ISS Honors Prof. Paul Selvin with Gregorio Weber Award

Champaign, Illinois - January 29, 2020 - Prof. Paul Selvin is the winner of the 2020 Weber Award; the award was announced during the Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society in San Diego, California.

Selvin has developed ground-breaking fluorescence instrumentation and techniques at the intersection of physics and biochemistry, shedding new light on the properties and behaviors of biomolecules in living cells. Early in his career, he devised the lanthanide resonance energy transfer (LRET) technique to investigate the chemical properties and structural dynamics of DNA systems. The LRET technique, which offered a 100-fold improvement in signal-to-background resolution over conventional techniques, is now widely used by the pharmaceutical industry for drug discovery.

Selvin also developed the single-molecule FRET (Förster resonance energy transfer) technique, with colleagues Johns Hopkins Professor Taekjip Ha and University of California, Los Angeles Professor Shimon Weiss. This breakthrough innovation took FRET to its ultimate sensitivity and is now widely used across the field of biophysics.

Selvin later developed a technique called FIONA (Fluorescence Imaging with One Nanometer Accuracy), which his group used for in vivo studies that elucidated the hand-over-hand locomotion mechanism of single-molecule myosin V, myosin VI, and kinesin. This technique brought into focus a new and deeper understanding of the biomechanics at work in living cells. Currently, the Selvin group specializes in single molecule fluorescence studies of nerve receptors, shedding new light on communications occurring between individual synapses in neurons. For this work, his group developed innovative techniques to manufacture extremely small quantum dots, enabling penetration of the synapse and establishing new inroads in this subfield.

Selvin received his bachelor’s degree in physics in 1983 from the University of Michigan and his doctoral degree in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1990. He held postdoctoral appointments at Cal Berkeley’s chemistry department from 1991 to 1993, and then worked in that department as a research chemist from 1993 to 1997. He was then a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory from 1995 to 1997, before joining the faculty at Illinois Physics in 1997.

ISS is honored to recognize Prof. Paul Selvin as this year's recipient of the Gregorio Weber Award for Excellence in Fluorescence Theory and Applications for his continued contributions to the evolution of the field.

More information about the Weber award