- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Betzig will deliver his presentation at 4:10 p.m. in the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) Ballroom, as part of the Storer Lectureship in Life Sciences.
The next day (Wednesday, Feb. 22), he will present a scientific lecture on “Imaging Life at High Spatiotemporal Resolution” at 4:10 p.m., in the ARC Ballroom.
Both lectures are free and open to the public.
Betzig, a group leader at the Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Va. since 2005, develops new optical imaging technologies for biology. The campus is part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Born in Ann Arbor, Mich., Betzig, now 57, received his bachelor of science degree in physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, Calif., in 1983 and then went on to study applied and engineering physics at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., earning his master's degree in 1985 and his doctorate in 1988. His doctoral thesis involved the development of near-field optics--developing high resolution optical microscopes that could see past the theoretical limit of .2 micrometers.
Betzig did subsequent work as a principal investigator at AT&T Bell Labs, Murray Hill, N.J., where he further refined the technology. 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.
Tiring of academia, he resigned in 1994 and left the workforce to become a self-described "house husband." In 1996, he accepted a position as vice president of research and development at his father's machine tool company, Ann Arbor Machine Tool Co., where he developed a high speed motion control technology based on what he called “an electrohydraulic hybrid drive with adaptive control algorithms.” However, the technology, called Flexible Adaptive Servohydraulic Technology (FAST), failed commercially, he said.
While unemployed, he and another unemployed colleague from the Bell labs, Harold Hess, used photoactivated fluorescent proteins to bring super-resolution localization microscopy to reality, building the final prototype in the Hess living room. Together they invented the first super-high-resolution Photoactivated Localization Microscopy (PALM) microscope.
For this work, Betzig was named a co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Stefan Hell and William Moerner for breaking through the diffraction barrier of fluorescence microscopy. Betzig was recognized for the ground-breaking role he played in the invention of the PALM microscope, which involves taking individual molecules in a sample and then reconstructing a super resolution image from hundreds of frames.
Campus host is Professor Lin Tian of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, UC Davis School of Medicine, whose research focuses on optical neurophysiology. She may be reached at email@example.com.
From the Nobel Prize website:
"In normal microscopes the wavelength of light sets a limit to the level of detail possible. However this limitation can be circumvented by methods that make use of fluorescence, a phenomenon in which certain substances become luminous after having been exposed to light. Around 2000, Eric Betzig and William E. Moerner helped create a method in which fluorescence in individual molecules is steered by light. An image of very high resolution is achieved by combining images in which different molecules are activated. This makes it possible to track processes occurring inside living cells."