Personal profile


Erwin Peterman is interested in understanding how life works at the fundamental, single-molecule level. With his experiments he strives to provide quantitative insights in life processes that can be rigorously tested using physical models. To this end, he applies a multidisciplinary approach including elements from molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, statistical physics and optics. The techniques used in his lab are (single-molecule) fluorescence microscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy and optical tweezers.

Current research focuses on the cooperation of motor proteins in intracellular transport in C. elegans cilia, on the mechanics of DNA and DNA-processing proteins, on the dynamics of membrane proteins in living bacteria, and on the development of new instrumentation and approaches to study life at the single-molecule level.



Peterman teaches several courses at the bachelor's and master's level to students in Physics, Medical Natural Sciences, and Biomolecular Sciences, in particular "Microscopy and Spectroscopy" and "Mechanics and Thermodynamics in the Cell". He frequently supervises BSc and MSc research projects.


Prizes and Awards

In 2003 Peterman received a five-year VIDI grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), in 2011 a VICI grant. In 2013, he was appointed as full professor on a University Research Chair.



B.Sc. & M.Sc.: Molecular Sciences, Wageningen University, 1988-1993.

Ph.D.: Chlorophylls and Carotenoids in Oxygenic Photosynthesis, VU University Amsterdam, Promotors: van Grondelle & van Amerongen, 1993-1998.


Ancillary activities

  • Epifluorescence B.V. | Amsterdam | Directeur/eigenaar | 2014-04-15
  • LUMICKS B.V. | Amsterdam | Founder / share holder / adviser | 2014-04-15

Ancillary activities are updated daily

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Research Output 1996 2018

A brief introduction to single-molecule fluorescence methods

van den Wildenberg, S. M. J. L., Prevo, B. & Peterman, E. J. G. 2018 Methods in Molecular Biology. Humana Press Inc, Vol. 1665, p. 93-113 21 p. (Methods in Molecular Biology; vol. 1665)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

A polarized view on DNA under tension

Van Mameren, J., Vermeulen, K., Wuite, G. J. L. & Peterman, E. J. G. 28 Mar 2018 In : Journal of Chemical Physics. 148, 12, 123306

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access

Ensemble and single-molecule dynamics of intraflagellar transport in C. elegans

Mijalkovic, J. 2018 182 p.

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research VU, graduation VU

Open Access

Quantifying Local Molecular Tension Using Intercalated DNA Fluorescence

King, G. A., Biebricher, A. S., Heller, I., Peterman, E. J. G. & Wuite, G. J. L. 11 Apr 2018 In : Nano Letters. 18, 4, p. 2274-2281 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle