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In Spring 2020, Dr. Frances Ligler, BME Lampe Distinguished Professor, was featured among four of Furman’s greatest alumni—Herman Lay, of the famous brand of potato chips; Thomas Goldsmith, who filed the first patent for an electronic game in 1947; and Charles Townes, 1964 Nobel Prize in physics with two Russian scientists for the maser-laser principle. Dr. Ligler studied biology and chemistry at Furman, class of 1972. She finished degrees in both sciences in three years and went on to earn a doctoral degree in biochemistry from Oxford University. Considered a pioneer in biosensors and microfluidics, Ligler started to design portable sensors to detect agents used in biological warfare in the 1980s, while working at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. The resulting sensors that have been deployed in with US combat personnel since the 1990 Gulf War. In 2017, Dr. Ligler was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in light of the wide variety of applications of her portable optical biosensors. Ligler says “I feel very fortunate that I have had a chance to work on very hard problems.”

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