Nicolás Peláez

Graduate Student- PhD

Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences (IBiS) Program
2205 Tech Drive (Room 2-108)
EvanstonIL  60208-3500USA


Born in Medellin (Colombia), I became interested in biology early in my life. I did a Bs in Biology at Universidad de Antioquia (Colombia). As undergraduate I studied orchid evolution, doing a phylogenetic analysis of the genus Dracula under the supervision of Professor Ricardo Callejas. After my BS I worked for a French multinational company researching the molecular composition and physiology of orchid floral scents. During my undergrad studies I became interested in understanding organisms as systems (i.e. networks of molecular processes with specific organization and dynamical properties).

I moved from comparative biology to molecular systems biology and pursued a MSc at New York University at the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology. My thesis work was on Incomplete Penetrance in the Embryogenesis of the nematode C. elegans, under the supervision of Professors Kristin Gunsalus (advisor) and Fabio Piano.

Attracted by a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment, and the possibility of doing research on systems biology, I became a PhD student at Northwestern University. I work with the labs of Luis Amaral and Richard Carthew to understand a network that regulates development of the fly eye retina. Using in silico (modeling) and wet (bench) experimental approaches I would like to study animal development from a systems biology perspective. I am most interested in the relationship between network topology and dynamics and the emergent properties that result from this interplay.


  • M. Sc. Recombinant DNA Technologies , New York University (2008)
  • B. Sc. Biology, Universidad de Antioquia (2003)


  • PhD Candidate , Department for Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Cell Biology (BMBCB) (2008-2013)
  • MSc-Student, Department of Biology - Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, New York University (2006-2008)

Awards and Honors

  • Scholarship for Graduate Studies in Biology, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia. (2004)
  • Recognition as Best Overall Biology Student of the Class of , Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia. (2003)
  • Honor Member- Support Program For Student Talents (seven semesters), Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia. (2000)
  • Best Admissions Exam in Biology (Undergraduate Studies, Biology), Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia. (1997)
  • International Student Research Fellow, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (2011)
  • Malkin Scholar Award, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Northwestern University, Evanston, USA (2011)
  • Scholar Award, Chicago Biomedical Consortium, Chicago, USA (2011)

Selected Communications

  • Second Scientific Conference on Andean Orchids Loja, Ecuador (Nov 2007)
  • 1st Meeting - Red Colombiana Biologia Evolutiva- COLEVOL Bogotá, Colombia (Nov 2008)
  • First National Debate on Evolution, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá. Bogotá, Colombia (Jun 2005)
  • Colombian Orchid Society Meeting Medellin, Colombia (May 2004)
  • Introductory Lecture (Biology Symposium), National Meeting on Complexity Medellin, Colombia (Aug 2003)
  • Conference Cycle on Evolution - Universidad de Antioquia (Colombia). Medellin, Colombia (Sep 2003)
  • Orchid Society of the Cauca Valley Cali, Colombia (Apr 2004)
  • Colombian Orchid Society meeting Medellin, Colombia (Aug 2004)
  • Colombian Orchid Society meeting Medellin, Colombia (May 2001)