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Credit: MattLphotography/shutterstock.com

Christina Bergonzo, Computational Chemist, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

We are all well aware of COVID-19, and by now most people have seen pictures of the spike protein that forms the “handshake” interaction between virus and host cells and is the basis of two new vaccines. The COVID-19 virus is made of RNA, which manufactures the spike protein and all the other proteins that allow it to survive. What if scientists could target the RNA in the virus before that manufacturing process even begins? That’s where my work centers, around COVID-19’s viral RNA.

Before the proteins that infect…


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Working behind an L-shield with a syringe containing a radiopharmaceutical. Credit: M. Mille

Denis Bergeron, Research Chemist, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

From the earliest days of radioactivity research, radiation and cancer therapy have gone together like peas and carrots. But Zach Levine covered peas and carrots in an earlier blog post, so I will focus on radiation and cancer therapy.

Shortly after Wilhelm Röntgen discovered the high-energy electromagnetic radiation he called “X-rays” in 1895, their cell-killing power was recognized and harnessed to treat cancer. Similarly, within a few years of the Curies’ discovery of the radioactive element radium, doctors were deploying the energetic particles it emitted to treat skin cancers…


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The Boulder Cryogenic Quantum Testbed. Credit: H. Wang/NIST

Corey Rae McRae, Director, Boulder Cryogenic Quantum Testbed

I had been studying superconducting quantum computing for seven years before I was stumped by this seemingly simple question: How do I know if my qubit is better than your qubit?

Quantum computers could ultimately unlock the capability to solve hard problems in chemistry, cryptography and quantum mechanics. Researchers around the world are pursuing numerous designs for quantum computers, including qubits, or quantum bits, that serve as the basic building block of these computers. Google and IBM, among others, create qubits using superconducting materials, which have special properties, including the ability to…


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Credit: N. Hanacek/NIST/Virginia Tech

Across the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), internships are a very important experience for students and staff members alike. But for most of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic closed the campus to most NIST staff members and prevented traditional internships on campus from happening. This challenging situation inspired some innovative solutions and experiences. Taking Measure spoke to remote intern Shelby Platner and her mentor, NIST materials researcher Zachary Trautt. From late May to early August, Platner conducted her internship from Ijamsville, Maryland, with Trautt, who worked from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Our interview has been edited slightly for clarity.

Shelby, tell us about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you go to school? What’s your major? What are your career plans?


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B. Hayes/NIST

Brandi Toliver, Academic Program Manager, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) designed the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program to inspire undergraduate students to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) through a unique research experience that supports our mission. Since 1993, the SURF program has hosted more than 3,000 undergraduate students from across the nation at NIST’s laboratories in Boulder, Colorado; Gaithersburg, Maryland; and Charleston, South Carolina. …


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Credit: B. Hayes/NIST

Advances in cell and gene therapies are revolutionizing healthcare by providing curative treatments for previously untreatable diseases. To help develop standards and measurements to support the discovery and manufacture of these groundbreaking therapies, NIST is launching the Flow Cytometry Standards Consortium. Beginning with a workshop the afternoons of Feb. 16 and 17, the consortium will convene stakeholders in the health care and biotechnology communities to solve common measurement problems related to this technology. We sat down with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) chemist Paul DeRose to discuss the consortium in more detail.

What is flow cytometry, and what is it used for?

Flow cytometry is an incredibly powerful…


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NIST NRC postdoctoral researcher Michelle Bailey making adjustments on an optical bench. Credit: M. Bailey/NIST

Riley Wilson, Writer/Editor, National Institute of Standards and Technology

As the Feb. 1, 2021 deadline approaches for early-career researchers to join the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) National Research Council (NRC) Postdoctoral Research Associateships Program, we’re looking back at the captivating stories of some of our postdocs in the program. These were originally published on NIST social media channels in September 2020 as part of National Postdoc Appreciation Week.

Erin Legacki

South Carolina to Maine, round trip — NIST postdoctoral researcher Erin Legacki recently made the trek north to study North American Atlantic salmon. …


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Credit: Andrey Suslov/shutterstock.com

Meltem Sonmez Turan, Mathematician, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Logic puzzles, brain teasers and mathematical riddles fascinated me throughout my childhood, so I feel lucky that I ended up with a career that never lacks for mathematical challenges. Part of my job at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) involves reviewing the cryptographic algorithms developed to protect our information and identifying possible weaknesses that make them less secure. Searching for these weaknesses reminds me of the process of solving hard mathematical riddles. Although it can sometimes be frustrating, I find it very rewarding.

Over the last…


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N. Hanacek/NIST

Shaneé Dawkins, Computer Scientist, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

What do first responders do? It’s an easy question, and I used to think I knew the answer. Firefighters put out fires; police officers enforce the law; EMS workers treat injuries; 911 operators answer 911 calls and dispatch first responders to the scene. Simple, right?

I am a computer scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducting research focused on human-centered computing and human-computer interaction. I have worked in the field for over a decade, researching ways to help people with their real-world technology problems. My…


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Credit: N. Hanacek/NIST

Mark Esser, Writer/Editor, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

2020 has been a challenging year, but we at NIST have worked as hard as we can to fulfill our mission for the American people: to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, our researchers have continued to publish their work, to (virtually) meet, and, to the extent that is safely possible, to continue their experiments on NIST’s campuses in Gaithersburg, Maryland; Boulder, Colorado; and Charleston…

National Institute of Standards and Technology

NIST promotes U.S. innovation by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

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