Jacob T. Shelley

Alan Paul Schulz Career Development Professor Of Chemistry, Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Jacob Shelley was born in Albuquerque, NM in 1984.  He earned his B.S. in Chemistry from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ in 2005.  During his undergraduate career, he was a summer intern at Los Alamos National Laboratory and worked on a number of projects including metallomics with X-ray fluorescence detection, developing nanoporous silica substrates for matrix-free MALDI, and method development for detecting a wide range of radioactive materials.  He completed his Ph. D. at Indiana University under Prof. Gary Hieftje in 2011 where his research focus was on the development, characterization, and application of novel plasma ionization sources for molecular mass spectrometry.  Jake started his postdoctoral research with Prof. R. Graham Cooks at Purdue University 2011 where he developed portable mass spectrometers capable of in situ analyses.  In 2012, Jake was awarded a prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Post-Doctoral Fellowship to work with Prof. Carsten Engelhard and Prof. Uwe Karst at the University of Münster in Germany.  In 2014, Jake started his independent academic career as an Assistant Professor at Kent State University.  In August, 2016, Jake became the Alan Paul Schulz Career Development Professor of Chemistry at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.  Prof. Shelley has authored 35 published journal articles, 3 United States patents/patent applications, a book chapter, and has given more than 30 invited presentations at national and international venues.

Prof. Shelley’s current research interests lie in the development of new hardware and software tools for mass spectrometry, which enable rapid and sensitive detection and identification of analytes in complex matrices.  Specifically, his group approaches these tasks through development, fundamental characterization, and application of instrumentation.  Currently, Prof. Shelley’s group is aiming to expand the capabilities of ambient mass spectrometry through added dimensionality of analysis without compromising the speed of the analysis.  The goal is to develop an ionization source, which operates at atmospheric pressure that can provide molecular, structural, and atomic information of species present on a sample surface. Overall, this research addresses a major focus of modern analytical chemistry – rapid, in situ detection of relevant compounds without the need for sample modification or a priori information of sample constituents.  Such methods of analysis are needed in a wide range of areas including homeland security, drug development and production, chemical synthesis, and environmental analyses.


B.S., Northern Arizona University, 2005

Ph.D., Indiana University, 2011

Postdoctoral Researcher, Purdue University, 2011-2012

Alexander von Humboldt Post-doctoral Fellow, University of Münster, 2012-2014



Research Focus
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Chemical Instrumentation
  • Glow Discharges and Analytical Plasmas
  • Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
  • Astrobiology
  • Physical and Inorganic Chemistry
Select Works
  • Schwartz, A. J.; Shelley, J. T.; Walton, C. L.; Williams, K. L.; Hieftje, G. M., Atmospheric-Pressure Ionization and Fragmentation of Peptides by Solution-Cathode Glow Discharge. Chem. Sci. 2016, Advance Article, DOI: 10.1039/C6SC02032A.
  • Badal, S. P.; Michalak, S. D.; Chan, G. C.-Y.; Shelley, J. T., Tunable Ionization Modes of a Flowing Atmospheric-Pressure Afterglow Ambient Ionization Source. Anal. Chem. 2016, 88, (7), 3494-3503.
  • Venter, A.R.; Douglass, K.A.; Shelley, J.T.; Hasman, G.; Honarvar, E., Mechanisms of Real-Time, Proximal Sample Processing during Ambient Ionization Mass Spectrometry. Anal. Chem. 2014, 86, (1), 233-249.
  • Shelley, J. T.; Stindt, A.; Riedel, J.; Engelhard, C., Time-resolved mass-spectral characterization of ion formation from a low-frequency, low-temperature plasma probe ambient ionization source. J. Anal. At. Spectrom. 2014, 29, 359-366.
  • Wiley, J. S.; Shelley, J. T.; Cooks, R. G., Handheld Low-Temperature Plasma Probe for Portable “Point-and-Shoot” Ambient Mass Spectrometry. Editor’s Highlight. Anal. Chem. 2013, 85, (14), 6545-6552.
  • Shelley, J. T.; Hieftje, G. M., Ambient Mass Spectrometry: Approaching the Chemical Analysis of Things As They Are. J. Anal. At. Spectrom. 2011, 26, (11), 2153-2159.
  • Shelley, J. T.; Wiley, J. S; Hieftje, G. M., Ultrasensitive Ambient Mass Spectrometric Analyses a Pin-to-Capillary Flowing Atmospheric-Pressure Afterglow Source. Anal. Chem. 2011, 83, (14), 5741-5748.
  • Chan, G. C. Y.; Shelley, J. T.; Wiley, J. S.; Jackson, A. U.; Engelhard, C.; Cooks, R. G.; Hieftje, G. M., Elucidation of Reaction Mechanisms Responsible for Afterglow Formation and Analyte Ionization in the Low-Temperature Plasma Probe Ambient Ionization Source. Anal. Chem. 2011, 83, (10), 3675-3686.