Lydia Kisley

Warren E. Rupp Assistant Professor

Rockefeller 228A

Other Information

Degree: B.S., Wittenberg University (2010)
Ph.D., Rice University (2015)


Microscopy, experimental biophysics, soft condensed matter physics,  interfacial/surface science, nanoscience, physical chemistry/chemical physics, signal processing, image analysis

Kisley Lab Website


The Kisley Lab images molecules interacting with bio/soft/metal materials using light microscopy. We track how molecules stick, move, react, or change conformation over space, time, and temperature. By understanding these physical mechanisms, we have the goal to inspire materials design through the following aims:

  • Approaching medical and industrial material problems with a molecular, quantitative perspective using single molecule spectroscopy. Single molecule spectroscopy accesses heterogeneity hidden in traditional ensemble measurements.
  • Advancing the single molecule materials field towards more complex, realistic conditions. We have a long-term vision of connecting the molecular results to the macroscale material performance.
  • Developing new microscopies that achieve a full physicochemical picture of molecular behavior. This includes how molecules adsorb, diffuse, and fold over space, time, and temperature.

We are motivated by practical problems in industrial and medical settings as described in the following projects:

  • SEPARATIONS – Improved separations are key to ensuring industrial competitiveness as ~15% of the total energy and billions of dollars used in the U.S. is for chemical separations. Molecular-based decisions regarding separations will reduce the enormous waste that results from the typical trial-and-error optimization used in chromatography and membrane methods. We are expanding the single-molecule separations field to more complex conditions and are investigating new types of separations that have yet to be studied at the molecular scale including the challenging areas of chiral separations where analytes are nearly-identical and rare earth extraction from some of the most complicated mixtures on Earth.
  • CORROSION – Corrosion is a multibillion dollar problem for infrastructure, the military, and industry. Corrosion is a slow process, which makes it difficult to assess anticorrosive materials without harsh solution conditions or long observation times. We are developing an in situ method that will open up a new time scale to study corrosion under realistic conditions. We use this technique to better understand the spatiotemporal mechanism of corrosion and the performance of anticorrosive materials.
  • EXTRACELLULAR MATRIX – Proteins outside of the cell must traverse the complex, chemically-diverse, confining environment of the extracellular matrix to carry out their biological function. Our studies seek to identify and characterize how proteins function within this matrix by developing and using high-resolution optical microscopy and analysis methods.  Our results can be applied broadly to therapeutic delivery, tissue engineering, and understanding of disease development, along with fundamental studies into the biological processes that underlie protein-matrix interactions.

To achieve our research, we develop new methods can allow us to understand materials and extract information from challenging data. We pursue new techniques from sample, hardware, and software directions.

We welcome graduate and undergraduate scientists and engineers excited about interdisciplinary research to join our group. Please find more information about joining on the group webpage.


Our most recent publications can be found on Google Scholar

Saini, A.; Gatland, Z.; Begley, J.; Kisley, L. Investigation of fluorophores for single-molecule detection of anodic corrosion redox reactions. MRS Communications. 2021, 11, 804-810. DOI: 10.1557/s43579-021-00096-y

Kisley, L. Remote exploration of experimental biophysical instrumentation in core facilities. The Biophysicist. 2021, 2, 2-10. DOI: 10.35459/tbp.2021.000189.

Yoshida, S.; Kisley, L. Super-resolution fluorescence imaging of extracellular environments. Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy. 2021, 257, 119767. DOI: 10.1016/j.saa.2021.119767

Yoshida, S.; Schmid, W.; Vo, N.; Calabrase, W.; Kisley, L. Computationally-efficient spatiotemporal correlation analysis super-resolves anomalous diffusion. Optics Express 2021, 5, 7616-7629. DOI: 10.1364/OE.416465

Saini, A.; Messenger, H.; Kisley, L. Fluorophores “turned-on” by corrosion reactions can be detected at the single-molecule level. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 2021, 13, 2000-2006. DOI: 10.1021/acsami.0c18994

Calabrase, W.; Bishop, L. D. C.; Dutta, C.; Misiura, A.; Landes, C. F.*; Kisley, L.* Transforming separation science with single-molecule methods. Analytical Chemistry 2020, 92, 13622-13629. DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem. 0c02572