Nelson Chepkwony, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biology

Nelson Chepkwony received his Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in Microbiology from Indiana University. Nelson has worked as a post-doctoral fellow and research scientist at Université de Montréal in Quebec, Canada. He has researched extensively how bacteria attach to surfaces and form biofilms, with specific focus on the synthesis and properties of bacterial adhesives (holdfast) and their adaptation to different ionic environments (marine vs. freshwater). His research aims, in part, to develop synthetic bioadhesives in order to eliminate biofouling and corrosion and improve adhesive uses on wet surfaces.

Previously, Nelson also worked as a microbiology supervisor at Pathogenia Inc. in Montreal, where he developed and validated analytical methods for testing presence of microbes in food and active pharmaceutical ingredients for compliance with FDA regulations and licensing from Health Canada. Prior to pursuing his graduate studies, he worked as a lead quality-control chemist at PCI Synthesis in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Nelson has a passion for teaching and mentoring students. At Indiana University he taught Microbiology lab courses, tutored undergraduates with their biology homework and formed a mentorship program with other graduate students in the Department of Microbiology that offers top-performing African students the chance to have research experience in Indiana University labs. In addition, he served for two years as student president of KenSAP, an NGO that supports international students, mostly from Eastern Africa. He supported KenSAP students by providing a platform where they could raise issues affecting their academics and careers.

Nelson grew up in an Evangelical church in Kenya and served as a Christian Union chairperson in high school. After he moved to the United States, he served as a student Christian fellowship leader and Bible study teacher at Cornell University and student president for the Adventist Christian Fellowship at Indiana University. Nelson likes to run, play soccer, travel, and cook. When he visits his native home in Kenya, he enjoys farming, cattle herding, and soaking in the sun.