12. Dominique Limoli

The tragedy of the commons.

In this episode of The Iowa Idea Podcast, I sit down with Dr. Nicki Limoli, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at The University of Iowa. Our conversation covers Nicki’s journey to becoming a research scientist and complex systems of communication that can be found in bacteria, as well as approaches to learning, creativity, collaboration, and community.

Bacterial genomes have allowed us to see a broader picture of bacterial communities and how those communities thrive on diversity and yet can collapse through cheating and “the tragedy of the commons” -and how we see an “arms race” between pathogens and humans.

We dig deeper into culture and collaboration among scientists and across labs and the role of mentors and mentorship including ways to generate and test good hypotheses, including the importance of synthesis and the ability to ask interesting questions. We explore how a focus on perfection can impede research and learning. Nicki shares the importance of persistence and belief in your ability to contribute something special — “it’s on purpose, it’s not an accident.”

I really appreciated Nicki sharing how her personal cancer diagnosis, in a time of pandemic, is shaping and reshaping her relationship with her peers and community.

I’d like to thank Nicki for joining me for this discussion. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Nicki

Dr. Limoli is an Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at The University of Iowa.

Research Summary

(from her University web page) Our research focuses on understanding interactions between microbial species during airway infection in individuals with cystic fibrosis. Data from our lab and others reveal interspecies interactions can alter microbial metabolism, motility, antibiotic tolerance, and production of virulence factors. We seek to understand the cellular mechanisms driving these interactions in order to modulate polymicrobial community behavior and improve patient outcomes. We utilize live-cell imaging, bacterial genetics, and molecular biology approaches to interrogate polymicrobial interactions at the population and single-cell level, in both in vitro models of infection and in ex vivo patient samples.


BS, Biological Sciences, Ohio University

PhD, Biomedical Research, Emphasis in Microbial Pathogenesis, Ohio State University

Postdoctoral Fellow, Emory University

Postdoctoral Fellow, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

Education/Training Program Affiliations

Medical Scientist Training Program


Episode produce by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/)

The Iowa Idea Podcast music written and performed by Paisley Bible.