Martin Jonikas

Martin Jonikas
Associate Professor of Molecular Biology
Thomas Laboratory, 303

Faculty Assistant

Antoinette Johnson


  • Ph.D., Molecular Biology and Genetics, University of California, San Francisco
  • B.S., Aerospace Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Research Focus

Biogenesis, function and engineering of the eukaryotic CO2-fixing organelle, the pyrenoid

Our laboratory seeks to advance our basic understanding of cell biology. We study the pyrenoid, a mysterious phase-separated organelle that enhances CO2 capture in nearly all eukaryotic algae. Understanding the pyrenoid is important because of its central role in our planet’s carbon cycle, because the pyrenoid embodies fundamental questions in organelle biogenesis, and because engineering a pyrenoid into land plants could dramatically increase crop yields. To accelerate progress, we are developing community resources for the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as a model system for photosynthetic organisms.

Martin Jonikas obtained a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2004. He completed his Ph.D. in 2009 at the University of California, San Francisco working with Jonathan Weissman, Maya Schuldiner and Peter Walter on high-throughput genetics and protein folding in the endoplasmic reticulum. In 2010 he started his laboratory at the Carnegie Institution for Science on Stanford campus. In 2016, he moved his laboratory to Princeton. He is the recipient of a 2010 Air Force Young Investigator Award, a 2015 NIH New Innovator Award, a 2016 Howard Hughes Medical Institute-Simons Foundation Faculty Scholar Award, and a 2020 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science.


  • Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science


  • HHMI-Simons Faculty Scholar, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Simons Foundation


  • National Institutes of Health Director's New Innovator Award, National Institutes of Health


  • Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award, Air Force Office of Scientific Research


  • Graduate Course Teaching Award, University of California, San Francisco


  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, National Science Foundation