Marya Lieberman

Marya Lieberman

Analytical Chemistry in Low Resource Settings


Professor, University of Notre Dame
Associate Professor, University of Notre Dame
Assistant Professor, University of Notre Dame
Postdoctoral Fellow, California Institute of Technology
Ph.D. in Chemistry, University of Washington
B.S. in Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Selected Awards

Partners for Progress Prosperity (P3) Award, ACS Joint Great Lakes/Central Region
Joyce Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
Kaneb Faculty Fellow
Reilly Fellow
NSF Career Award
NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship

Research Interests

Paper Analytical Devices

In the early 2000's, researchers discovered that nearly half of the antimalarial medications in some developing countries were fake. These products caused over 120,000 deaths per year. IR, NMR, and HPLC can easily measure the quality of essential medicines, so why are bad quality products killing people in the developing world? The problem is that these technologies are designed for countries with abundant resources. But expensive instruments, trained operators, and high purity supplies are just unavailable in many places in the world. The development of new technologies that are scalable and implementable in low resource settings is a compelling research problem that can impact people's lives all over the world.

My lab is designing paper analytical devices (PADs) to solve a host of analytical problems in low resource settings. Paper is printed with hydrophobic ink to create millifluidic structures such as solution channels, reagent storage areas, and mixing zones. This enables us to automate operations that would normally be carried out with glassware in a lab setting. Many reactions and assay methods used before the age of spectroscopy can be adapted to the paper platform and done in a field setting rather than a laboratory. Current work focuses on synthetic biology for creating biosensors to embed in the paper and on techniques for trace (ppm, ppb) analysis in paper-based systems.

Paper test cards made in our group have been trialed in Britain, the US, Israel, Tanzania, the Philippines, India, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Malawi, Liberia, and Ghana, and by non-governmental organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières, SIDAI, and MITI Health. Design and prototyping is an integral part of the projects, and researchers in my group travel for field tests in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, or Nepal.

Recent Papers

  • Tighe, M., Beidinger, H., Knaub, C., Sisk, M., Peaslee, G. F., Lieberman, M. "Risky bismuth: Distinguishing between lead contamination sources in soils" 2019 Chemosphere, 234 pp. 297-301. DOI:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.06.077.
  • Smith, M., Lieberman, M., Ashenef, A. "Paper analytic device to detect the presence of four chemotherapy drugs" 2018 Journal of Global Oncology, 2018 (4), DOI:10.1200/JGO.18.00198.
  • Tackman, E. C., Trujillo, M. J., Lockwood, T. E., Merga, G., Lieberman, M., Camden, J. P. "Identification of substandard and falsified antimalarial pharmaceuticals chloroquine, doxycycline, and primaquine using surface-enhanced Raman scattering" 2018 Analytical Methods, 10 (38), pp. 4718-4722. DOI:10.1039/c8ay01413b.
  • Chikowe, I., Bliese, S.L., Lucas, S., Lieberman, M. "Amoxicillin quality and selling practices in urban pharmacies and drug stores of Blantyre, Malawi" 2018 American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 99 (1), pp. 233-238. DOI: 10.4269/ajtmh.18-0003
  • Luther, J.L., Henry De Frahan, V., Lieberman, M. "Paper test card for detection of adulterated milk" 2017 Analytical Methods, 9 (38), pp. 5674-5683. DOI: 10.1039/c7ay01321c
  • Myers, N.M., Leung, I.C., McGee, S.W., Eggleson, K., Lieberman, M. "Green design of a paper test card for urinary iodine analysis" 2017 PLoS ONE, 12 (6), e0179716. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179716

Contact Information

Primary Research Areas

Research Specialties