While fossils sparked Nicole King’s childhood interest in evolution, she realized that the fossil record doesn’t explain fully how animals first evolved from their single celled ancestors. To answer this question, King decided to study modern day choanoflagellates. Choanoflagellates are single celled organisms that can also develop into multicellular assemblages.
King first learned about choanoflagellates while she was a graduate student with Richard Losick at Harvard University. She moved to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to do a post-doctoral fellowship focusing on choanoflagellates. In 2003, King joined the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley. Currently, she is a Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at Berkeley and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
King’s innovative studies have been recognized with a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and a Pew Scholarship. King is also a Senior Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.