Stanford professor awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry

William Moerner shares prize with two other recipients

Two Americans and one German won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry on Wednesday, including a professor from Stanford University, according to a Nobel Prize organization press release.

William E. Moerner, a professor of chemistry at the university, shares the coveted award with Eric Betzig of Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia, and Stefan W. Hell, of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany, for the development of "super-resolved fluorescence microscopy," according to the release. Their groundbreaking work has allowed scientists to peer inside the pathways of individual molecules in living cells in order to make measurements of individual molecules and how they interact.

Moerner, who was in Brazil when his wife called and told him the news, said he is "incredibly excited and thrilled."

"Of course your heart races and you say, 'Can this be? Can this be?'" Moerner told Adam Smith, chief scientific officer at Nobel Media, over the phone. "I'm incredibly happy about the recognition of this field ... and of the science of many places around the world that has contributed to the effort."

Moerner and Betzig -- working separately -- laid the foundation for a second method of study called single-molecule microscopy.

"The method relies upon the possibility to turn the fluorescence of individual molecules on and off. Scientists image the same area multiple times, letting just a few interspersed molecules glow each time. Superimposing these images yields a dense super-image resolved at the nanolevel," the release stated.

This is the third year in a row a Stanford University researcher has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Listen to William Moerner's reaction to winning the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

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Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 8, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

Congratulations to Professor Moerner!

Like this comment
Posted by sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 8, 2014 at 5:45 pm


What an honor!

Like this comment
Posted by Yay!
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 8, 2014 at 7:16 pm

That sound is those of us in the community cheering your success, along with the gnashing of teeth of your colleagues at Cal who, for yet another year, have been passed over for the chance at a designated parking space...

Looking forward to learning more about your work as it is celebrated.

Like this comment
Posted by Yay not Boo
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2014 at 10:34 pm

It would seem that this is a time to put petty college rivalries and childish bickering behind you and appreciate the contributions of brilliant, dedicated scientists to society. Prof. Moerner himself acknowledged as much when he referred to "the science of many places around the world that has contributed to the effort."

One day, you may well owe your life to research at Cal, or for that matter, in Tokyo. So consider appreciating all the hard work, recognized or otherwise.

In short, grow up.

1 person likes this
Posted by Yay!
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 9, 2014 at 12:11 am

@ Yay not Boo,

As someone who went to Berkeley and recall how difficult parking was and how coveted the parking spots were -- and have even heard other Nobel Laureates mention the parking spot as a highlight of winning the prize -- I was both saying congratulations and making a little light humor, not dismissing anyone. I am neither in the field, nor was I thinking of any rivalries.

I believe the main thrust of my comment was the looking forward to learning more about his work as it is celebrated. It's one of my favorite things about Nobel Prize season, the chance to learn about some of the greatest achievements of mankind, interpreted by science writers because of the prizes. I look forward especially to the interviews on such shows as Science Friday.

You, however, might want to examine yourself for why you read all kinds of nastiness into a little levity and chose to jump down my throat like that. Grow up, indeed.

Sincere congratulations to the professor on his great achievement.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 9, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

I am with ya, Yay! The horrors of Cal parking are infamous, and not to be easily forgotten. The construction at Stanford has made parking weird, and driving even scarier than before. Now one less obstacle he has in getting to work :-)

It is wonderful to read the local news about scientists making great strides, no matter what university they're affiliated with. Congratulations to Prof. Moerner!

Like this comment
Posted by Yay!
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 9, 2014 at 6:14 pm

I couldn't help looking up the NPR story - it turns out Berkeley doesn't even automatically renew its Nobel Laureate spots, it requires them to renew them yearly or they lapse!
Web Link

"Earlier this week, [Nobel Laureate Oliver] Williamson said he was hoping to get his parking permit quickly. The university's chancellor was holding a banquet in his honor, Williamson said, "and I'm hoping that he has in his pocket the parking pass, but we'll see. ... As it turned out, Williamson did not receive the permit at the chancellor's dinner, but upon hearing of his interview with NPR, the chancellor produced a handwritten temporary parking permit for Williamson on the spot."

I did not realize that Stanford, too, granted its Nobel Laureate's parking permits or that they even needed them. I was making light of the fact that (I thought) our local winners would not know the inexplicable joy of realizing they got that parking pass (and the disappointment of those reminded that at least for another year, they didn't have one ;-) )

If that is the case, then double congratulations to Prof. Moerner! (I'll bet Stanford doesn't make its profs renew theirs, though!)

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