Eric Betzig

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

2014 Nobel Laureate

2019 Honoree for Historic Scientific Achievement

2019 CME STEM Leadership Award Honoree for Historic Scientific Achievement.

At the ACS 2019 Spring National Meeting in Orlando, Florida, Dr. Eric Betzig talked about Microscopic explorations of inner space: The secret lives of cells.
He was born in Ann Arbor Michigan and received a B.S. in physics at the California Institute of Technology. His Ph.D. thesis at Cornell University and subsequent work at AT&T Bell Labs involved the development of near-field optics – an early method designed to break the so-called “diffraction barrier” that sets a limit to the level of detail that can be seen in an optical microscope. He left academia to work for his father’s machine tool company, where he developed a motion control technology that could not be commercialized. Looking to return to science, he and his friend Harald Hess heard of a way to turn individual fluorescent molecules on at will, and realized that this would enable a new way of breaking the diffraction barrier.
They built their initial prototype in Harald’s living room, and a decade later this work led Dr. Betzig to share the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner for the development of super-resolution microscopy. Today, Dr. Betzig runs a lab at the Janelia Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where he continues to develop imaging tools to help biologists. He also joined UC Berkeley as a professor of both physics and molecular and cell biology.
In recognition of Dr. Betzig’s extraordinary accomplishment, the CME Group of ACS NY Section makes him an Honorary member of CME and proudly presents the 2019 Leadership Award for Historic Scientific Achievement.