The National Academies Logo
Research Associateship Programs
Fellowships Office
Policy and Global Affairs

Participating Agencies - AFRL

  Sign InPrintable View

Opportunity at Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)

Bio/Nano Hybrid Interfaces for Sensing Applications


711 Human Performance Wing, RHX/Human Centered ISR Division

RO# Location
13.15.13.B7301 Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433


Name E-mail Phone
Kelley-Loughnane, Nancy 937-255-3784


Our research team investigates different elements found in nature known to be specific and sensitive to certain molecules, both small metabolites and large macromolecules (such as proteins). We are developing sensing tools based on known response elements in nature and tailoring these biological recognition elements to biomarkers and other chemicals of Air Force interest.

Previous studies have shown that we can screen for highly specific recognition elements to DOD-relevant chemical and biological targets. The approach to finding these novel recognition elements involves computational modeling and experimental screening of ligand binding. Screening uses both a high-throughput microarray platform and a cell-based method, which are dependent on highly reproducible reporting systems. In addition, we investigate novel bio-chromophores in order to improve the reporting of these cell-based sensors and nanomaterial synthesis to achieve ex vivo reporting.

Our research addresses the AFRL mission in enhanced human performance, specifically cognition, which requires sensing of physiological and environmental analytes that are detectable using the tools that we develop yielding the greatest impact to the Air Force mission.

The Air Force is also interested in the emerging field of biotronics, which is a hybrid of electronics fabrication with the incorporation of biological elements. The research depends on understanding the abiotic and biotic interface. We are exploring different device platforms as well as modifications to the biological systems in order to advance performance of these hybrid sensors.

Our team at the Human Performance Wing of the Airman Systems Directorate works with collaborators across the AFRL directorates, as well as with university and industry partners to develop the best solutions for the Air Force mission. We house experts in numerous areas, such as bioinformatics, proteomics, genomics, genetics, metabolomics, molecular biology, microbiology, biophysiology, biomimetics, neuroscience, toxicology, systems biology, and synthetic biology. We perform research across these diverse fields in order to improve, training, decision making, and overall performance for our human-centric mission.



Harbaugh SV, Goodson MS, Dillon K, Zabarnick S, Kelley-Loughnane N: Riboswitch-Based reversible Dual Color Sensor. ACS Synthetic Biology 6: 766-781, 2017

Goodson MS, Bennett AC, Jennewine BR, Briskin E, Harbaugh SV, Kelley-Loughnane N: Amplifying Riboswitch Signal Output using Cellular Wiring. ACS Synthetic Biology 2017, doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.6b00191 [Epub ahead of print]

Rose DP, Ratterman ME, Griffin DK, Hou L, Kelley-Loughnane N, Naik RR, Hagen JA, Papautsky I, Heikenfeld JC: Adhesive RFID Sensor Patch for Monitoring of Sweat Electrolytes. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering 11: 62(6): 1457-1465, 2015


Synthetic biology; Systems biology; Nanomaterial synthesis; Biotronics;


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral and Senior applicants
Copyright © 2014. National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. 500 Fifth St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement.