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Adrian Ponce

Photo of Adrian Ponce


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 183-301

Pasadena, CA 91109






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Member of:


Manager, Higher Education Office


Adrian Ponce is the Manager of the Higher Education Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He is also a visiting faculty member of the chemistry and bioengineering options at Caltech. He received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Caltech for his studies in the field of electron transfer in proteins and water..


  • B.S., Chemistry, Michigan State University (1993)
  • Ph.D., Chemistry, California Institute of Technology (1999)

Professional Experience

  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory Management (2001-present)
    • Manager, Higher Education Office (2011-Present)
    • Deputy Manager, Planetary Science (2007-2011)
    • Technical Group Supervisor, Life Detection and Sample Handling Technologies Group (2005-2007)
    • Senior Member Technical Staff (2001-2005)
  • California Institute of Technology
    • Visiting Associate in Chemistry & Bioengineering (3/01-Present)
    • Postdoctoral Scholar at JPL/NASA (2/00-2/01)
  • The University of Edinburgh, Postdoctoral Scholar (11/99-2/00)
  • California Institute of Technology, Graduate Research Assistant (8/94-11/99)
  • Michigan State University, Undergraduate Research Assistant (5/90-5/94)
  • The University of Chicago, Undergraduate Research Assistant (6/93-9/93)

Research Interests

  • Life in Extreme Environments
  • Molecular Self-Assembly
  • Chemical and Biological Sensors

Selected Awards

  • JPL Lew Allen Award for Outstanding Young Researcher (2006)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award, Chem. P-Card Program Development Team (Team Leader)
  • NASA Space Act Award for ASD and related technologies
  • Eng. And Physical Sciences Research Council Fellowship
  • California Institute of Technology Graduate Fellowship
  • DOW Travel Fellowship
  • AMOCO Research Fellowship

Selected Publications


  1. Validation of a Clostridium Endospore Viability Assay and Analysis of Greenland Ices and Atacama Desert Soils, Yang, WW; Ponce, A, Appl. Env. Microbio., 2011, 77(7), 2352-2358.
  2. Terbium-macrocycle complexes as chemical sensors: Detection of an aspirin metabolite in urine using a salicylurate-specific receptor site. Esplin, T.L.; Cable, M.L.; Gray, H.B.; Ponce, A., Inorg. Chem., 2010, 49 (10), 4643-4647
  3. Detection of bacterial spores with lanthanide-macrocycle binary complexes. Cable, M.L.; Kirby, J.P.; Levine, D.J.; Manary, M.J.; Gray, H.B.; Ponce, A., J. American Chemical Society, 2009, 131(27), 9562-9570.
  4. Rapid endospore viability assay for Clostridium sporogenes spores. Yang, WW.; Ponce, A., International Journal of Food Microbiology, 2009, 133, 213-216.
  5. Production and characterization of pure spore suspensions of Clostridium sporogenes. Yang, WW.; Crow-Willard, E.; Ponce, A., Applied Microbiology, 2009, 106(1), 27-33.
  6. *Principles for engineering molecular receptor sites. Contakes, S.M.; Cable, M.L.; Kirby, J.P.; Ponce, A., In Bottom-up Nanofabrication: Supramolecules, Self-Assemblies, and Organized Films, Eds. Ariga, K.; Nalwa, H.S., American Scientific Publishers, 2009.
  7. *Detection and viability assessment of endospore-forming pathogens. Ponce, A.; Connon, S.A.; Yung, P.T. In Principles of Bacterial Detection: Biosensors, Recognition Receptors and Microsystems, Eds. Zourob, M.; Elwary, S.; Turner, A., Springer Science Business Media, 2008.
  8. Fast sterility assessment by germinable-endospore biodosimetry. Yung, P.T.; Ponce, A., Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2008, 74(24), 7669-7674.
  9. Spectroscopic Analysis of Ligand Binding to Lanthanide−Macrocycle Platforms, Kirby JP, Cable ML, Levine DJ, Gray HB, and Ponce A., Analytical Chemistry, Web Release Date: 26-Jun-2008.
  10. An Automated Front-end Monitor for Anthrax Surveillance Systems based on the Rapid Detection of Airborne Endospores, Yung PT, Lester ED, Bearman G, Ponce A, Biotech. Bioeng., 2007, 98(4), 864-871.
  11. Quantification of Viable Endospores from a Greenland Ice Core, Yung PT, Shafaat HS, Connon SA and Ponce A, FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 2007, 59 (2), 300-306.
  12. A Rapid Single Spore Enumeration Assay Yung PT, Kempf MJ, Ponce A; IEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings, Big Sky, MT, Mar 2006.
  13. Bacterial Spore Detection by [Tb3+(macrocycle)(dipicolinate)] Luminescence Cable ML, Kirby JP, Sorasaenee K, Gray HB, Ponce A, Journal of the American Chemical Society, (accepted, 2006).
  14. A Rapid Endospore Viability AssayApplications for Monitoring UV-Inactivation and Determination of Viable Fractions in Arctic Ice Cores, Shafaat HS, Ponce A, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, (accepted, 2006).
  15. Microflora of Extreme Arid Soils from the Atacama Desert, Chile Lester, ED; Satomi M; Ponce, A.; Soil Biology and Biochemsitry (submitted, 2006).
  16. Towards an In Situ Endospore Detection Instrument Shafaat, HS; Cable, ML; Ikeda, MK; Kirby JP; Pelletier, CC; Ponce, A; IEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings, Big Sky, MT, March 2005, 660 669
  17. A Second Generation Anthrax Smoke Detector Lester, ED; Bearman, G., Ponce, A., IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology: Special Biodefense Issue, 2004, 23 (1), 130-135.
  18. An Anthrax Smoke Detector: Online Detection of Aerosolized Bacterial Spores Lester, ED; Ponce, A., IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology: Special Biodefense Issue, 2002, 21 (5), 38-42.
  19. Online Detection of Trace H2S(g): UV Absorption Spectroscopy of Gas Phase Cu(COD)(HFAC) Sulfidation Product (HFAC(g)) Ponce, A.; Pikramenou, Z.; Winnpenny, R; Davidson, M. 2006 (in preparation for Anal. Chem.).
  20. Electron Tunneling in Water: Oxidative Quenching of Electronically Excited Ru(tpy)22+ (tpy = 2,2':6,2' '-terpyridine) by Ferric Ions in Aqueous Glasses at 77 K Ponce, A.; Winkler, J.R.; Gray, H.B., J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2000, 122, 8187-8191.
  21. Electron Transfer in Ruthenium Modified High Potential Iron-Sulfur Protein Ponce, A.; Di Bilio, A.J.; Winkler, J.R.; Gray, H.B.; Babini, E.; Bertini, I.; Borsari, M.; Capozzi, F.; Luchinat, C. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2000, 122, 4532-4533.
  22. Electron Transfer in Ruthenium-Modified High-Potential Iron Sulfur Proteins Ponce, A.; Di Bilio, A.J.; Winkler, J.R.; Gray, H.B.; Babini, E.; Bertini, I.; Borsari, M.; Capozzi, F.; Luchinat, C., J. Inorg. Biochem., 1999, 74, 266.
  23. pH Dependent Excited-State Dynamics of [Ru(bpy)3]2+ Modified Amino Acids Geiser, B,; Ponce, A.; Alsfasser, R. Inorg. Chem., 1999, 38, 2030-2037.
  24. Electron Transfer in Strongly Coupled Ruthenium Dimers Ponce, A.; Bachrach, M.; Farmer, P.J.; Winkler, J.R. Inorg. Chim. Acta (Special Issue), 1996, 243, 135-140.
  25. Substrate Induced Phosphorescence from Cyclodextrin/Lumophore Host-Guest Complexes Hartman, W.; Gray, M.; Ponce, A.; Wong, P.A.; Nocera D.G. Inorg. Chim. Acta (Special Issue), 1996, 243, 239-248.
  26. Hydroxylamine, Hydrazine, and Diazene as Unidentate Ligands in Osmium and Ruthenium Complexes Cheng, T.Y.; Ponce, A.; Rheingold, A.L.; Hillhouse, G.L. Angew. Chem., 1994, 33, 657-659.
  27. Luminescence from Supramolecules Triggered by the Molecular Recognition of Substrates Pikramenou, Z.; Yu, J.A.; Lessard, R.B.; Ponce, A.; Wong, P. A.; Nocera, D.G. Coord. Chem. Rev., 1994, 132, 181-194.
  28. Intense Phosphorescence Triggered by Alcohols upon Formation of a Cyclodextrin Ternary Complex Ponce, A.; Wong, P.A.; Way, J.J.; Nocera, D.G.J. Phys. Chem. 1993, 97, 11137-1114.
  29. Method of Bacterial Endospore Quantification Using Lanthanide-DPA Luminescence, USSN 10/306,331, Priority Date: 11/30/2001, Filing Date: 11/27/2002.
  30. Methods and Apparatus for Assays of Bacterial Spores, USSN 10/355,462, Priority Date: 2/01/2002 Filing Date: 1/31/2003.
  31. Method and Apparatus for Detecting and Quantifying Bacterial Spores on a Surface, USSN 10/987,202, Priority Date: 11/13/2003, Filing Date: 11/12/2004.
  32. Apparatus and Method For Automated Monitoring of Airborne Bacterial Spores, US Provisional No. 60/671,918 Priority Date: 4/15/2005 and 2/01/2002, Filing Date: 4/14/2006.
  33. Airborne Bacterial Spores As An Indicator of Total Biomass, US Provisional No. 60/691,530, Priority Date: June 17, 2005


The Ponce Group