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Thomas P. Forbes (Fed)

Research Scientist

Tom Forbes is a research scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). He graduated from Case Western Reserve University with B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering, before completing his Ph.D. at the Georgia Institute of Technology, focusing on the development of a mechanically-driven droplet-based ion source for mass spectrometric analysis of biomolecules. Following his graduate work, Tom joined NIST as a National Research Council (NRC) Postdoctoral Associate working on the development of microfluidic platforms for the isolation of circulating tumor cells (CTCs). From there, he became a staff scientist and member of the Materials Measurement Science Division.

His professional background and expertise are in the development of novel platforms and systems for mass spectrometry and analytical chemistry. His research has encompassed a range of areas focusing on thermal-fluid and ion transport phenomena, analytical chemistry, and trace chemical detection. Current research directions are investigating technologies and methods related to ambient ionization and surface analysis ion sources, analytical MEMS and microfluidic devices, separation techniques, sampling modalities, and thermal desorption systems. These avenues are leveraged for homeland securityforensic applications, and microplastic and nanoplastic metrology, among others.

National Research Council (NRC) Postdoctoral Program Research Opportunities:

Associated Sites



Field-Deployable Devices

Thomas P. Forbes, Raychelle Burks
Reductions in instrument size, weight, and power continue to facilitate the development and application of field-deployable devices for investigative purposes

Patents (2018-Present)


NIST Inventors
Matthew E Staymates and Thomas P. Forbes
patent description The invention described here consists of a number of systems that incorporate broad spectrum infrared radiation and thermal energy storage for high-temperature thermal desorption of trace chemicals. This thermal desorption process can happen both from wipe-collected sample or
Created October 9, 2019, Updated December 8, 2022