Niles A. Pierce is Professor of Applied & Computational Mathematics and Bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology. He graduated as valedictorian from Princeton University in 1993 with a BSE in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering. Pierce then completed a DPhil in Applied Mathematics in 1997 as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. Arriving at Caltech as a Senior Postdoctoral Scholar in Computational Molecular Biology in 1998, Pierce joined the Caltech faculty in 2000, and served as Executive Officer of the Department of Bioengineering during its formative years from 2007–2013. Pierce has received the Fox Prize in Numerical Analysis, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching, and has been named a Christensen Fellow at the University of Oxford, a Guggenheim Fellow, and the 74th Eastman Professor at the University of Oxford.
Pierce is working to engineer small conditional RNAs that function as programmable molecular instruments, enabling readout and regulation of the state of biological circuitry within intact biological organisms. In this pursuit, his research group has contributed to the founding of the new discipline of molecular programming, developing molecular mechanisms, design principles, and computational algorithms that enable the rational design and construction of dynamic molecular devices.
Pierce is a classically trained trumpeter, performing with the Princeton University Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble and the Caltech Concert Band and Jazz Band, a competitive soccer player, twice winning the University of Oxford Football Cuppers as a member of the House 1st XI, and a baseball enthusiast, who enjoys teaching a love for the game to a new generation of soccer and baseball players.