Title: Imaging cellular structure and dynamics from molecules to organisms
Eric Betzig is a physicist who has worked to develop the field of fluorescence microscopy and photoactivated localization microscopy. In 2014, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for “the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy” along with Stefan Hell and William E. Moerner.
Betzig studied physics at the California Institute of Technology before going on to obtain a PhD at Cornell University in engineering physics. His thesis involved the development of near-field optics – the first method to break the diffraction barrier in light microscopy. On becoming a principal investigator at AT&T Bell Labs in New Jersey, Betzig further refined this technology and explored many applications, including high-density data storage, semiconductor spectroscopy, and superresolution fluorescence imaging of cells. In 1993, he was the first to image single fluorescent molecules under ambient conditions, and determine their positions to better than 1/40 of the wavelength of light.
After some time outside academia, Betzig returned in 2006 when he joined the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm Research Campus as a group leader. Here, his lab worked on developing super high-resolution fluorescence microscopy techniques, using this technique to study the division of cells in human embryos.
In 2017, Betzig joined the faculty of University of California, Berkeley, with a joint appointment at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.