After three years as an Instructor at the Pennsylvania State University, Nichols moved to the Florida State University. Nichols was Professor from 1988 until 2013, at which point he was designated Professor Emeritus. For his 1995-96 sabbatical, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Mathematical Sciences Institute at Cornell University. His 2002-03 sabbatical was spent at Carnegie Mellon University, participating in their Financial Mathematics program.
Professor Nichols has had six doctoral students, graduating in 1985, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2014.
Professor Nichols' over 30 publications have a very broad scope. Although his most influential publications to date have been in Hopf algebras, he has written a number of papers in commutative algebra, and has also published in general ring theory, Lie theory, theoretical computer science, and combinatorics.
Professor Nichols' service commitments have included the Faculty Evaluation Committee, Chair of the Professional Degrees Committee, the Arts and Sciences Policy Committee, the Faculty Senate, and the Bryan Hall Steering Committee. He played an influential role in the development of a plan for a departmental focus on Symbolic Computation.
Professor Nichols has given invited talks at meetings and universities across the United States and in Canada. He was honored in 1992 by the University of Waterloo, in conjunction with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of its Department of Pure Mathematics. He has received numerous grants from the National Science Foundation in support of his research.
Married to the former Julie Ann Kowalski, Nichols is the proud father of Jenna and Ross, twins, who graduated from the University of Florida in April 2011. They now live a short walk from each other in the self-proclaimed "Center of the Universe", the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, and develop software for Redfin (Jenna) and Microsoft (Ross).