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Thomas P. Forbes

Research Scientist / Mechanical Engineer

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 ambient and atmospheric pressure mass spectrometry. 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 sources, analytical MEMS and microfluidic devices, separation techniques, sampling modalities, and thermal desorption systems. These avenues are leveraged for homeland security, defense, and forensic applications, among others.

National Research Council (NRC) Postdoctoral Program Research Opportunities:


  • U.S. Department of Commerce Bronze Medal Award, For extraordinary innovation in the development of new mass-spectrometric techniques for the chemical analysis of emerging explosive threats, (2018)
  • National Research Council (NRC/NIST) Postdoctoral Research Associateship, (2010-2012)
  • NASA Graduate Student Research Program (GSRP) Fellow, (2005-2006)


Optimization of Confined DART-MS

Edward R. Sisco, Matthew E. Staymates, Thomas P. Forbes
The use of direct analysis in real time mass spectrometry (DART-MS) is seeing increased use in a number of fields, including forensic science, environmental

A Standards and Measurement Infrastructure for Calibration, Verification and Optimization of Trace Explosives Detection Systems

John G. Gillen, Jennifer R. Verkouteren, R M. Verkouteren, Marcela N. Najarro, Edward R. Sisco, Matthew E. Staymates, Jessica L. Staymates, Robert A. Fletcher, Jeffrey A. Lawrence, Elizabeth L. Robinson, Alexander T. Bulk, Joseph A. Bennett, Shinichiro Muramoto, Thomas P. Forbes
Current national priorities in homeland security have led to an unprecedented level of utilization of explosives trace detection (ETD) systems for
Created October 9, 2019