Kate Nichols

Adjunct Faculty
Painting and MFA Faculty

San Francisco painter Kate Nichols synthesizes nanoparticles to mimic structurally colored animals, grows artificial skin from microorganisms, and makes her own paints, following 15th-century recipes. The long tradition of painters as material innovators inspired Kate to become the first artist-in-residence in the Alivisatos Lab, a nanoscience laboratory at UC Berkeley. In 2010, Kate was appointed a TED Fellow and was awarded a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship. Her artwork has been featured on the cover of the journal Nature, on the TED stage, and in The Leonardo Museum’s permanent collection. In 2015, Nichols was awarded the Richard Diebenkorn Teaching Fellowship, an honor SFAI extends to one early- to mid-career painter each year.



TED talks
2010 TED talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qf9CQfJqNNQ
2012 TEDxRainier talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJj8HfFKmsc

The Leonardo Museum produced a short film to accompany my installation, Through the Looking Glass:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTkWEF2hJOQ

“Color by Nano: The Art of Kate Nichols,” ran on two shows, Gallery Crawl and Quest: Science on the Spot 
  on KQED: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BO4TSb_rPkg

“Color by Physics,” Lauren Rugani, Symmetry Magazine, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center:https://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/august-2010/gallery-kate-nichols

“TED Fellow using nanoparticle paint,” Kristen Phillipkoski, BoingBoing: https://boingboing.net/2010/02/11/ted-fellow-using-nan.html

“Plasmons Resonate in Atomic-Scale Metal Particles,” Andrew Myers, Stanford University Engineering News: https://engineering.stanford.edu/news/quantum-plasmons-demonstrated-atomic-scale-nanoparticles


  • 2013 Master of Fine Arts, California College of the Arts, San Francisco, California
  • 2010 Master of Arts in Visual Studies, University of California, Berkeley
  • 2004  Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio
View Gallery »