Kathryn Radabaugh Nightingale

Theo Pilkington Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering

The goals of our laboratory are to investigate and improve ultrasonic imaging methods for clinically-relevant problems. We do this through theoretical, experimental, and simulation methods. The main focus of our recent work is the development of novel, acoustic radiation force impulse (ARFI)-based elasticity imaging methods to generate images of the mechanical properties of tissue, involving interdisciplinary research in ultrasonics and tissue biomechanics. We have access to the engineering interfaces of several commercial ultrasound systems which allows us to design, rapidly prototype, and experimentally demonstrate custom sequences to explore novel beamforming and imaging concepts. We employ FEM modeling methods to simulate the behavior of tissues during mechanical excitation, and we have integrated these tools with ultrasonic imaging modeling tools to simulate the ARFI imaging process. We maintain strong collaborations with the Duke University Medical Center where we work to translate our technologies to clinical practice. The ARFI imaging technologies we have developed have served as the basis for commercial imaging technologies that are now being used in clinics throughout the world.  We are also studying the risks and benefits of increasing acoustic output energy for specific clinical imaging scenarios, with the goal of improving ultrasonic image quality in the difficult-to-image patient.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Theo Pilkington Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
  • Bass Fellow

Contact Information


  • B.S. Duke University, 1989
  • Ph.D. Duke University, 1997

Research Interests

Ultrasonic and elasticity imaging, specifically nonlinear propagation, acoustic streaming and radiation force; the intentional generation of these phenomena for the purpose of tissue characterization; finite element modeling of normal and diseased tissue when exposed to ultrasound, and performing both phantom and clinical experiments investigating these phenomena. Other areas of interest include prostate imaging, abdominal imaging, image-guided therapies, and the bioeffects of ultrasound.

Courses Taught

  • BME 354L: Introduction to Medical Instrumentation
  • BME 493-1: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 494: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 542: Principles of Ultrasound Imaging (GE, IM)
  • BME 702S: BME Graduate Seminars
  • BME 728S: Teaching Seminar for New Teaching Assistants
  • BME 729S: Teaching Seminar for Repeat Teaching Assistants
  • BME 791: Graduate Independent Study
  • BME 845: Elasticity Imaging

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Chan, Derek Y., Daniel Cody Morris, Thomas J. Polascik, Mark L. Palmeri, and Kathryn R. Nightingale. “Combined ARFI and Shear Wave Imaging of Prostate Cancer: Optimizing Beam Sequences and Parameter Reconstruction Approaches.” Ultrason Imaging 45, no. 4 (July 2023): 175–86. https://doi.org/10.1177/01617346231171895.
  • Paley, Courtney Trutna, Anna E. Knight, Felix Q. Jin, Spencer R. Moavenzadeh, Laura S. Pietrosimone, Lisa D. Hobson-Webb, Ned C. Rouze, Mark L. Palmeri, and Kathryn R. Nightingale. “Repeatability of Rotational 3-D Shear Wave Elasticity Imaging Measurements in Skeletal Muscle.” Ultrasound Med Biol 49, no. 3 (March 2023): 750–60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2022.10.012.
  • Zhang, Bofeng, Nick Bottenus, Felix Q. Jin, and Kathryn R. Nightingale. “Quantifying the Impact of Imaging Through Body Walls on Shear Wave Elasticity Measurements.” Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology 49, no. 3 (March 2023): 734–49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2022.10.005.
  • Knight, Anna E., Felix Q. Jin, Courtney Trutna Paley, Ned C. Rouze, Spencer R. Moavenzadeh, Laura S. Pietrosimone, Mark L. Palmeri, and Kathryn R. Nightingale. “Parametric Analysis of SV Mode Shear Waves in Transversely Isotropic Materials Using Ultrasonic Rotational 3-D SWEI.” IEEE Trans Ultrason Ferroelectr Freq Control 69, no. 11 (November 2022): 3145–54. https://doi.org/10.1109/TUFFC.2022.3203935.
  • McCune, Erica P., David Q. Le, Peter Lindholm, Kathryn R. Nightingale, Paul A. Dayton, and Virginie Papadopoulou. “Perspective on ultrasound bioeffects and possible implications for continuous post-dive monitoring safety.” Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine 52, no. 2 (June 2022): 136–48. https://doi.org/10.28920/dhm52.2.136-148.