I was born in Bratislava, then Czechoslovakia and moved to Germany at the age of four, where I grew up. I read Chemistry at St Hugh’s College Oxford until 2002 and did a PhD at the University of California, Berkeley with Rich Mathies in ultrafast spectroscopy before moving to ETH Zurich to work with Vahid Sandoghdar on nano-optics. After returning to Oxford initially as an EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellow in 2010, I was elected to a tutorial fellowship at Exeter College in 2011 and promoted to Full Professor in 2016. Recent awards include those by the Royal Society of Chemistry (Harrison-Meldola 2011 and Marlow 2015), the European Biophysical Society Association (Young Investigator Medal 2017), a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2018) and selection as a UK Blavatnik Award Finalist (2018). I also hold an ERC Starting Investigator Grant.


I lead an interdisciplinary research group that focusses on the development and application of new optical methodologies to study structure and dynamics down to nanometer length scales. Our research is motivated by a vigorous back and forth between pushing the boundaries of what we can measure with light and the application of our developments to fundamental questions in the life sciences. We are interested in a wide range of phenomena including protein-protein interactions, biomolecular self-assembly and mesoscopic dynamics at the molecular level.


At Exeter I teach all aspects of Physical Chemistry throughout the entire undergraduate degree.

Selected Publications

Liebel M, Kukura P.  Lack of evidence for phase-only control of retinal photoisomerization in the strict one-photon limit. Nature Chemistry 2017 9:45-49.

Ortega-Arroyo JO, Kukura P. Non-fluorescent schemes for single-molecule detection, imaging and spectroscopy. Nature Photonics 2016 12:11-17.

Musser AJ, Liebel M, Schnedermann C, Wende T, Kehoe TB, Rao A, Kukura P. Evidence for conical intersection dynamics mediating ultrafast singlet exciton fission. Nature Physics 2015 11:352–357.

Andrecka J, Ortega-Arroyo JO, Takagi Y, de Wit G, Fineberg A, MacKinnon L, Young G, Sellers JR, Kukura P Structural dynamics of myosin 5 during processive motion revealed by interferometric scattering microscopy. eLife 2015 4:e05413.

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