The Frances Ligler Story

"I was very inspired by the people who would go into a land where they had no experience or didn't know what to expect...just to find out what was there."

Frances Ligler's NIHF Induction by National Inventors Hall of FameNational Inventors Hall of Fame Museum

Who is Frances Ligler?

Frances Ligler is a leader in the optical biosensor industry and serves as inspiration for aspiring inventors around the country. She holds over 30 U.S. patents, and her portable optical biosensors are used in labs, food production plants, clinics in developing countries, pollutant cleanup sites and areas of concern for the military and homeland security. She has been named a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Francis Ligler at Broxton BridgeNational Inventors Hall of Fame Museum

Early Life

Frances Ligler was born in Louisville, Kentucky. She grew up training horses on her grandfather’s farm, where working with her grandfather inspired her fascination with nature. She once thought she would grow up to be a cowgirl.

But, in high school, Ligler won her science fair with a DNA-based project. Igniting a passion for science, she went on to study biology and chemistry at Furman University in South Carolina and ultimately became a biomedical engineer.

Frances Ligler in LabNational Inventors Hall of Fame Museum

College and the Naval Research Laboratories

During her years at Furman University, Ligler completed a summer internship at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, identifying hormones in fish. After earning her B.S. in biology and chemistry, she went on to attend Oxford University, where she received both her D.Phil and D.Sc.

In 1986, Ligler joined the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, where she would develop her biosensor technology.

Frances Ligler NIHF Museum ExhibitNational Inventors Hall of Fame Museum

Portable Optical Biosensors
U.S. Patent No. 5,077,210

At the Naval Research Laboratory, she and her colleagues developed automated biosensors, including point-of-use sensors for continuous monitoring. During Operation Desert Storm, Ligler was instrumental in producing tactical sensors for detecting botulinum toxin and anthrax.

Ligler and her team also developed the underlying technology for the RAPTOR portable, automated biosensor which was tested by NATO to analyze biological toxins and pathogens and to test water deliveries to U.S. Navy ships in Bahrain.

Ligler Patent (1)National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum

Franics Ligler at NIHF Illumination CeremonyNational Inventors Hall of Fame Museum

National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction

In recognition of her development of Portable Optical Biosensors, Frances Ligler was Inducted into the National Hall of Fame® (NIHF) during the 2017 Induction Ceremony.

Ligler took part in the two-day event where she commemorated her Induction by placing a hexagon into the Gallery of Icons™ at the NIHF Museum. Her work was displayed in the museum's featured Inductee exhibit, alongside the rest of the 2017 Class of Inductees.

Frances Ligler's Bio

The Francis Ligler StoryNational Inventors Hall of Fame Museum

Francis Ligler at CIC Meet the ExpertsNational Inventors Hall of Fame Museum

Inspiring Innovators

After her 2017 Induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Frances Ligler has served as a judge and mentor at the Collegiate Inventors Competition®, providing valuable feedback and inspiration to aspiring innovators.

"As I think about my legacy as an inventor, there's no greater tribute than being a mentor, role model and inspiration to future generations."

Frances Ligler at Camp InventionNational Inventors Hall of Fame Museum

Influencing the Next Generation

Ligler is currently the Lampe Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During the summers, she visits Camp Invention® programs in her area. Ligler and her husband, Dr. George Ligler, recently participated in a program at Swift Creek Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Her passion for Camp Invention derives from her love of science and wanting to encourage women and underserved youth to pursue career paths in STEM. She has even been featured in the Camp Invention module Optibot™, where children explore the use of sensors, like the ones she has invented, and test drive their own self-driving robots!

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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