Dr.   Nita     Sahai

Dr. Nita Sahai

Ohio Research Scholar Professor
Department of Polymer Science
Phone: 330-972-5795
Email: sahai@uakron.edu

Dr. Sahai's Research Group Website


Contact Information

Dr. Nita Sahai
Department of Polymer Science
The University of Akron
Akron, Ohio 44325-3909

E-mail: sahai@uakron.edu
Phone: (330) 972-5795
Fax: (330) 972-5290

Research Interests:

Biomolecular and cellular (human and bacterial cells) interactions with biomaterials and minerals; interfacial chemistry; bone-tissue engineering; organic-mediated crystal nucleation and growth (biomineralization); origin and early evolution of life; relationship between molecular-level, nanoscale & macroscopic properties. For more information see the research group website.


  • 1997 - Ph. D., Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. Advisor: Prof. Dimitri Sverjensky.
    Solvation and Electrostatic Model for Specific Electrolyte Adsorption.
  • 1992 - M. S., Geochemistry, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY. Calibrating the Cosmogenic 21Ne Clock.
  • 1990 - B.Sc., 1st rank in graduating class,Geology Honors, St. Xavier’s College, Bombay University, India.

Publications By Subject-Area

(Students’ and Post-Doctoral Scientists’ names underlined; Senior Corresponding Author’s name marked by an asterisk)

    Astrobiology, Origins and Early Evolution of Life, Bacterial Membrane and Biofilm Evolution (2003-present)
  1. Sahai N.* (for submission, July 2018) Mineral-lipid interactions in the origins of life. Trends. Biochem. Sci. INVITED.
  2. Zhou X., Dalai P., Bass G. and Sahai N.* (in prep.) Semipermeable mixed-lipid membranes exhibit K+/Na + selectivity in the absence of proteins. For submission to Astrobiology.
  3. Kaddour H., Gerisioglu S., Miyoshi T., Wesdemiotis C. and Sahai N.* (in prep.) Non-enzymatic polymerization at the mineral-water interface: An insight into adsorption-polymerization relationships and the effects of magnesium. For submission to Astrobiology.
  4. Sahai N.* and Schoonen M. A. (in prep.) Priming the origins of life by concentrating magnesium and phosphate on prebiotic earth. For submission to Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta.
  5. Dalai P. and Sahai N.* (2018, in press) Prebiotic protocell emergence and evolution. In Handbook of Astrobiology, ed. Vera Kolb. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL., Chapter 7.1. INVITED.
  6. Dalai P., Ustriyana P. and Sahai N.* (2018) Increased ion tolerance and preferential selectivity of lipids in mixed lipid vesicles: An evolutionary approach towards phospholipid membranes. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta. 223, 216-228.
  7. Sahai N.*, Kaddour H., Dalai P., Wang Z., Bass G. and Gao M. (2017) Mineral surface chemistry and nanoparticle-aggregation control membrane self-assembly. Sci. Rep. 7, 43418. doi: 10.1038/srep43418.
  8. Sahai N.* Kaddour H. and Dalai P. (2016) The transition from geochemistry to biogeochemistry. Elements 12, 389-394. INVITED. Thematic issue on the Origins of Life, Guest Editors: N. Sahai and H. Kaddour.
  9. Dalai P., Kaddour H. and Sahai N.* (2016) Incubating Life: Prebiotic sources of organics for the chemical origins of life. Elements 12, 401-406. INVITED. Thematic issue on the Origins of Life, Guest Editors: N. Sahai and H. Kaddour.
  10. Kaddour H. and Sahai N.* (2014) Nonenzymatic polymerization of RNA: advances and challenges. INVITED for special issue of Life 4, 598-620.
  11. Greiner E., Kumar K., Sumit M., Giuffre A., Zhao W., Pedersen J. and Sahai N* (2014) Adsorption of L-glutamate and L-aspartate from solution to g-Al2O3. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 133, 142-155.
  12. Xu J., Sahai N. *, Eggleston C. M. and Schoonen M. A. A. (2013) Reactive oxygen species at the oxide/water interface: Formation mechanisms and implications for prebiotic chemistry and the origin of life. Earth. Planet. Sci. Lett. 363, 156-167.
  13. Xu J., Campbell J., Zhang N., Hickey W. J. and Sahai N. * (2012) Evolution of bacterial biofilms as armor against mineral toxicity. Astrobiology 12, 785-798.
  14. Cleaves H. J. III*, Scott A. M., Hill F. C., Leszczynsky J., Sahai N. and Hazen R. (2012) Mineral-organic interfacial processes: potential roles in the origin of life. Chem. Soc. Rev. 41, 5365-5568. INVITED.
  15. Yang Y., Sahai N.,* Romanek C. and Chakraborty S. (2012) Low-temperature dolomite (Ca, Mg(CO3)2) formation as a potential biosignature– A computational study of Mg 2+ dehydration in aqueous solution in the presence of inorganic anions. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 88, 77-87.
  16. Oleson T. A., Wesolowski D. J., Dura J. A., Majkrzak C. F., Giuffre A. J. and Sahai N.* (2012) Neutron reflectvity study of phosphatidylcholine bilayers on sapphire (110). J. Colloid. Interf. Sci. 370,192-200.
  17. Oleson T. A. and Sahai N.* (2010) Interaction energies between oxide surfaces and multiple phosphatidylcholine bilayers from extended DLVO-theory. J. Colloid. Interf. Sci. 352, 316-326.
  18. Oleson T. A., Sahai N.* and Pedersen J. A. (2010) Electrostatic effects on deposition of multiple phospholipid bilayers at oxide surfaces. J. Colloid. Interf. Sci. 352, 327-336.
  19. Xu J., Stevens M. J., Oleson T. A., Last J. A. and Sahai N.* (2009) Role of oxide surface chemistry and phospholipid phase on adsorption and self-assembly: isotherms and atomic force microscopy. J. Phys. Chem. C 113, 2187-2196. Special issue on Physical Chemistry of Environmental Interfaces. INVITED.
  20. Romanek C. S.*, Jiménez-López C., Rodriguez Navarro A., Sánchez-Román M., Sahai N. and Coleman M. (2009) Inorganic synthesis of Fe-Ca-Mg carbonates at low temperature. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 73, 5361-5376.
  21. Oleson T. A. and Sahai N.* (2008) Oxide-dependent adsorption and self-assembly of dipalymitoylphosphatidylcholine, a cell-membrane phospholipid: Bulk adsorption isotherms. Langmuir 24, 4865-4873.
  22. Sahai N.* (2002) Biomembrane phospholipid-oxide surface interactions: crystal chemical and thermodynamic basis. J. Colloid. Interf. Sci. 252, 309-319.

  23. Bone Biomineralization and Biomaterials (2000-present)
  24. Sahai N.* (in prep.) Calcium phosphate nucleation and crystal growth in Bone-mimetic systems. Special issue ofAmerican Mineralogist on Biomaterials and Bioceramics. INVITED.
  25. Xu Z. and Sahai N.* (in prep.) Calcium phosphate nucleation at a Langmuir monolayer modeled by advanced molecular dynamics simulations. For submission to Biomaterials.
  26. Xu Z. and Sahai N.* (in prep.) Dissolved calcium and phosphate species diffusion within Type I collagen fibrils in bone biomineralization. For submission to Biomacromolecules.
  27. Zhao W., Wang Z., Xu Z. and Sahai N.* (in prep.) Free energy calculation reveals osteocalcin-promoted calcium phosphate nano-cluster growth. For submission to Scientific Reports.
  28. Wang Z., Ustriyana P., Chen K., Zhao W., Xu Z. and Sahai N.* (in review) Osteocalcin-regulated collagen intrafibrillaer mineralization. Calcif. Tiss. Int.
  29. Xu Z., Wei Q., Zhao W. , Cui Q. and Sahai N. * (in review) Essence of small molecule-mediated control of hydroxyapatite growth: Free energy calculations of amino acid side chain analogs. J. Phys. Chem. C.
  30. Xu Z.*, Zhao W., Wang Z., Cui Q. and Sahai N. * (2018) Detailed structure analysis of collagen fibrils in distinguishing mechanisms for intrafibrillar collagen mineralization in skeletal tissues. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 20, 1513 – 1523.
  31. Mankoci S. , Kaiser R., Sahai N. Barton H. and Joy A. (2017) Bactericidal peptidomimetic polyurethanes with remarkable selectivity against Escherichia coli. ACS Biomat. Sci. & Eng . 3, 2588-2597.
  32. Hou X., Qin H., Gao H., Mankoci S., Zhang R., Zhou X., Ren Z., Doll G. L., Marinti A., Sahai N., Dong Y. and Ye C.* (2017) A systematic study of the mechanical properties, corrosion behavior and biocompatibility of AZ31B Mg alloy after ultrasonic nanocrystal surface modification. Mat. Sci. Eng. C. 78, 1061-1071.
  33. Zhou X., Zhang N. and Sahai N.* (2017) Silicate materials for orthopaedics and bone tissue engineering. J. Biomed. Mater. Res. Part A 105, 2090-2102.
  34. Zhao W., Xu Z. , Cui Q. and Sahai N.* (2016) Predicting the structure-activity relationship of hydroxyapatite-binding peptides by enhanced-sampling molecular simulation. Langmuir 32, 7009-7022.
  35. Zhao W. and Sahai N.* (2016) Organic-Mineral Interactions in Biomineralization. INVITED chapter in Molecular Modeling of Biogeochemical Reactions: An Introduction, Ed. J. Kubicki. John Wiley.
  36. Wang Z., Xu Z., Zhao W. and Sahai N.* (2016) Isoexergonic conformations of surface-bound citrate regulate bioinspired apatite nanocrystal growth.Applied Materials and Interfaces 8, 28116-28123.
  37. Zhou X., Moussa F., Mankoci S., Ustriyana P., Zhang N., Abdelmagid S., Molenda J., Murphy W.L., Safadi F. and Sahai N.* (2016) Orthosilicic acid, Si(OH)4, stimulates osteoblast differentiation in vitro by upregulating miR-146a to antagonize NF-κB activation. Acta Biomaterialia 39, 192-202.
  38. Ye C.*, Zhou X., Telang A., Gao H., Ren Z., Qin H., Suslov S., Gill A. S., Mannava S. R., Qian D., Doll G. L., Martini A., Sahai N. and Vasudevan V. K. (2016) Surface amorphization of NiTi alloy induced by ultrasonic nanocrystal surface modification for improved mechanical properties. J. Mechan. Behav. Biomed. Mat. 53, 455-462.
  39. Wang Z., Zhao W., Xu X. and Sahai N.* (2015) A potential mechanism for amino acid-controlled crystal growth of hydroxyapatite. J. Mat. Chem. B. 3, 9157-9167.
  40. Zhou X. and Sahai N. * (2015) Biomimetic and nanostructured hybrid bioactive glass. Biomaterials 50, 1-9.
  41. Xu Z., Yang Y., Zhao W., Wang Z., Landis W. J., Cui Q. and Sahai N.* (2015) Molecular mechanisms for intrafibrillar collagen mineralization in skeletal tissues. Biomaterials 39, 59-66.
  42. Zhao W., Xu Z., Yang Y. and Sahai N.* (2014) Surface energetics of the hydroxyapatite-water interface: a molecular dynamics study. Langmuir 30, 13283-13292.
  43. Xu Z., Yang Y., Cui Q. and Sahai N.* (2014) Small biomolecule-mediated hydroxyapatite growth: free energy calculations benchmarked to density functional theory. J. Comput. Chem. 35, 70-81.
  44. Yang Y., Xu Z., Cui Q. and Sahai N.* (2014) Molecular simulation of biomineral nucleation and crystal growth: Modern computational challenges and approaches. INVITED chapter in Biomineralization Sourcebook: Characterization of Biominerals and Biomimetic Materials, Chapter 17, Eds. E. DiMasi and L. Gower, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.
  45. Chapron Y.*, Charlet L. and Sahai N. (2014) Fate of pathological prion (PrPsc 92-138) in soil and water: prion-clay nanoparticle molecular dynamics. J. Biomol. Struct. Dynam. 32, 1802-1816.
  46. Zhang N., Molenda J., Murphy W. and Sahai N.* (2013) Crystal structure control of CaSiO3 bioceramics on human mesenchymal stem cell attachment, proliferation and differentiation into osteoblasts. Biomat. Sci. 1, 1101-1110.
  47. Yang Y., Mkhonto D., Cui Q. and Sahai N.* (2011) Theoretical study of bone sialoprotein in hydroxyapatite biomineralization. Special Issue of Cells Tissues Organs 194, 182-197.
  48. Yang Y., Cui Q. and Sahai N. * (2010) How does bone sialoprotein promote the nucleation of hydroxyapatite? A molecular dynamics study using model peptides of different conformations. Langmuir 26, 9848- 9859.
  49. Zhang N., Molenda J., Fournelle J., Murphy W. and Sahai N. * (2010) Effects of pseudowollastonite (b-CaSiO3) on human mesenchymal stem cell activity. Biomaterials 31, 7653-7665.
  50. Stevens M. J., Donato L.J., Lower S. K., and Sahai N. * (2009) Oxide-dependent adhesion of the Jurkat cell line of T-lymphocytes. Langmuir 25, 6270-6278.
  51. Sahai N.* (2007) Medical Mineralogy and Geochemistry: An Interfacial Science. Elements 3, 383-386. Editor, N. Sahai.
  52. Sahai N.*, Schoonen M., and Skinner H. C. W. (2006) The emerging field of medical mineralogy and geochemistry.INVITED, reviewed chapter for Medical Mineralogy and Geochemistry, Eds. Nita Sahai and Martin Schoonen, Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry Series, Vol. 64, Mineralogical Society of America, Washington, D.C., Chapter 1.
  53. Cerruti M. and Sahai N.* (2006) Silicate biomaterials for orthopaedic and dental implants. INVITED, reviewed chapter for Medical Mineralogy and Geochemistry, Eds. Nita Sahai and Martin Schoonen, Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry Series, Vol. 64, Mineralogical Society of America, Washington, D.C., Chapter 9.
  54. Sahai N.* (2005) Modeling apatite nucleation in the human body and in the geochemical environment, Am. J. Sci.INVITED, for special issue of Am. J. Sci. 305, 661-672.
  55. Sahai N.* and Anseau M. (2005) Cyclic silicate active site and epitaxial apatite nucleation on pseudowollastonite bioceramic-bone interfaces. Biomaterials 26, 5763-5370.
  56. Anseau M. R.*, Leung P., Sahai N. and Swaddle, T. W. (2005) Interactions of silicate ions with zinc(II) and aluminum(III) in alkaline aqueous solution. Inorg. Chem. 44, 8023-8032.
  57. Sahai N.* (2003) The effects of Mg2+ and H+ on nucleation of authigenic apatite at silica surfaces.Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 67, 1017-1030, INVITED.
  58. Sahai N.* and Tossell J. A. (2000) Molecular orbital study of apatite nucleation at silica bioceramic surfaces. J. Phys. Chem. B. 104, 4322-4341.

  59. Environmental Geochemistry and Silica Biomineralization (1996-2008)
  60. Hochella M. F., Jr.*, Lower S. K., Maurice P. A., Penn R. L., Sahai N., Sparks D. L. and Twining B. S. (2008) Nanominerals, mineral nanoparticles, and Earth systems. Science 319, 1631-1635.
  61. Ciardelli M. C., Xu H. and Sahai N.* (2008) Role of Fe(II), phosphate, silicate, sulfate and carbonate in arsenic uptake by coprecipitation in synthetic and natural groundwater. Water Res. 42, 615-624.
  62. Sahai N.*, Lee Y., Xu H., Ciardelli M. C. and Gaillard J.-F. (2007) Role of Fe(II) and phosphate in arsenic uptake by coprecipitation. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 71, 3193-3210.
  63. Sahai N.* and Rosso K. (2006) Linking molecular modeling to surface complexation modeling. INVITED, reviewed chapter in Surface Complexation Modelling, Ed. Johannes Lutzenkirchen. Interface Science and Technology Series, Vol. 11, Elsevier, Amsterdam.
  64. Delak K. M. and Sahai N.* (2006) Investigations into the mechanisms of amine-catalyzed hydrolysis of organosilicates. J. Phys. Chem. B. 110, 17819-17829.
  65. Delak K. M. and Sahai N.* (2005) Amine-catalyzed biomimetic hydrolysis and polymerization of organosilicate. Chem. Mater. 17, 3221-3227.
  66. Delak K. M., Farrar T. C. and Sahai N.* (2005) 29Si NMR sensitivity enhancement methods for the quantitative study of organosilicate hydrolysis and condensation. J. Non-Cryst. Solids 351, 2244-2250.
  67. Thornburg K. and Sahai N.* (2004) Arsenic occurrence, mobility, and retardation in sandstone and dolomite formations of the Fox River Valley, Wisconsin. Environ. Sci. Technol. 38, 5087-5094.
  68. Sahai N.* (2004) Calculation of 29Si NMR shifts of silicate complexes with carbohydrates, amino-acids and carboxylic acids: Potential role in biological silica utilization. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 68 227-238.
  69. Sahai N.* (2003b) Silicon-organic interactions in the environment and in organisms. INVITED, reviewed chapter inGeochemical and Hydrological Reactivity of Heavy Metals in Soils, eds. W. L. Kingery and H. M. Selim, Chapter 6. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.
  70. Sahai N.* (2002a) Is silica really an anomalous oxide? Aqueous hydrolysis and surface acidity revisited. Environ. Sci. Technol. 36, 445-452.
  71. Sahai N.* and Tossell J. A. (2002b) 29Si NMR shifts and relative stabilities calculated for aqueous hypervalent silicon-polyalcohol complexes: role in sol-gel and biogenic silica synthesis. Inorg. Chem. 41, 748-756.
  72. Sahai N.* and Tossell J. A. (2001) Formation energies and NMR chemical shifts calculated for putative serine-silicate complexes in silica biomineralization. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 65, 2043-2053.
  73. Tossell J. A.* and Sahai N. (2000) Calculating the acidity of silanols and related oxyacids in aqueous solution. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 64, 4097-4113.
  74. Sahai N.* (2000) Estimating adsorption enthalpies and affinity sequences of monovalent electrolyte ions on oxide surfaces in aqueous solution. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 64, 3629-3641.
  75. O' Day P.A.*, Newville M., Neuhoff P., Sahai N. and Carroll S. A. (2000) X-Ray absorption spectroscopy of strontium (II) coordination: I. static and thermal disorder in crystalline, hydrated and precipitated solids and in aqueous solution. J. Colloid. Interface Sci. 222, 184-197.
  76. Sahai N., Carroll S. A., O' Day P. A.* and Roberts S. (2000) X-Ray absorption spectroscopy of strontium (II) coordination: II. Sorption and precipitation at kaolinite, amorphous silica and goethite surfaces. J. Colloid. Interface Sci. 222, 198-212.
  77. Koretsky C. M.*, Sverjensky D. A. and Sahai N. (1998) Calculating site densities of oxides and silicates from crystal structures. Amer. J. Sci. 298, 349-38.
  78. Sverjensky D. A. * and Sahai N.(1998) Prediction of surface-protonation enthalpies for oxides. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 62, 3703-3715.
  79. Sahai N.* and Sverjensky D. A. (1998) GEOSURF: A computer program for modeling adsorption on mineral surfaces in solution. Computers. Geosci. 24, 853-873.
  80. Sahai N.* and Sverjensky D. A. (1997a) Evaluation of internally-consistent parameters for the triple-layer model by the systematic analysis of oxide surface titration data, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 61, 2801-2826.
  81. Sahai N.* and Sverjensky D. A. (1997b) Solvation and electrostatic model for specific electrolyte adsorption. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 61, 2827-2848.
  82. Sverjensky D. A.* and Sahai N. (1996) Theoretical prediction of single-site surface protonation equilibrium constants for oxides and silicates in water. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 60, 3773-3797.

Invited Journal Cover Page Art - Cover Page Art of Volumes Edited by Nita Sahai

Professional Affiliations

American Chemical Society, Materials Research Society, Mineralogical Society of America, Geochemical Society of America, American Geophysical Union.

Academic Awards and Honors

  • 2022, 2020 - Chair and Vice-Chair of the Gordon Research Conference on the Origins of Life
  • 2017-2018 - Member of National Academy of Science’s Committee on Planetary Science and Astrobiology.
  • 2017, 2014, 2010 - Interviewed on National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
  • 2013-2014 - Distinguished Lecturer of the Mineralogical Society of America: nation-wide lecture tour to various Universities.
  • 2011-present - Ohio Research Scholar in Biomaterials Chair, UA, OH.
  • 2009 - Fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America: Recognition of significant scientific contributions in the fields of crystallography, mineralogy, geochemistry, and petrology.
  • 2009 - Romnes Faculty Fellowship, University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW): Recognition of quality, significance and productivity of research, and quality and programmatic value of teaching and service.
  • 2008 - Visiting Professor Fellowship (3 weeks), Université Joseph Fourrier (University of Grenoble), France.
  • 2004 - NSF CAREER award.
  • 1998-2000 - NSF Post-Doctoral Fellowship.
  • 1990 - 1st Rank in Graduating Class, Bombay University. Appointed to Student Council, Bombay University, India.
  • 1987-1990 - 1st Ranked Student in Chemistry, Geology, Physics, French. St. Xavier's College, Bombay University, India.