Dr. Frances S. Ligler
Dr. Frances S. Ligler Ramo Founders Award
Senior Scientist, Retired, Naval Research Laboratory, Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, North Carolina State University and UNC-Chapel Hill
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Frances S. Ligler is the Lampe Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University and the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to joining the joint department in 2013, she was at the US Naval Research Laboratory for 28 years, serving from 1995 as senior scientist for Biosensors and Biomaterials. Earlier in her career, she was successively a principal scientist, project leader, and group leader for cellular immunology at DuPont. She has served on the board of trustees of Furman University and currently serves on the academic advisory board for Plaksha University in Mohali, Punjab, India.

Currently working in the fields of biosensors, microfluidics, tissue-on-chip, and regenerative medicine, she has also performed research in biochemistry, immunology, and proteomics. She has over 400 publications, including 35 US patents and four books, and has served on editorial boards for nine journals. She has mentored numerous university faculty and over 60 postdoctoral fellows, and copublished research with approximately 200 undergraduates.

Dr. Ligler is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (2005) and a fellow of SPIE, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and National Academy of Inventors. She has served on numerous NAE and National Academies committees, culminating in her service as an NAE councillor from 2014 to 2020.

In 2017 she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF), which includes fewer than 600 inductees from the inventors of over 10.5 million U.S. patents, for her inventions seminal to portable optical biosensors.  Her inventions have been commercialized to biosensor products used in food production plants, clinics in developing countries, pollution cleanup sites, and areas of concern for military and homeland security. She has served on the NIHF Inductee Selection Committee and is active in the NIHF Camp Invention Program for grades K–6.

Among many other awards, in 2003 Dr. Ligler was recognized by the Christopher Columbus Foundation with its Homeland Security Award (Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Field) and by President George W. Bush with the Presidential Rank of Distinguished Senior Professional. In 2012 she was honored with the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Senior Professional by President Obama. In 2017 the American Chemical Society selected her for its Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Analytical Chemistry. In 2014 and 2018 she received honorary doctorates from the Agricultural University of Athens, Greece and Furman University, respectively.

She earned a BS in biology-chemistry from Furman University and both a DPhil (biochemistry) and a DSc (a higher doctorate for globally impactful contributions to biosensors) from Oxford University.

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  • Ramo Founders
  • 2020
  • For the invention and development of portable optical biosensors, service to the nation and profession, and educating the next, more diverse generation of engineers.