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Phong Ngo

Phong Ngo, Ph.D.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Analytical Chemistry
Ella C. McFadden Science Center 310C


American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

American Academy of the Forensic Sciences

American Board of Criminalistics

American Chemical Society


B.S. in Biology, Sam Houston State University (2009)

B.S. in Chemistry, Sam Houston State University (2010)

M.S. in Chemistry (Bio-Organic), Sam Houston State University (2012)

Ph.D. in Chemistry (Biochemistry), Auburn University (2016)

Research Interest/Scholastic Profile

The Ngo Lab primarily conducts research in the areas of Bioanalytical and Forensic Chemistry. Specifically, we are interested in the advancement of subjective forensic examinations by developing more objective methods using modern instrumentation.

The current method employed for distance determination in firearms analysis is antiquated and depends on subjective visual evaluation of colorimetric tests that respond to inorganic components of gunshot residue (GSR). Thus, we are developing evidence extraction methods, along with chromatographic and spectroscopic methods for the analysis of both organic and inorganic components of GSR.

In the Forensic DNA discipline, Short Tandem Repeat (STR) analysis is the ‘Gold Standard’ for individualization. We are using routine molecular biology methods to reproduce a human STR profile in molecularly cloned bacteria to demonstrate the unreliability of STR analysis in individualization. We are also developing Real-Time PCR methods to distinguish between the identical STR profiles of a human and cloned bacterium.

Additionally, in collaboration with the Pelphrey Lab, we are heterologously expressing dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) enzymes from multiple bacterial species for use in enzyme kinetics and inhibition studies with novel substituted oxadiazole and triazole antibiotic candidates.

Courses Taught
  • CHE-1403 (Nature of Physical Sciences)
  • CHE-1405 (Forensic Science I)
  • CHE-1415 (General Chemistry I)
  • CHE-1416 (General Chemistry II)
  • CHE-3418 (Analytical Chemistry)
  • CHE-4412 (Advanced Instrumental Analysis)

1. Donnan, P.H., Ngo, P.D., and Mansoorabadi, S.O., Constant pH Accelerated Molecular Dynamics Investigation of the pH Regulation Mechanism of Dinoflagellate Luciferase. Biochemistry, 2018. 57(3): p. 295–299

2. Mansoorabadi, S. O., Zheng, K., and Ngo, P. D., F430 Biosynthesis and Insertion. Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry, 2017 p: 1–12.

3. Ngo, P.D. and Mansoorabadi, S.O., Evidence for a Biologically Unprecedented Twisted Intramolecular Charge Transfer Mechanism of Dinoflagellate Bioluminescence. ChemPhotoChem, 2017. 1(9): p. 383-387.

4. Zheng, K., Ngo, P.D., Owens, V.L., Yang, X., and Mansoorabadi, S.O., The biosynthetic pathway of coenzyme F430 in methanogenic and methanotrophic archaea. Science, 2016. 354(6310): p. 339-342.

5. Ngo, P.D., S.O. Mansoorabadi, and P.A. Frey, Serine Protease Catalysis: A Computational Study of Tetrahedral Intermediates and Inhibitory Adducts. J Phys Chem B, 2016. 120(30): p. 7353-9.


1. Uncertainty of Measurement and the TriggerScan™, 2018 Annual Alabama State Association of Forensic Sciences Conference, Miramar Beach, FL, June 2018.
2. A Decade of Gun Crime in Alabama, 2018 Annual Alabama State Association of Forensic Sciences Conference, Miramar Beach, FL, June 2018.
3. Firearm and Tool Mark Unit: Advancing Forensic Firearms Analysis, Alabama State University Annual Research Symposium, Montgomery, AL, March 2018
4. Firearm and Tool Mark Unit Research and Development Section, Alabama State University Department of Forensic Sciences Seminar, Montgomery, AL, October 2017.
5. Firearms and Tool Marks Research and Development, 2017 Annual Alabama State Association of Forensic Sciences Conference, Miramar Beach, FL, June 2017.
6. Advancing Forensic Firearms Analysis with Confocal Microscopy, Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences Directors Meeting, Auburn, AL, November 2016.
7. Identification and characterization of a novel chlorophyll catabolite from the bioluminescent dinoflagellate Pyrocystis fusiformis, 67th Southeast/71st Southwest Joint Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Memphis, TN, November 2015.
8. The mechanism of dinoflagellate bioluminescence: A computational approach to elucidating the structure of the luminophore of dinoflagellate luciferase, 67th Southeast/71st Southwest Joint Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Memphis, TN, November 2015.
9. Dinoflagellate bioluminescence: Elucidation of the biosynthetic pathway of luciferin in Pyrocystis fusiformis, 65th Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Atlanta, GA, November 2013.
10. Illuminating the Sea and Science, Auburn University College of Science and Mathematics Interdisciplinary Colloquium, Auburn, AL, February 2013.
11. Dinoflagellate bioluminescence: The Cloning, Heterologous Expression, and Purification of the Luciferin-Luciferase Bioluminescence System of Pyrocystis fusiformis, Southwest Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Austin, TX November, 2011.
12. Dinoflagellate bioluminescence: cloning and sequence analysis of luciferase from Pyrocystis fusiformis, Rice University Research Symposium, Houston, TX, October 2011.
13. Dinoflagellate bioluminescence: Cloning of luciferase genes and purification of luciferase-containing organelles of Pyrocystis fusiformis, Texas Academy of Sciences Meeting, Austin, TX, March 2011.
14. Dinoflagellate Bioluminescence: Cloning of luciferase genes and purification of luciferin containing organelles from Pyrocystis fusiformis, Sam Houston State University Research Symposium, Huntsville, TX, April 2010.
15. Cloning of Pyrocystis fusiformis genes for the purposes of plasmid insertion and heterologous expression in Escherichia coli, Texas Academy of Sciences Meeting, Stephenville, TX, March 2010.