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Moh El-Naggar

Robert D. Beyer (‘81) Early Career Chair in Natural Sciences and Associate Professor of Physics, Biological Sciences, and Chemistry

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-2394
Office: SSC 215C

Personal Website
Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
Popular Science
The Scientist: A non-technical perspective about our work
Wired Magazine: The Mysterious Electronic World of Microbes

Biographical Sketch

Moh El-Naggar is an assistant professor of physics at the University of Southern California. El-Naggar received a B.S. degree from Lehigh University (2001), followed by M.S. (2002) and Ph.D. (2007) degrees from the division of engineering and applied science of the California Institute of Technology, where he was an Applied Materials, Inc. fellow. As a biophysicist, El-Naggar is a pioneer in studying energy conversion and charge transmission at the interface between living cells and synthetic surfaces. His work, which has important implications for cell physiology, may lead to the development of new hybrid materials and renewable energy technologies that combine the exquisite biochemical control of nature with the synthetic building blocks of nanotechnology.

El-Naggar was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) by President Obama in 2013. In 2010, El-Naggar received a prestigious Department of Defense Young Investigator Program (YIP) Award, from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. In 2012, he was named one of Popular Science's "Brilliant 10", the magazine's annual honor roll of the 10 most promising young scientists whose innovations will change the world. In addition to his research interests, El-Naggar is passionate about STEM education and outreach. He teaches both introductory and advanced graduate physics classes at USC, and enjoys communicating science to the public at all levels, from local community groups to national conferences. At his USC laboratory, he formally advises and mentors graduate, undergraduate, and high school students through interdisciplinary research and education activities linking the physical and biological sciences.



Ph.D. Engineering and Applied Science, California Institute of Technology, 2007

Postdoctoral Training

Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Southern California, 2006-2008  

Description of Research

Summary Statement of Research Interests

El-Naggar leads the NanoBio Lab, which focuses on the fundamentals, implications, and technological applications of biological charge transfer, using environmental microbes as model systems. This is a highly interdisciplinary area, drawing from the toolboxes of nanoscience, condensed matter physics, electrochemistry, and environmental microbiology. In contrast to solid state systems (e.g. metals and semiconductors), where the mechanisms of charge transfer are well understood, with immense technological consequences ranging from computers to solar cells, comparatively little is known about the physics of biological charge transfer, especially over long distances. El-Naggar's research examines the physics of the problem over large length scales and in the full biological context of microbial respiration and biotic-abiotic interactions. In addition to learning about the basic science, we are exploiting our understanding of charge transfer for renewable energy recovery in biological fuel cells, and developing new nanomaterials for energy conversion.

Current experimental work focuses on:

1. Electron transport in biomolecular nanostructures.

2. Bioenergy production in Microbial Fuel Cells.

3. Biological routes to nanomaterial synthesis.

4. The enzymatic activity of extracellular nanostructures. Implications for bioenergy and bioremediation.

5. New imaging technologies and algorithms.


Affiliations with Research Centers, Labs, and Other Institutions

Graduate Programs in Biomedical and Biological Sciences (PIBBS), Faculty,
Microbial Systems Institute,
NASA Astrobiology Institute - Life Underground Team, Co-PI,
The Molecular Foundry, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab,
The Odin Foundation, Board Member,

Conferences and Other Presentations

Conference Presentations

"Charge Transfer and Energy Conversion at the Biotic-Abiotic Interface", Berkeley Nanotechnology Forum, Talk/Oral Presentation, Berkeley, CA, University of California, Berkeley, Invited, Spring 2012   
"Charge Transfer and Energy Conversion in Microbial Systems: From Molecular to Cellular Length Scales", Electrochemical Society Meeting, Talk/Oral Presentation, Seattle, WA, The Electrochemical Society, Invited, Spring 2012   
"Charge Transfer and Energy Conversion in Microbial Systems", Solar Fuels: Science, Engineering, and Policy, Talk/Oral Presentation, Durham, NC, Duke University and the Solar Energy Research Cent, Invited, 01/11/2012-01/12/2012  
"Electron Transfer Across the Biotic-Abiotic Interface in Microbial Systems", European Science Foundation Conference on Charge Transfer in Biosystems, Talk/Oral Presentation, Refereed Abstract, Universitätszentrum Obergurgl, Austria, European Science Foundation, 07/17/2011-07/22/2011  
"Electrical transport along bacterial nanowires from Shewanella oneidensis MR−1", 241st American Chemical Society National Meeting: Microbial Fuel/Electrolysis Cells Symposium, Talk/Oral Presentation, Anaheim, CA, Invited, Spring 2011   

Other Presentations

"Charge Transfer Across the Biotic-Abiotic Interface in Microbial Systems", Invited Seminar, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Fall 2011   
"Microbially Synthesized Materials for Bioenergy and Biomanufacturing", Invited Talk, ASM International / Cal-State Northridge, Northridge, CA, Spring 2011   
"Harnessing Microbial Metabolism: What Bacteria Can Teach Us About Bioenergy and Nanotechnology", Invited Seminar, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, Spring 2010   


Journal Article

El-Naggar, M. Y., McFarlane, I. R., Lazzari-Dean, J. R., El-Naggar, M. Y. (2015). Field effect transistors based on semiconductive microbially synthesized chalcogenide nanofibers. Acta Biomaterialia. Vol. 13 (0), pp. 364-373.
Gross, B. J., El-Naggar, M. Y. (2015). A combined electrochemical and optical trapping platform for measuring single cell respiration rates at electrode interfaces. Review of Scientific Instruments. Vol. 86 (6)
Yates, M. D., Golden, J. P., Roy, J., Strycharz-Glaven, S. M., Tsoi, S., Erickson, J. S., El-Naggar, M. Y., Barton, S. C., Tender, L. M. (2015). Thermally activated long range electron transport in living biofilms. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. Vol. 17 (48), pp. 32564-32570.
Pirbadian, S., Barchinger, S. E., Leung, K. M., Byun, H. S., Jangir, Y., Bouhenni, R. A., Reed, S. B., Romine, M. F., Saffarini, D. A., Shi, L., Gorby, Y. A., Golbeck, J. H., El-Naggar, M. Y. (2014). Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 nanowires are outer membrane and periplasmic extensions of the extracellular electron transport components. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Vol. 111 (35), pp. 12883-12888.
Byun, H. S., Pirbadian, S., Nakano, A., Shi, L., El-Naggar, M. Y. (2014). Kinetic Monte Carlo Simulations and Molecular Conductance Measurements of the Bacterial Decaheme Cytochrome MtrF. Chemelectrochem. Vol. 1 (11), pp. 1932-1939.
Atanassov, P., El-Naggar, M. Y., Cosnier, S., Schroder, U. (2014). Biological Fuel Cells: Cardinal Advances and Critical Challenges. Chemelectrochem. Vol. 1 (11), pp. 1702-1704.
Wanger, G., Gorby, Y., El-Naggar, M. Y., Yuzvinsky, T. D., Schaudinn, C., Gorur, A., Sedghizadeh, P. P. (2013). Electrically conductive bacterial nanowires in bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw biofilms. Oral Surgery Oral Medicine Oral Pathology Oral Radiology. Vol. 115 (1), pp. 71-78.
Leung, K. M., Wanger, G., El-Naggar, M. Y., Gorby, Y., Southam, G., Lau, W. M., Yang, J. (2013). Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 Bacterial Nanowires Exhibit p-Type, Tunable Electronic Behavior. Nano Letters. Vol. 13 (6), pp. 2407-2411.
El-Naggar, M. Y., Finkel, S. E. (2013). Live Wires. The Scientist. Vol. 27 (5), pp. 38-43.
Pirbadian, S., El-Naggar, M. Y. (2012). Multistep hopping and extracellular charge transfer in microbial redox chains. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. Vol. 14 (40), pp. 13802-13808.
Pfeffer, C., Larsen, S., Song, J., Dong, M. D., Besenbacher, F., Meyer, R. L., Kjeldsen, K. U., Schreiber, L., Gorby, Y. A., El-Naggar, M. Y., Leung, K. M., Schramm, A., Risgaard-Petersen, N., Nielsen, L. P. (2012). Filamentous bacteria transport electrons over centimetre distances. Nature. Vol. 491 (7423), pp. 218-221.
Harris, H. W., El-Naggar, M. Y., Nealson, K. H. (2012). Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 chemotaxis proteins and electron-transport chain components essential for congregation near insoluble electron acceptors. Biochemical Society Transactions. Vol. 40, pp. 1167-U29.
Fitzgerald, L. A., Petersen, E. R., Gross, B. J., Soto, C. M., Ringeisen, B. R., El-Naggar, M. Y., Biffinger, J. C. (2012). Aggrandizing power output from Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 microbial fuel cells using calcium chloride. Biosensors & Bioelectronics. Vol. 31 (1), pp. 492-498.
Prakash, G. K., Viva, F. A., Bretschger, O., Yang, B., El-Naggar, M. Y., Nealson, K. (2010). Inoculation procedures and characterization of membrane electrode assemblies for microbial fuel cells. Journal of Power Sources. Vol. 195 (1), pp. 111-117.
Harris, H. W., El-Naggar, M. Y., Bretschger, O., Ward, M. J., Romine, M. F., Obraztsova, A. Y., Nealson, K. H. (2010). Electrokinesis is a microbial behavior that requires extracellular electron transport. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Vol. 107 (1), pp. 326-331.
El-Naggar, M. Y., Wanger, G., Leung, K. M., Yuzvinsky, T. D., Southam, G., Yang, J., Lau, W. M., Nealson, K. H., Gorby, Y. A. (2010). Electrical transport along bacterial nanowires from Shewanella oneidensis MR-1. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Vol. 107 (42), pp. 18127-18131.
Waters, M. S., El-Naggar, M. Y., Hsu, L., Sturm, C. A., Luttge, A., Udwadia, F. E., Cvitkovitch, D. G., Goodman, S. D., Nealson, K. H. (2009). Simultaneous Interferometric Measurement of Corrosive or Demineralizing Bacteria and Their Mineral Interfaces. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Vol. 75 (5), pp. 1445-1449.
Waters, M. S., Sturm, C. A., El-Naggar, M. Y., Luttge, A., Udwadia, F. E., Cvitkovitch, D. G., Goodman, S. D., Nealson, K. H. (2008). In search of the microbe/mineral interface: quantitative analysis of bacteria on metal surfaces using vertical scanning interferometry. Geobiology. Vol. 6 (3), pp. 254-262.
Gorby, Y., Mclean, J., Korenevsky, A., Rosso, K. M., El-Naggar, M. Y., Beveridge, T. J. (2008). Redox-reactive membrane vesicles produced by Shewanella. Geobiology. Vol. 6 (3), pp. 232-241.
El-Naggar, M. Y., Gorby, Y. A., Xia, W., Nealson, K. H. (2008). The molecular density of states in bacterial nanowires. Biophysical Journal. Vol. 95 (1), pp. L10-L12.
El-Naggar, M. Y., Dayal, K., Goodwin, D. G., Bhattacharya, K. (2006). Graded ferroelectric capacitors with robust temperature characteristics. Journal of Applied Physics. Vol. 100 (11)
Boyd, D. A., Greengard, L., Brongersma, M., El-Naggar, M. Y., Goodwin, D. G. (2006). Plasmon-assisted chemical vapor deposition. Nano Letters. Vol. 6 (11), pp. 2592-2597.
Boyd, D. A., El-Naggar, M. Y., Goodwin, D. G. (2006). In situ measurements of stress with temperature in thin film PbxBa1-xTiO3. Integrated Ferroelectrics. Vol. 83, pp. 155-+.
El-Naggar, M. Y., Boyd, D. A., Goodwin, D. G. (2005). Characterization of highly-oriented ferroelectric PbxBa1-xTiO3 thin films grown by metalorganic chemical vapor deposition. Journal of Materials Research. Vol. 20 (11), pp. 2969-2976.
Brewer, R. T., Boyd, D. A., El-Naggar, M. Y., Boland, S. W., Park, Y. B., Haile, S. M., Goodwin, D. G., Atwater, H. A. (2005). Growth of biaxially textured BaxPb1-xTiO3 ferroelectric thin films on amorphous Si3N4. Journal of Applied Physics. Vol. 97 (3)
Boyd, D. A., El-Naggar, M. Y., Goodwin, D. G. (2005). In situ measurements of macroscopic film stress during growth, cooling, and thermal cycling of thin film PbTiO3. Integrated Ferroelectrics. Vol. 71, pp. 21-+.
El-Naggar, M. Y., Klamo, J. T., Tan, M. H., Hornung, H. G. (2004). Experimental verification of the Mach-Number field in a supersonic Ludwieg tube. Aiaa Journal. Vol. 42 (8), pp. 1721-1724.

New Courses Developed

PHYS 444 "Physical Biology: From Molecules to Cells", Department of Physics and Astronomy, A newly developed cornerstone course for the Biophysics Bachelor of Science degree program., Fall 2013   

Honors and Awards

USC Endowed Chair, Robert D. Beyer (‘81) Early Career Chair in Natural Sciences and Assistant Professor of Physics, Biological Sciences, and Chemistry, 9/1/2015-  
Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), 2013-2014   
2013 Raubenheimer Awardee for Outstanding Junior Faculty Member, 2013  
DoD Young Investigator Program Award, 2009-2013  
Named as one of Popular Science's "Brilliant 10", 2012-2013   
USC Zumberge Research and Innovation Fund Award, Winner of the large Interdisciplinary award (with Urbashi Mitra), 7/1/2011-8/16/2012  
Applied Materials, Inc. Doctoral Fellow, 2004-2006  
The Lehigh University Alumni Association Prize, 2000-2001   

Service to the University


Member, Provost's Advisory Committee for Transformative Hiring in the Sciences and Engineering, 12/15/2011-  
Member, Oversight committee of the Center for Electron Microscopy and Microanalysis (CEMMA), 02/01/2011-  
Member, Physics Department Graduate Admissions Committee, 01/01/2009-  

Service to the Profession

Conferences Organized

Organizer & Co-chair, 243rd American Chemical Society National Meeting: Symposium on the Fundamental Science and Technological Applications of Bioelectrochemical Systems, San Diego, CA, 2011-2012   
Organizer & Co-chair, 241st American Chemical Society National Meeting: Microbial Fuel/Electrolysis Cells Symposium, Anaheim, CA, 2010-2011   
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