Nick Galati , PhD

Assistant professor


Oddly enough, my passion for science came about after I graduated from college, when I worked as a research technician in a biochemistry lab at the University of Pennsylvania. Fortunately for me, my mentor looked past my lack of research experience and hired me based on my references as a landscaper, and I am so grateful that he did. Upon joining the biochemistry lab, I learned that I truly loved to read scientific papers and that I did much better with scientific papers than I did with textbooks. In other words, my undergraduate career did not really reflect what I experienced working in an actual science laboratory, and I never would have known this without a mentor that appreciated my work ethic more than my undergraduate research (or lack thereof).

After working in the biochemistry lab for a few years, I went to graduate school at the University of Colorado. While in graduate school, I learned to use fluorescence microscopy to try and understand how the shape of a neuron impacts how that neuron process information. Through this research I fell in love with microscopy and so for my postdoc I focused on using quantitative microscopy to understand how cells utilize cilia for cell to cell communication and cellular motility. At Western, I’ve continued to focus on using microscopy to study cilia and I take great pleasure in introducing students to the fascinating and dynamic microscopic world that can be revealed with light microscopy.

In addition to my general love for microscopy, I am very passionate about helping first-generation college students succeed. This passion is rooted in my own experiences as a first-generation college (and high school!) graduate. Prior to joining that biochemistry lab, the most impactful event on my life was having a very close friend who took me to college campuses and who helped me navigate the SAT and the FASFA. Without someone exposing me to college, I would have never gone to college, and I certainly would not be a professor. Here are Western, I want to use my position as a professor to help other students navigate a path through higher education.

Beyond my life as a professor, I am a husband and father and a rowdy puppy owner. As a family, we spend as much time outdoors as possible riding bikes and going for walks and moving dirt around the garden. If I ever get a large chunk of free time again (fingers crossed), I hope to plan out a bicycle tour. Before graduate school, I rode my bike from Pennsylvania to Kansas. At some point, I’d like to finish that trip and bike from Kansas to Washington. Two interesting observations from that trip… 1) Kentucky was way more bike friendly than Virginia and 2) strangers were always eager to help when I was in a jam.

Research Interests

Cilia are evolutionarily ancient, hair-like organelles that enable intercellular communication. Much like cellular scale antennae, cilia protrude into the extracellular environment where they receive signals from neighboring cells. This process, called ciliary signal transduction, influences cell division, differentiation and migration. Defects in ciliary signal transduction lead to clinical disorders, called ciliopathies, that impact brain, heart and bone development.

The goal of our lab is to understand how cells build cilia, with a specific focus on how individual proteins traffic to and from a structure at the base of cilia, called the centrosome. Much like traffic cameras and GPS illuminate vehicular traffic patterns, we aim to create a spatial map of protein movement to and from cilia as they assemble and sense the environment. To achieve our goal, we combine high-resolution fluorescence microscopy with digital image analysis to detect and quantify ciliary protein trafficking in space and over time. Students in the lab gain experience with mammalian cell culture, CRISPR, fluorescence microscopy, digital image analysis, and molecular biology.

If you are interested in joining the lab as an undergraduate or graduate student, send me an email that describes your interest in our work. For more information, see our website.

Educational & Professional Experience


2013 - PhD - University of Colorado at Boulder

2005 - BS - Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Professional experience

2018 - present Assistant professor

2013-2018 Postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Chad Pearson - University of Colorado School of Medicine

2007-2013 Graduate student with Dr. Kevin Jones - University of Colorado at Boulder

2005-2007 Research technician with Dr. Narayan Avadhani - University of Pennsylvania

Recent Publications