The annual award honors and recognizes distinguished individuals who have made original and significant contributions to the field of fluorescence. Jacobson is a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Beginning in the early 1970s, Jacobson has contributed to the knowledge of how the cell membrane is organized by developing methods to measure lateral mobility in the plasma membrane, primarily using technologies based on fluorescence microscopy. Such measurements inform scientists about the domains that exist in the membrane and their function.
Shortly after joining the UNC faculty in 1980, Jacobson was one of the earliest developers of digitized fluorescence microscopy and its applications to cell biology. He and his laboratory then began studying the physical principles underlying cells migration, developing tools to measure the traction forces the cell must apply to the surface on which it crawls. In addition, Dr. Jacobson developed methods to perturb the molecular machinery of cell migration using laser beams to illuminate small regions of single, moving cells, thereby activating specific molecules.