Nobel Prize winner, world-class biophysicist to join UC Berkeley faculty

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This coming summer, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Eric Betzig will be joining the UC Berkeley faculty along with acclaimed biophysicist Na Ji.

Betzig was awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work in surpassing the limitations of the light microscope. Ji is an alumna of UC Berkeley who has made significant advances in the field of sharpening microscopic images.

Campus professor of biochemistry, biophysics and structural biology James Hurley said he was excited to see the successful recruitment of Betzig and Ji.

“The word transformative is over-used, but the Na Ji and Eric Betzig recruitment really will be transformative for biology on campus,” Hurley said in an email.

Betzig will be joining the faculty as a professor in the departments of molecular and cell biology and physics, while Ji will be joining as an associate professor in the same departments. Both of them have also been appointed as faculty scientists in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division of the biosciences area at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

Neither Betzig nor Ji could be reached for comment.

Nobel Laureate and UC Berkeley professor of biology Randy Schekman said he expects Betzig and Ji’s presence on campus to have a positive impact on UC Berkeley as a whole. He added that Ji’s prior relationship to campus drew her back to her alma mater.

Campus chair of the department of physics Steven Boggs said he is also excited for Ji and Betzig coming to campus because the department has been trying to grow the biophysics program for the past decade.

“This is exactly the type of interdisciplinary research we’re really looking forward to,” Boggs said. “They add a very strong component … which really allows us to make connections with physics across the campus.”


Contact Edward Booth at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Edward_E_Booth.