Thomas Perkins


My research focuses on single molecule measurements of biological systems. One outstanding question is: how do motor proteins transduce chemical energy into physical motion? Another is: how does the structure and dynamics of membrane proteins affect their functions? We specialize in developing and applying high precision measurements using optical traps and atomic force microscopes to answer these and other interesting questions. 


  • A.B. in Physics,  Harvard University, magna cum laude
  • Ph.D. in Physics, Stanford University, thesis advisor Steve Chu, 1997
  • Post-doctoral work at Princeton and Stanford, in the group of Steve Block


Visit my Google Scholar publications.

Selected Awards

  • 2021 Outstanding Postdoc Mentor Award, for providing exemplary mentoring, training, and leadership to postdoctoral scholars at Univ. of Colorado.
  • 2019 Gears of Governance Award for world’s best atomic force microscope tailored to biological measurements 
  • 2018 Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, awarded for pioneering advances in high-resolution studies of single biological molecules.
  • 2018 Ron Brown Excellence in Innovation Award, Dept. of Commerce
  • 2018 Gold Medal, Dept. of Commerce, awarded for significantly advancing biomedical understanding of crucial proteins by creating the world's best biological atomic force microscope
  • 2017 Fellow, American Physical Society, awarded for innovations in precision measurement of dynamic biological systems at the smallest scales.
  • 2017 Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research for new twists in the molecules of life.
  • 2013 Arthur S. Flemming Award  for outstanding achievement in government service. 
  • 2012 Marinus Smith Award, awarded for significant impact on lives of CU undergraduate students. 
  • 1999  Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences.
  • 1997 APS Padden Award for outstanding polymer physics thesis.
Thomas Perkins photo.
303-492-5291 (office)
303-492-5235 (fax)
CV or Files
Perkins CV265.93 KB