Eric Betzig is a Group Leader at the Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, VA. His thesis at Cornell University (Ph.D. ?88) and subsequent work as a PI at AT&T Bell Labs involved the development of near-field optics ? an early form of super-resolution microscopy. Tiring of academia, he resigned, and in 1995 published the concept that would become localization microscopy while unemployed. He eventually served as VP of R&D at Ann Arbor Machine Tool Company, but resigned in 2002 when the technologies he developed there failed commercially. In 2005, he and his fellow Bell Labs expatriate, Harald Hess, used photoactivated fluorescent proteins to bring super-resolution localization microscopy to reality, building the first prototype in the living room of Dr. Hess. For this work, he is a co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Today, he continues to work in super-resolution, as well as with non-diffracting light sheets for the 4D dynamic imaging of living systems and adaptive optics to recover optimal imaging performance deep within aberrating tissues.

Research Interests

As our understanding of biological systems as increased, so has the complexity of our questions and the need for more advanced optical tools to answer them. Eric Betzig's lab develops such tools, including super resolution microscopy for imaging cells down to near-molecular resolution, plane illumination microscopy using non-diffracting beams for noninvasive imaging of three-dimensional dynamics within live cells and embryos, and adaptive optics to recover optimal images from within optically heterogeneous specimens. The goal is not technology for its own sake, but rather to provide tools, and the access to tools, necessary to help cell, developmental, and neurobiologists answer fundamental questions about living systems.

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Primary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology

Secondary Section

Section 33: Applied Physical Sciences