Dr. Nikea Pittman is a structural biologist and STEM educator. Her specialties include engaging early-career students in active learning and protein structure/function. She joins our department with over 10 years of teaching experience, leading innovations that have impacted 500+ undergraduate and graduate students. Dr. Pittman is an NIH IRACDA scholar and Burroughs Wellcome Fund PDEP award recipient.
Dr. Pittman completed her undergraduate and graduate training at the University of Florida, studying in the labs of Dr. Mavis Agbandje-McKenna (PhD), Dr. Grant McFadden (MS thesis) and Dr. Maureen Long (undergraduate research). Dr. Pittman received her PhD in Biomedical Science from the University of Florida’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
In her prior work, Dr. Pittman has applied techniques in protein biochemistry, cryo-electron microscopy, and x-ray crystallography to explore how microbes hijack their hosts to establish an infection.
In 2019, she joined Dr. Saskia Neher’s lab in UNC Biochemistry & Biophysics as a SPIRE postdoctoral fellow (Seeding Postdoctoral Innovators in Research & Education) and additionally led courses as an adjunct instructor at NCAT State University. Dr. Pittman utilizes evidence-based methods to develop student-centered and engaged learning environments. She has received admission to competitive workshops, including the Summer Institute on College Teaching and CourseSource writing studio. Dr. Pittman’s commitment to student support, mentoring, and inclusion, has led her to participate in 15+ workshops, as well as training in the Center for Integration of Research Teaching and Learning.
Dr. Pittman’s advocacy for historically excluded scientists and early-career students have earned national and international recognition. As Teaching Assistant Professor, she will expand on this work and continue to build scholarship in biochemistry education research. Innovations from Dr. Pittman’s postdoc career include:
- Co-developed a 3-D protein modeling project for integration into NCAT State University’s first-year curriculum for all biology majors
- Designed and directed UNC-Chapel Hill’s first short course on racial identity & PhD careers (SPACE: Scientists Promoting Anti-racist Conversations & Equity)
- Co-founded a STEM non-profit organization promoting professional development and outreach for scientists around the globe (Black Microbiologists Association)
In her new role as a faculty member at UNC, Dr. Pittman will teach the undergraduate Introduction to Biochemistry course series, BIOC107/108, and lead biochemistry coursework for 1st and 2nd year medical students.