Martin Gruebele

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Martin Gruebele
Born (1964-01-10) January 10, 1964 (age 54)
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley, California Institute of Technology
Known forProtein folding, scanning tunneling microscopy, Ultrafast laser spectroscopy
AwardsNakanishi Prize, Sackler Prize, Friedrich Bessel Research Prize, Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Fellowship
Scientific career
FieldsChemistry, Biophysics, Computational biology
InstitutionsUniversity of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
Academic advisorsRichard Saykally, Ahmed Zewail

Martin Gruebele (born January 10, 1964 in Stuttgart, Germany) [1] is a German-born American physical chemist [2] and biophysicist who is currently James R. Eiszner Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Physics, Professor of Biophysics and Computational Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he is the principal investigator of the Gruebele Group.The James R. Eiszner Endowed Chair was previously held by Peter Guy Wolynes.[3]


He completed his B.S in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1984, with the University Certificate of Distinction and Department Citation for Highest Honors. He was advised by Ken Sauer (biophysics), Wilhelm Maier (organic synthesis), and Richard J. Saykally (laser spectroscopy). He did his graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley in the laboratory of Richard J. Saykally, where he was a University Fellow (1984-1986), IBM Predoctoral Fellow, (1986-1987), and a Dow Chemical Graduate Fellow (1987-1988). Subsequently he held a postdoctoral position with Ahmed Zewail at California Institute of Technology, after which he joined the faculty of the University of Illinois in 1992.

Current positions[edit]

Dr. Gruebele is Head of Chemistry and James R. Eiszner Endowed Chair (2008) in Chemistry, Professor of Physics, and Professor of Biophysics and Quantitative Biology. He is a Professor in the Center for Advanced Study [1] at the University of Illinois. He also is a faculty member of the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois, and Adjunct Professor of Physics at Michigan State University.


His research covers a wide range of areas in chemical and biological physics, including the kinetics of biological systems, quantum dynamics of energy flow within molecules, and optically assisted scanning tunneling microscopy. A common theme of his research is the implementation of state-of-the-art laser and microscopy techniques to interrogate and manipulate complex systems, coupled with quantum or classical simulations. He has published more than 250 articles on topics ranging from quantum computation, to RNA and protein folding in the test tube and inside cells, to fish swimming behavioral studies.[2]

Recent work[edit]

  • FreI (Fast Relaxation Imaging) that combines fluorescence microscopy and fast temperature jump or osmotic pressure jump to study protein dynamics inside living cells.[4]
  • A sub-microsecond pressure jump technique to study fast protein refolding and helped guide computer simulations (molecular dynamics) for how proteins fold.[5]
  • With Martina Havenith, Terahertz Absorption Spectroscopy elucidating for the first time the role of water as a designer fluid that helps proteins change shape.[6]
  • Two-state dynamics recorded in glassy silicon for the first time using high-resolution imaging technology, to confirmed the glass-like nature of amorphous silicon.[7]
  • SMA-STM (Single Molecule Absorption detected by Scanning Tunneling Microscopy), a technique that can image excited state orbitals of nanostructures with sub-nanometer resolution by combining laser absorption spectroscopy with STM.
  • With Stephen Boppart, non-linear interferometric vibrational imaging which produces easy-to-read, color-coded images of tissue, outlining clear tumor boundaries with more than 99% confidence.[8]


Gruebele is an active collaborator with Hanoi University of Science to port University of Illinois Department of Chemistry undergraduate curriculum for Science in Vietnam.[13] Recently, he has been on the list of "Teachers Ranked Excellent by their Students" at Illinois (2010-2016), and received the Teaching Excellence Award twice.


Gruebele is married to Nancy Makri,[14] who is also a Professor of Chemistry and Physics at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They have two children, Alexander and Valerie. He has a keen interest in cycling and running,[15][16] and has competed in many ultra-distance events, such as the 2016 solo Race Across America,[17] or the Tunnel Hill 100 mile.[18] He has written a how-to book on ultraracing.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gruebele's CV
  2. ^ a b Gruebele's chemistry page
  3. ^
  4. ^ ” Scientists observe protein folding in living cells for the first time” ,, February 28-2010
  5. ^ Pressure jump paper
  6. ^ ” Water Is 'Designer Fluid' That Helps Proteins Change Shape” ,, Aug. 7-2008
  7. ^ “Researchers record two-state dynamics in glassy silicon” ,, June 14-2011
  8. ^ "Nonlinear Interferometric Vibrational Imaging Tissue-imaging Technique",, Nov. 30-2010
  9. ^ "Martin Gruebele has been awarded the 2008 Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences", 11/20/2008
  10. ^ "U. of I. alumni research scholar Martin Gruebele receives Bessel Prize",5/1/2005
  11. ^ The Coblentz Award - The Coblentz Society
  12. ^ "CAS Fellows Archive". Center for Advanced Study, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  13. ^ "East-West Partnership",, May 31, 2010
  14. ^ "Gutgsell Endowed Professor: Nancy Makri"
  15. ^ wildcardcycling
  16. ^ Martin Gruebele's Race Results at
  17. ^ Captain America & The Honey Badger RAAM results Archived 2013-08-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ Personal Ultra Marathon Results
  19. ^ Masters RAAM: A Winning Strategy

External links[edit]