Nils Walter, Ph.D.

Faculty Director, Microscopy Core


109 Zina Pitcher Place
Ann Arbor MI 48109-2200


Nils G. Walter (photo by Michigan Photography) is currently the Francis S. Collins Collegiate Professor of Chemistry, Biophysics, and Biological Chemistry in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He founded and currently directs the unique Single Molecule Analysis in Real-Time (SMART) Center, as well as cofounded and currently codirects the Center for RNA Biomedicine at Michigan. He started his career by receiving his “Vordiplom” (B.S.) and “Diploma” (Masters) from the Technical University of Darmstadt after performing research with Hans-Günther Gassen on the physiochemical characterization of a protein dehyrogenase enzyme. He earned his Dr. Ing. while studying molecular in vitro evolution of DNA and RNA using fluorescence techniques with Nobel laureate Manfred Eigen at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen. For his postdoctoral studies, he turned to RNA enzymes under the guidance of John M. Burke at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont. His research interests focus on noncoding RNA through the lens of single molecule techniques. Based on this work, he received the Otto-Hahn medal for Outstanding Researchers of the Max-Planck Society (1995), a Feodor-Lynen Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (1995), a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2004), was elected a Member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2011), received the Faculty Recognition (2013) and Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Awards (2015) from the University of Michigan, and became the first RNA Society Mid-Career Award recipient (2017). He took on the Faculty Directorship of the Michigan Medicine BRCF Microscopy Core in April 2020.