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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. In 2017 he was awarded the NWO Physics Valorization prize (together with Gijs Wuite). In 2018 Peterman received an ERC Advanced grant.



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

Ancillary activities are updated daily

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Erwin Peterman is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 12 Similar Profiles
Kinesin Medicine & Life Sciences
Fluorescence Microscopy Medicine & Life Sciences
Optical Tweezers Medicine & Life Sciences
DNA Medicine & Life Sciences
Molecules Chemical Compounds
Optical tweezers Chemical Compounds
Microtubules Medicine & Life Sciences
Fluorescence microscopy Chemical Compounds

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 1995 2019

Single-molecule polarization microscopy of DNA intercalators sheds light on the structure of S-DNA

Backer, A. S., Biebricher, A. S., King, G. A., Wuite, G. J. L., Heller, I. & Peterman, E. J. G., 22 Mar 2019, In : Science advances. 5, 3, p. 1-11 11 p., eaav1083.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
deoxyribonucleic acid

Supercoiling DNA optically

King, G. A., Burla, F., Peterman, E. J. G. & Wuite, G. J. L., 26 Dec 2019, In : Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 116, 52, p. 26534-26539 6 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Superhelical DNA
Optical Tweezers
Optical Imaging
Fluorescence Microscopy

A brief introduction to single-molecule fluorescence methods

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

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

Fluorescence Microscopy
Fluorescence Polarization
Biological Science Disciplines
Energy Transfer

Acoustic Force Spectroscopy (AFS): From single molecules to single cells

Kamsma, D., 2018, 188 p.

Research output: PhD ThesisPhD Thesis - Research VU, graduation VUAcademic

Open Access

Adaptive optics via self-interference digital holography for non-scanning three-dimensional imaging in biological samples

Man, T., Wan, Y., Yan, W., Wang, X. H., Peterman, E. J. G. & Wang, D., 1 Jun 2018, In : Biomedical Optics Express. 9, 6, p. 2614-2626 13 p., #326210.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Three-Dimensional Imaging
adaptive optics

Activities 2000 2000

  • 2 Lecture / Presentation

Nucleotide dependent (dis)order in the kinesin-tubulin interaction

E.J.G. Peterman (Speaker)
13 Sep 2000

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic

Nucleotide dependent (dis)order in the kinesin-tubulin interaction

E.J.G. Peterman (Speaker)
4 Oct 2000

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic