Late last year the fluorescence microscopy community lost one of its most celebrated, experienced, and passionate members. On December 24, 2015, Michael W. Davidson passed away in Tallahassee, Florida. During an extremely productive career, Mike Davidson authored well over 100 research papers in peer-reviewed journals, and his scientific guidance was even highlighted at the 2014 Nobel Prize awards by Eric Betzig, who shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Mike’s impressive number of publications is really just the tip of the iceberg; it doesn’t tell the whole story of his enormous contribution to the field. He created educational information for Nikon, Olympus, and Zeiss as well as for his own website—Molecular Expressions™ (—through Florida State University, providing an invaluable resource for fluorescence microscopists, beginners and experienced scientists alike. Mike was also a long-time commercial partner to us at Thermo Fisher Scientific, manufacturing our FluoCells™ slides and providing images for the Molecular Probes Handbook (including our latest cover) and BioProbes Journal. Mike, however, was much more than that; he was a trusted advisor, patient teacher, collaborator, and friend, providing feedback without agenda and always in an open and honest manner. That is how many of us at the legacy Molecular Probes site in Eugene, Oregon will remember him.

—Nick Dolman, Senior Staff Scientist, Protein and Cell Analysis

Front cover image from The Molecular Probes Handbook,

Front cover image from The Molecular Probes Handbook, 11th edition

Mink uterus endometrial cells were fixed and permeabilized, then labeled with a mouse anti-vimentin primary antibody and visualized using a green-fluorescent Alexa Fluor™ 488 goat anti–mouse IgG. Filamentous actin was labeled with blue-fluorescent coumarin phalloidin; nuclei were stained with SYTOX™ Orange nucleic acid stain. Image contributed by John D. Griffin and Michael W. Davidson, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Florida State University.

“Hey you, get to work”; that’s my endearing memory of Mike. As we built CellLight™ reagents, I took a trip to his lab—the mecca of imaging— and never regretted it. Four days of tissue culture, microscopy, and beer & BBQ, and I knew we had a viable product. He was the coach that you always wanted to play for, but you also knew it was going to take everything you had to make an impression. At the end of those four days he said don’t hesitate to come back or send more product for testing. I was as proud of that work as anything I’ve done in my career in science. His journey from his Georgia roots to world-class scientist was inspirational to us all, and I miss his counsel already.

—Mike O’Grady, Senior Manager, Research & Development

Mike’s work has significantly contributed to making imaging an integral part of life science research while always pushing the boundaries of its applications. At the same time, he helped bring the wonders of natural science to a lay audience, and his colorful ties with micrograph images are but one example of that. Mike was an approachable expert whose research and collaborations across academia and industry helped inform, educate, and enable scientists worldwide. His long-standing collaboration with Molecular Probes benefited not only our scientists but also our customers.

—Magnus Persmark, Senior Product Manager, Protein and Cell Analysis

What I remember most about Mike is the time I visited him at his labs in Florida. There was an array of new, high-tech microscopy hardware and software donated by imaging companies that were hoping to have Mike and his team use them to push the boundaries of imaging and get some of those coveted high-resolution, eye-popping microscopy images of cells and tissues. There was information about the latest fluorescent proteins and their uses. There was Mike’s intense and high-energy work ethic. And there were dress ties and other materials decorated with images of polarized crystals of popular alcoholic beverages and compounds, which he sold (and often gave away). I still have the one he gave to me.

—Jason Kilgore, Technical Applications Scientist, Technical Support

Mike was that special breed of scientist that combined deep scientific expertise with pragmatism for results. The impact Mike had on the fluorescence microscopy community and the use of fluorescent proteins as tools for cell biology is second only to the mentoring and inspiration he gave to many scientists through his collaborative spirit. Amidst all of the scientific discussions, what I remember most about Mike is his passion for teaching and his sensibilities in problem solving; whatever the project or question, he was a master at paving a path forward.

—Mike Janes, Senior Manager, Research & Development

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