Greater Boston Area

Qualification - Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, M.S. in Mechanical Engineering,B.Tech. Mechanical Engineering


About -

Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, University of California at Berkeley, 2006
M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, University of California at Berkeley, 2004
B.Tech. Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, 2002

Associate Professor July 2012 – present Massachusetts Institute of Technology

World’s leading Nanotechnology Expert

“My mantra for success is follow your heart, do your best, trust in life to take care of the rest,” says Dr. Rohit Karnik.

Dr. Karnik is globally known for his work in the area of micro- and nanofluidics for applications in water, health-care and energy systems. He has developed devices for control of nanoscale fluid flows including the nanofluidic diode, transistor, and sensors. His group has advanced novel nanoporous membrane materials for water filtration and gas separations, and obtained fundamental insights into nanoscale fluid flows. They have made membranes from graphene that are only one atom thick, which could be used for efficient water purification and other applications. They have moreover, developed new technologies for microfluidic separation and analysis of cells, and have created microfluidic devices to better control and optimize nanoparticles for drug delivery. Dr. Karnik has furthermore, played a crucial role in the development of the Micro and Nanoengineering Laboratory class for undergraduate students at MIT.

Rohit was born in 1980 at Pune to Mr. Nandkumar Madhukar Karnik and Mrs. Shubhada Nandkumar Karnik. His father is a chartered accountant (retd.) and mother is a housewife. Rohit attended Vidya Bhavan High School and Modern College in Pune, after which he joined IIT Bombay and completed B. Tech. in Mechanical Engineering in 2002. His B. Tech. thesis was Finite Element Analysis of 3D Cracks, performed under the guidance of Prof. S. K. Maiti.

From his undergrad days at IIT Bombay, Dr. Rohit Karnik particularly remembers working at nights on their ‘bottle filling’ machine for the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) Student Design Competition, while doing regular class-work during the day. Dr. Rohit says,“I also have many fond memories of my friends and teachers at IIT Bombay, who played an important role in shaping my character and destiny.”Dr. Rohit Karnik was awarded the Institute Silver Medal by IIT Bombay in the year 2002.

Immediately after his graduation from IIT, Rohit took admission at the University of California, Berkeley, to do M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering under the guidance of Prof. Arun Majumdar. His thesis for MS was ‘A Microfluidic Platform for the Study of Millisecond Biochemical Kinetics in Crowded Solutions.’Dr. Rohit got his MS in year 2004 and in 2006 Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at University of California, Berkeley. His Ph.D. thesis was, ‘Manipulation and Sensing of Ions and Molecules in Nanofluidic Devices.’ In 2006, Rohit did postdoctoral work at MIT under the guidance of Prof. Robert Langer in Chemical Engineering. He joined the faculty of Mechanical Engineering at MIT in 2007. Dr. Rohit Karnik has delivered invited lectures in different parts of the Globe and has over 80 research papers to his credit. He has filed over 20 patent applications and has supervised numerous theses at undergraduate, masters and doctoral levels.

Plant-based water filter for rural Indian communities

Dr. Rohit Karnik is developing plant-based water filter for rural Indian communities

In a paper published in the journal PLoS ONE, co-author Associate Professor Rohit Karnik and a team of researchers demonstrate that a small piece of sapwood can filter out more than 99 percent of the bacteria E. coli from water at the rate of up to four litres of drinking water a day – enough to quench the thirst of a typical person. They say the size of the pores in sapwood – which contains xylem tissue evolved to transport sap up the length of a tree – allows water through while blocking most types of bacteria.

Dr. Rohit Karnik says, “Sapwood is a promising, low-cost, and efficient material for water filtration, particularly for rural communities where more advanced filtration systems are not readily accessible. With my student Krithika Ramchander and collaborators at MIT D-Lab, we are working to develop useful filters that could be affordable to people.”

Awards & Honors

He is a proud recipient of several awards and honours. Some of his recent awards are:

  • Ruth and Joel Spira Award for Excellence in Teaching, MIT School of Engineering (2016)
  • Young Alumni Achiever Award, IIT Bombay (2014)
  • Department of Energy Early Career Award (2012)
  • Keenan Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education (2011)

Positions Held:

  • Undergraduate Officer July 2016 – present Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Associate Professor July 2012 – present Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • D’Arbeloff Assistant Professor July 2008 – June 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Assistant Professor Sept. 2007 – June 2008 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Postdoctoral Associate Oct. 2006 – August 2007 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Graduate Student Researcher Aug. 2002 – July 2006 University of California, Berkeley

Besides Teaching, Dr. Karnik takes keen interest in photography, astronomy and traveling.He currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with his wife.