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Sibel Ebru Yalcin, PhD

Research Scientist


Dr. Yalcin is a physicist and spectroscopist who specializes in biological imaging. During her postdoc, she developed a new multimodal imaging capability. Through this capability she performed multimodal chemical and functional imaging of biological molecules and geochemically important minerals under their physiologically relevant conditions such as pH and humidity. Using multimodal nanoscopy she correlated structure of the microbial nanowires with their functions that led to the discoveries of the identity of the proteins that make the conductive "Geobacter" OmcS nanowires (Cell, 2019) and electric field stimulated production of 1000 times more conductive OmcZ nanowires (Nature Chemical Biology, 2020). Discovery of cytochrome OmcZ nanowires explains the mystery of high biofilm conductivity scientists observed even in the absence of cytochrome OmcS! Highlights to this work can be found at Nature Chemical Biology News and Views article, LiveScience, YaleNews, Yale Scientific and Yale's Microbial Sciences Institute. The team also solved the mystery of electron transfer mechanism in OmcS nanowires (Science Advances, 2022). Additionally, Dr. Yalcin was part of the team that worked on solving the structure of Geobacter pili that revealed secretory rather than nanowire behavior (Nature, 2021). Highlights to this work can be found at Proteopedia, YaleNews & EurekAlert!.

In addition to working on naturally produced conductive microbial nanowires, Dr. Yalcin also worked with a team that engineered conductivity to bacterial filaments. The team's work laid the foundation of how to turn nonconductive E-coli pili into bionanowires using non-natural amino acids with click chemistry functionality, a method not accessible in nature and only accessible through chemical based synthesis. In this work, the team demonstrated sequence-defined production of highly-conductive protein nanowires and hybrid organic-inorganic biomaterials with genetically-programmable electronic functionalities (Nature Communications, 2022).

Other than biological systems, Dr. Yalcin performed the first Nanoscale Chemical Imaging on reactive minerals (Gibbsite, Lepidocrocite) through their water binding chemistry. Her discoveries are critical to understand how mineral morphology and the defect sites affect the water growth over the mineral surface (Science Advances, 2020). Highlights to this work can be found at Yale West Campus, Yale's Microbial Sciences Institute, Yale's MB&B News and Umea University.

Dr. Yalcin has considerable experiences in Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Nanoscale Near-field Imaging of many low dimensional systems. She was part of user facility (Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies) at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) where she built single molecule spectroscopy setup to study Carbon Nanotubes (Nanoscale, 2015) working with Steve Doorn and other low dimension materials such as Graphene Oxide (ACS Nano, 2015), MoS2 (Nature Materials, 2014) working with Manish Chhowalla. At University of Massachusetts Amherst, Dr. Yalcin has developed an Electrostatic Force Microscopy (EFM) based imaging method that has enabled the first visualization of electron transport in individual bacterial protein nanowires under biologically relevant conditions (Nature Nanotechnology, 2014) working with Nikhil Malvankar.

Dr. Yalcin holds a research faculty position at Yale’s Department of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry and Microbial Sciences Institute. She leads the effort of nanoscale functional imaging research to understand structural, physical and biochemical components and pathways involved in biological electron transfer. She is interested in understanding at nanoscopic level how bacteria interact with soil minerals to perform extracellular electron transfer for their respiration. She has PhD in Physics, and extensive experience in Biochemistry, Geochemistry and Microbiology.

Education & Training

  • Post-Doctoral Researcher
    Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), 2017 (2017)
  • Post-Doctoral Researcher
    Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), 2014 (2014)
  • PhD
    University of Massachusetts Amherst, Physics (2010)


  • University of Chicago Future Faculty Symposium
    Invited to give Seminar 2022
  • Invited Talk at Stony Brook University
    Stony Brook, United States 2019
  • High Resolution Imaging/Microscopy Workshop
    Munich, Germany 2019
  • American Physical Society March Meeting 2019
    Boston, United States 2019
  • Materials Research Society Fall Meeting 2018
    Boston, United States 2018
  • Seminar at Arizona State University
    Tempe, United States 2018
  • Seminar at Rutgers University
    Newark, United States 2018
  • Seminar at Pittsburgh Quantum Institute
    Pittsburgh, United States 2018
  • Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry Retreat 2018
    Falmouth, United States 2018
  • American Physical Society March Meeting 2018
    Los Angeles, United States 2018
  • Yale University-Microbial Sciences Institute
    West Haven, United States 2017

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
NSF's Materials Innovation Platforms (MIP), Represented Yale Team at the NSF Site Visit, $20M/5 years,"Using Biology to Make Multifunctional Biomaterials"Yale University2019
DOE BER BEST Proposal Award, $3M/3 years, Earth & Biological Science Directorate. "Integrated Multimodal Nanoscale Chemical Imaging of Intra- and Inter-Cellular Biomolecules Involved in Microbial Interactions"Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, PNNL2016
Outsanding Achievement AwardLos Alamos National Laboratory, LANL2014
Best Poster AwardLos Alamos National Laboratory, LANL2013
University of Massachusetts Amherst, Conference Travel GrantDepartment of Physics2009