Rudolf Oldenbourg Headshot
Contact Information
Ph.D., Physics, University of Konstanz, Germany, 1981
Diplomphysiker (Master in Physics), Technical University Munich, Germany, 1976
MBL Affiliation
Research Area
Research Area
Lab Website

Our research is inspired by advanced optical methods for studying the architectural dynamics in living cells. We are developing polarized light microscopy techniques, including the LC-PolScope, for the analysis of dynamic molecular order directly in living cells with unprecedented sensitivity, resolution, and speed. Based on polarization measurements, we gain insight into submicroscopic structural parameters and non-invasively create contrast where native structures are otherwise invisible. We seek interdisciplinary collaborations to conduct research in physical optics for the interpretation of image content and in computational methods for image enhancement and restoration. These physical and engineering projects are stimulated and guided by biological inquiries into the structural basis of cell function.

Meiosis in a primary spermatocyte of the crane fly, observed with the LC-PolScope
Meiosis in a primary spermatocyte of the crane fly, observed with the LC-PolScope

Polarized Light Field Microscopy
- Imaging Innovation Initiative

Rudolf Oldenbourg works with
Patrick J. La Riviere
Patrick La Riviere
University of Chicago
Selected Publications

Koike-Tani, M., Tominaga, T., Oldenbourg, R. and Tani, T. (2020). Birefringence Changes of Dendrites in Mouse Hippocampal Slices Revealed with Polarizing Microscopy. Biophys. J., 118(10):2366-2384.

Colon-Ramos, D. A., La Riviere, P., Shroff, H. and Oldenbourg, R. (2019). Transforming the development and dissemination of cutting-edge microscopy and computation. Nat Methods, 16(8):667-669.

Chandler, T., Mehta, S., Shroff, H., Oldenbourg, R., and La Riviere, P. J. (2017). Single-fluorophore orientation determination with multiview polarized illumination: modeling and microscope design. Opt Express, 25(25):31309-31325.

McQuilken, M., Jentzsch, M. S., Verma, A., Mehta, S. B., Oldenbourg, R., and Gladfelter, A. S. (2017). Analysis of Septin Reorganization at Cytokinesis Using Polarized Fluorescence Microscopy. Front Cell Dev Biol, 5:42.

Tani, T., M. Shribak and R. Oldenbourg. 2016. Living Cells and Dynamic Molecules Observed with the Polarized Light Microscope: the Legacy of Shinya Inoue. Biological Bulletin 231: 85-95.

Abrahamsson, S., M. McQuilken, S. B. Mehta, A. Verma, J. Larsch, R. Ilic, R. Heintzmann, C. I. Bargmann, A. S. Gladfelter and R. Oldenbourg. 2015. MultiFocus Polarization Microscope (MF-PolScope) for 3D polarization imaging of up to 25 focal planes simultaneously. Optics Express 23: 7734-7754.

Oldenbourg, R. 2008. Polarized light field microscopy: an analytical method using a microlens array to simultaneously capture both conoscopic and orthoscopic views of birefringent objects. J. Microsc. 231: 419-32.

Oldenbourg, R., E. D. Salmon and P. T. Tran. 1998. Birefringence of single and bundled microtubules. Biophys. J.74: 645-54.

Oldenbourg, R. 1996. A new view on polarization microscopy. Nature 381: 811-2.

Oldenbourg, R. and G. Mei. 1995. New polarized light microscope with precision universal compensator. J. Microsc.180: 140-7.

Oldenbourg, R., X. Wen, R. B. Meyer and D. L. Caspar. 1988. Orientational distribution function in nematic tobacco-mosaic-virus liquid crystals measured by x-ray diffraction. Phys. Rev. Lett. 61: 1851-1854.