Petra Schwille is Director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich, Germany, and Honorary Professor at the LMU Munich. She studied physics and philosophy in Stuttgart and Göttingen, and graduated 1993 with Diploma in Physics at the Georg August University, Göttingen. She obtained her Ph.D. in 1996 from the TU Braunschweig, with a thesis on Fluorescence (Cross-)Correlation Spectroscopy, performed at the MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen. After a postdoctoral stay at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, she returned to the MPI Göttingen as a research group leader. In 2002, she accepted a Chair of Biophysics at the newly established BIOTEC center of the U Dresden. Since 2012, she is heading the department Cellular and Molecular Biophysics at the MPI of Biochemistry.
Petra Schwille’s scientific interests range from single molecule biophysics to the synthetic biology of reconstituted systems. In the last years, her department has been engaged in several national and international research initiatives aiming at the bottom-up design of minimal living cells, eventually helping to elucidate fundamental questions about the origin of life.
Her work has been awarded with several prestigious prizes, among them the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation in 2010 and the Braunschweig Research Prize in 2011. She is member of the German National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina), the National Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech), the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanties (BBAW), and the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), as well as Honorary Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society (2015) and the Biophysical Society (2017).