Neel S. Joshi

Neel S. Joshi

  • Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering


Living systems build structures in fundamentally different ways than do materials engineers. Using the central paradigm and other biosynthetic pathways, they are able to create materials though self-assembly, from building blocks that are produced on-demand, with a high degree of molecular customization. Indeed, humans have relied on plant- and animal-sourced materials since the dawn of civilization. Relatively recent advances in organismal engineering have opened up new frontiers related to harnessing biosynthesis for the production of new materials with tailored functions that would be difficult to create using conventional synthetic techniques.

In my lab we engineer microbes so that they can not only synthesize new proteins and other molecular building blocks, but also orchestrate the assembly of those building blocks into higher order structures and functional materials. Specifically, we have pioneered a technique to repurpose the matrix proteins of bacterial biofilms as programmable materials scaffolds that can be produced easily and cheaply. One focus in the lab is to use this platform to create living materials in situ within the gastrointestinal tract using genetically engineered non-pathogenic bacteria, and use the engineered material to mediate interactions with the host. Another focus in the lab is exploring the use of engineered bacterial biofilms as materials for the selective removal or purification of various soluble components, as might be relevant for water decontamination. The lab is also interested in new opportunities as the interface of materials science, synthetic biology, and synthetic chemistry. 

Contact Information
Lab Location:CLSB 5th Floor 3 Blackfan Circle
Lab Phone:(617) 432-8290
Assistant:Jessa S. Piaia
Assistant Office:Pierce 328A
Assistant Phone:(617) 496-9676
Research Mgr: Asma Sharif

Primary Teaching Area

Positions & Employment

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

  • Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering
  • Core Faculty Member, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering

Patents Awarded

Neel Joshi has authored 11 publications and holds two patents.