Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Dr Eric Betzig Speaks on
Imaging Life at High Spatiotemporal Resolution
at HKUST 25th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers Series
23-03-2016

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) hosted the 25th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers Series today, featuring Dr Eric Betzig, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 2014.  The event was well received by students, faculty members and guests from HKUST.

In his talk titled “Imaging Life at High Spatiotemporal Resolution”, Dr Betzig told the audience the latest development of microscopy, he said, “As our understanding of biological systems has increased, so have the complexity of our questions and the need for more advanced optical tools to answer them.” He added that there was a hundred-fold gap between the resolution of conventional optical microscopy and the scale at which molecules self-assemble to form sub-cellular structures.

Dr Betzig shared his insights on the challenges facing microscopy such as the actinic glare of microscopes which can adversely influence the specimens, and the heterogeneity of living tissue that can impede the ability to image at high resolution.  He also discussed three areas that address these challenges: super-resolution microscopy for imaging specific proteins within cells at various lengths scales down to near-molecular resolution; plane illumination microscopy using non-diffracting optical lattices for noninvasive imaging of three-dimensional dynamics within live cells and embryos; and adaptive optics to recover optimal images from within large, optically heterogeneous specimens such as zebrafish and cortex of living mice.

Dr Betzig obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from California Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in Applied Physics at Cornell University.  In 1988, he became a PI at AT&T Bell Labs where he extended his thesis work on near-field optical microscopy, the first method to break the diffraction barrier.  By 1993, he held a world record for data storage density, and recorded the first super-resolution fluorescence images of cells as well as the first single molecule images at ambient temperature.  He later quit science and worked for his father’s machine tool company. In 2003, he looked for new directions and the search eventually culminated in his co-invention of the super-resolution technique PALM with his best friend, Bell Labs colleague Mr Harald Hess.  For this work, he is co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.  Since 2005, he has been a Group Leader at the Janelia Research Campus, developing new optical imaging technologies for biology.

Distinguished speakers including Nobel Prize winners, corporate leaders, entrepreneurs and key financial policy shapers were invited to speak at the HKUST 25th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers Series. Prof Steven Chu, Nobel Laureate in Physics in 1997 and former US Secretary of Energy, was invited as the inaugural speaker of the series. Other speakers include Mr Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Schneider Electric; Mr Wang Shi, Founder and Chairman of China Vanke; Prof Dan Shechtman, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 2011; Prof Zhong Lin Wang, Hightower Chair in Materials Science and Engineering and Regents’ Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology; Dr Raghuram G Rajan, Governor of the Reserve Bank of India; Mr Pinky Lai, Founder and Design Director of Brainchild Design Group and Brainchild Design Consultants; Dr Qi Lu, Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Applications and Services Group; Prof Andrew Chi-Chih Yao, Turing Prize winner; and Prof Alan J Heeger, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 2000.  More talks are also being lined up.

Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Dr Eric Betzig talks about “Imaging Life at High Spatiotemporal Resolution” at HKUST 25th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers Series.

Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Dr Eric Betzig talks about “Imaging Life at High Spatiotemporal Resolution” at HKUST 25th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers Series.

A discussion between Dr Eric Betzig and Vice-President for Research and Graduate Studies Prof Joseph Lee (left).

A discussion between Dr Eric Betzig and Vice-President for Research and Graduate Studies Prof Joseph Lee (left).

 

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Sherry No
Tel: 2358 6317
Email: sherryno@ust.hk
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