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Staff information


Ryan Kelly

Science and Technology
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
PO Box 999
MSIN: K8-91
Richland, WA 99352


Dr. Kelly is a bioanalytical chemist who focuses on developing and deploying new technological solutions to further biological research. Several technologies that he has developed or co-developed have been licensed and/or commercialized, including chemically etched nanospray emitters, multielectrospray sources and the subambient pressure ionization with nanoelectrospray (SPIN) source. Current research efforts involve combining microfluidic nanodroplet sample preparation, nanoflow chemical separations and ultrasensitive mass spectrometry to extend omic analyses to smaller samples, enabling spatially resolved measurements and single cell analyses. The central component of the platform is termed nanoPOTS (Nanodroplet Processing in One-pot for Trace Samples), which has enabled in-depth proteome analyses from 1-100 plant or mammalian cells.

Dr. Kelly serves as the Lead Technologist for EMSL, having primary responsibility for capability investments and technology development efforts for EMSL. He is also the Technical Group Manager of the EMSL’s Scientific and Computing Operations group.

Research Interests

  • Nanoscale proteomics
  • Single cell analysis
  • Spatially resolved omics
  • Microfluidic sample preparation and analysis
  • Nanoflow liquid chromatography
  • Nano- and picoelectrospray ionization
  • Ultrasensitive mass spectrometry

Education and Credentials

  • Ph.D., Chemistry, Brigham Young University, 2005
  • B.S., Biochemistry, Brigham Young University, 2001

Awards and Recognitions

  • 2017 - Key Contributor Award, from Battelle for licensing of US Patents 7,491,341, 7,671,344 and 8,173,960 to Bruker
  • 2016 - Key Contributor Award, from Battelle for licensing of US Patents 7,671,344 and 8,173,960 to Bayspec, Inc.
  • 2016 - Key Contributor Award, from Battelle for licensing of US Patents 7,491,341, 7,671,344 and 8,173,960 to Ardara Technologies
  • 2015 - R&D 100 Award for "Subambient Pressure Ionization with Nanoelectrospray (SPIN) Source", R&D Magazine
  • 2013 - Exceptional Contribution Program (ECP) Award, PNNL
  • 2012 - Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer
  • 2011 - Cognizant Space Manager of the Year Award, EMSL, PNNL
  • 2010 - Key Contributor Award, awarded by Battelle for licensing of Etched Emitter Technology to Bruker-Michrom
  • 2010 - Outstanding Performance Award, Fundamental and Computational Sciences Directorate, PNNL
  • 2009 - Key Contributor Award, awarded by Battelle for Licensing of Ion Funnel Technology to Thermo Fisher
  • 2009 - R&D 100 Award for "Ultrasensitive Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry Source and Interface", R&D Magazine

PNNL Publications


  • Orton DJ, MM Tfaily, RJ Moore, BL Lamarche, X Zheng, TL Fillmore, RK Chu, KK Weitz, ME Monroe, RT Kelly, RD Smith, and EM Baker. 2018. "A Customizable Flow Injection System for Automated, High Throughput and Time Sensitive Ion Mobility Spectrometry and Mass Spectrometry Measurements." Analytical Chemistry 90(1):737-744.  doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.7b02986
  • Zhu Y, PD Piehowski, R Zhao, J Chen, Y Shen, RJ Moore, AK Shukla, VA Petyuk, M Campbell-Thompson, CE Mathews, RD Smith, W Qian, and RT Kelly. 2018. "Nanodroplet processing platform for deep and quantitative proteome profiling of 10-100 mammalian cells." Nature Communications 9(1):882.  doi:10.1038/s41467-018-03367-w
  • Zhu Y, R Zhao, PD Piehowski, RJ Moore, S Lim, VJ Orphan, L Pasa Tolic, WJ Qian, RD Smith, and RT Kelly. 2018. "Subnanogram proteomics: impact of LC column selection, MS instrumentation and data analysis strategy on proteome coverage for trace samples." International Journal of Mass Spectrometry 427:4-10.  doi:10.1016/j.ijms.2017.08.016


  • Geng T, CR Smallwood, EL Bredeweg, KR Pomraning, AE Plymale, SE Baker, JE Evans, and RT Kelly. 2017. "Multimodal Microfluidic Platform for Controlled Culture and Analysis of Unicellular Organisms." Biomicrofluidics 11(5):054104.  doi:10.1063/1.4986533
  • Geng T, CR Smallwood, Y Zhu, EL Bredeweg, SE Baker, JE Evans, and RT Kelly. 2017. "Multimodal Microchannel and Nanowell-Based Microfluidic Platforms for Bioimaging." In Proceedings of the 10th IEEE International Conference on Nano/Molecular Medicine and Engineering (NANOMED 2016), October 30- November 2, 2016, Macau, China, pp. 155-158.  IEEE, PISCATAWAY, NJ.  doi:10.1109/NANOMED.2016.7883480
  • Huang CM, Y Zhu, DQ Jin, RT Kelly, and Q Fang. 2017. "Direct Surface and Droplet Microsampling for Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry Analysis with an Integrated Dual-Probe Microfluidic Chip." Analytical Chemistry 89(17):9009-9016.  doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.7b01679


  • Cong Y, S Katipamula, CD Trader, DJ Orton, T Geng, ES Baker, and RT Kelly. 2016. "Mass Spectrometry-Based Monitoring of Millisecond Protein-Ligand Binding Dynamics Using an Automated Microfluidic Platform." Lab on a Chip 16(9):1544-1548.  doi:10.1039/c6lc00183a
  • Cong Y, S Katipamula, T Geng, SA Prost, K Tang, and RT Kelly. 2016. "Electrokinetic Sample Preconcentration and Hydrodynamic Sample Injection for Microchip Electrophoresis Using a Pneumatic Microvalve." Electrophoresis 37(3):455-462.  doi:10.1002/elps.201500286
  • Jambovane SR, SK Nune, RT Kelly, BP McGrail, Z Wang, MI Nandasiri, S Katipamula, CD Trader, and HT Schaef. 2016. "Continuous, One-pot Synthesis and Post-Synthetic Modification of NanoMOFs Using Droplet Nanoreactors." Scientific Reports (6):36657.  doi:10.1038/srep36657
  • Mahoney CM, RT Kelly, ML Alexander, MK Newburn, SP Bader, RG Ewing, AJ Fahey, DA Atkinson, and N Beagley. 2016. "Bayesian Integration and Characterization of Composition C-4 Plastic Explosives Based on Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry and Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry." Analytical Chemistry 88(7):3598-3607.  doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.5b04151


  • Baker ES, KE Burnum-Johnson, YM Ibrahim, DJ Orton, ME Monroe, RT Kelly, RJ Moore, X Zhang, R Theberge, CE Costello, and RD Smith. 2015. "Enhancing Bottom-up and Top-down Proteomic Measurements with Ion Mobility Separations." Proteomics 15(16):2766-2776.  doi:10.1002/pmic.201500048
  • Geng T, EL Bredeweg, CJ Szymanski, B Liu, SE Baker, G Orr, JE Evans, and RT Kelly. 2015. "Compartmentalized microchannel array for high-throughput analysis of single cell polarized growth and dynamics." Scientific Reports 5:Article No. 16111.  doi:10.1038/srep16111
  • Grate JW, KF Mo, Y Shin, A Vasdekis, MG Warner, RT Kelly, G Orr, D Hu, KJ Dehoff, FJ Brockman, and MJ Wilkins. 2015. "Alexa Fluor-labeled Fluorescent Cellulose Nanocrystals for Bioimaging Solid Cellulose in Spatially Structured Microenvironments." Bioconjugate Chemistry 26(3):593-601.  doi:10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.5b00048
  • Hutchison JR, RL Erikson, AM Sheen, RM Ozanich, and RT Kelly. 2015. "Reagent-free and portable detection of Bacillus anthracis spores using a microfluidic incubator and smartphone microscope." Analyst 140(18):6269-6276.  doi:10.1039/C5AN01304F
  • Karim AM, NM Al Hasan, SA Ivanov, S Siefert, RT Kelly, NG Hallfors, AD Benavidez, L Kovarik, A Jenkins, RE Winans, and AK Datye. 2015. "Synthesis of 1 nm Pd Nanoparticles in a Microfluidic Reactor: Insights from in Situ X ray Absorption Fine Structure Spectroscopy and Small-Angle X ray Scattering ." Journal of Physical Chemistry C 119(23):13257-13267.  doi:10.1021/acs.jpcc.5b01681


  • Jambovane SR, SA Prost, AM Sheen, JK Magnuson, and RT Kelly. 2014. "ON-DEMAND SERIAL DILUTION USING QUANTIZED NANO/PICOLITER-SCALE DROPLETS." In Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences (MicroTAS 2014), October 26-30, 2014, San Antonio, Texas, pp. 1247-1249.  Chemical and Biological Microsystems Society, San Diego, CA. 
  • Kelly RT, C Wang, SJ Rausch, CS Lee, and K Tang. 2014. "Pneumatic Microvalve-Based Hydrodynamic Sample Injection for High-Throughput, Quantitative Zone Electrophoresis in Capillaries." Analytical Chemistry 86(13):6723-6729.  doi:10.1021/ac501910p
  • Marginean I, K Tang, RD Smith, and RT Kelly. 2014. "Picoelectrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry Using Narrow-bore Chemically Etched Emitters." Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry 25(1):30-36.  doi:10.1007/s13361-013-0749-z
  • Sun X, and RT Kelly. 2014. "Biological Sample Preparation and Analysis Using Droplet-Based Microfluidics." Chapter 3 in Nanopatterning and Nanoscale Devices for Biological Applications, ed. S Selimovic, pp. 73-92.  CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 
  • Sun X, and RT Kelly. 2014. "Droplet-Based Microfluidics for Biological Sample Preparation and Analysis." Chapter 1 in Technologies for Smart Sensors and Sensor Fusion, ed. K Yallup and K Iniewski, pp. 3-18.  CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 
  • Sun X, and RT Kelly. 2014. "Droplet-Based Microfluidics for Biological Sample Preparation and Analysis." Chapter 8 in Microfluidics and Nanotechnology: Biosensing to the Single Molecule Limit, ed. E Lagally, pp. 201-220.  CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 
  • Cong Y, SJ Rausch, T Geng, SR Jambovane, and RT Kelly. 2014. "PNEUMATIC MICROVALVE FOR ELECTROKINETIC SAMPLE PRECONCENTRATION AND CAPILLARY ELECTROPHORESIS INJECTION." In 18th International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences, October 26-30, 2014, San Antonio, Texas, pp. 2560-2561.  Royal Society of Chemistry, London, United Kingdom. 
  • Cox JT, I Marginean, RT Kelly, RD Smith, and K Tang. 2014. "Improving the Sensitivity of Mass Spectrometry by Using a New Sheath Flow Electrospray Emitter Array at Subambient Pressures ." Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry 25(12):2028-37.  doi:10.1007/s13361-014-0856-5
  • Kelly RT, I Marginean, and K Tang. 2014. "Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry." In Encyclopedia of Microfluidics and Nanofluidics, ed. D Li, pp. 1-8.  Springer Science+Business Media, New York, NY. 
  • Vasdekis AE, MJ Wilkins, JW Grate, RT Kelly, A Konopka, SS Xantheas, and MT Chang. 2014. "Solvent Immersion Imprint Lithography." Lab on a Chip 14(12):2072-2080.  doi:10.1039/C4LC00226A


  • Sun X, K Tang, RD Smith, and RT Kelly. 2013. "Controlled Dispensing and Mixing of Pico- to Nanoliter Volumes Using On-Demand Droplet-Based Microfluidics." Microfluidics and Nanofluidics 15(1):117-126.  doi:10.1007/s10404-012-1133-1
  • Grate JW, C Zhang, MJ Wilkins, MG Warner, NC Anheier, Jr, JD Suter, RT Kelly, and M Oostrom. 2013. "Chemical sensing and imaging in microfluidic pore network structures relevant to natural carbon cycling and industrial carbon sequestration." In Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications V, April 29, 2013, Baltimore, Maryland. Proceedings of the SPIE, vol. 8725, ed. T George, M Salif Islam and AK Dutta, p. Paper No. 87522.  SPIE , Bellingham, WA.  doi:10.1117/12.2018520
  • Kelly RT, AM Sheen, and SR Jambovane. 2013. "Multilayer Microfluidic Devices Created From A Single Photomask." RSC Advances 3(43):20138-20142.  doi:10.1039/C3RA43732A


  • Sun X, K Tang, RD Smith, and RT Kelly. 2012. "Robust Extraction Interface for Coupling Droplet-Based and Continuous Flow Microfluidics." Chapter 7 in Advances in Microfluidics, ed. R Kelly, pp. 155-170.  InTech, Rijeka, Croatia (Local Name: Hrvatska). 
  • Angel TE, UK Aryal, SM Hengel, ES Baker, RT Kelly, EW Robinson, and RD Smith. 2012. "Mass spectrometry-based proteomics: existing capabilities and future directions." Chemical Society Reviews 41(10):3912-3928.  doi:10.1039/C2CS15331A
  • Grate JW, RT Kelly, JD Suter, and NC Anheier, Jr. 2012. "Silicon-on-glass pore network micromodels with oxygen-sensing fluorophore films for chemical imaging and defined spatial structure ." Lab on a Chip 12(22):4796-4801.  doi:10.1039/C2LC40776K


  • Sun X, RT Kelly, K Tang, and RD Smith. 2011. "Membrane-Based Emitter for Coupling Microfluidics with Ultrasensitive Nanoelectrospray Ionization-Mass Spectrometry." Analytical Chemistry 83(4):5797-5803.  doi:10.1021/ac200960h
  • Hess NJ, M Oostrom, MA Celia, M Hilpert, Q Kang, LJ Pyrak-Nolte, TD Scheibe, AM Tartakovsky, CJ Werth, D Wildenschild, C Zhang, SE Bialkowski, TA Ghezzehei, G Tang, F Doster, J Kumar, R Parashar, R Gerlach, H Yoon, GD Redden, T Zhang, H Huang, J Nogues, W Deng, H Resat, KA Rod, DR Baer, RT Kelly, W Um, G Wang, MC Richmond, DR Rector, ML Stewart, HB Jung, and C Plata. 2011. EMSL Pore Scale Modeling Challenge/WorkshopPNNL-21086, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA. 
  • Hossain M, DT Kaleta, EW Robinson, T Liu, R Zhao, JS Page, RT Kelly, RJ Moore, K Tang, DG Camp, II, W Qian, and RD Smith. 2011. "Enhanced Sensitivity for Selected Reaction Monitoring-Mass Spectrometry-based Targeted Proteomics using a Dual-Stage Electrodynamic Ion Funnel Interface ." Molecular & Cellular Proteomics. MCP 10(2):, doi:10.1074/mcp.M000062-MCP201
  • Sun X, RT Kelly, WF Danielson, III, N Agrawal, K Tang, and RD Smith. 2011. "Hydrodynamic injection with pneumatic valving for microchip electrophoresis with total analyte utilization." Electrophoresis 32(13):1610-1618.  doi:10.1002/elps.201000522
  • Tang K, JS Page, I Marginean, RT Kelly, and RD Smith. 2011. "Improving liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry sensitivity using a subambient pressure ionization with nanoelectrospray (SPIN) interface." Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry 22(8):1318-1325.  doi:10.1007/s13361-011-0135-7


  • Sun X, RT Kelly, K Tang, and RD Smith. 2010. "Ultrasensitive Nanoelectrospray Ionization-Mass Spectrometry using Poly(dimethylsiloxane) Microchips with Monolithically Integrated Emitters." Analyst 135(9):2296-2302. 
  • Kelly RT, AV Tolmachev, JS Page, K Tang, and RD Smith. 2010. "The Ion Funnel: Theory, Implementations and Applications." Mass Spectrometry Reviews 29(2):294-312.  doi:10.1002/mas.20232
  • Tang K, JS Page, RT Kelly, and I Marginean. 2010. "Electrospray Ionization in Mass Spectrometry." In Encyclopedia of Spectroscopy and Spectrometry, 2nd Edition, vol. 1, ed. J Lindon, GE Tranter and DW Koppenaal, pp. 467-474.  Elsevier, Amsterdam, Netherlands. 


  • Marginean I, JS Page, RT Kelly, K Tang, and RD Smith. 2009. "Effect of pressure on electrospray characteristics." Applied Physics Letters 95(18):Article Number: 184103 . 
  • Marginean I, RT Kelly, RJ Moore, DC Prior, BL Lamarche, K Tang, and RD Smith. 2009. "Selection of the Optimum Electrospray Voltage for Gradient Elution LC-MS Measurements." Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry 20(4):682-688. 
  • Kelly RT, JS Page, I Marginean, K Tang, and RD Smith. 2009. "Dilution-Free Analysis from Picoliter Droplets by Nano-Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry." Angewandte Chemie International Edition 48(37):6832-6835.  doi:10.1002/anie.200902501
  • Mabrouki RB, RT Kelly, DC Prior, AA Shvartsburg, K Tang, and RD Smith. 2009. "Improving FAIMS Sensitivity using a Planar Geometry with Slit Interfaces." Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry 20(9):1768-1774.  doi:10.1016/j.jasms.2009.05.019
  • Page JS, I Marginean, ES Baker, RT Kelly, K Tang, and RD Smith. 2009. "Biases in Ion Transmission Through an Electrospray Ionization-Mass Spectrometry Capillary Inlet." Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry 20(12):2265-2272.  doi:10.1016/j.jasms.2009.08.018


  • Kelly RT, K Tang, D Irimia, M Toner, and RD Smith. 2008. "Elastomeric Microchip Electrospray Emitter for Stable Cone-Jet Mode Operation in the Nanoflow Regime." Analytical Chemistry 80(10):3824-3831. 
  • Marginean I, RT Kelly, DC Prior, BL Lamarche, K Tang, and RD Smith. 2008. "Analytical Characterization of the Electrospray Ion Source in the Nanoflow Regime." Analytical Chemistry 80(17):6573-6579.  doi:10.1021/ac800683s
  • Page JS, K Tang, RT Kelly, and RD Smith. 2008. "Subambient pressure ionization with nanoelectrospray source and interface for improved sensitivity in mass spectrometry ." Analytical Chemistry Vol. 80(5):1800-1805.  doi:10.1021/ac702354b
  • Page JS, RT Kelly, DG Camp, II, and RD Smith. 2008. "Improving low-level plasma protein mass spectrometry-based detection for candidate biomarker discovery and validation." ICBC Newsletter 3(3):,
  • Page JS, K Tang, RT Kelly, and RD Smith. 2008. "A subambient pressure ionization with nanoelectrospray (SPIN) source and interface for improved sensitivity in mass spectrometry." Analytical Chemistry 80(5):1800-1805.  doi:10.1021/ac702354b
  • Kelly RT, JS Page, I Marginean, K Tang, and RD Smith. 2008. "Nanoelectrospray Emitter Arrays Providing Interemitter Electric Field Uniformity." Analytical Chemistry 80(14):5660-5665.  doi:10.1021/ac800508q
  • Kelly RT, JS Page, R Zhao, W Qian, HM Mottaz, K Tang, and RD Smith. 2008. "Capillary-Based Multi Nanoelectrospray Emitters: Improvements in Ion Transmission Efficiency and Implementation with Capillary Reversed-Phase LC-ESI-MS." Analytical Chemistry 80(1):143-149.  doi:10.1021/ac701647s
  • Livesay EA, K Tang, BK Taylor, MA Buschbach, DF Hopkins, BL Lamarche, R Zhao, Y Shen, DJ Orton, RJ Moore, RT Kelly, HR Udseth, and RD Smith. 2008. "Fully automated four-column capillary LC-MS system for maximizing throughput in proteomic analyses." Analytical Chemistry 80(1):294-302.  doi:10.1021/ac701727r


  • Marginean N, RT Kelly, JS Page, K Tang, and RD Smith. 2007. "Electrospray characteristic curves: in pursuit of improved performance in the nano-flow regime." Analytical Chemistry 79(21):8030-8036.  doi:10.1021/ac070800t
  • Page JS, RT Kelly, K Tang, and RD Smith. 2007. "Ionization and transmission efficiency in an electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry interface." Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry 18(9):1582-1590.  doi:10.1016/j.jasms.2007.05.018
  • Kelly RT, JS Page, K Tang, and RD Smith. 2007. "Array of Chemically Etched Fused Silica Emitters for Improving the Sensitivity and Quantitation of Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry." Analytical Chemistry 79(11):4192-4198.  doi:10.1021/ac062417e
  • Yang F, DG Camp, II, MA Gritsenko, Q Luo, RT Kelly, TRW Clauss, WR Brinkley, RD Smith, and DL Stenoien. 2007. " Identification of a novel mitotic phosphorylation motif associated with protein localization to the mitotic apparatus." Journal of Cell Science 120(22):4060-70.  doi:10.1242/jcs.014795


  • Kelly RT, JS Page, Q Luo, RJ Moore, DJ Orton, K Tang, and RD Smith. 2006. "Chemically Etched Open Tubular and Monolithic Emitters for Nanoelectrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry." Analytical Chemistry 78(22):7796-7801. 

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