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Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics



2016: Herchel Smith Postdoctoral Fellow (DAMTP, University of Cambridge)

2016: Governing Body Fellow (Wolfson College, University of Cambridge)

2015: PhD in Zoology (University of Oxford, UK)

2008: MSc in Ecology (University of Lisbon, PT)

2006: BSc in Biology (University of Lisbon, PT)



I study the marvels of microbial behaviour, ecology and evolution. In particular, my research aims to uncover the natural ecology of bacterial motility. How do bacteria sense clonemates, other bacterial species or potential hosts and control their motility accordingly? And how does that motile behaviour affect their impacts on us? To answer these questions I spy bacteria using time-lapse microscopy and single-cell tracking algorithms, which I combine with classical tools from molecular genetics and mathematical modelling.


Selected Publications

Oliveira NM, Foster KR, Durham WM (2016). Single-cell twitching chemotaxis in developing biofilms. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 23(113):6532-6537. 


Oliveira NM, Martinez-Garcia E, Xavier J, Durham WM, Kolter, R, Kim W, Foster KR (2015) Biofilm formation as a response to ecological competition. PLoS Biol 13(7). 


Oliveira NM, Niehus R, Foster KR (2014) Evolutionary limits to cooperation in microbial communities. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111(50):17941-17946. 


Bacterial motility governs the evolution of antibiotic resistance in spatially heterogeneous environments
V Piskovsky, N Oliveira
Stabilization of microbial communities by responsive phenotypic switching
PA Haas, MA Gutierrez, NM Oliveira, RE Goldstein
– Physical Review Research
Biofilm Growth under Elastic Confinement.
R Goldstein, G Fortune, N Oliveira
– Physical review letters
Suicidal chemotaxis in bacteria
N Oliveira, J Wheeler, C Deroy, S Booth, E Walsh, W Durham, K Foster
Stabilization of Microbial Communities by Responsive Phenotypic Switching
P Haas, M Gutierrez, N Oliveira, R Goldstein
Biofilm Growth Under Elastic Confinement
G Fortune, N Oliveira, R Goldstein
Subpopulations and stability in microbial communities
PA Haas, NM Oliveira, RE Goldstein
– Physical Review Research
Subpopulations and Stability in Microbial Communities
PA Haas, NM Oliveira, RE Goldstein
The evolution of siderophore production as a competitive trait.
R Niehus, A Picot, NM Oliveira, S Mitri, KR Foster
– Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
Single-cell twitching chemotaxis in developing biofilms.
NM Oliveira, KR Foster, WM Durham
– Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
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Research Group

Biological Physics and Mechanics




01223 764078