Molecular Biology with Laboratory

BIOL_OX 155QW – Applications and Communications in Biology with Laboratory

BIOL_OX 399R – Undergraduate Research

BIOL_OX 397R – Supervised Reading

BIOL_OX 143 - Genetics (2002-05)

BIOL_OX 121 and 122 - Anatomy and Physiology I & II (2002-05)


Partnerships in Undergraduate Life Sciences Education (PULSE) Leadership FellowNational Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), September 2012-present

Inquiry-Based Instruction (IBI) Science Prize, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Science journal, September 2011

Emory Williams Award for Distinguished Teaching –Emory University, May 2011

Recognition for Excellent TeachingPhi Beta Kappa, Gamma Chapter of Georgia, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2016

Faculty Research Award, Association of Southeastern Biologists, April 2005

Award for Exemplary Teaching, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church, April 2004


Arriola, P, Barea-Rodriguez, E, DeMarias, A, Lindsay, S, Otto, J, Smith, M, Fink, A, Jacob, N, Kelrick, M, and Powell-Coffman, J. 2018. The PULSE Ambassador Guidebook. Online publication in progress.

Jacob, N., Lee-Brown, M., Allen,T. Gusky, S., and Jack, T. 2013.  Catalyzing Educational Transformation: The PULSE Project. GARNish. Edition 20: 18-21.

Jacob, N. P. and Heisel, A.P.  Spring 2012.  INQuiring Minds: A collaborative model of the liberal arts between the biology department and library at Oxford College. The Academic Exchange. Vol 14, no. 2, p. 7

Jacob, N. P.  2012. Investigating Arabia Mountain: A Molecular Approach. Science. Vol. 335, no. 6076, pp. 1588-1589 (Inquiry-Based Instruction Prize)

Jacob, N. 2008. Initiating Partnerships in Scientific Discovery at a Two-Year College via the Introductory Curriculum.  Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly, 29 (1): 24-29.

Jacob, N.P., and Heisel, A.P. 2008. A faculty-librarian partnership for investigative learning in the introductory biology laboratory.  Journal of College Science Teaching, 37(4): 54-59.

Jacob NP and Carter, MEB. 2008. Lab Topic 17: Molecular Phylogeny of Plants.  In Investigating Biology by JG Morgan and MEB Carter.  6th, 7th and 8th editions. San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings.  


Jacob, N. “Designing and Implementing Scientific Exploration in Multiple Courses within the Introductory Curriculum, Emphasizing Reiteration and Building on Skills.” Advancing Competence in Experimentation – Biology (ACE-Bio) Network Retreat, May 2017

Reiness, CG, Jacob, NP, Kelrick MI. The PULSE Ambassador Program Effectively Promotes Curricular Reform in Life Science Departments (Poster). American Society for Cell Biology Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, December 2016

Jacob, N, Fankhauser, S, Taliaferro-Smith, L, and Seitaridou, E. “Incorporating Undergraduate Research at Various Levels within a STEM Curriculum.” Council on Undergraduate Research Biennial Conference, June 2016

Goldey, E., Lee-Brown, M., Jacob, N., and Powell-Coffman, J. “Integrative Strategies for Departmental-level Change: Developing a Shared Vision for Ongoing Improvement of Your STEM Department’s Program”, Association of American Colleges & Universities STEM Conference, November 2014

Jacob, N.P. “PULSE-ating for Change: Working together as a STEM undergraduate community.”  Oklahoma Association of Community Colleges (OACC) Conference, October 2013

Jacob, N. P., Carter, M.E.B. and Brantley, S. E*.  “Investigative Learning in Introductory Biology and Linking Student Learning Experiences.” AAAS Vision and Change – Chronicling the Change Meeting, August 2012

Spell, R., Reiness, G., Schussler, E., Abraham, B., and Jacob, N.  “Authentic Research Experiences for Introductory Biology (RCN-UBE).” Introductory Biology Project Conference, July 2012.

Radmard, S*., Spinner, M.*, Teplitski, M., and Jacob, N.  “The Effects of Quorum Sensing on Nodule-Expressed Genes in Sinorhizobium meliloti.” (Poster) Association of Southeastern Biologists Annual Meeting, April 2010.

Olivier, H.M*., A. A. Thaker*, K.P. Peterson*, and N.P. Jacob. “Diversity of microbial life on Arabia Mountain – a granite rock outcrop.” (Poster). Association of Southeastern Biologists Annual Meeting, April 2008.

(*undergraduate authors)

Research Interests

My research interests include the development and assessment of materials to enhance scientific thinking and inquiry for students, exploration of plant-bacteria interactions, and gene regulation.  My recent work in in the movement for widespread change in biology education.